The Jewish Spy

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Lettres Juives v.4 (The Hague: Pierre Paupie, 1738)

Lettres juives or The Jewish Spy (1738-1742) is an epistolary novel attributed to Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens.[1] It "purports to be a translation of the correspondence between five distinguished rabbis who reside in different cities. ... The book comprises a survey of the various governments of Europe at whose several capitals these Jewish rabbis reside either permanently or temporarily during their travels. ... Though Marquis d'Argens signs himself as the translator, he is doubtless the author."[2]

He "began publishing the letters in serial form, two per week, in December 1735. Twenty months, 180 letters, and over 350,000 words later, he had completed his monumental work. Meanwhile, his publisher had begun selling the letters in volumes of 30 and by the end of 1737 had produced 6 volumes in octavo. By the end of 1739 at least 10 editions, most of them pirated, had been published in French. ... Numerous translations of the novel also appeared in English, German and Dutch."[3] "The prolific d'Argens was enormously popular in his day and was best known for this novel."[4]


  1. ^ George Watson, ed. New Cambridge Bibliography of English Literature, v.2: 1660-1800. Cambridge University Press, 1971
  2. ^ Edward Nathaniel Calisch. The Jew in English literature: as author and as subject. Richmond, VA: Bell Book and Stationery Co., 1909
  3. ^ Ronald Schechter. Obstinate Hebrews: representations of Jews in France, 1715-1815. University of California Press, 2003
  4. ^ Schechter. 2003

Further reading[edit]

  • d'Argens. The Jewish Spy: being a philosophical, historical, and critical correspondence by letters, which lately passed between certain Jews in Turkey, Italy, France, etc.; translated from the original into French by the Marquis d'Argens, and now done into English; 3rd ed. London: Printed for A. Miller, J. Rivington, et al., 1765. v.5 Google books
  • H. Carrington Lancaster. "Observations on French, Spanish and English Theaters" in D'Argens's Lettres Juives and Lettres Cabalistiques". Modern Language Notes, Vol. 69, No. 4 (Apr., 1954), pp. 231–237
  • Brav, Stanley R. "Jews and Judaism in The Jewish Spy". Studies in Bibliography and Booklore; 4 (1960), 133—141.

External links[edit]