Voltaire was the pen name of François Marie Arouet, a French satirist, philosopher, historian, dramatist, and poet who lived between 1694 and 1778. His legendary wit and views on many topics, including organized religion, often got him in trouble. Reaction against his writings forced him to leave France for long periods, do a stint in the Bastille. But it never silenced his quill.
In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, French book buyers are turning to him, one of their grands philosophes for enlightenment. Publisher Gallimard has gone back to press printing more of his famous Treatise on Tolerance. Published in 1763, it is now a French Bestseller topping the bestseller lists. How many authors have that happen in their lifetime, much less more than two hundred years later?
In the treatise, Voltaire argues in favor of toleration of religious belief, while reserving the right to argue strenuously against it, and denouncing religious fanaticism of all stripes. “Tolerance has never provoked a civil war; intolerance has covered the Earth in carnage.”
He’s widely credited with the famous formulation, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Here, in honor of Voltaire, liberty and the resilience of the French people – and right now, we all feel French – are five classic quotations from the classic writer:
1) “Virtue debases itself in justifying itself.”
2) “The secret of being a bore is to tell everything.”
4) “It is better to risk saving a guilty person than to condemn an innocent one.”5) “Work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty.
Cara - Tuesday