European cultural heritage is well represented in Russian library and museum collections. Among these, the collections held in St Petersburg are particularly rich in French material.
One of these unique monuments is the Voltaire Library. It is difficult to overestimate the importance of this monument of eighteenth-century European culture.
The library contains approximately 7000 volumes, of which one third contains notes and other markings from the writer’s pen. The collection also includes many manuscripts, drafts and printed copies of works with authorial corrections.
In order to ensure good conditions for the conservation of the Voltaire Library and to enhance its publicity, the Centre for Study of the Enlightenment was inaugurated in the National Library of Russia in 2003. The philosopher’s library lies at the heart of this centre.
The two main representatives of the Age of Enlightenment – Voltaire and Rousseau, in the opinion of people of succeeding generations, were comrades, the fathers of the French Revolution. However, for contemporaries, they were rivals, almost enemies.
On 1-2 November 2018, the Centre for Study of the Enlightenment “Voltaire Library” (Rare Books Department, National Library of Russia) is holding the conference ‘Voltairean Readings 2018’.
On the occasion of the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the city of St Petersburg in 2003, the National Library of France and the National Library of Russia created together a website intended to make the Voltaire Library preserved in the National Library of Russia available to the international academic community.