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Zadig et autres contes

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" Je vous offre la traduction d'un livre d'un ancien sage, qui, ayant le bonheur de n'avoir rien à faire, eut celui de s'amuser à écrire l'histoire de Zadig : ouvrage qui dit plus qu'il ne semble dire. Je vous prie de le lire et d'en juger ". Sadi écrit ici à la sultane Sheraa et Voltaire s'adresse à nous...

Marchons donc sur les traces de Zadig, partageons ses aventures et découvrons le monde par ses yeux. Avec lui, regardons nos coutumes et nos institutions ; interrogeons-nous sur le sens de notre existence.

168 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1747

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About the author

Voltaire

4,156 books4,085 followers
Complete works (1880) : https://archive.org/details/oeuvresco...

In 1694, Age of Enlightenment leader Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born in Paris. Jesuit-educated, he began writing clever verses by the age of 12. He launched a lifelong, successful playwriting career in 1718, interrupted by imprisonment in the Bastille. Upon a second imprisonment, in which Francois adopted the pen name Voltaire, he was released after agreeing to move to London. There he wrote Lettres philosophiques (1733), which galvanized French reform. The book also satirized the religious teachings of Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal, including Pascal's famed "wager" on God. Voltaire wrote: "The interest I have in believing a thing is not a proof of the existence of that thing." Voltaire's French publisher was sent to the Bastille and Voltaire had to escape from Paris again, as judges sentenced the book to be "torn and burned in the Palace." Voltaire spent a calm 16 years with his deistic mistress, Madame du Chatelet, in Lorraine. He met the 27 year old married mother when he was 39. In his memoirs, he wrote: "I found, in 1733, a young woman who thought as I did, and decided to spend several years in the country, cultivating her mind." He dedicated Traite de metaphysique to her. In it the Deist candidly rejected immortality and questioned belief in God. It was not published until the 1780s. Voltaire continued writing amusing but meaty philosophical plays and histories. After the earthquake that leveled Lisbon in 1755, in which 15,000 people perished and another 15,000 were wounded, Voltaire wrote Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (Poem on the Lisbon Disaster): "But how conceive a God supremely good/ Who heaps his favours on the sons he loves,/ Yet scatters evil with as large a hand?"

Voltaire purchased a chateau in Geneva, where, among other works, he wrote Candide (1759). To avoid Calvinist persecution, Voltaire moved across the border to Ferney, where the wealthy writer lived for 18 years until his death. Voltaire began to openly challenge Christianity, calling it "the infamous thing." He wrote Frederick the Great: "Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." Voltaire ended every letter to friends with "Ecrasez l'infame" (crush the infamy — the Christian religion). His pamphlet, The Sermon on the Fifty (1762) went after transubstantiation, miracles, biblical contradictions, the Jewish religion, and the Christian God. Voltaire wrote that a true god "surely cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on the gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough," or inspired "books, filled with contradictions, madness, and horror." He also published excerpts of Testament of the Abbe Meslier, by an atheist priest, in Holland, which advanced the Enlightenment. Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary was published in 1764 without his name. Although the first edition immediately sold out, Geneva officials, followed by Dutch and Parisian, had the books burned. It was published in 1769 as two large volumes. Voltaire campaigned fiercely against civil atrocities in the name of religion, writing pamphlets and commentaries about the barbaric execution of a Huguenot trader, who was first broken at the wheel, then burned at the stake, in 1762. Voltaire's campaign for justice and restitution ended with a posthumous retrial in 1765, during which 40 Parisian judges declared the defendant innocent. Voltaire urgently tried to save the life of Chevalier de la Barre, a 19 year old sentenced to death for blasphemy for failing to remove his hat during a religious procession. In 1766, Chevalier was beheaded after being tortured, then his body was burned, along with a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. Voltaire's statue at the Pantheon was melted down during Nazi occupation. D. 1778.

Voltaire (1694-1778), pseudónimo de François-

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 222 reviews
Profile Image for Lisa.
974 reviews3,328 followers
June 2, 2017
Zadig, according to Voltaire in his preface, is "un ouvrage qui dit plus qu'il ne semble dire".

Just like contemporary science fiction authors often choose a futuristic, technologically advanced and remote society to describe questions they consider relevant for our own time and place, Voltaire moves his setting to a foreign and ancient culture, but indicates that the adventure story is more than just an action-filled tale of fortune for those who can read between the lines.

In fact, Zadig is a thinly disguised philosophical satire on Voltaire's own environment, addressing all the issues he cared and raged about: nepotism, power balance, sexual exploitation, abuse, medical charlatanism, bizarre traditions, superstition, evidence-based science versus blind faith.

Zadig is born to suffer, being cursed with a "beau naturel fortifié par l'éduaction", thus an odd man out in a society where the majority of people are both mean-spirited and stupid. He is up against greed, envy, corruption, lust and hypocrisy, always trying his best to support human rights and general justice himself. Hardly ever successful against the rest of the world, he complains:

"Tout me persecute dans ce monde, jusqu'aux êtres qui n'existent pas."

If even non-existent creatures are threatening his happiness, what makes him continue fighting?

Less funny and picaresque than sweet but helpless Candide, Zadig is more of a true leader, a person who takes responsibility seriously and strives to make a real change in the world. If he wants live up to the ideal he has defined for himself, certain blows have to be accepted. Zadig shows his strong personality when he continues to work for future projects even as he faces defeat and humiliation. He is not concerned with "winning", but with change for the better, and not only for himself. At the end of his bizarre adventure and learning journey, he faces hardship whichever direction he chooses, but he keeps moving nonetheless:

"Partons, et voyons à quoi me réserve ma triste destinée."

Well-meaning, well-educated, and highly experienced, Zadig will surely be able to make an impact wherever he goes, thus taking a step beyond resigned Candide, who is pleased to just cultivate his own garden after his journey of hilariously brutal disillusionment leads him to give up his naive, optimistic world view. In a way, Zadig resembles idealistic Don Quixote as well, that determined believer in the perfectibility of humankind.

Voltaire's stories and their political satire make as much sense now as when he wrote them, and they should be read over and over again, to remind us to keep working, talking, acting for a better world, no matter what the odds look like at the moment.

I can't help thinking that Voltaire would have been a brilliant stand-up comedian today, expertly using the political raw material to create beautiful, linguistically brilliant comedy and political satire.

Écrasez l'infame!
Profile Image for Jamie.
39 reviews3 followers
June 8, 2009
First before I talk about the book, I would like to briefly explain the history of the author, to appreciate the novel's value. Voltaire was a philosopher in the 17th and 18th century. His writings included epic, lyric and dramatic poetry, novels and philosophical essays, criticism and historical narrative. During his lifetime, Voltaire was most known for being a poetic dramatists, but currently he is famous for adamantly crusading against religious hypocrisy by attacking the corruption of religious churches and ideologies.

In his novels, Zadig especially, Voltaire is known for beautifully executing quick witted parables, that contain deeper levels of meaning about life. Voltaire is a master at the fast pace of stylistic prose. Zadig (meaning destiny) is set around Babylon in the 837 century C.E. He goes through these mini-adventures that play a part in his personal choices, in which ultimately defines his own character. Throughout his adventures, Zadig learns the perils and successes from the outer world of people and situations, that doesn't necessarily dictate his own innate change of character, and the choices that he makes through his personal being. At the end Zadig learns a lesson from the Divine, and lives out his life in an enlightened state of mind. He eventually sees the good in the world, regardless of the rough journey that led him there.
Profile Image for Abraham.
26 reviews49 followers
October 2, 2017
Even if the your world seems like it's crumbling down... books are one of my escapes.
Profile Image for Descending Angel.
665 reviews29 followers
May 29, 2016
I wasn't planning to read this, well not yet, but i bought a copy of Candide that had this and a couple other stories. I was pleasantly surprised with this, i wasn't even sure i was gunna like Candide (i'am reading it at the moment) because ive never read anything this old before, it was writen in 1747. But Voltaire soundeed like a hell of a interesting guy and it translates into this story. Zadig tells a story of an honest intelligent man and his adventures, he helps people in all sorts of ways ~ he saves a fishermen from committing suicide, he gives advice and speaks his mind truthfully and is just a genuinely nice guy but everytime he does something good or nice people start to turn on him out of ignorance, jealousy or what seems like "fate". This isn't as read as Candide but it should be, a really good read.

Just something that pissed me off ~ there's a appendix with two extra chapters that take place between the 12th and 13th chapters. Why have it as an appendix!? just put the chapters in or at least make a note saying there's 2 more chapters that go here at the back of the book. It really does piss me off.
Profile Image for Naïma Dams.
26 reviews16 followers
July 31, 2017
Un conte philosophique prodigieux, qui retrace la vie de Zadig, un babylonien en quête de justice et de quiétude. Gouverné par ses pensées utopiques et sa bonne foi, il lutte pour ancrer les valeurs les plus humaines et nobles au sein d'une société qui macère dans l'injustice, l'ignorance et la superstition.
Avec bravoure, il sauve des vies. Avec sagacité, il raconte des anecdotes riches en maximes. Et d'un cœur porté au bien, il sait donner sans rien atteindre en retour.
Cependant, «On n'est pas chez les Bisounours»! et ce Zadig, bien qu'il s'acharne à semer la justice et bâtir une vie exemplaire, il n'a moissonné que l'intimité. , :On l'a enfermé dans les cachots, On lui a imposé des amendes, on l'a expatrier, on l'a esclavager . Ces déboires qui ne cessent de s'acharner sur sa vie lui induit à méditer sur la destinée, le hasard, la nature humaine, le pouvoir arbitraire,voire même la Providence..., et à poser des questions existentielles qui taraudent l'esprit : " L'homme a-t-il le libre arbitre ou non ?" " Les valeurs sont-elles relatives ?" " doit-on acquiescer a la raison ou écouter son cœur?"

Ce chef-d'œuvre est un texte incontournable de la littérature française. En effet, bien qu'il gravite autour des thèmes sérieux, il a été écrit d'un brin d'humour. Il est à la fois constructif et divertissant. Son auteur est doté d'une virtuosité qui lui sert de toucher à des sujets tabous d'une manière détournée. Ceci lui a permis de faire front contre la censure du roi et de l'église.

Le monde a besoin d'un nouveau Voltaire!

Profile Image for Jeannette.
650 reviews139 followers
March 22, 2020
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

(Quarantine: Book 3)

I'll admit, firstly, that I have not yet finished the short stories, aside from Zadig, however, I don't plan on reviewing all of them, so I prefer writing this now, before I start mixing Zadig with the other stories.

Why I would possibly do that is because, after all, one author is but limited in their style, and even between Candide and Zadig I saw many parallels, nevermind all the rest of the stories which are often based on each other, like Memnon, let's say.

In some ways I enjoyed Zadig even more than Candide, for the simple reason that the philosophy was not as "in your face", as it was in Candide. Also, I believe, for the most part, Voltaire was basing this story, from an ideological point of view, heavily on both ancient philosophical doctrines, and on religious ones, which made it a lot more versatile. It might not come as a surprise that the episode I enjoyed the most was The Hermit, which is present both in the Middle Eastern culture, and specifically in the Quran.

On the other hand, Zadig is also famously a critique of the French royal court (transformed, in the fashion of the day, to one in Babylon), so it was rich on politics, and, as I had also mentioned in my review of Candide, full of references, notes and remarks about people Voltaire liked or disliked (for example many of the names, usually those of villains, being anagrams of the names of people in Voltaire's life).
Profile Image for George.
60 reviews43 followers
August 7, 2018
"Zadig" by Voltaire (published 1747) is a short philosophical novel that explores why good things happen to bad people and why bad things happen to good people.

In my opinion it was just OK. Voltaire's "Candide" is a better philosophical novel.

A few quotes from Zadig:

From Chapter 17:
[Zadig and the philosopher] agreed in the course of the conversation that the things of this world did not always answer the wishes of the wise.
The hermit maintained that the ways of Providence were inscrutable. And that men were in the wrong to judge of a whole of which they understood but the smallest part.
They talked of the passions.
"Ah," said Zadig, "How fatal are their effects."
"They are the winds," replied the hermit, "That swell the sails of the ship."
"It is true they sometimes sink her, but without them she could not sail at all."
"The bile makes us sick and choleric. But without the bile, we could not live."
"Everything in this world is dangerous. And yet, everything in it is necessary."

From Chapter 17:
"Men," said the angel Jesrad, "Judge everything without knowing anything."

From Chapter 17:
"But why," said Zadig, "Is it necessary that there should be crimes and misfortunes. And that these misfortunes should fall on the good?"
"The wicked," replied Jesrad, "Are always unhappy. They serve to prove and try the small number of the just that are scattered throughout the earth. And there is no evil that is not productive of some good."
"But," said Zadig, "Suppose there was nothing but good and no evil at all?"
"Then," replied Jesrad, "This earth would be another earth. The chain of events would be ranged in another order and directed by wisdom. But this other order which would be perfect can exist only in the eternal abode of the Supreme Being to which no evil can approach."
"The Deity has created millions of worlds among which there is not one that resembles another.
This immense variety is the effect of his immense power. There are not two leaves among the trees of the earth, nor two globes in the unlimited expanse of heaven, that are exactly similar.
And all you see on the little atom in which you are born ought to be in its proper time and place according to the immutable decrees of him who comprehends all."
"Men think that this child who has just perished is fallen into the water by chance. And that it is by this same chance that this house is burned. But there is no such thing as chance. All is either a trial, or a punishment, or a reward, or a foresight..."
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,480 followers
December 10, 2019
Voltaire had a unique sense of satire and his Zadig character is one of the great ones - sort of a 17th century Forrest Gump. The other stories in this collection all feel a bit dated, and none reach the quality of Zadig in this reader's opinion. It remains, with Candide, one of Voltaire's signature works of fiction. It takes place in ancient Babylonia and barely disguises the satirical portraits of the courtiers that Voltaire is parodying while in exile in Amsterdam in 1748. Curiously enough, it was cited as an inspiration to writers as different as Arthur Conan Doyle, Sade, and Edgar Allen Poe. Definitely worth the time to seek out and read.
Profile Image for Sumirti Singaravelu.
102 reviews289 followers
February 26, 2015
This is yet another beautiful work by Voltaire. The story is weaved around the life of a virtuous, able, efficient, courageous man named Zadig. Throughout the story, Zadig undergoes both fortunes and misfortunes, blessings and curses, meets with both luck and ill-luck, not for what is worst in him; but rather for what is best in him. Tussled between life's highs and lows, which treats all men alike, he learns and unlearns aplenty which would help him to stay happy always, irrespective of his circumstances.

Although, at the out-sketch the story may appear to be another a fairy tale wherein the good men undergoes trial and disaster to be rewarded with the triumph at the end, the witty quotes of Voltaire(almost in every page)which throws a deeper meaning upon every aspect of life makes the reading thoroughly enjoyable and too worthy.

What a fine balance maintained between the theme, style and the plot!! Voltaire had never compromised one for the other. He just carries us off through the story providing pleasure, solace and peace.

Some of my favourite quotes from the book:

* "The most implacable hatreds often have no more important bases"

* "It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one"

* "Always pleasure is no pleasure"

* "The moment when we meet again and the moment when we part apart are the two greatest epochs in life"

* "All is dangerous here below, and all is necessary"

* "There is no evil out of which some good is not born"

* "He has created millions of world, not one of which can resemble another. This immense variety is an attribute of his immense power. There are no two leaves of a tree on earth, or two globes in the infinite fields of the heavens, that are alike; and everything you see on the little atom on which you were born had be, in its appointed place and time, according to the immutable orders of Him who embraces all"

* "There is no chance: all is test, or punishment, or reward, or forseeing"

* "nothing is slower for one who waits, nothing swifter for him who enjoys it"

Above all, this one is the best:

"What is the thing that we receive without giving thanks, enjoy without knowing how, give to others when we don't know where we are, and lose without noticing it?"

And Voltaire answers it as "Life"!

I will come back again to re-read this book whenever I need rest, warmth and hope.

A Must Read.
Profile Image for Mohamed al-Jamri.
174 reviews112 followers
October 16, 2016
رواية قصيرة ذات أحداث متلاحقة سريعة. البطل زاديج هو فيلسوف من بابل تلاحقه الأحداث السيئة بالرغم من أعماله ونياته الحسنة. وكلما تحسنت أحواله تسوء بعد فترة. إلى أن يصل للحكمة بفعل لقائه بمعلم في قصة مقتبسة من قصة الخضر في القرآن.

لم تكن الرواية بمثل قوة رواية كانديد ولم تحتو على نفس المقدار من خفة الظل، فضلاً عن اختلافي مع الحكمة التي تطرحها وهي كون المصائب والشرور ضرورية للحصول على الخير في هذا العالم. النهاية كانت أشبه بروايات الأطفال حيث ينتصر البطل ويعيش بفرح وسلام.
Profile Image for Sue.
81 reviews12 followers
May 10, 2019
حكاية شرقية جداً.. ترجمة جميلة.
Profile Image for Carol.
825 reviews
November 29, 2012
Zadig, the protagonist, is the story of a young Babylonian philosopher. Despite his wisdom and moderation, he meets with a series of misfortunes. He is nearly strangled in Babylon and roasted alive in Basra before being enslaved in Egypt. Only in the end does Providence reveal that these have merely been trials for the good fortune that awaits him on earth.

The principal theme of Voltaire's Zadig is the problem of human happiness. Voltaire's title character possesses every virtue and material good needed for happiness yet he is constantly tossed about by fate, at the mercy of the some of the worst luck imaginable. The questions that are raised, therefore, involve the conditions on which happiness depends, the qualities needed to be happy, the effects that evil persons can have on one's happiness, and the role played by merit, fate, chance, or Providence in one's life.

Francois Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) was born on November 21, 1694 in Paris. Voltaire's intelligence, wit and style made him one of France's greatest writers and philosophers. Voltaire was the embodiment of the 18th-century Enlightenment. Voltaire was a philosopher and supporter of social reform. He spoke openly in defense of civil liberties and freedom of religion. His satires often poked fun at the Catholic Church and other French institutions. Voltaire along with other authors of the Enlightenment period was influential in the American and French Revolutions. Voltaire was a prolific letter writer having written over 21,000 letters. As a young outspoken poet in Paris, Voltaire was often in trouble with the crown.
Profile Image for Paul Gaya Ochieng Simeon Juma.
546 reviews34 followers
December 22, 2016
This is a masterpiece! It looks into the human heart, examines it, and unravels what lies underneath. To some, sadness, to them jealousy, to him vengeance, to another wisdom and so on. It also examines the human body and mind. Most of us choose to surround ourselves with wealth and pleasures of this world. Others engage in intellectual pursuit. What is common to us all is the strong desire to attain happiness.

Life if full of sorrow as revealed in Zadig's adventures. We help others achieve their dreams. To some, we raise to be above us. To others we help defeat their sworn enemies. However, be all that as it will, we know that there will always lurk those who are dissatisfied and envious of our deeds. Given the opportunity they will destroy us and leave us for dead.

It is good and advisable to be always moderate. Either when dealing with Kings or Paupers. You help a wife by beating up her cruel husband and she will turn against you. You get so close to the King and he will suspect you of ulterior motives.

To the theme of this book, happiness. Is it attainable? Most of us are unhappy for different reasons. Some people are poor and wish to run away fron it, others have problems lurking around their family etc. What is clear is that the greatest unhappiness lies deep down in the hearts of men. Voltaire says that we have to move own. We can change what we are able to change, fight the apparent injustices around us for what matters is how we come out the end of everything.
Profile Image for Tyler Jones.
1,534 reviews74 followers
July 12, 2018
The story, like the story of Candide is full of outrageous coincidence, outlandish improbability, and dark humour. But Zadig, is a much brighter tale, free of much of the cruelty and misanthropy that is found in Voltaire's more famous work. I enjoyed it immensely, laughing out loud several times. Zadig deserves more readers!
March 16, 2022
"რა საფრთხოა ფანჯარაში ცქერა და რა ძნელია ამ სააქაოს ბედნიერად ცხოვრება!"

"ზადიგი იმ აზრს დაადგა, რომ ამ ქვეყნად ბედნიერი ცხოვრება არც ისე ძნელიაო."

Profile Image for Farhad Mammadov.
40 reviews1 follower
February 16, 2019
Arxaik dilçilik üslubunda yazılsa da, çox maraqlı və "yağ kimi" oxunan sujeti var. Habelə Volterin Qərb oxucusunda Babil əhlinin "müsəlman ərəb" təsəvvürünü yaratmağa cəhdi və Musa peyğəmbərlə Xızır peyğəmbərin yol dialoqunu öz sujetinə köçürməsi Şərq oxucusu üçün bir az darıxdırıcı gəlir. Hər halda subyektiv fikrimdir...
Profile Image for Marts  (Thinker).
2,665 reviews
September 10, 2013
This work by Voltaire satirically highlights some social and political issues of his time, he achieves such through the tale of a Babylonian philosopher called Zadig. Many events occur in Zadig's life; he loses the woman he loses, is injured by a jealous man, is imprisoned, becomes prime minister, has to flee his country, is made a slave in Egypt, ends up an Arab captive, saves a man from killing himself... and the adventures of Zadig continue until he learns the lessons of life...

You can read Zadig at Project Gutenberg: http://www.gutenberg.org/files/18972/...

Here are a couple thought-provoking riddles from the final chapter:

RIDDLE 1 -
Question: What is the longest and yet the shortest Thing in the World; the most swift and the most slow; the most divisible, and the most extended; the least valu’d, and the most regretted; And without which nothing can possibly be done: Which, in a Word, devours every Thing how minute soever, and yet gives Life and Spirit to every Object or Being, however Great?

Answer: Time.



RIDDLE 2 -
Question: What is the Thing we receive, without being ever thankful for it; which we enjoy, without knowing how we came by it; which we give away to others, without knowing where ’tis to be found; and which we lose, without being any ways conscious of our Misfortune?

Answer: Life.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Marmott79.
122 reviews33 followers
November 22, 2018
Chiudete gli occhi, siete alla corte di Luigi XV, rocca, sfarzosa, ipocrita, corrotta, la stessa stigmatizzata da Dumas nel ciclo dei tre moschettieri. Babilonia è in realtà Parigi e Zadig ne percorre strade e palazzi scovandone le imperfezioni e proponendo soluzioni di buon governo con intelligenza e compassione, mai astuzia. 


Zadig è un libro che dice più di quanto non sembri: in quest'opera Voltaire tratta tutti gli argomenti che stanno a cuore al filosofo a proposito di costume e malcostume della corte: nepotismo, corruzione, ciarlataneria, idolatria e superstizione, critica l'ipocrisia di palazzo e la mancanza di compassione verso chi è caduto in disgrazia ma critica anche quei sovrani che non accettano i suggerimenti di uomini più dotti. I filosofi del XVIII secolo si proponevano come guide morali per i sovrani e venivano spesso denigrati dai cortigiani, a volte messi proprio al bando come accadde proprio a Voltaire. L'esotismo, la localizzazione in un altrove spaziale e temporale era pratica usuale in quei tempi, vi si ricorreva volentieri, lo fece anche Montesquieu con le sue Lettere Persiane e anche lui, come Voltaire, giudico più opportuno pubblicare l'opera in Olanda per sfuggire alla censura del regime. 


Zadig è un puro, di buona indole e buona educazione, eppure il mondo sembra rivoltarglisi contro: i malvagi sembrano avere il sopravvento e lui soccombere salvo salvarsi sempre all'ultimo. Con questo Voltaire ci dice anche di più: influenzato probabilmente dalle teorie gianseniste che qualche decennio più tardi avrebbero ispirato la manzoniana Provvidenza, ci ricorda che tutto è bene nel migliore dei mondi possibili e che gli uomini non dovrebbero giudicare il Tutto dalla loro limitata percezione in quanto non conoscono tutta la verità. Il caos che apparentemente governa gli eventi cela il motore universale della Provvidenza, il grande architetto che tutto conosce e tutto ha predisposto. 

Dice l'eremita: "La bile rende collerico e malati ma senza questa l'uomo non potrebbe vivere. Tutto è pericoloso e tutto è necessario".


Graziosa è infine la critica che Voltaire rivolge allo stile pomposo di alcuni celebrati autori del Settecento quando fa criticare all'invidioso il discorso di Zadig perché "non aveva fatto danzare abbastanza le montagne e le colline. Nel suo discorso non si vedono né il mare che scompare né le stelle che cadono". È l'inizio del linguaggio scientifico, politico e letterario moderno? Ricondurre il linguaggio a comunicazione liberandolo dagli orpelli e dal superfluo che rischiano di offuscarlo, dalle similitudini e dalle figure retoriche lasciando spazio al significato. "Zadig si accontentava di avere lo stile della ragione".


Chicca al capitolo IV "L'Invidioso": la lettera dimezzata che rischia di far condannare Zadig mi riporta agli esperimenti letterari dell'OuLiPo del dopoguerra francese, quel laboratorio di letteratura potenziale che vide tra i suoi maggiori esponenti Queneau e Calvino. E mi riporta al visconte dimezzato, al tutto bene / tutto male e alla conclusione che siano necessari entrambi e che il dimidiamento sia un danno.

Chiudete gli occhi, siete alla corte di Luigi XV, rocca, sfarzosa, ipocrita, corrotta, la stessa stigmatizzata da Dumas nel ciclo dei tre moschettieri. Babilonia è in realtà Parigi e Zadig ne percorre strade e palazzi scovandone le imperfezioni e proponendo soluzioni di buon governo con intelligenza e compassione, mai astuzia. 


Zadig è un libro che dice più di quanto non sembri: in quest'opera Voltaire tratta tutti gli argomenti che stanno a cuore al filosofo a proposito di costume e malcostume della corte: nepotismo, corruzione, ciarlataneria, idolatria e superstizione, critica l'ipocrisia di palazzo e la mancanza di compassione verso chi è caduto in disgrazia ma critica anche quei sovrani che non accettano i suggerimenti di uomini più dotti. I filosofi del XVIII secolo si proponevano come guide morali per i sovrani e venivano spesso denigrati dai cortigiani, a volte messi proprio al bando come accadde proprio a Voltaire. L'esotismo, la localizzazione in un altrove spaziale e temporale era pratica usuale in quei tempi, vi si ricorreva volentieri, lo fece anche Montesquieu con le sue Lettere Persiane e anche lui, come Voltaire, giudico più opportuno pubblicare l'opera in Olanda per sfuggire alla censura del regime. 


Zadig è un puro, di buona indole e buona educazione, eppure il mondo sembra rivoltarglisi contro: i malvagi sembrano avere il sopravvento e lui soccombere salvo salvarsi sempre all'ultimo. Con questo Voltaire ci dice anche di più: influenzato probabilmente dalle teorie gianseniste che qualche decennio più tardi avrebbero ispirato la manzoniana Provvidenza, ci ricorda che tutto è bene nel migliore dei mondi possibili e che gli uomini non dovrebbero giudicare il Tutto dalla loro limitata percezione in quanto non conoscono tutta la verità. Il caos che apparentemente governa gli eventi cela il motore universale della Provvidenza, il grande architetto che tutto conosce e tutto ha predisposto. 

Dice l'eremita: "La bile rende collerico e malati ma senza questa l'uomo non potrebbe vivere. Tutto è pericoloso e tutto è necessario".


Graziosa è infine la critica che Voltaire rivolge allo stile pomposo di alcuni celebrati autori del Settecento quando fa criticare all'invidioso il discorso di Zadig perché "non aveva fatto danzare abbastanza le montagne e le colline. Nel suo discorso non si vedono né il mare che scompare né le stelle che cadono". È l'inizio del linguaggio scientifico, politico e letterario moderno? Ricondurre il linguaggio a comunicazione liberandolo dagli orpelli e dal superfluo che rischiano di offuscarlo, dalle similitudini e dalle figure retoriche lasciando spazio al significato. "Zadig si accontentava di avere lo stile della ragione".


Chicca al capitolo IV "L'Invidioso": la lettera dimezzata che rischia di far condannare Zadig mi riporta agli esperimenti letterari dell'OuLiPo del dopoguerra francese, quel laboratorio di letteratura potenziale che vide tra i suoi maggiori esponenti Queneau e Calvino. E mi riporta al visconte dimezzato, al tutto bene / tutto male e alla conclusione che siano necessari entrambi e che il dimidiamento sia un danno.
15 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2009
While I do like Voltaire's writings, I would have to recommend Candide over this one. Just not as witty or tongue and cheek as his other writings. Sort of a typical hero/fantasy story. Though Voltaire's style and imagination make it readable, the story is rather cliche, and sadly it was probably cliche even before the time of Voltaire.
Profile Image for سلمان.
Author 1 book149 followers
November 13, 2017
لم أجد فيها سوى التسلية! ولا أعلم ما سبب قراءة طه حسين لها ثلاث مرات أو أربع حسب مقدمته! ماذا وجد فيها لم أجده؟! من يعلم لا يبخل بإيضاح
Profile Image for Emily Rosewater.
195 reviews1 follower
November 20, 2019
Вероятно таки недоообразованность сказывается, так как ничто в принципе не производит достаточно внушительного (исторического) впечатления по мере ознакомления с трудами мусьё Аруэ.
Чувство (неоправданного) отвращения, овладевшее мной по мере анализа "подводимых итогов" Моэма, где непосредственно в хвалебных тонах преподносится Вольтер - сказалось на оценке последнего, но не восприятии.
То есть присутствует некая "прелесть" чтения и читабельности, некое "соучастие" персонажам, комфорт потребления; движение мысли остаётся довольно приземлённым, если можно так выразиться, не смотря на возникающие ассоциации - но ведь последние не столь заслугой следует считать писателя, сколь спецификой психических процессов читателя.
...
Если коснуться главного действующего лица: Задиг представляет собой "ирреального" персонажа (не потому ли способного напомнить читателю о ком-то крайне близком?), эдакого "универсального солдата" на новейший манер, вне идеологической/политической ангажированности кинематографа или научной фантастики. Его "упование", впрочем, бросается в глаза - Задиг норовит сформулировать внешнюю силу, богосудьбу, способную взять на снбя ответственность за происходящее, вполне не включаясь при этом в существующие системы морали и духовности (Задиг превосходит их в самых основах). В этом прослеживается сам Франсуа Мари - для сопоставления можно взять "Поэму о гибели Лиссабона".
Задиг находится в поиске того, чем он обладает и не может обладать в принципе, иначе он не стал бы Задигом и не был преподнесён нам на блюдце Вольтером в 1747 году (272 года назад, на минуточку), нп оставался бы актуальным и в Наши Дни, когда акцент на "успешности" действия и полнейшее невежественное игнорирование онт��логической ценности "неудач" катастрофически обострены (что прослеживается, в частности, в делах политики и реакционного/концептуального искусства). Против этого нас и предупреждала, например, Ева Анчел.
...
"Гермес написал книгу, в которой доказывал, что Задиг не должен был выздороветь."
(Hermès écrivit un livre où il lui prouva qu'il n'avait pas dû guérir.)
В этой фразе очень хорошо позиционируется противоречие ирреальных вещей реальным, действенных - бездейственным, своевременных - вневременным, и ложных - правдоподобным. Задиг выздоровел потому, что он не включён в систему инфицирования группы (и группой - групп). Аналогию тут можно было бы провести с информированием индивида относительно того или иного происшествия средствами масс-медиа; задача человека, несущего ответсвенность за собственную жизнь - не "заболеть", будучи информированным. По сути в Наши Дни важно быть Задигом, быть "ирреальным" (не путать с виртуальностью).
"..никогда он не был так верен государю, как в то время когда сознавал себя виновным в невольном преступлении."
(..et jamais il ne fut plus fidèle à son prince que quand il fut coupable envers lui d'un crime involontaire.)
Этот феномен взят в оборот организаторами социального активизма - людей уличают в потворствовании ложным и вредоносным идеалам, субъект активации обречён на испытание неполноценности и пагубности принятого им образа мышления; человек принуждён следовать суждениям претендующих на власть структур (эту власть по сути отрицающих, маскирующих добродетельностью и научной доказуемостью), вверять им собственную судьбу.
Верность - прежде всего верность невозможности поддаться соблазну из слабости, и создание реакционного соблазна, способного нивелировать силу.
"Все рабы царей и цариц шпионят за их сердцами."
(Tous les esclaves des rois et des reines sont autant d'espions de leurs coeurs.)
Отсюда самый обыденный интерес среднестатистического гражданина к "личному пространству" лиц, выслужившихся перед культурой и демократией (актёры, музыканты, парламентёры, публицисты) - интерес предполагает некую связь между "личным пространством", предположительно недоступным, и общественным признанием.
"..они так далеки от нас, что не поклоняться им нельзя."
(..ils sont d'ailleurs si loin de nous qu'on ne peut pas s'empêcher de les révérer.)
Расстояние, пусть оно оказывается в итоге плодом воображения, симптомом невротического состояния - создаёт отношения подчинения и власти, превосходства и самоуничижения. Боги и "высшие силы", генерируемые человечеством, не могут, даже при условии "материализации", сосуществовать по законам цивилизованного человека (будь он хоть распоследним дикарём) - посему, дабы избежать нарушения правопорядка мышления и жизни, они отстраняются на план предсуществующий, им вменяется заслуга сотворения порядка вещей только потому, что боги склонны к разрушению такового.
Главы же "Избитая женщина", "Разбойник" и "Отшельник" могут быть предметом отдельного эссе. Естественно, роль Иезрада следовало бы пересмотреть.
"Все признали, что Задиг прав."
(L'assemblée convint que Zadig avait raison.)
Эти слова вызвали во мне прямой вопрос, на который не сможет ответить никто, кроме автора: так значит, ответов на загадки не знали и сами загадывающие?
"В заключение она уронила свою подвязку. Задиг поднял её с обычной своей учтивостью, но не завязал над коленом дамы."
(..elle finit par laisser tomber sa jarretière; Zadig la ramassa avec sa politesse ordinaire; mais il ne la rattacha point au genou de la dame;..)
...
Забудьте о том, что 2 - это "плохо".
Profile Image for Silash Ruparell.
31 reviews2 followers
September 6, 2013
This review also appears on my blog www.silashruparell.com

My one liner: Arguably, even exceptional people can only ever expect to achieve 55% of what they want in life. A dip into the 18th century philosophy of Voltaire can help us understand why.

Here’s a basic hypothesis for life outcomes. Bear with me on this, as those of you who know your Voltaire are going to say I’m straying far too far off the reservation…

Imagine that the outcomes that happen to an individual person in life are determined by 80% “world events” which are outside of his control and 20% “specific performance” which is within his control (comments please, on the percentage split). [as an aside, anyone in finance will recognise the parallels with “market” and “specific” risk – presumably (??) the world in general operates like this, not just stock markets].

And let’s say that on average, half of “world events” are “good” ones for a particular individual, and half of them are “bad” ones. So, your life outcome from “world events” is 40. And let’s say on individual performance, a person thinks he is a “10-15”, say 15 for the high achievers amongst us. So, add them up, and even a high achiever only gets to 55, on average. If events always go his way, he gets to 95, and if events always go against him, he gets to 15. But his expectation is 55.

Some faiths interpret “world events” in that model above as “Fate”. The faiths typically differ as to what Fate implies. The Judeo-Christian / Abrahamic tradition basically says that if you live a virtuous life then divine intervention tilts Fate in your favour. The Buddhist / Hindu tradition says that you can only escape the clutches of Fate through a process of self-realisation; otherwise your Fate is written, and that’s it.

Where on this line does Voltaire site in the tale of Zadig ? Hard to say, but I think he is undecided. Zadig is frustrated that in his own eyes he is virtuous, wise, and makes good decisions (he probably rates himself as a 20), and yet his outcomes do not always reflect this.

“Zadig, avec de grandes richesses, et par conséquent avec des amis, ayant de la santé, une figure amiable, un esprit juste et modéré, un cœur sincère et noble, crut qu’il pouvait être heureux. ”

“As Zadig was immensely rich, and had consequently Friends without Number; and as he was a Gentleman of a robust Constitution, and remarkably handsome; as he was endowed with a plentiful Share of ready and inoffensive Wit: And in a Word, as his Heart was perfectly sincere and open, he imagin’d himself, in some Measure, qualified to be perfectly happy.”

Some outcomes for him are simply due to bad luck, and he does try to pick himself up:

“Tout ce que j’ai fait de bien a toujours été pour moi une source de malédictions, et je n’ai été élevé au comble de grandeur que pour tomber dans le plus horrible précipice de l’infortune. ”

“All the Acts of Benevolence which I have shewn, have been the Foundation of my Sorrows, and I have been only rais’d to the highest Spoke of Fortune’s Wheel, for no other purpose than to be tumbled down with the greater Force.”

Others are, sorry Zadig, of your own making, as you do like to chase the girls a bit:

“Qu’est-ce donc que la vie humaine ? O vertu ! à quoi m’avez-vous servi ? Deux femmes m’ont indignement trompé ; la troisième, qui n’est point coupable, et qui est plus belle que les autres, va mourir ! ”

“What is this mortal life ! O Virtue, Virtue, of what Service hast thou been to me ! Two young Ladies, a Mistress and a Wife, have prov’d false to me; a third, who is perfectly innocent, and ten thousand Times handsomer than either of them, has suffer’d Death, ‘tis probable, before this, on my Account !”

So you probably aren’t as close to a 20 as you think you are.

It is not revealing too much to say that in the end Zadig reaches his goal of happiness. But he has to go through some trials and tribulations to get there. He kills some Egyptians in Egypt whilst defending a maiden’s honour. Though his defence is accepted, the law says that he must nevertheless become a slave:

“Les Egyptiens étaient alors justes et humains. Le peuple conduisit Zadig à la maison de ville. On commença par le faire panser de sa blessure, et ensuite on l’interrogea, lui et son domestique séparément, pour savoir la vérité. On reconnut que Zadig n’était point un assassin : mais il était coupable du sang d’un homme : la loi le condamnait à être esclave.”

“The Egyptians at that Time were just and humane. The Populace, ‘tis true, hurried Zadig to the Town Gaol; but they took care in the first Place to stop the bleeding of his Wounds, and afterwards examin’d the suppos’d delinquents apart, in order to discover, if possible, the real Truth. They acquitted Zadig of the Charge of wilful and premeditated Murder; but as he had taken a Subject’s Life away, tho’ in his own Defence, he was sentence’d to be a Slave” as the Law directed.”

He becomes the slave of an Arab merchant Setoc; the merchant realises over time that Zadig has skills way beyond those of an average slave and they become friends. A taste of Voltaire’s wicked humour, in reference to Zadig’s womanising tendencies:

“Sétoc enchanté fit de son esclave son ami intime. Il ne pouvait pas plus se passer de lui qu’avait fait le roi de Babylone ; et Zadig fut heureux que Sétoc n’eût point de femme. ”

“Setoc, transported with his good Success, of a Slave made Zadig his Favourite Companion and Confident; he found him as necessary in the Conduct of his Affairs, as the King of Babylon had before done in the Administration of his Government; and lucky it was for Zadig that Setoc had no Wife.”

Zadig is given back his freedom and continues on his quest to find Queen Astarté, the former queen of Babylon with whom Zadig had fallen in love while he was in the employ of the King. As a result they had both been forced to flee the Kingdom.

Zadig’s new found happiness at being freed from slavery does not last long. He makes his way back to Babylon, where he finds that Astarté has been reinstated as queen and that a competition is underway to find a queen for her. Zadig enters the competition, which takes place between four warriors dressed in full armour, and having anonymous identities. He wins, but before his identity is revealed his armour is stolen by one of his rivals, and Zadig is therefore eliminated from the competition.

His final journey (a parallel to the “40 days”) takes him back into the wilderness. Here he meets hermit who eventually reveals himself to be the Angel Jesrad. The hermit teaches Zadig that his destiny is beyond his control, and that Evil is a necessary counterweight to Good:

“Les méchants…sont toujours malheureux : ils servent à éprouver un petit nombre de justes répandus sur la terre, et il n’y a point de mal dont il ne naisse un bien. ”

“The Wicked…are always unhappy. Misfortunes are intended only as a Touch-stone, to try a small number of the Just, who are thinly scattered about this terrestrial Globe: Besides, there is no Evil under the Sun, but some Good proceeds from it.”

As an example, the hermit kills a 14-year-old boy by drowning him, explaining to Zadig that had he not done so, the boy would have killed his aunt, and indeed Zadig himself. So, Voltaire thinks that Fate can indeed be altered by divine intervention. The Angel tells Zadig that his destiny lies back in Babylon, and suggests that he go back there.

Which he does.

And this time he truly finds the “Happiness” that he is looking for (read the book to find out how).

So who is Zadig ? He is a philosopher, wise man and warrior living in the ancient kingdom of Babylonia. Voltaire tells his story through Zadig’s reflections on the nature of Mankind:

“Il se figurait alors les homes, tels qu’ils sont en effet, des insectes se dévorant les uns les autres sur un petit atome de boue.”

“He then reflected on the whole Race of Mankind, and look’d upon them, as they are in Fact, a Parcel of Insects or Reptiles, devouring one another on a small atom of clay.”

His journey is one of self-discovery, that starts with the naivety of his own moral standpoint:

“Zadig voulut se consoler, par la philosophie et par l’amitié, des maux que lui avait faits la fortune.”

“As Zadig had met with such a Series of Misfortunes, he was determin’d to ease the Weight of them by the Study of Philosophy, and the Conversation of select Friends.”

There is historical and cultural interest in the book too. We think today of cities in the Arab world which have become trading hubs where merchants from all over the world congregate. But it was no different in ancient times too, for example this reference to what is now known as Basra in modern Iraq:

“Il lui paraissait que l’univers était une grande famille qui se rassemblait à Bassora. Il se trouva à table dès le second jour avec un Egyptien, un Indien gangaride, un habitant du Cathay, un Grec, un Celte, et plusieurs autres étrangers, qui dans leur fréquents voyages vers le golfe Arabique, avaient appris assez arabe pour se faire entendre.”

“It appear’d to him as if the whole Universe was but one large Family, and all happily met together at Balzora. On the second Day of the Fair, he sat down to Table with an Egyptian, and Indian, that lived on the Banks of the River Ganges, an inhabitant of Cathay, a Grecian, a Celt, and several other Foreigners who by their Frequent Voyages towards the Arabian Gulf, were so far conversant with the Arabic Language, as to be able to discourse freely, and be mutually understood.”

And we get some examples of Voltaire’s deliciously wicked humour:

“Zadig éprouva que le premier mois du mariage…est la lune du miel, et que le second est la lune de l’absinthe.”

“Zadig found, by Experience, that the first thirty Days of Matrimony… is Honey-Moon; but the second is all Wormwood.”

So, does Voltaire truly think that Fate, or “World Events”, as I put it earlier, is the only determinant of our life outcomes ? Well, I am not so sure that he does. I think he is not sure, and he leaves a few doors open, to suggest that we can tilt outcomes in our favour. By portraying the story of Zadig as a journey, Voltaire seems to be suggesting that it is Zadig’s learning and understanding of his own capabilities which evolves.

Taking the analogy at the start of this article a little further, maybe Zadig starts off as 10/20 even though he thinks he is a 20/20. And perhaps it is his journey and experiences which bring him to being a 15/20.

The English version of this book is a 1749 translation produced for New Bond Street booksellers John Brindley. I can find no reference to who actually produced the translation. The book is available for free in French and English via the Project Gutenberg.
Profile Image for Marco Beneventi.
261 reviews6 followers
December 20, 2020
Zadig, giovane probo e saggio discendente di una famiglia Babilonese, è convinto di avere tutto ció che gli serve per vivere una vita serena, agiata e pacifica, un grave accadimento, la ferita ad un occhio per difendere l’amata che poi lo ripudierà poichè non amante dei guerci, lo vedrà all’inizio di una serie di disavventure che lo porteranno a convincersi che qualunque cosa l’uomo possa fare, non potrà mai scampare alla malasorte e alla sfortuna.
Lungo il suo viaggio peró incontrerà un eremita che gli svelerà invece la ricetta della felicità.

“Zadig”, racconto filosofico incompiuto di Voltaire scritto nel 1747 come critica al sistema politico e religioso della Parigi settecentesca, si propone al lettore come una favola agrodolce dalle atmosfere orientali.
Il racconto è composto da tanti brevissimi capitoli all’interno di ognuno dei quali si svolge una "micro storia" a se stante che, collegata alla seguente, forma l’impianto generale e narrativo complessivo.
Lungo tutto il racconto incontreremo un sacco di personaggi i quali, nonostante non abbiano un passato ben a fuoco o una particolare struttura, riescono comunque a risultare profondamente credibili e reali nel presente della storia, creando, assieme anche ai “palcoscenici” in cui si svolgono le varie situazioni, atmosfere vivide e piacevoli.
La scelta stilistica e narrativa, nonostante l’utilizzo di termini non così consueti o moderni, risulta comunque accattivante e fluida.
Un lavoro, questo di Voltaire, che riesce, anche davanti ai numerosi inciampi ai quali il protagonista Zadig dovrà porre rimedio, a produrre oltre che serenità, anche un momento di profonda riflessione da parte del lettore su diversi temi della vita, primo fra tutti l’accettazione del proprio destino.
Profile Image for Abeer Nwaider.
166 reviews7 followers
December 2, 2019
رواية كلاسيكية هي ليست برواية بقدر ماهي تجميع قصص شرقية(عربية) وتحويرها على شخصية زديج أو كما أراد طه حسين ان يسميه اسما َ عربيا َ (صادق) لكنه تراجع في النهاية وترك الاسم كما سماه الكاتب
زديج شخصية مثالية يتعامل مع الناس بطيبة وصدق وأمانة ولكن الحياة تظلمه وترديه بين أحضان الظلم والخوف والعبودية تارة بعد أخرى إلى أن يحدث الله له امراََ
فولتير درس أحوال وثقافة الشرق وجمع قصصهم المعروفة أيضاََ في الغرب لتكون رواية قصيرة سهلة معروفة الأحداث قبل حتى أن تكملها ولكنها مليئة بالمواعظ الطيبة والحكم والروحانية تتمحور جميع الفصول حول القضاء والقدر والصبر على البلاء والثقة بالخالق
لم يعجبني عندما تحدث عن النساء العربيات انهن يأتين الفاحشة وكأنها عمل اعتيادي فهو كما وصف طه حسين درس تاريخ وثقافة الشرق ولهذا افترض انه علم ان العربيات من آلاف السنين ينكرن الزنى أشد الانكار
ترجمة الرواية رائعة لعميد الأدب العربي وبصراحة هذا السبب الذي امتعني بقراءتها أيما امتاع بالإضافة انها قصيرة لا تتعدى ١٤٠ صفحة سلسة مقسمة لفصول صغيرة مثالية للمبتدئين أو للسفر أو للاستراحة بين كتابين
قرأت نسخة إلكترونية طباعة دار العلم للملايين طباعة قديمة لكنها جيدة وواضحة
كتاب جيد 2.5*
رابط التحميل
https://www.noor-book.com/%D9%83%D8%A...
Profile Image for Seher.
165 reviews40 followers
November 19, 2018
"... Çünkü insan kendi kendine ne bir duygu ne de bir fikir verebilir. Bunları hariçten alır. Bununla birlikte zevk ve acı, sanki kendisininmiş gibi, her yerden üstüne çöreklenir."
Bir Şark Masalı: Zadig, Voltaire'den okuduğum ilk kitap oldu. Binbir gece masalları formatında Zadig'in başına gelenleri, onun hissettiklerini ve kadere dair düşüncelerini okuyoruz. Insana, topluma, kültüre hatta kadın erkek işlerine dair ince ayrıntıların olduğu güzel bir kitap. Çevirisi de gayet iyiydi.
Profile Image for Julien Hooft.
2 reviews
August 16, 2018
« Quand on est aimé d’une belle femme, dit le grand Zoroastre, on se tire toujours d’affaire dans ce monde. »

« L’ermite soutint toujours qu’on ne connaissait pas les voies de la Providence, et que les hommes avaient tort de juger d’un tout dont ils n’apercevaient que la plus petite partie. »
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