‘Oh! Monsieur is Persian? That’s most extraordinary! How can someone be Persian?’ Two Persian travellers, Usbek and Rica, arrive in Paris just before the death of Louis XIV and in time to witness the hedonism and financial crash of the Regency. In their letters home they report on visits to the theatre and scientific societies, and observe the manners and flirtations of polite society, the structures of power and the hypocrisy of religion. Irony and bitter satire mark their comparison of East and West and their quest for understanding. Unsettling news from Persia concerning the female world of the harem intrudes on their new identities and provides a suspenseful plot of erotic jealousy and passion. This pioneering epistolary novel and work of travel-writing opened the world of the West to its oriental visitors and the Orient to its Western readers. This is the first English translation based on the original text, revealing this lively work as Montesquieu first intended.