Wednesday, August 05, 2009

The Quote File: Voltaire

Voltaire's real name was Francois-Marie Arouet, and he was one of those Enlightenment polymaths who, by their prodigious output, would seem to have spent every moment writing -- except, of course, he was also advising noblemen, running estates, having quarrels, getting exiled, and conducting scandalous affairs. And saying wise things along the way:

Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.

Love truth, but pardon error.

In the midst of all the doubts which have been discussed for four thousand years in four thousand ways, the safest course is to do nothing against one's conscience. With this secret we can enjoy life and have no fear of death.

Life is thickly sown with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to pass quickly through them. The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us.

We have a natural right to make use of our pens as of our tongue, at our peril, risk and hazard.

One owes respect to the living. To the dead, one owes only the truth.

The instruction we find in books is like fire. We fetch it from our neighbours, kindle it at home, communicate it to others, and it becomes the property of all.

Appreciation is a wonderful thing, it makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.

Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.

There are some who only employ words for the purpose of disguising their thoughts.

It is as impossible to translate poetry as it is to translate music.

Shun idleness. It is a rust that attaches itself to the most brilliant of metals.

I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition. (supposed last words)


  1. Thanks for the nice dose of Voltaire. Sometimes in the middle of the night such apercus come to me and I always forget them before morning.

  2. I was familiar with several of those but didn't know they were from Voltaire. Wow.

    Great post. Thanks1

  3. "love truth but pardon error"
    great blog, Cheryl! All the quotes seem very timely, even for today.

  4. Are you accepting submissions right now? I tried to find that info on your Talking Books Website, but the submissions tab wasn't working. Thank you so much for such a great blog and website!