Brief Bio of Voltaire and Intro to Candide
Who Was Voltaire?
Francois-Marie Arouet (1694 - 1778), a French Enlightenment writer, who later took the name of Voltaire, was once hailed as "the wittiest writer in an age of great wits". He was Jesuit-educated and started composing witty verses at the tender age of 12. He is a well known personality and there is a wealth of information about his life and career as a writer on the Internet and in the public libraries. Some interesting facts about him?
Well for one thing, he believed in vampires!
Also, he was once imprisoned in the Bastille, but negotiated with the authorities to be exiled to England as an alternative punishment.
Last but not least, fourteen letters were discovered in U.S. libraries which shed light on Voltaire when he was a young man. The missives are being studied by scholars who intend to produce a definitive collection of all of Voltaire's writings by the year 2018.
- Voltaire an outline biography
Voltaire ( Francois Marie Arouet ) an outline biography
- Long-lost letters reveal the young Voltaire | The Cotton Boll Conspiracy
More than a dozen letters penned by French Enlightenment figure Voltaire nearly 300 years ago have been uncovered recently and are now being studied by a British professor. Oxford academic Nicholas Cronk said the discovery reveals how much the famed
- The 18th Century Vampire Controversy
Throughout the 1700s, a vampire epidemic overtook Europe. Clerics, monarchs and even the cynical philosopher Voltaire had their say, before the panic finally abated.
- How Voltaire Went from Bastille Prisoner to Famous Playwright | History | Smithsonian
Three hundred years ago this week, the French philosopher and writer began his career with a popular retelling of Sophocles' 'Oedipus'
- Opinion | To Deal With Trump, Look to Voltaire - The New York Times
Advice from the Enlightenment: In the face of crude bullying and humorless lies, try wit and a passion for justice.
What is Candide?
Candide (or Optimism) was written in 1758. At that time, Voltaire was 64 years old.
Candide was or is considered "his wittiest novel". The topic he chose to exercise his wit upon in this novel was the problem of human suffering.
The personal suffering he had endured in his own lifetime, and his study of history convinced him that there is no such thing as Divine Providence directing all human affairs.
Candide Has Been Deemed Voltaire's Most Significant Work
Many consider Candide to be Voltaire's most important work -- representative of The Enlightenment (1650-1800).
Uh huh. So ... if I understand Voltaire's equation correctly, it's:
History of man + Personal Suffering = There is no God. OK?!!!
I respectfully disagree.
In Candide, Voltaire poses two questions.
If there is a Creator who is good and all-powerful, as everyone is told that He is; could He have not made a better world for us to live in?
Did Voltaire not realize that God created a perfect world from the beginning?
"And God saw every thing that He had made, and behold it was very good." (Reference: Genesis 1: 31)
However, "by one man sin entered the world". (Reference: Genesis 3: 6; Romans 5: 12)
And as time passed, what happened was this:
"And God saw that the wickedness of man was great ... the thoughts of his heart were only evil continually." (Reference: Genesis 6: 5)
So what changed? The world that God created -OR- the people who were living in it?
Voltaire's response is:
- "Men... must have corrupted nature a little, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves. God did not give them twenty-four-pounder cannons or bayonets, and they have made bayonets and cannons to destroy each other." - Voltaire, Candide, Chapter 4
- "Do you think... that men have always massacred each other, as they do today? Have they always been liars, cheats, traitors, brigands, weak, flighty, cowardly, envious, gluttonous, drunken, grasping, and vicious, bloody, backbiting, debauched, fanatical, hypocritical, and silly?" - Voltaire, Candide, Chapter 21
I agree. Men did not always kills each other. Men did become corrupt and not just a little.
Can we, that is, mankind, even believe that God is at all concerned with men and their sufferings?
Monsieur Voltaire. Sir, if you did not believe that God, the Creator, had no care or concern for you, then your outlook on life could not possibly have been optimistic.
In the perfect world that God created, peace and happiness and eternal life had been conditioned on two things:
(1) obedience to God's commandments (which were not burdensome and were for our own good, safety and protection, and for the good of all mankind) and
(2) happily and peacefully maintaining their home, the "garden of Eden".
When man failed in this obligation (and failed repeatedly), man brought about catastrophic consequences not only upon himself, as an individual, but upon the entire human race. Those consequences being: separation from spiritual union and fellowship with our Creator, physical death, wickedness, corruption, violence and ... oh yes ... human suffering.
Nevertheless, our Creator has not turned His face from us and He can deliver us from our suffering.
Do you believe?
Optimism in the Age of Enlightenment - Some have compared humor in Voltaire's Candide to Saturday Night Live Skits
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