1. A Marriage of True Minds: Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet

    Portrait of Émilie du Châtelet, by Nicolas de Largillière c. 1740. (Louvre)

    The pairing [of Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet] was dynamic and productive — together, they would achieve some of the most important Enlightenment writing on science, physics, and philosophy. But as Nancy Mitford explains in her fantastic 1957 biography of the intellectual power couple, Voltaire in Love, they were devoted not just as intellectuals, but as lovers as well as friends. It was an extraordinary bond that lasted for nearly fifteen years.

    Michelle Legro at Brain Picker, on Nancy Mitford’s Voltaire in Love

    Enough cynical dark and depressing “love stories” from us. Here’s one that actually earns the title.

  2. "Judge me for my own merits"

    Judge me for my own merits, or lack of them, but do not look upon me as a mere appendage to this great general or that great scholar, this star that shines at the court of France or that famed author. I am in my own right a whole person, responsible to myself alone for all that I am, all that I say, all that I do. It may be that there are metaphysicians and philosophers whose learning is greater than mine, although I have not met them. Yet, they are but frail humans, too, and have their faults; so, when I add the sum total of my graces, I confess I am inferior to no one.

    —The French Englightenment scientist Emilié du Châtelet writing to Frederick the Great, quoted in Jenny McPhee’s review in Bookslut of Nancy Mitford’s Voltaire in Love, a book about the productive and scandalous relationship between Châtelet and Voltaire.