Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Taxes, the Zoo, & Voltaire

First, my condolences to all tax procrastinators. My sympathies as I’ve been there before.

Next, I want to report a successful zoo trip. It’s been years since I went to the zoo. I can’t speak for the kids, but I had a blast. If you visit DFW, definitely plan on going to the Fort Worth Zoo. I think the only zoo in the country that is supposed to top it is the San Diego Zoo, which I’m excited to say, LW and I may see next month on a vacation (more on that in a later post)! Anyhow, the pic shows LW and #2 son admiring a giraffe.

Onward to business – First, for those new to the blog, I’m in the process of tackling all of literature’s classics in hopes of bettering my writing skills. At the moment, I’m most of the way through Voltaire’s 18th century work, CANDIDE. To the best of my knowledge, I don’t ever recall having been coerced into reading it in high school, and I had anticipated a painful, difficult read. My paltry recollection of Voltaire centered around him being a French philosopher. I envisioned pages of meaningless tangents and needless listings of monarchies and lengthy descriptions of items such as divans. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A little history – Voltaire is a pen name for François-Marie Arouet who appears to have been a prolific writer, having over 2,000 books/pamphlets published. Born in 1694, this Frenchman argued for social reform, occasionally landing in prison or exile for his work. His father wanted him to be a lawyer, but Voltaire felt writing better suited him.
Get this – it said that his 1752 work, MICROMEGAS, might well be the first sci-fi book. Hmm … apparently, alien ambassadors visit earth. Who’d have thunk it? My appreciation for Voltaire deepens.

Another odd fact – a month before his death in 1778, he apprenticed himself to the visiting Benjamin Franklin as a Freemason. Then, when he did die, and maybe somebody can explain this to me, but according to Wiki, Voltaire’s heart and brain were embalmed separately from his body.

Voltaire certainly seems an interesting fellow, huh? I’ll talk more about my impressions of CANDIDE on the next post. Stay tuned! In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you if you’ve read any of Voltaire’s work or if you had similar misgivings.


  1. Glad the zoo was a success... I've never read Voltaire and you have piqued my interest with the brief history.

  2. We've been thinking about roadtripping to Dallas at some point. Maybe we'll include the zoo!
    The Cub Scouts have a campout at the Waco zoo in a few weeks, but we've decided to skip that one.

  3. Hi David - the good thing (if nothing else) about CANDIDE is that it is short. So far, it's been an entertaining little read as it just jumps from event to event and doesn't bog down.

  4. Hi PJ - Just remember to visit the FW Zoo and not the Dallas Zoo. Both are good but FW is the one to do. And, I highly recommend getting there a little before opening. All the animals were out and were very playful.

  5. That sounds like a worthy literary project. I have not read Voltaire. I’m more into reading contemporary fiction.

  6. D.A., glad you had a successful trip to the zoo. I couldn't force myself through some of the classics. Good for you!