Zadig

Type
Book
Authors
ISBN 10
1502902281 
ISBN 13
9781502902283 
Category
Imported - Classics Books  [ Browse Items ]
Publication Year
2014 
Pages
78 
Abstract
 
Description
Zadig ou la Destinée (Zadig, or The Book of Fate; 1747) is a novella and work of philosophical fiction by the Enlightenment writer Voltaire. It tells the story of Zadig, a philosopher in ancient Babylonia. The author does not attempt any historical accuracy, and some of the problems Zadig faces are thinly disguised references to social and political problems of Voltaire's own day. It was originally published as Memnon in Amsterdam (with a false imprint of London given) and first issued under its more familiar title in 1748. The book makes use of the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip. It is philosophical in nature, and presents human life as in the hands of a destiny beyond human control. Voltaire challenges religious and metaphysical orthodoxy with his presentation of the moral revolution taking place in Zadig himself. Zadig is one of Voltaire's most celebrated works after Candide. Many literary critics have praised Voltaire's use of contradiction and juxtaposition. Zadig, a good-hearted, handsome young man from Babylonia, is in love with Sémire and they are to marry. Sémire, however, has another suitor: Orcan, who wants her for himself. Zadig tries to defend his love from Orcan's threat, but his eye is injured in the process. Sémire abhors this injury, causing her to depart with his enemy. Shortly after, Zadig makes a full recovery and falls into the arms of another woman, Azora, with whom he is married, but who promptly betrays him. Disillusioned with women, Zadig turns to science but his knowledge lands him in prison, the first of several injustices to befall him. Indeed, the conte derives its pace and rhythm from the protagonist's ever-changing fortunes which see him rise to great heights and fall to great lows. Upon his release from prison, Zadig rises in favour with the king and queen of Babylonia and is eventually appointed prime minister; in this role he proves himself to be a very honest man, looked upon favourably by the king, as he passes fair judgements on his citizens unlike the other ministers who base their judgements on the people's wealth. He is forced to flee the kingdom, though, when his relationship with king Moabdar is compromised: Zadig's reciprocated love for queen Astarté is discovered and he worries that the king's desire for revenge might drive him to kill the queen. Having reached Egypt, Zadig kills an Egyptian man while valiantly saving a woman from his attack on her. Under the law of the land, this crime means that he must become a slave. His new master, Sétoc, is soon impressed by Zadig's wisdom and they become friends. In one incident, Zadig manages to reverse an ancient custom of certain tribes in which women felt obliged to burn themselves alive with their husbands on the death of the latter. After attempting to resolve other religious disputes, Zadig enrages local clerics who attempt to have him killed. Fortunately for him, though, a woman that he saved (Almona) from being burned intervenes so that he avoids death. Almona marries Sétoc, who in turn gives Zadig his freedom and then he begins his journey back to Babylonia in order to discover what has become of Astarté. (In some versions there is a further episode in which he visits Serendib and advises the king on the choice of a treasurer and a wife.) En route, he is taken captive by a group of Arabs, from whom he learns that king Moabdar has been killed, but he does not learn anything of what has become of Astarté. Arbogad, the leader of the group of Arabs, sets him free and he heads for Babylonia once more, equipped with the knowledge that a rebellion has taken place to oust the king. On this journey he meets an unhappy fisherman who is about to commit suicide as he has no money, but Zadig gives him some money to ease his woes, telling us that source of his own unhappiness is in his heart, whereas the fisherman's are only financial concerns. Zadig prevents him from committing suicide and he continues on his way. - from Amzon 
Biblio Notes
 
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