Random Quote #1 topic: voltaire-dict, Philosophical Dictionary by Voltaire, 1694-1778
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_AUTHORS_

Author is a generic name which can, like the name of all other
professions, signify good or bad, worthy of respect or ridicule, useful
and agreeable, or trash for the wastepaper-basket.

* * * * *

We think that the author of a good work should refrain from three
things--from putting his name, save very modestly, from the epistle
dedicatory, and from the preface. Others should refrain from a
fourth--that is, from writing.

* * * * *

Prefaces are another stumbling-block. "The 'I,'" said Pascal, "is
hateful." Speak as little of yourself as possible; for you must know
that the reader's self-esteem is as great as yours. He will never
forgive you for wanting to condemn him to have a good opinion of you. It
is for your book to speak for you, if it comes to be read by the crowd.

* * * * *

If you want to be an author, if you want to write a book; reflect that
it must be useful and new, or at least infinitely agreeable.

* * * * *

If an ignoramus, a pamphleteer, presumes to criticize without
discrimination, you can confound him; but make rare mention of him, for
fear of sullying your writings.

* * * * *

If you are attacked as regards your style, never reply; it is for your
work alone to make answer.

* * * * *

Someone says you are ill, be content that you are well, without wanting
to prove to the public that you are in perfect health. And above all
remember that the public cares precious little whether you are well or
ill.

* * * * *

A hundred authors make compilations in order to have bread, and twenty
pamphleteers make excerpts from these compilations, or apology for them,
or criticism and satire of them, also with the idea of having bread,
because they have no other trade. All these persons go on Friday to the
police lieutenant of Paris to ask permission to sell their rubbish. They
have audience immediately after the strumpets who do not look at them
because they know that these are underhand dealings.[5]

* * * * *

Real authors are those who have succeeded in one of the real arts, in
epic poetry, in tragedy or comedy, in history or philosophy, who have
taught men or charmed them. The others of whom we have spoken are, among
men of letters, what wasps are among birds.

FOOTNOTES:

[5] When Voltaire was writing, it was the police lieutenant of Paris who
had, under the chancellor, the inspection of books: since then, a part
of his department has been taken from him. He has kept only the
inspection of theatrical plays and works below those on printed sheets.
The detail of this part is immense. In Paris one is not permitted to
print that one has lost one's dog, unless the police are assured that in
the poor beast's description there is no proposition contrary to
morality and religion (1819).



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