Short summary - Micromégas
Voltaire, pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet
The heroes of the story "Mikromegas" - natives of the planets Sirius and Saturn, Mikromegas, a young man, an inhabitant of the star Sirius, by the age of 450 - on the threshold of adolescence - took up anatomical research and wrote a book. The mufti of his country, a loafer and an ignoramus, found in this work suspicious, impudent, heretical positions and began to violently persecute the scientist. He declared the book banned, and the author was ordered not to appear at court for 800 years. Micromegas was not particularly saddened by the fact that he was removed from the courtyard, vegetating in the low and bustle, and went to travel the planets. He traveled all over the Milky Way and found himself on the planet Saturn. The inhabitants of this country were simply dwarfs compared to Micromegas, which was 120 thousand feet tall. He became close to the Saturnians after they ceased to wonder at him. The secretary of the Saturnian Academy, a man of great intelligence, skillfully expounding the essence of other people's inventions, made friends with the stranger, who explained to him that the purpose of his journey was to search for knowledge that could enlighten him. “Tell us how many senses the people of your planet have,” the traveler asked. - We have seventy-two of them, - answered the academician, - and we constantly complain that this is too little. “We are gifted with about a thousand senses, and yet we always have anxiety that we are insignificant and there are beings that surpass us,” said Micromegas. - How long do you live? Was his next question. - alas, we live very little, only fifteen thousand years. Our existence is nothing more than a point, our age is an instant. As soon as you begin to cognize the world, even before experience comes, death appears. “It's just like ours,” the giant sighed. “If you were not a philosopher,” he continued, “I would be afraid to upset you by saying that our life is seven hundred times longer than yours; but when death comes, whether you have lived for eternity or one day is absolutely all the same. After telling each other little of what they knew and much of what they did not know, both came to the decision to take a little philosophical journey.
After staying on Jupiter for a year and having learned during this time many interesting secrets that would have been published in print, if not for the gentlemen inquisitors, they caught up with Mars. Our friends continued on their way and reached the Earth on the northern coast of the Baltic Sea on July 5, 1737. They wanted to get to know the small country they were in. First they headed north to south. Since the foreigners walked fairly quickly, they covered the whole earth in thirty-six hours. Soon they returned to where they had come from, passing through the sea, almost imperceptible to their eyes and called the Mediterranean, and through another small pond, the Great Ocean. This ocean was knee-deep for the dwarf, and Micromegas only dipped his heel in it. They argued for a long time whether this planet was inhabited. And only when Mikromegas, flaring up in a dispute, tore his diamond necklace, the Saturnian, holding several stones to his eyes, discovered that they are magnificent microscopes. With their help, the travelers found a whale, as well as a ship, on board of which were scientists returning from the expedition. Micromegas grabbed the boat and deftly laid it on his fingernail. Passengers and crew at that moment considered themselves carried away by the hurricane and thrown onto the rock, panic began. The microscope, which barely made it possible to distinguish between the whale and the ship, was powerless to observe such an inconspicuous creature as a man. But Mikromegas finally saw some strange figures. These unfamiliar creatures moved and talked. To speak, one must think, and if they think, they must have some semblance of a soul. But it seemed absurd to Mikromegas to attribute a soul to such insects. Meanwhile, they had heard that the speech of these boogers was quite reasonable, and this play of nature seemed inexplicable to them. Then the Saturnian, who had a softer voice, with the help of a speaker made from trimming the nail of Micromegas, briefly explained to the earthlings who they were. In turn, he asked if they were always in such a miserable state, close to nonexistence, what are they doing on the planet, whose masters, apparently, are whales, were they happy, if they have a soul, and asked many more similar questions. ... Then the most talkative and brave of this company, offended by the fact that they doubted the existence of his soul, exclaimed: “Do you imagine, sir, that having from a head to five thousand toises (a toise is about two meters), you can ... "He did not have time to finish the phrase, as the astonished Saturnian interrupted him:" A thousand tuaz! How do you know my height? " “I have measured you and I can measure your huge companion,” the scientist replied. When the rise of Micromegas was correctly named, our travelers were literally numb. Coming to his senses, Micromegas concluded: “You, having so little matter, and being, apparently, completely spiritual, should lead your life in love and peace. I have not seen real happiness anywhere, but here it undoubtedly dwells. " One of the philosophers objects to him: “There is more matter in us than is needed to do a lot of evil. Do you know, for example, that at this very time, when I am talking to you, one hundred thousand madmen of our breed, wearing hats on their heads, kill or let themselves be killed by a hundred thousand other animals that cover their heads with a turban; and that this has been the case almost throughout the earth since time immemorial. " Micromegas, full of indignation, exclaimed that he had a desire to crush this anthill inhabited by pitiful killers with three heels of the heel. “Don't bother,” they replied. “They are working hard enough on their own destruction. In addition, it is not necessary to punish all, but the inhuman Sydney, who do not leave their offices, give, in the hours of digestion, the order to kill millions of people. " Then the traveler felt compassion for the little human race, which showed such amazing contrasts. He promised to compose for earthlings an excellent philosophical book that would explain to them the meaning of all things. He really gave them this composition before his departure, and this volume was sent to Paris, to the Academy of Sciences. But when the secretary opened it, he found nothing but blank paper. “I thought so,” he said.