Blaise Pascal, the precociously brilliant contemporary of Descartes, was a gifted mathematician and physicist, but it is his unfinished apologia for the Christian religion upon which his reputation now rests. The Pensees is a collection of philosohical fragments, notes and essays in which Pascal explores the contradictions of human nature in pscyhological, social, metaphysical and - above all - theological terms. Mankind emerges from Pascal's analysis as a wretched and desolate creature within an impersonal universe, but who can be transformed through faith in God's grace.
Blaise Pascal (1623-62) left his mark on mathematics, physics, religious controversy and literature. A convert to Jansenism, he engaged in passionate debate with the Jesuits the results of which are the Lettres Provincales, on which, with Pensees, his fame now rests. He is regarded by many as the greatest of French prose stylists. A J Krailsheimer was Tutor in French at Christ Church, Oxford and translated widely from the French.