Analects of the Core: Voltaire on loving the burden of life

illustration from a 1918 editionillustration from a 1918 edition

Je voulus cent fois me tuer, mais j’aimais encore la vie. Cette faiblesse ridicule est peut-être un de nos penchants les plus funestes; car y a-t-il rien de plus sot que de vouloir porter continuellement un fardeau qu’on veut toujours jeter par terre […]

I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away?

- complaint of the one-buttocked old woman, in Candide by Voltaire, translated by John Butt (Penguin, 1950). A 1918 edition of the text, translated by Philip Littell, is available online at Project Gutenberg.

One Comment

Maggie T posted on September 15, 2010 at 11:27 pm

What a wonderful first line to a quote. That is the kind of statement to open up a movie and hook the audience immediately. I apologize for not making this extremely philosophical or insightful, I just felt it was worthy to comment about.

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