ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Updated on August 20, 2009

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire was a French poet, philosopher, historian, and dramatist. Born Paris, France, Nov. 21, 1694. Died Paris, May 30, 1778.

Voltaire was the most important writer of 18th-century French literature. A great wit and satirist, he ridiculed the hypocrisy and intolerance existing in such organized institutions as the Church and the government. Throughout his life he fought superstition, ignorance, and bigotry, proposing that man should be guided by the principles of reason and common sense. Many of his ideas were later adopted by leaders of the French Revolution.

A remarkably prolific author, Voltaire wrote in almost every literary form. His style is marked by its brilliance, clarity, and conciseness. Although in his own time he was known primarily as a dramatist and poet, he is best remembered for his philosophical tales and novels. Among the most outstanding of these works are Zadig (1747) and his masterpiece, Candide (1759), a satire on the complacency and blind optimism that marked much of the philosophical thought of the period. Another of Voltaire's important works is The Philosophical Dictionary (1764), a collection of his views on such subjects as war and religion.

Despite his strong preference for the arts, Voltaire was persuaded by his father, a lawyer, to enter the legal profession. As a student, however, he neglected his studies to join a group of bohemian aristocrats who called themselves the Society of the Temple. Voltaire soon gained considerable notoriety for his witty and often malicious poems about important public figures. In 1717 he was imprisoned in the Bastille for writing insulting verses about the regent of France. He was released after 11 months and soon enjoyed a great triumph with the performance of his first tragedy, Oedipus (1718). At this time he added the name de Voltaire to his family name of Arouet.

In 1726, Voltaire was publicly insulted by the Chevalier de Rohan, a powerful nobleman, who ridiculed the young author's adoption of an aristocratic name. Although Voltaire was not the offender, he was imprisoned in the Bastille and released only on the condition that he leave Paris. He went to England, where he remained for more than two years. While there he learned the language, and became impressed with the English way of life, government, customs, and literature. His celebrated Letters Concerning the English Nation (1733) reflects his admiration for English society and culture. The book's criticism of French institutions, however, was viewed with disfavor by the French government. Threatened with arrest in 1734, Voltaire took refuge in Lorraine at the home of his good friend Madame du Chatelet. He remained there off and on for more than ten years. During this period, Voltaire was actively interested in the experimental sciences. In addition, he became interested in and wrote a treatise on the principles of Newtonian physics, as well as several tragedies, including Merope (1743) and a satirical poem, The Man of the World (1736).

During the 1740's, Voltaire was briefly restored to public favor. He was appointed royal historiographer to Louis XV in 1745, and in the following year he became a member of the French Academy. In 1750 he went to Germany at the invitation of King Frederick the Great of Prussia. He lived at Frederick's court until 1753, completing his famous history The Age of Louis XIV (1751) and Micromegas (1752), a satire on the insignificance of man in relation to the universe.

His long stay in Germany had made Voltaire unwelcome in France. He went instead to Switzerland, where he bought several estates with part of the large fortune that he had acquired years earlier in successful business enterprises. In 1758, Voltaire finally settled in Ferney, France, near the Swiss border, where he was able to continue writing with little fear
of persecution from the French government. During this last stage of his career he published many of his finest philosophical works, including Candide, the Treatise on Tolerance (1763), The Philosophical Dictionary, and The Ignorant Philosopher (1766). He also engaged in extensive correspondence with a host of intellectual and public figures throughout Europe. His letters bear witness to the amazing diversity of his interests and to the resilience of his wit.

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire died in Paris, May 30, 1778.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)