Everyone Is Guilty of All the Good They Did Not Do

Voltaire
Everyone Is Guilty of All the Good They Did Not Do
Nicolas de Largillière, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Voltaire: "Everyone is guilty of all the good they did not do."
Nicolas de Largillière, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), known by his pen name Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher, known as one of the greatest French writers of all time.

Voltaire wrote more than 20,000 letters and 2,000 books and pamphlets, and his works included plays, poems, novels, essays, histories, and scientific expositions. He was one of the first internationally famous and commercially successful authors. He is famed for his wit and critical satire, and is still renowned as an advocate against intolerance, dogma, and slavery—and for civil liberties, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and separation of church and state.

He is best remembered for Candide, a novella which satirises contemporary thinkers, philosophies, and events.

Learn more. 


You Might Also Like

🚂 Kazuo Ishiguro: “If you are under the impression you have already perfected yourself, you will never rise to the heights you are no doubt capable of.”

🥀 George Eliot: "It will never rain roses: when we want to have more roses, we must plant more roses."

💭 Alice Walker: "Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming."

⚡️ Chinua Achebe: "There is a moral obligation [...] not to ally oneself with power against the powerless."

🌱 Maya Angelou: "You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it."

Comments

Until now, I thought the most powerful Voltaire quotation was the one that is misattributed to him: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". A belief which in an age of misinformation and polarisation is increasingly difficult, but probably commensurately more important, to hold on to it. This though is equally arresting, hard and exhortative.