George Saintsbury on Voltaire


George Saintsbury ( 1845-1933 ) authority on French and English literature, wine lover, and staunch Tory

voltaire_S3Uzz[The phrase “ecrassez l’infame”] has been misunderstood in many ways – the mistake going so far in some cases as to suppose that Voltaire meant Christ by the opprobrious expression. No careful and competent student of his works has ever failed to correct this gross misapprehension. “L’infame” is not God; it is not Christ; it is not Christianity; it is not even Catholicism. Its briefest equivalent may be given as “persecuting and privileged orthodoxy” in general and, more particularly, it is the particular system which Voltaire saw around him, of which he had felt the effect in his own exiles and the confiscation of his books, and of which he saw still worse effects in the hideous sufferings of Calas and La Barre.

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