Voltaire

(1694-1778) (François-Marie Arouet)
   writer, philosopher
   One of the leading figures of the enlightenment, Voltaire (the pen name of François-Marie Arouet) was born into the Parisian bourgeoisie and, having chosen a literary career, soon became known in the salons of Paris as a brilliant, sarcastic, and critical poet. While writing his epic poem, La Henriade (1725-28), he was incarcerated for a brief time in the bastille for impertinence, then released on his promise to leave for England. it was a visit from which he greatly profited (1726-29), as he met the philosopher John Locke, conceived the idea for L'Histoire de Charles XII (1731), and wrote tragedies inspired by Shakespeare (Zaïre, 1732). His admiration for the liberal English regime is apparent in his Lettresphilosophiques (1734), but his criticism of the French political and ecclesiastical institutions forced him to seek refuge at the château of mme du châtelet at Cirey. She later became an intimate friend who exerted a strong intellectual influence on him. This was a period of intense activity for Voltaire; he wrote new tragedies (La Mort de César, 1735; Mahomet, 1741; Mérope, 1734), engaged in scientific studies, and expressed his epicureanism in poems such as Le Mondain (1736) or the Discours sur l'homme (1738). once back in grace (1744), Voltaire traveled to Paris, sceaux, and Versailles, where, owing to the influence of Mme de pompadour, he became a court favorite. He wrote of his misadventures as a courtier in the critical story Zadig (1747), originally published under the title Memiron, histoire orientale. in 1749, he accepted a long-standing invitation from King Frederick II of Prussia to reside at his court (1750-53), where his acidulous wit clashed with the king's autocratic nature. He completed his great historical work, Le Siècle de Louis XIV, and an important philosophical writing, Micromégas (1752), before he left. Unwelcome as much in Paris, however, he had been in Berlin, Voltaire settled at Délices, near Geneva, and edited his history of civilization, L'Essai sur les mœurs et l'esprit des nations (1756), along with a philosophical poem, Sur le désastre de Lisbonne (1756), the pessimistic theme of which (in contrast to the optimistic views of jean-jacques rousseau) was reaffirmed in Candide (1759). Moving to Ferney, he made that village prosperous by undertaking a vast correspondence and welcoming innumerable visitors. The essential part of Votaire's literary activity was dedicated to disseminating his philosophical ideas, particularly through new stories (Jeannot et Colin, 1764; L'Ingénu, 1767) and antireligious pamphlets. He courageously intervened on behalf of victims of religious intolerance or of unjust judicial practices (jean calas, pierre-paul sirven, chevalier la barre, lally-baron tollendal, and others). In his efforts against all forms of "superstition," he wrote two works: Traité sur la tolérance (1763) and Dictionnaire philosophique portatif (1764), and works of literary, social, and religious criticism. Considered the "universal man" and the champion of tolerance, he made a triumphant return to Paris and was elected director of the Académie Française. Voltaire, who died at the height of great popularity, wrote in all genres and on all subjects with remarkable intelligence, if not equal success. An enlightened admirer of classical perfection, he developed modern themes. His historical work was done after scrupulous research and gives new insight into the historical process. But the greatest part of Voltaire's work lies in his philosophical stories (Contes), which illustrate the themes dear to the philosophes. Professing a deism based on reason and its usefulness to society, he proposed an earthly happiness "as much as human nature allowed," and affirmed his faith in a moral altruism and perfectible civilization.

France. A reference guide from Renaissance to the Present . 1884.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Voltaire's — Voltaire …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Voltaire — (Porträt von Nicolas de Largillière) Voltaire [vɔlˈtɛːʀ] (* 21. November 1694 in Paris; † 30. Mai 1778 ebenda; eigentlich François Marie Arouet [ …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • VOLTAIRE — La vie de Voltaire recouvre tout un siècle, ou peu s’en faut: mieux, l’écrivain se confond avec son temps au point qu’on a parlé dès son vivant du siècle de Voltaire . Plus encore, il semble incarner l’esprit même de la France. À quoi tient cette …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • VOLTAIRE° — (François Marie Arouet; 1694–1778), French philosopher. No writer contributed so much as Voltaire to the destruction of the traditional beliefs fundamental to European society before the French Revolution: belief in the divine right of monarchy,… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Voltaire —   [vɔl tɛːr], eigentlich François Marie Arouet [aru̯ ɛ], französischer Schriftsteller und Philosoph, * Paris 21. 11. 1694, ✝ ebenda 30. 5. 1778; Sohn eines wohlhabenden Notars, erhielt eine humanistische Ausbildung im Jesuitenkolleg Louis le… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Voltaire — (spr. woltǟr ), François Marie Arouet de, der vielleicht einflußreichste aller franz. Schriftsteller, geb. 21. Nov. 1694 in Paris, gest. daselbst 30. Mai 1778, war der Sohn eines Finanzbeamten, Arouet, der ihn in dem Jesuitenkollegium Louis le… …   Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon

  • Voltaire — Voltaire, François Maria Arouet de. Wer kennt nicht den Philosophen von Ferney, den großen Mann mit kleinen Leidenschaften, so freigebig und schonungslos mit seinem Spott und seiner Satyre, und doch so empfindlich und leicht verletzt durch… …   Damen Conversations Lexikon

  • Voltaire — Voltaire, ND U.S. city in North Dakota Population (2000): 51 Housing Units (2000): 21 Land area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Voltaire, ND — U.S. city in North Dakota Population (2000): 51 Housing Units (2000): 21 Land area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) Water area (2000): 0.000000 sq. miles (0.000000 sq. km) Total area (2000): 0.407527 sq. miles (1.055489 sq. km) FIPS… …   StarDict's U.S. Gazetteer Places

  • Voltaire — Ce nom de famille ne se rencontre que dans les départements d Outre Mer, où il a été visiblement attribué en hommage au philosophe. Rappelons que le nom Voltaire est une anagramme de L.I. Arouet, dans laquelle le v équivaut au u …   Noms de famille

  • Voltaire — name taken from 1718 by French author François Marie Arouet (1694 1778) after his imprisonment in the Bastille on suspicion of having written some satirical verses; originally de Voltaire. The signification is uncertain …   Etymology dictionary

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