François-Marie Arouet de Voltaire: Three Tales.
1. The Story of Johnny, or The Atheist and the Sage.
Histoire de Jenni: l' athée et le sage (1775)
The story of a virtuous Quaker, who reforms his son and converts atheists. The manners of the native Americans are often preferable to ours.
2. The White Bull.
Le Taureau blanc (1772)
A tale set in Biblical times. The princess Amasidia has been forbidden to pronounce the name of the man she loves (King Nebuchadnezzar) who has been transformed into a white bull. Several Biblical prophets, Eve’s serpent and the Witch of Endor appear.
3. The Man of Forty Crowns.
L' Homme aux quarante écus (1768)
A man with the average French annual income of 40 crowns (i.e. 40 écus or 120 livres) makes futile attempts to understand the insane French economic system of the ancien regime. Both church and state fleece the populace.
Voltaire explains his tales in this quotation from ‘The White Bull’:
‘I choose that a story should be founded on probability, and not always resemble a dream. I desire to find nothing in it trivial or extravagant; and I desire above all, that under the appearance of fable there may appear some latent truth, obvious to the discerning eye, though it escape the observation of the vulgar.’
Extracted from Voltaire, The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version. Volume: 2. Translated by William F. Fleming. Publisher: E. R. DuMont. Place of Publication: Paris. Publication Year: 1901
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