Letter: In Brief

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The saying "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" was not said by Voltaire (letter, 24 November). It was first attributed to him more than a century after his death in S G Tallentyre's book The Friends of Voltaire (1906), to express his attitude towards Helvetius's book De l'esprit when it was banned in 1759.

However, he never said or thought anything of the kind, believing neither in absolute freedom of speech nor in risking his life in such a cause.


Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire