Voltaire – Best Guide in 2023

François-Marie Arouet (born November 21, 1694, Paris, France—died May 30, 1778, Paris) was a famous French author who wrote under the pen name Voltaire. Although only a small portion of his writings are still read today, he is still regarded as a brave fighter against tyranny, bigotry, and cruelty. Voltaire’s writing ardently advances a progressive ideal to which people from all over the world have remained receptive through its wit, satire, and critical skill. His long career spanned the end of classicism and the beginning of the revolutionary era, and during this time of transition, his works and activities had an effect on the future direction of European civilization.

Young Age

Voltaire was raised in a middle-class environment. His birth certificate indicates that he was born on November 21, 1694, but he has frequently stated that his actual birth date was February 20, suggesting that it may have been covered up. He imagined himself to be the songwriter Rochebrune’s son. Both his older brother Armand and his presumed father, François Arouet, a former notary who later worked as a receiver in the Cour des Comptes (the audit office), were unloved by him. We know very little about his mother, about whom he hardly spoke. Since he lost her when he was seven years old, he seems to have grown up disobeying parental authority. He identified with the freethinking and epicurean abbé de Châteauneuf, who had given the boy to the famous courtesan Ninon de Lenclos when she was 84 years old. He unquestionably owed his optimistic outlook and grounded perspective to his affluent upbringing.

He developed a love for reading, the theater, and socializing while attending the Louis-le-Grand Jesuit college in Paris. He appreciated the classical taste the college had instilled in him, but the religious instruction of the fathers only served to fuel his skepticism and mockery. He witnessed the tragic events of Louis XIV’s final years and would never forget the suffering, the military disasters of 1709, or the atrocities of religious persecution. He continued to believe that wise kings are the key figures in advancing society, though, and he still had some respect for the monarch.

He made the choice not to continue his education in law after receiving his college degree. At the French embassy in The Hague, where he was employed as a secretary, he fell in love with the adventurer’s daughter. In order to avoid scandal, the French ambassador insisted that he go back to Paris. He wanted to devote himself entirely to literature, despite his father’s objections, and frequently went to the Temple, which at the time served as the center of the freethinking community. After Louis XIV’s demise and during the morally lax Regency, when Voltaire’s epigrams were frequently quoted, he gained notoriety in Parisian society. Because he dared to mock the corrupt regent, the duc d’Orléans, he was expelled from Paris and imprisoned in the Bastille for almost a year (1717). Despite his outwardly cheery demeanor, he was fundamentally serious and dedicated to learning the traditional literary forms. After Oedipe, the first of his tragedies, was a success and he was acknowledged as the great classical dramatist Jean Racine’s successor in 1718, he adopted the name Voltaire. This pen name’s origin is unknown.

Exile in England

During a stay of more than two years, he was successful in learning the English language; he wrote his notebooks in it, and by the end of his life, he could speak and write it with ease. Among the men of letters he met were a number of English authors, including Samuel Clarke, William Congreve, George Berkeley, and Jonathan Swift. His Henriade dedication to Queen Caroline came after he was introduced at court. Bolingbroke, who had just come back from exile, initially treated him patronizingly, but it seems that following a disagreement with the tory leader, he turned to Sir Robert Walpole and the liberal Whigs. The partisan violence horrified him, but he admired the liberalism of English institutions. He was particularly interested in Quakers, and he envied the English for their courage in debating philosophical and religious matters. Because of their dedication to individual freedom, he believed that the English, particularly Sir Isaac Newton and John Locke, were at the forefront of scientific thought. He believed that this nation of traders and seafarers was successful in overthrowing Louis XIV due to its economic advantages. Shakespearean theater was an overwhelming experience for him; he was moved by the characters’ and the dramatic’s intensity despite his shock at the “barbarism” of the productions. strength of the plots. He came to the conclusion that France could still benefit from English literature.

Revisit France

He decided to set an example for his countrymen when he returned to France at the end of 1728 or the beginning of 1729. His social standing had improved. He began to build up the significant wealth that ensured his independence by wisely speculating. In an effort to revive tragedy, he made a covert Shakespearean imitation. In 1730, Brutus, which debuted in London and included a Discours à milord Bolingbroke, was hardly a hit. However, Zare was a huge success. The play, which shows the sultan Orosmane stabbing his prisoner, the devout Christian born Zare, in a fit of jealousy after being deceived by an ambiguous letter, captured the public’s interest with its exotic subject.

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