On The Nature Of Man by Voltaire

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"The Way To Be A Bore, For An Author, Is To Say Everything"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Voltaire aroused controversy all his life and would doubtless have been pleased if he could have known that it would still rage for nearly two centuries after his death. The champion of freedom in thought and belief, he wrote voluminously in support of his ideas throughout a long and active life; as a result he was often in trouble with those in power. He wrote in many fields and was successful in all; beginning with the drama, he produced a tragedy which made him the fashionable poet of Paris. At the same time he was confined in the Bastille–first for writing satirical verses against the regent, and again a few years later for refusing to swallow an insult. He spent three years in England, returned to France, and became affluent through various investments. A few peaceful years were passed with the Marquise du Châtelet, but after her death his political insecurity returned. The genius of his wit and pen gained him royal favor and lost it for him; after a painful bout with the Prussian court he moved to Geneva and established an estate near that city, where he ruled almost as a monarch. Much of his later life was spent in exile; his most savage attacks were reserved for orthodox Christianity, priest-craft, and Catholicism, and he found it necessary to live outside France or upon its borders. Voltaire was not an atheist. He upheld theism with as much zeal as he employed in denouncing Christianity, and the atheists of his time considered him a reactionary. During all his long life he wrote steadily–poetry, drama, romance, history, philosophy, criticism, science, and the philosophical novels for which he is best known today. In addition, he carried on a vast correspondence. His utterances are keen and penetrating, often aphoristic or epigrammatic. His On the Nature of Man contains several examples, among them the lines "The way to be a bore, for an author, is to say everything (Le secret d'ennuyer est . . ....

(The entire section is 514 words.)