Author bio


Voltaire - book author

Complete works (1880) :

In 1694, Age of Enlightenment leader Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born in Paris. Jesuit-educated, he began writing clever verses by the age of 12. He launched a lifelong, successful playwriting career in 1718, interrupted by imprisonment in the Bastille. Upon a second imprisonment, in which Francois adopted the pen name Voltaire, he was released after agreeing to move to London. There he wrote Lettres philosophiques (1733), which galvanized French reform. The book also satirized the religious teachings of Rene Descartes and Blaise Pascal, including Pascal's famed "wager" on God. Voltaire wrote: "The interest I have in believing a thing is not a proof of the existence of that thing." Voltaire's French publisher was sent to the Bastille and Voltaire had to escape from Paris again, as judges sentenced the book to be "torn and burned in the Palace." Voltaire spent a calm 16 years with his deistic mistress, Madame du Chatelet, in Lorraine. He met the 27 year old married mother when he was 39. In his memoirs, he wrote: "I found, in 1733, a young woman who thought as I did, and decided to spend several years in the country, cultivating her mind." He dedicated Traite de metaphysique to her. In it the Deist candidly rejected immortality and questioned belief in God. It was not published until the 1780s. Voltaire continued writing amusing but meaty philosophical plays and histories. After the earthquake that leveled Lisbon in 1755, in which 15,000 people perished and another 15,000 were wounded, Voltaire wrote Poème sur le désastre de Lisbonne (Poem on the Lisbon Disaster): "But how conceive a God supremely good/ Who heaps his favours on the sons he loves,/ Yet scatters evil with as large a hand?"

Voltaire purchased a chateau in Geneva, where, among other works, he wrote Candide (1759). To avoid Calvinist persecution, Voltaire moved across the border to Ferney, where the wealthy writer lived for 18 years until his death. Voltaire began to openly challenge Christianity, calling it "the infamous thing." He wrote Frederick the Great: "Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world." Voltaire ended every letter to friends with "Ecrasez l'infame" (crush the infamy — the Christian religion). His pamphlet, The Sermon on the Fifty (1762) went after transubstantiation, miracles, biblical contradictions, the Jewish religion, and the Christian God. Voltaire wrote that a true god "surely cannot have been born of a girl, nor died on the gibbet, nor be eaten in a piece of dough," or inspired "books, filled with contradictions, madness, and horror." He also published excerpts of Testament of the Abbe Meslier, by an atheist priest, in Holland, which advanced the Enlightenment. Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary was published in 1764 without his name. Although the first edition immediately sold out, Geneva officials, followed by Dutch and Parisian, had the books burned. It was published in 1769 as two large volumes. Voltaire campaigned fiercely against civil atrocities in the name of religion, writing pamphlets and commentaries about the barbaric execution of a Huguenot trader, who was first broken at the wheel, then burned at the stake, in 1762. Voltaire's campaign for justice and restitution ended with a posthumous retrial in 1765, during which 40 Parisian judges declared the defendant innocent. Voltaire urgently tried to save the life of Chevalier de la Barre, a 19 year old sentenced to death for blasphemy for failing to remove his hat during a religious procession. In 1766, Chevalier was beheaded after being tortured, then his body was burned, along with a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary. Voltaire's statue at the Pantheon was melted down during Nazi occupation. D. 1778.

Voltaire (1694-1778), pseudónimo de François-

Voltaire is the author of books: Candide, Zadig et autres contes, Candide and Other Stories, Candide, Zadig and Selected Stories, Micromegas, Philosophical Dictionary, L'Ingénu, Letters on England, Zadig/L'Ingénu, The Portable Voltaire

Author books

Candide is the story of a gentle man who, though pummeled and slapped in every direction by fate, clings desperately to the belief that he lives in "the best of all possible worlds." On the surface a witty, bantering tale, this eighteenth-century classic is actually a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism that proclaims that all disaster and human suffering is part of a benevolent cosmic plan. Fast, funny, often outrageous, the French philosopher's immortal narrative takes Candide around the world to discover that -- contrary to the teachings of his distinguished tutor Dr. Pangloss -- all is not always for the best. Alive with wit, brilliance, and graceful storytelling, Candide has become Voltaire's most celebrated work.
" Je vous offre la traduction d'un livre d'un ancien sage, qui, ayant le bonheur de n'avoir rien à faire, eut celui de s'amuser à écrire l'histoire de Zadig : ouvrage qui dit plus qu'il ne semble dire. Je vous prie de le lire et d'en juger ". Sadi écrit ici à la sultane Sheraa et Voltaire s'adresse à nous...

Marchons donc sur les traces de Zadig, partageons ses aventures et découvrons le monde par ses yeux. Avec lui, regardons nos coutumes et nos institutions ; interrogeons-nous sur le sens de notre existence.
With Candide-a classic parody of the romantic, coming-of-age story-and the fifteen other stories in this indispensible collection, Voltaire derided the bureaucracies of his day with ruthless wit. His dissections of science, spiritual faith, legal systems, vanity, and love make him the undisputed master of social commentary.
Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary is a series of short essays, hortatory and propagandist, over an enormously wide range of subjects.
It was deliberately planned as a revolutionary book and was duly denounced on all sides and described as 'a deplorable monument of the extent to which inteligence and erudition can be abused'. The subjects treated include Abraham, Angel and Anthropophages; Baptism, Beauty and Beasts; Fables, Fraud and Fanaticism; Metempsychosis, Miracles and Moses; all of them exposed to Voltaire's lucid scrutiny, his elegant irony and his passionate love of reason and justice.
Un jeune Huron d’ascendance bretonne débarque à Saint-Malo en 1689. Il découvre un coin de province française, retrouve une famille, reçoit le baptême, s’illustre par un fait d’armes contre les Anglais et, pour finir, tombe amoureux de la belle et dévote Mlle de Saint-Yves. Pour obtenir sa main, il doit revenir de la Cour avec un brevet d’officier. Il gagne donc Versailles. Mais ses éclats naïfs le conduisent à la Bastille...
After his three-year exile to England (1726-9) following imprisonment in the Bastille for his satirical writings, Voltaire wrote a series of letters offering the French public a panoramic view of English culture. He was full of enthusiasm and freedom - as opposed to the tyrannical feudal society of his homeland. Letters on England discusses English religious sects, politics, scientists and writers with great admiration, yet the clever Voltaire also flattered his French readers with humorous references to the old-fashioned clothes and speech of the Quakers and to antics in the House of Commons. At first banned in France, this intriguing and often comic account of a culture viewed through foreign eyes was to prove highly influential in shaping French attitudes to England.

Leonard Tancock's translation brilliantly captures Voltaire's ironic tone, and is accompanied by an introduction discussing his depiction of England and the events that led to his exile. This edition also includes notes, new further reading and chronology, and an appendix on Voltaire's verse translation of English works.
One of Voltaire's earliest tales, Zadig is set in the exotic East and is told in the comic spirit of Candide; L'Ingenu, written after Candide, is a darker tale in which an American Indian records his impressions of France
Satirist, novelist, poet, dramatist, historian, moralist, critic, courtier, and correspondent, champion of reason and fanatical adversary of fanaticism, a darling of kings with the unfortunate habit of turning them into enemies, François Arouet de Voltaire is one of the few writers to have imposed his name on an entire epoch. It is entirely appropriate that the French Enlightenment is also known as "the age of Voltaire." And if that age ended with a revolution, Voltaire was nothing if not a subversive. His abiding motto was "Écrasez l'infame": "Crush infamy."

This encyclopedic anthology acquaints us with Voltaire's mercurial range of expression as well as with the steadfastness of his vision, which might be called the religion of reason. It includes his sardonic comedies Candide and Zadig; the tales "Micromegas" and 'Story of a Good Brahmin"; more than seventy articles from the Philosophical Dictionary that offer heretical definitions of subjects from Adultery to Tyranny; letters written to such correspondents as Frederick the Great and Jean-Jacques Rousseau; selections from The English Letters and Essay on the Manners and Spirit of Nations, and the long poem "The Lisbon Earthquake." The whole is rounded out with an Introduction by Ben Ray Redman, which distills Voltaire's prodigious oeuvre while summing up the grand picaresque adventure of his life.

Cover design by Melissa Jacoby
Portrait of Voltaire after N. de Largilliere, 1718.
Collection Musee Carnavalet, Paris. Photograph: Art Resource

Description from back cover


Editor's introduction
Some dates in the life of Voltaire
Brief bibliography of works Voltaire
Philosophical dictionary
Story of a good Brahmin
- To Frederick the great
- Miscellaneous letters
- Selections from the English letters
Essay on the manners and spirit of nations: Recapitulation
Lisbon earthquake
- Author's preface
- Lisbon earthquake