Sunday, December 13, 2015

Still work to be done.................

      Once upon a time in Paris, in the courtyard of the Palais de Justice, there lived a young boy whom nature had endowed with the quickest of wits and the most wilful of dispositions.  His soul - if he had one - was written upon his countenance.  He was quite sound in his judgment, and he had the most straightforward of minds.  His family nicknamed him Zozo:   he later called himself Voltaire.  While he believed in God Almighty, he none the less considered that there was still work to be done.  'God created man free,' he wrote at the age of seventy-three, 'and that is what I have become.'  This is the story of his extraordinary life, the story of a search for freedom.

Zozo was probably a bastard.  Like Candide, the hero of his most famous work.  Officially little Francois-Marie was born in Paris on Sunday, 21 November 1694, the second surviving son of Francois Arouet, a lawyer, and his wife Marie-Marguerite )nee Daumard).  Unofficially - but according to Voltaire himself, on several occasions - he entered the best of all possible worlds on Friday, 20 February 1694, the son of the chevalier Guerin de Rochebrune (or Roquebrune) a writer of popular songs.  This was certainly his preferred paternal origin, and he defended his mother's honour by claiming that it lay in her preference for 'a man of wit and intelligence' - 'a musketeer, officer, and author' - over 'Monsieur his father who, in the matter of genius, was a very mediocre man.'

-the opening two paragraphs from Roger Pearson's,  Voltaire Almighty:  a life in pursuit of freedom

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