Marco Platania

1The dissemination of Montesquieu’s œuvre and his influence have given rise to an impressive bibliography. To follow its development, we have today at our disposal numerous bibliographical tools and some most useful data for the question. The first studies go back to the middle of the 19th century: Quérard’s La France littéraire describes the editions of Montesquieu’s works, whereas for references to the critical literature one had to await Gustave Lanson’s Manuel bibliographique and the more specific research of Louis Vian. We can follow the development of studies in the first half of the 20th century in the retrospective catalogues of Giraud and De Brie and in the Bibliographie de la philosophie, which has published an annual compilation since 1938.

2The bibliography of Montesquieu’s works in the 18th century is an integral part of the Œuvres complètes edition (Oxford: Voltaire Foundation until 2008; since then: Lyon-Paris: ENS Éditions and Classiques Garnier), insofar as it is one of the scientific underpinnings of the edition. Cecil P. Courtney is the author of most of the notices, and is working on a general bibliography of the editions. In some cases, for Le Temple de Gnide, for example, which was one of Montesquieu’s most widely read works until the 19th century, the inquiry covers editions and translations in all languages up to the date of publication of the volume (2003 ; OC, t. VIII, p. 343-387).

3The bibliographical researches take a turn around the 1950s: in 1947 David Cabeen published a bibliography which is subject to criticism but very useful. It offers a fairly exact list of Montesquieu studies, especially in the United States, each accompanied by a brief commentary. In 1951, in a much broader undertaking, Cabeen increased the number of entries while maintaining the same format. In 1960 appeared the first retrospective volume (beginning with 1956) of the Bibliographie der französischen Literaturwissenschaft, characterized by an interdisciplinary approach, which complements the Répertoire bibliographique de la philosophie and research conducted in France by Rancœur (Bibliographie de la littérature française). From this point, annual repertories multiplied; we can say that today they offer a rather complete compilation of both national and disciplinary production. Another remarkable contribution has also been the national catalogues which were developed in the second half of the 20th century: the British Library Catalogue, the National Union Catalogue for the United States, Cioranescu’s Bibliographies for France. For an overall view, we can refer to the numerous bibliographies based on a disciplinary or national perspective which, published regularly, have generally devoted a separate section to Montesquieu. Research conducted by Domenico Felice has revealed the presence of Montesquieu in Italy from 1789 to 2005. He presents very useful commentary in the book which he published in 1986.

4In 1988, Louis Desgraves published the Répertoire des ouvrages et des articles sur Montesquieu, which dominates as the most complete collection to date. More than three thousand entries are listed in systematic order, covering a large part of the critical literature, not excluding the principal editions of Montesquieu’s writings beginning with the 19th century. With the multiplication of publications, the difficulty has intensified, especially since the work of Montesquieu can belong as much to philosophy or literature as to history or the juridical and political sciences (including sociology); it is difficult to explore all the disciplinary sectors. The researcher wishing a more recent update can find it in the Revue Montesquieu which since 1997 has provided a carefully prepared annual listing (the first seven issues are available online at [‣] ; the annual bibliography has been integrated into the on-line bibliography, searchable by chapter, of the Montesquieu site which is now accessible on-line ([‣]). There is thus a significant lacuna between 1987 and 1977 that needs to be filled in.


Joseph-Marie Quérard, La France littéraire, Paris, 1827-1839, t. VI.

L. Dangeau (pseudonym of Louis Vian), Montesquieu: bibliographie de ses œuvres, Paris, 1874 (see also his Histoire de Montesquieu, Paris, 1878, p. 374-388).

Gustave Lanson, Manuel bibliographique de la littérature française moderne (1500-1900), Paris, 1911, t. III (see also the “Supplément” and the “Indexes”).

Jean Giraud, Manuel de bibliographie littéraire pour les XVIe, XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles français (1921-1935), Paris, 1939.

David C. Cabeen, Montesquieu: A Bibliography, New York, 1947.

G. A. De Brie, Bibliographia philosofica, 1934-1945, Brussels, 1950-1954.

David C. Cabeen, A Critical Bibliography of French Literature, vol. IV, The Eighteenth Century, New York, 1951 (see also the Supplement, New York, 1968).

Henri Peyre, Modern Literature I: the literature of France, Englewood Cliffs (N. J.), 1966.

British Museum General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1956, New York, 1967 (plus three supplements for the years 1956-1975).

Alexandre Cioranescu, Bibliographie de la littérature française du XVIIIe siècle, Paris, 1969, t. II.

Charles B. Osburn, Research and Reference Guide to French Studies, New York, 1968 and The Present State of French Studies: A Collection of Research Reviews, N. Y., 1971.

The National Union Catalogue, Chicago-London, 1968-1981.

Hans Bynagle, Philosophy: a guide to the reference literature, Littleton, Colo.: Libraries Unlimited, 1986.

Domenico Felice, Montesquieu in Italia, Bologna, 1986.

Wilhelm Totok, Handbuch der Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. V: Bibliographie 18. und 19. Jahrhundert, Frankfurt, 1986.

Louis Desgraves, Répertoire des ouvrages et des articles sur Montesquieu, Geneva: Droz, 1988.

Jacques Follon, Guide bibliographique des études de philosophie, Leuven and Paris, 1993.

Domenico Felice, with the collaboration of Giovanni Cristani, Pour l’histoire de la réception de Montesquieu en Italie, 1789-2005, Bologna: Clueb, 2006.

State of the issues

Robert Shackleton, “Montesquieu in 1948”, French Studies, 1949 p. 299-323.

Louis Desgraves, “Chronique bibliographique: Montesquieu (1939-1951)”, Revue historique de Bordeaux, 1952, p. 173-178.

Louis Desgraves, “Chronique bibliographique: Montesquieu de 1951 à 1956”, Revue historique de Bordeaux, 1956, p. 223-241.

Jean Ehrard, “Les études sur Montesquieu et L’Esprit des lois”, L’Information littéraire, 1959, p. 55-66.

Corado Rosso, “Montesquieu présent: études et travaux depuis 1960”, DHS 6 (1976),

Carlo Cordié, Montesquieu: cultura e scuola 90 (1984), p. 74-82.

Georges Benrekassa, “Montesquieu An 2000: bilans, problèmes, perspectives”, Revue Montesquieu 3 (1999),

See also the bibliography of the Montesquieu site, periodically updated, and currently including (in May 2013) the references for the years 1997-2012 :

Bibliographical reference

Platania Marco , “Bibliography”, translated by Philip Stewart, in A Montesquieu Dictionary [online], directed by Catherine Volpilhac-Auger, ENS Lyon, September 2013. URL: