Sunday, January 13, 2019

In Memory: John Burningham

I grew up with the pictures of the British children's book writer and illustrator John Burningham, who has died on January 4th this year. So I wanted to post a brief tribute, albeit a lazy one that links to articles by those who sometimes did know him personally:

"Remembering John Burningham"
Penguin UK, January 9, 2019
(Penguin Random House were his publishers.)
With much sadness, the family of John Burningham, author and illustrator of countless much-loved children’s books including Mr Gumpy’s Outing, Avocado Baby and Borka, confirm that he passed away on Friday 4 January, aged 82.
The article quotes a long-ago tribute from Maurice Sendak, which the American illustrator had written for a book published in 2009 when both men were still alive:
"Your work, John, is stunning, luscious, sexy, hilarious and mysterious and frequently just plain nuts."
*

John Burningham: Behind the Scenes
Jonathan Cape, 2009
via Goodreads
"John Burningham, children's author and illustrator, dies aged 82"
Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk, January 7, 2019

"Helen Oxenbury and John Burningham win top books honour"
Interview by Alison Flood, Guardian.co.uk, February 8, 2018

In a recent interview for the Guardian, together with his wife Helen Oxenbury, the author had said,
Children are not less intelligent, they're just less experienced, and there is this rather silly attitude that can be adopted, that 'Oh it's for children, it's got to be pink coloured cakes or lots of pattern everywhere, that's what they'll like', and they’re bored.
He and Helen Oxenbury had agreed that old age should not be an impediment to continuing their work:
"I'm very fortunate that I've got good eyesight and I haven't got a trembly hand, so I shall get on with it" [...]
Burningham insisted. Also,
[T]he pair said that winning a lifetime achievement award did not mean they would be hanging up their paintbrushes. “I am horrible, aren’t I, John, if I’m not working?” said Oxenbury. “Dreadful,” said Burningham. “So I have to carry on,” said Oxenbury.

***

"Obituary: John Burningham"
By Shannon Maughan, Publishers Weekly, January 10, 2019

The Orderly God in Leibniz's Vision

Discourse on Metaphysics
by Gottfried Leibniz, translated by George Redington Montgomery
Discours de métaphysique (1686) GP iv 427-463
via Wikisource

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz wrote this treatise in 1686 during a letter exchange with a French fellow philosopher, Antoine Arnauld. It wasn't published until over a century later. So I surmise it didn't play a role in founding Leibniz's reputation as a philosopher who rather heartlessly argued that the world is perfection and that, by implication, anyone who suffers or rebels against it is too thick to understand God's machinery. Leibniz was 40 at the time of writing; his influential work Monadologie was produced about 30 years later, and Candide, Voltaire's riposte, was published in 1759.

Turning to Bertrand Russell's History of Western Philosophy, I see that Leibniz's chapter begins on a firm note: firstly, the German philosopher was apparently "not admirable" as a person. Also, part of Leibniz's work was meant to appeal to his royal patrons and not to 'rock the boat,' which mined its worth from a philosophical point of view.
It was the popular Leibniz who invented the doctrine that this is the best of all possible worlds
***

Here Leibniz sets out his Logical God, and a Connect The Dot metaphor:
VI. That God does nothing which is not orderly, and that it is not even possible to conceive of events which are not regular.The activities or the acts of will of God are commonly divided into ordinary and extraordinary. But it is well to bear in mind that God does nothing out of order. Therefore, that which passes for extraordinary is so only with regard to a particular order established among the created things, for as regards the universal order, everything conforms to it. This is so true that not only does nothing occur in this world which is absolutely irregular, but it is even impossible to conceive of such an occurrence. Because, let us suppose for example that some one jots down a quantity of points upon a sheet of paper helter skelter, as do those who exercise the ridiculous art of Geomancy; now I say that it is possible to find a geometrical line whose concept shall be uniform and constant, that is, in accordance with a certain formula, and which line at the same time shall pass through all of those points, and in the same order in which the hand jotted them down; also if a continuous line be traced, which is now straight, now circular, and now of any other description, it is possible to find a mental equivalent, a formula or an equation common to all the points of this line by virtue of which formula the changes in the direction of the line must occur. There is no instance of a face whose contour does not form part of a geometric line and which can not be traced entire by a certain mathematical motion. But when the formula is very complex, that which conforms to it passes for irregular. Thus we may  say that in whatever manner God might have created the world, it would always have been regular and in a certain order. God, however, has chosen the most perfect, that is to say the one which is at the same time the simplest in hypotheses and the richest in phenomena, as might be the case with a geometric line, whose construction was easy, but whose properties and effects were extremely remarkable and of great significance.
***
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, c. 1700
Portrait by Johann Friedrich Wentzel (1670–1729)
via Wikimedia Commons

***

Russell argues against using God as a logical solution to philosophical problems.
The God of the Old Testament is a God of power, the God of the New Testament is also a God of love; but the God of the theologians, from Aristotle to Calvin, is one whose appeal is intellectual: His existence solves certain puzzles which otherwise would create argumentative difficulties in the understanding of the universe. This Deity who appears at the end of a piece of reasoning, like the proof of a proposition in geometry, did not satisfy Rousseau, who reverted to a conception of God more akin to that of the Gospels.
Leibniz, I gather, runs the risk of not loving his fellow man enough to consider God's purpose in light of man's welfare, and of seeing God in the bloodless way Russell describes.

Furthermore, the British philosopher counters the 'best of all worlds' argument as efficiently as Voltaire. First he recapitulates the Leibnizian reasoning: God made a world that has evil too, rather than all good, he writes; and
That is because some great goods are logically bound up with certain evils.
He further explains Leibniz's point with this example: a drink of water would not be appreciated as a great good if one were not thirsty.

In short:
The world that resulted [from God's decision] [...] has a greater surplus of good over evil than any other possible world; it is therefore the best of all possible worlds, and the evil that it contains affords no argument against the goodness of God.
But Russell then argues that this line of reasoning is self-interested. It might appeal to Leibniz himself and to Leibniz's patrons, but not to much of the rest of the world:
This argument apparently satisfied the Queen of Prussia. Her serfs continued to suffer the evil, while she continued to enjoy the good,* and it was comforting to be assured by a great philosopher that this was just and right.
My father and I once talked about a different metaphor for an organized/disorganized world: If we inspect a carpet from beneath, as human beings do when we look at the world, we see the frayed ends of yarn, the unfinished appearance, etc. Whereas a being who is looking at the carpet from the top, like God, is seeing and understanding the pattern. Not that I remember Papa presenting this belief as his own; he was discussing it as an illustration.

I like the Connect the Dot metaphor, too. But I think I'd substitute the modern metaphor of 'not seeing the forest for the trees.' When the world is composed of many elements, it can be hard to see patterns and organization that may exist.

***

"Bertrand Russell Smoking A Pipe"
"The Welsh philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell smoking the pipe while sitting on an armchair. 1954 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images)"
via Wikimedia Commons

***

My two cents: I'm not entirely opposed to the idea that "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter" — that it is possible to believe in a God whose reasoning is not always understandable but might be explained to us in the afterlife. That said, I object very much to human beings explaining away the hardships of others, by attempting to intuit God's reasoning themselves. I think that it's nicer to have the sense to see that this is a tricky endeavour, and have the compassion to see that it should not be undertaken if it makes people feel even worse.**

Sources:
"Discourse on Metaphysics" [Wikipedia]
"Monadology" [Wikipedia]
"Leibniz" in The History of Western Philosophy, 2nd ed., by Bertrand Russell (London: George Allen + Unwin, 1979), pp. 563-576
John 13.7, King James Bible [Kingjamesbibleonline.org]

* (His premise that Queen of Prussia was happier than her subjects because she was richer is not watertight. But I agree that the world might make far greater sense to her, because it feels materially fulfilling, than it would to a peasant to whom it feels materially precarious.)
** I should state that I am not thinking of specific examples of this behaviour! — this is not a passive-aggressive allusion or 'subtweet.'

Saturday, January 05, 2019

January 2019 In Books: What We'll Be Reading

"2019 in books: what you'll be reading this year"
The Guardian,
Saturday, January 5, 2019

January

This Guardian article reminds me that I have read nothing by JD Salinger except The Catcher in the Rye when it was in the school curriculum; nor have I read anything by Colette, Philip Roth, or Germaine Greer.

In the rain and frost, this is the time to tend the couch indoors, catch up on modern classics, and celebrate new film adaptations, centenaries and other anniversaries — ideally...

Matthias-Claudius-Kirche Oldenfelde Denkmal
Photograph: An-d, April 7, 2013
via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0 License)

The books I feel I should be buying and reading:

*

Blessing
"Clara Zetkin (left) and
Rosa Luxemburg in their way to the SPD Congress.
Magdeburg, 1910"
via Wikimedia Commons (Public domain)
Ernst Piper
Rosa Luxemburg
January 3, 2019
[Publisher's link]

"Das Leben spielt mit mir ein ewiges Haschen. Mir scheint es immer, dass es nicht in mir, nicht dort ist, wo ich bin, sondern irgendwo weit." — Rosa Luxemburg, letter to Luise Kautsky (September 1904, Zwickau), cit. in Rosa Luxemburg

A look at the life of the German Marxist political figure of the First World War and Weimar Republic era, a Swiss-educated university graduate born in Russian-occupied Poland, fierce fighter for her beliefs at a time where even many socialists weakly threw their support behind the Kaiser's military projects. She was murdered and thrown into the Spree River in Berlin, apparently with the knowledge of the German chancellor, in 1919 after the Spartacist Revolt.

[Amazon] (Source of the quotation above.
Google Translate renders her words as 'Life plays with me forever. It always seems to me that it is not in me, not where I am, but somewhere far away.' I think that the first sentence could also read: 'Life is playing an eternal game of "catch" with me.')

*

DTV
Daniel W. Wilson
Der faustische Pakt: Goethe und die Goethe-Gesellschaft im Dritten Reich
January 3, 2019
[Publisher's link]

"Aufklärer, Weltbürger, Pazifist, 'Judenfreund', Freimaurer" oder "Gegenaufklärer, Nationalist, Kriegsbefürworter, 'Judenfeind' und Geheimbundgegner"? — 'Enlightener, Cosmopolitan, Friend to Jews, Freemason,' or 'Counter-Enlightener, Nationalist, War-Supporter, Foe of Jews, and Opponent of Secret Societies'?
"So sehr wir heute überzeugt sind, dass das Bild des humanistischen Goethe das richtige ist, müssen wir ernsthaft fragen, was es mit dem sogenannten 'Deutschen Goethe' auf sich hat. Schließlich handelt es sich bei den Verfechtern des 'braunen' Goethebildes nicht immer um ungebildete Fanatiker, sondern oft um intelligente Menschen, die Goethes Leben und Werk sehr gut kannten." — Daniel W. Wilson in Der faustische Pakt
Insights into Johann Wolfgang Goethe's legacy — also, the influential Gesellschaft (society) that was founded in his honour posthumously — as an ambiguous instrument of German right-wing nationalists during the 1920s and 30s.

Although Goethe was made into a figurehead of German literary respectability after his death, his attitude toward Napoleon's occupation of Weimar and other states during the early 19th century was neither resistant nor francophobic enough to be apt to appeal to the Nazis.

But — taking (for example) anti-Semitic remarks and actions that were scattered in between his more tolerant moments — he was far from the lofty literary god as which some people treat him.

[Amazon] (Source of the quotation above.
Google Translate: "As much as we are convinced today that the image of the humanist Goethe is the right one, we must seriously ask what the so-called 'German Goethe' is all about. After all, the advocates of the 'brown' Goethe picture are not always uneducated fanatics, but often intelligent people who knew Goethe's life and work very well.")

See also:
"Super Goethe" by Ferdinand Mount [online here]
New York Review of Books
December 21, 2017

Thursday, June 21, 2018

An Epigraph from Pope

Alexander Pope (1668-1745)

'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none
Go just alike, yet each believes his own.

(from "An Essay on Criticism"
in The Major Works, Pat Rogers, ed.
Oxford University Press, 2008
p. 19)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Joseph Roth and Poland After World War I

"Boot und Transportfuhrwerk im winterlichen Galizien" (1914-1918)
By the K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien
In the Austrian National Library
via Wikimedia Commons

IN THE MID-1920s, in a Europe that was as battered as ever by the First World War, Joseph Roth (who later wrote The Radetzky March) was earning his bread as a foreign correspondent for German newspapers. One such periodical was the Frankfurter Zeitung, mouthpiece for leftist circles in the Weimar Republic that was later shut down by the Nazis, only to resurrect itself after the Second World War as the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Roth himself was far to the left, inclined to socialism, and he took the pen name 'Red Joseph' for the purposes of his political journalism. Also, his views and position in Weimar Germany were determined by other elements: he was a Jewish native of Galicia, now Poland, who had served (after years of reluctance) in the imperial army on the German side, and who indulged in an odd allegiance to the abolished monarchy, which he celebrated in part of his work.

His newspaper assignment was to travel in Poland, in Ukraine, and in a Russia that had been living under a Leninist system since 1917. (Later he would travel to Albania, Yugoslavia, the Saar region of Germany that had rejoined the country by referendum, Poland, and Italy.) Vladimir Lenin himself had just died in 1924. And Joseph Roth's perspective was, of course, directed by his life experiences. He had no prejudices against the coexistence of the plethora of European minorities. These were intended, per the ideals of the League of Nations, to form their own states by virtue of the ideal of self-determination, but they lived too intertwined with each other for it to be simple to draw a border map humanely. In that respect there is no warning in his writings of the German nationalism that already existed at the time, and certainly not of the Nazism. His stance toward the Russian government was staunchly optimistic, at first, and he was looking forward to seeing Leninist solutions to widespread problems of undereducation, poverty, sickness, and lack of dignity for the poor in a classist society. He also tinges his reporting with his strong adherence to religion.

He took a long time to send dispatches back, because he kept gathering more and more material before he put his pen to paper. I believe that one can easily notice from the quality and nature of his writing when the well of inspiration was overflowing and when it ran almost dry.* He also had a magisterial way of writing — he never mentions specific interviewees or quotes anybody, it seems; everything is noted from an infinite upwelling of knowledge, except where it throws a tangent into his intermittent analysis. In the course of his travels, he was assailed not by his surprisingly complacent interlocutors (they did not seem to be holding onto the grievances of the war, although it was uncanny for him to revisit some places where he had once been the invader), but by pests like bedbugs. Aside from physical afflictions like these, there is a peculiar untouchability in his reporter's persona, as if he were a sleepwalker through Galicia and the Soviet Union.

But he ended his travels by thinking that his socialist ideas were not being realized in every respect, and his optimism crashes every now and then in the reports. He also found, everywhere, the detritus of the war.

***

Excerpts from his reporting in Poland:

"Lemberg, die Stadt."
Es ist eine große Vermessenheit, Städte beschreiben zu wollen. [. . .] Städte verbergen viel und offenbaren viel, jede ist eine Einheit, jede eine Vielheit, jede hat mehr Zeit, als ein Berichterstatter, als ein Mensch, als eine Gruppe, als eine Nation.
and
Nationale und sprachliche Einheitlichkeit kann eine Stärke sein, nationale und sprachliche Vielfältigkeit ist es immer.
(November 22, 1924)

***

"Die Krüppel."
In Lemberg wurde der berühmte polnische Invalide begraben, über dessen demonstrativen, heroischen Selbstmord alle Zeitungen der Welt berichtet hatten. Dieser Invalide sprach in einer Versammlung seiner Kameraden über die gemeinsame Not, schloß mit einem Hochruf auf die polnische Republik und schoß sich eine Kugel durch den Kopf.
*
Wir haben Massengräber gesehen, verschimmelte Hände, ragend aus zugeschütteten Gruben, Oberschenkel an Drahtverhauen und abgetrennte Schädeldecken neben Latrinen. Wer aber weiß, wie Ruinen aussehen, die sich bewegen[. . .]? Wer hat schon gehende Krankenhäuser gesehen, eine Völkerwanderung der Stümpfe, eine Prozession der Überreste?

So war dieser Leichenzug.
"Karl I. in Galizien während der Gegenoffensive, die von Mitte Juli 1917 bis Anfang August andauerte. Hier trifft er am 22. Juli in Busk ein. Gemeinsam mit dem Generalobersten Böhm Ermolli schreitet Karl das Ehrenspalier ab"
(~ King Karl I in Galicia during the counteroffensive, which lasted from mid-July 1917 to the beginning of August. Here he arrives on July 22nd in Busk. With Colonel-General Böhm Ermolli, he paces down the honour guard.)
By the K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien
In the Austrian National Library
via Wikimedia Commons

*
[. . .] und über dem Leichenzug, knapp vor dem Knaben im weißen Hemd, der das mattschimmernde Metallkreuz trug, segelte eine dunkelblaue Wolke, zackig, wuchtig und schwer, und streckte vorne einen Zipfel aus, wie einen zerfetzten Zeigefinger, um den Krüppeln den Weg nach dem Friedhof zu weisen.
(November 23, 1924)

***

St. Zitakapelle in Dobrowlany, Galizien (1917)
By the K.u.k. Kriegspressequartier, Lichtbildstelle - Wien
In the Austrian National Library
via Wikimedia Commons

***

Translations (amateurish, with help from Google Translate):
Lemberg [Lviv], the City
It is a great presumptuousness to want to portray a city. [. . .] Cities reveal much and conceal much, each is a unity, each is a plurality, each has more time than a reporter, than a human being, than a group, than a nation.
National and linguistic unity may be a strength; national and linguistic diversity is always one.

The Cripples
In Lemberg was buried the famous Polish invalid of whose demonstrative and heroic suicide all the newspapers in the world had reported. This invalid spoke in an assembly of his comrades about their common need, ended with a paean to the Polish republic, and shot a bullet through his brain.
We have seen mass graves, moldy hands, stretching out of filled-in pits, thighs on wire barriers and severed skulls beside latrines. But who knows what ruins look like that move? Who has seen walking hospitals before, a mass migration of stumps, a parade of remains?
This funeral procession was that.
And above the funeral procession, barely in advance of the lad in a white shirt who bore the dimly shining metal cross, sailed a dark blue cloud, ragged, massive and heavy, and stretched in front of itself a tip like a torn forefinger, to point the cripples along the way to the cemetery.

***

Sources:
Reisen in die Ukraine und nach Russland, by Joseph Roth. Jan Bürger, ed. Munich: C.H. Beck, 2015
Joseph Roth (Wikipedia - English)
Frankfurter Zeitung (Wikipedia - English)
Joseph Roth (Wikipedia - German)

* After rereading Jan Bürger's afterword in the edition that I have, it strikes me that perhaps I am misinterpreting. Roth apparently rarely thought he was out of material or inspiration:
"1926 gestand er den Redakteuren der Frankfurter Zeitung fast zwei Monate nach Ankunft in der Sowjetunion, dass er bis dahin noch gar nichts habe schreiben können. Dies habe mit der Überfülle und Intensität der neuen Eindrücke zu tun."

Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death

The Masque (1842), even where it does not describe everything, draws in the way many successful stories do upon a common human treasury of archetypal fears or secondhand experiences. Like the reign of Caligula, which lasted three years but whose fame reaches us nearly two thousand years later, it feels far longer than it truly was.

It begins without compromise:
THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal —the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains [. . .] were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.
The prince Prospero shuts himself and his court away from the pestilence.
The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."
He succeeds for around half a year. But his unwise interior decoration schemes already foreshadow doom:
Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. [. . . ] But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that protected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room. [. . .] But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme [. . .]
Also, the seventh apartment has been furnished with a clock. It rather bluntly suggests that time is running out.

AT THE time of the tale, the Prince holds a grand party for a thousand of his dearest friends, and proposes a masquerade, leading to a savagely chaotic scene:
There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm --much of what has been since seen in "Hernani." There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions.


But then the clock strikes midnight, and a new guest arrives at the party:
The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood --and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.
***

The Wikipedia article warns against reading deeper meanings or messages into this story, and indeed — like part of the novel, Castle of Otranto, that is supposed to be Poe's inspiration — it might well be a mere recounting of a nightmare, or of a waking fantasy.

But I think it appeals also because it evidently sparks ideas that it never literally describes. Above all I like the span across times and places of the story. It is akin in spirit to the memento mori of the Middle Ages, the morbid skull in Hans Holbein the Younger's painting of the Ambassadors as well as Shakespeare's Hamlet, and rumination on the 'wages of sin' by figures as heterogeneous as American preachers and William Hogarth.

The lavish colours and wealth might be a reference to the Catholic Church, too — the gilding of inner corruption. But I'm thinking that mainly due to this week's lavish party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in honour of the Catholic Church's influence on high fashion.

*

This tale, like his works generally, is even more striking against the background of Edgar Allan Poe's own life's story, I think. He certainly saw enough death and led a gruelling Dickensian life: in Boston and Virginia as a neglected or badly raised child*, over gambling tables as a youth, in and out of the enlisted army ranks and West Point (if I understand correctly, at least he never saw war), through the early deaths of his mother, brother Henry and wife Virginia from illnesses, etc. And there was his alcohol abuse.

***

* Worthy of the Child-Rearing Horrors hall of fame:
"the infant Edgar was farmed out first to grandparents and later to a nurse who dosed him and an infant sister with laudanum and gin."
From: "Eulogy for a master" by Hilary Spurling, in The Observer (January 27, 2008)

The Masque of the Red Death (Wikipedia)
Edgar Allan Poe (Wikipedia)

Illustration: From Poe's Tales of Mystery and Imagination. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham (1867–1939). Via Wikipedia

Masque of the Red Death quotations taken from The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe on the website of the University of Virginia.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Voltaire on the Wars of Catholics and Protestants

In his article "Climate" from the Philosophical Dictionary (1764), Voltaire argues that the weather, the natural environment, and of course other causes greatly influence religious beliefs in different countries and regions. They influence the creed behind the religion, and they also influence the way the religion is practiced in its daily details.

He gives this nutshell summary of the Thirty Years' War — it is so frivolous and glib about a horrendous historical period that it is funny again:
"What cause detached the north of Germany, Denmark, three-quarters of Switzerland, Holland, England, Scotland, Ireland, from the Roman communion? Poverty. Indulgences and deliverance from purgatory were sold too dear to souls whose bodies had at that time very little money. The prelates, the monks devoured a province's whole revenue. People took a cheaper religion. At last, after twenty civil wars, people believed that the Pope's religion was very good for great lords, and the reformed religion for citizens."

From: Voltaire, The Philosophical Dictionary. H.I. Woolf, ed. New York: Knopf, 1924
via Hanover Historical Texts Project

***

In French:

Quelle cause a détaché le nord de l’Allemagne, le Danemark, les trois quarts de la Suisse, la Hollande, l’Angleterre, l’Écosse, l’Irlande, de la communion romaine ?... la pauvreté. On vendait trop cher les indulgences et la délivrance du purgatoire à des âmes dont les corps avaient alors très-peu d’argent. Les prélats, les moines, engloutissaient tout le revenu d’une province. On prit une religion à meilleur marché. Enfin, après vingt guerres civiles, on a cru que la religion du pape était fort bonne pour les grands seigneurs, et la réformée pour les citoyens. 

From: Voltaire, Œuvres complètes de Voltaire, Vol. 18. Garnier, 1878 (pp. vii-xi).
via Wikisource