Polemikk, politikk og forutinntatte lesere : om resepsjonen av Voltaires Le fanatisme ou Mahomet le prophète
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionNorsk Litteraturvitenskapelig Tidsskrift. 2013, 16 (2), 94-105.
In 2005 a long-forgotten 18th century tragedy suddenly became a hot spot in today’s perhaps most dominating «clash of civilizations»; the conflict between Islam and the West. The essay presents the recent years’ reception of Voltaire’s tragedy Le fanatisme ou Mahomet le prophète (1742) in the light of the response it gained in the 18th century. While mid-18th century readers either considered the tragedy an amusing Oriental tale or a harsh attack on Christianity, the text and its author have become weapons more than 250 years later in the political debate taking place in the wake of the Muhammad cartoon controversy. Shedding light on some of the historical discourses and events that have preconditioned this reception, I discuss how prejudiced readers have politicized Le fanatisme ou Mahomet le prophète and how, eventually, this reception reveals the importance of the critical reader.