Before the French revolution

I’ve started reading a book “Passionate Minds”, which tells a story (real life) set in the time before the French revolution – that of the life of the famous Voltaire and a remarkable but forgotten woman Emilie Du Chatelet. Whatever I’ve read so far tells me that it was a very strange time – Paris was not as we know it today. The French society was rife with corruption – both moral and official. Men from the elite class was supposed to have as many affairs as they wanted (despite being married) but would be looked down upon with contempt if they worked for a living, women were mere things of convenience (married women could also have affairs, as long as they didn’t display their affections in  public), the river Seine was polluted with everything from the city, protestants could be burned alive at stake and as can be expected, there was no real scientific progress. It was unthinkable for women to be educated, most of them couldn’t even write their names. It all seems so unbelievable today but that’s how it was!
              The book tells the story of Emilie who had a mind of her own – which was quite a hateful characteristic for a woman to possess, and then if she was brighter then most men of her times – that was absolutely unacceptable! Therefore, most of the current world knows of her as the mistress of Voltaire and not as someone who postulated scientific theories, which were experimented on by other scientists much later (almost seventy years after her). It is quite interesting to learn about the times when scientific theories were being formed and people were experimenting, yet the ruling class wanted people to believe only what had been passed on from centuries.
                When people’s minds were ignited with new thoughts, then the cinders which must have been smouldering since long, finally could not be contained any more and resulted in the French revolution.
I have yet to finish the book but needed to pen down the thoughts so far. Will update this post when I finish the book.

I finished the book. It surprises me that she was simply removed from any historically important credit despite having written an important book giving the explanation of Newton’s book “Principia Mathematica”. Most of the people I talked with about her, either didn’t know about her or knew her only as the mistress of Voltaire!
I’m glad that I came to know about her through this book only and not through any other passing reference otherwise I’d also have not known her full story. She was an extraordinary person who thought ahead of the times in which she was tied to live. Sometimes I wonder how would it be – to be given a choice to live in a time in which your thoughts would fit? One may not be called extraordinary then but at least there wouldn’t be any anguish – which brings another thought that probably without the stimulus that comes from suppression, probably there won’t be any higher thoughts! Oh it’s really confusing – I wish there was someone to bounce back these thoughts with! Ah now I get it – that’s the nutshell of “Passionate Minds” – two people who found one another, with whom they could discuss their thoughts!

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