Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Voltaire's food for thought

From Candide, when Candide is in France:

“The man of taste explained clearly how a play could interest an audience and yet have very little merit. He proved in a few words that it is not enough to collect form any novel one or two of those situations which will always enchant an audience: a dramatist must have ideas which are fresh without being fantastic; he must be able to touch the sublime yet remain natural; and he must know the human heart and make it speak. He must be a great poet, without representing any of his characters as a poet. He must understand the language perfectly and speak it purely and harmoniously, yet he must never allow the rhyme to dictate the meaning…. [he said]`There are very few good tragedies. Some are pretty little things, quite well written in their way. Some are political arguments which send us to sleep. Some are revolting amplifications of some simple little theme. And some are the expressions of wild frenzy, written in the crudest style, and full of desultory talk, long addresses to the gods (for want of knowing how to speak to men), false observations, and turgid commonplaces’”

Just a little food for thought...


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