phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at


Posted by ESC on July 11, 2003

In Reply to: Voltaire posted by masakim on July 10, 2003

: : : : : : : : : Can anyone please tell me who wrote "I disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it" and where does it come from?

: : : : : : : : French writer, satirist and the embodiment of the 18th-century Enlightenment, Voltaire is remembered as a crusader against tyranny and bigotry.

: : : : : : : Thank you Bruce. Wish I was half as knowledgeable as you guys.

: : : : : : : Doris

: : : : : : You probably wouldn't if you knew how many people do internet searches before responding...

: : : : :
: : : : : And if they're dedicated Googlers, they may even come across the following site, which suggests that Voltaire might not have been the one who said it in the first place...

: : : : I found something in a quote book, but I don't know what it means.

: : : : "Misquotations (heading)
: : : : I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. to Helvetius, following the burning of 'De l'espirit' in 1759.

: : : : attributed to Voltaire, but in fact a later summary of his attitude by S.G. Tallentyre in 'The Friends of Voltaire' ..."

: : : : I'm not sure if that means Helvetius said it first. Or Voltaire was suppose to have said to Helvetius.

: : : I have a strong memory of reading the very phrase in 'Candide' - English version. I think Voltaire did write the phrase

: : We'll have to search further.

: I disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it.
: A remark attributed to Voltaire, notably by S.G. Tallentyre [a nom de plume of E. Beatrice Hall] in _The Friends of Voltaire_ . But Tallentyre gave the words as a free paraphrase of what Voltaire wrote in his _Essay on Tolerance_: 'Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privelege to do so, too.' So what we have is merely Tallentyre's summary of Voltaire point of view.
: Then along comes Norbert Guterman to claim that what Voltaire _did_ write in a letter of February [6,] 1770 to a M. Le Riche was: 'Monsieur l'Abbé, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write.' So, whether or not he used the precise words, at least Voltaire believed in the principle behind them.
: From _Brewer's Quotations_ by Nigel Rees

"Attributed" to Voltaire in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, by John Barlett and Justin Kaplan, general editor (Little, Brown and Co., Boston, 2002).

Good enough for me.

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