Literary Quotations
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by: Voltaire

Observe that noses were made to wear spectacles; and so we have spectacles. Legs were visibly instituted to be breeched, and we have breeches. Stones were formed to be quarried and to build castles; and My Lord has a very noble castle; the greatest Baron in the province should have the best house; and as pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year round; consequently, those who have asserted all is well talk nonsense; they ought to have said that all is for the best

--Chapter 1

He was asked at his court-martial which he preferred: to be flogged by the entire regiment thirty-six times, or receive twelve lead bullets in his skull simultaneously. In vain did he remonstrate with them about the freedom of the will, and protest that he preferred neither the one option nor the other; a choice had to be made; he determined, by virtue of that gift of God called _freedom_, to run the gauntlet thirty-six times. He endured two runs. The regiment numbered two thousand men; which for Candide added up to four thousand strokes, which in turn laid bare the muscles and sinews from the nape of his neck to his buttocks. As they were lining up for the third run, Candide, who could take no more, politely asked if they would instead be so kind as to cave his head in.

--Chapter 2

Nothing could be smarter, more splendid, more brilliant, better drawn up than the two armies. Trumpets, fifes, haut-boys, drums, cannons, formed a harmony such as has never been heard even in hell. The cannons first of all laid flat about six thousand men on each side; then the musketry removed from the best of worlds some nine or ten thousand blackguards who infested its surface. The bayonet also was the sufficient reason for the death of some thousands of men. The whole might amount to thirty thousand souls. Candide, who trembled like a philosopher, hid himself as well as he could during this heroic butchery. At last, while the two Kings each commanded a Te Deum in his camp, Candide decided to go elsewhere to reason about effects and causes.

--Chapter 3

One may confidently assert that when thirty thousand men fight a pitched battle against an equal number of troops, there are about twenty thousand on each side with the pox.

--Chapter 4

If Columbus in an island of America had not caught the disease, which poisons the source of generation, and often indeed prevents generation, we should not have chocolate and cochineal.

--Chapter 4

Men ... must have corrupted nature a little, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves. God did not give them twenty-four-pounder cannons or bayonets, and they have made bayonets and cannons to destroy each other.

--Chapter 4

Private misfortunes make the public good, so that the more private misfortunes there are, the more everything is well.

--Chapter 4

If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others?

--Chapter 6

A lady of honor may be raped once, but it strengthens her virtue.

--Chapter 7

Alas! My dear ... unless you have been raped by two Bulgarians, stabbed twice in the belly, have had two castles destroyed, two fathers and mothers murdered before your eyes, and have seen two of your lovers flogged in an auto-da-fe, I do not see how you can surpass me; moreover, I was born a Baroness with seventy-two quarterings and I have been a kitchen wench.

--Chapter 10

I was a witness to a combat the like of which would never be seen in your European climes. Northerners do not have sufficiently hot blood. They do not have that raging lust for women so commonplace in Africa. You Europeans seem to have milk in your veins; whereas it is vitriol, it is fire that courses through the inhabitants of Mount Atlas and the neighbouring countries. They fought with the fury of the lions, tigers and serpents of that region.

--Chapter 11

Imagine the situation of a Pope's daughter aged fifteen, who in three months had undergone poverty and slavery, had been raped nearly every day, had seen her mother cut into four pieces, had undergone hunger and war, and was now dying of the plague in Algiers.

--Chapter 12

A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but always I loved life more. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our worst instincts. Is there anything sillier than to desire to bear continually a burden one always wishes to throw on the ground; to look upon oneself with horror and yet to cling to oneself; in short to caress the serpent which desires us until he has eaten our heart?

--Chapter 12

When a man cannot get what he wants in one world, he finds it in another.

--Chapter 14

Isn't one of life's great pleasures to see new places and do new things?

--Chapter 14

Alas! Good Lord,... I have killed my former master, my friend, and my brother-in-law; I am the kindest man in the world, and here are three men I have already killed; and two of the three are priests.

--Chapter 15

You are surprised by everything; why should you think it so strange that in some countries there should be monkeys who obtain ladies favours? They are quarter men, as I am a quarter Spaniard.

--Chapter 16

If we do not exert the right of eating our neighbor, it is because we have other means of making good cheer.

--Chapter 16

If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new.

--Chapter 17

Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.

--Chapter 19

I confess that when I consider this globe, or rather this globule, I think that God has abandoned it to some evil creature.

--Chapter 20

Have you ever been to France?... I have travelled through several of its provinces. In some of which half the population are lunatics, whereas in others they are too cunning by half; in some parts they are quite good-natured and rather simple-minded, while in others they cultivate their wits. But wherever you go, the principal occupation is making love, the second is spreading scandal, and the third is talking nonsense.

--Chapter 21

Yes, I've been to Paris ... it is a chaos, a throng in which everyone pursues pleasure and almost no one finds it.

--Chapter 21

'Do you think,' said Candide, 'that men have always massacred each other, as they do today? Have they always been liars, cheats, traitors, brigands, weak, flighty, cowardly, envious, gluttonous, drunken, grasping, and vicious, bloody, backbiting, debauched, fanatical, hypocritical, and silly?'

--Chapter 21

The man of taste explained very clearly how a play can be of some interest but of almost no merit. He showed in a few words how it was not enough to contrive one or two of those situations that are to be found in any novel and which always captivate the audience; that one needs to be original without being far-fetched, frequently sublime but always natural; to know the human heart but also how to give it a voice; to be a poet without one's characters seeming to speak like poets.

--Chapter 22

There are very few good tragedies; some are merely idylls in dialogue form, however well written and well rhymed; others are political tracts that send us to sleep, or pomposities that merely repel us; and others still are the ravings of enthusiasts, barbarously written, with broken dialogue and lengthy apostrophes to the gods (because the author does not know how to speak to men).

--Chapter 22

Troubles are just the shadows in a beautiful picture.

--Chapter 22

In this country it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others.

--Chapter 23

Is there not pleasure in criticizing, in finding faults where other men think they see beauty? That is to say ... that there is pleasure in not being pleased.

--Chapter 25

Work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need.

--Chapter 30

When man was put in the garden of Eden he was put there so that he should work, which proves that man was not born to rest.

--Chapter 30

Let us work without theorizing ... 'tis the only way to make life endurable.

--Chapter 30

We must cultivate our garden.

--Chapter 30

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