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Words of Wisdom

Voltaire’s Solution to a Life Full of Thorns: Tend to Your Garden

"Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one's garden."  

François-Marie Arouet, a.k.a. Voltaire (1694-1778) was a French Enlightenment writer and philosopher famous for his many witty works of satire. Voltaire was a major advocate of the garden-variety Enlightenment ideals: freedom of religion, separation of church and state, and freedom of expression. The Catholic Church was a frequent target of his writing, as well as other sources of what he perceived to be intolerance, unfettered dogma, and overall French stuffiness. Among his most famous works are the polemic satire Candide and his 1764 Dictionnaire philosophique.


“Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s garden.”

From a Letter to Pierre-Joseph Luneau de Boisjermain (21 October 1769), from Oeuvres Complètes de Voltaire: Correspondance [Garnier frères, Paris, 1882], vol. XIV, letter # 7692 (p. 478). (h/t Wikiquote)


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