Essay, Research Paper: Voltaire


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Francois Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) was born on November 21, 1694 in
Paris. Voltaire's style, wit, intelligence and keen sense of justice made him
one of France's greatest writers and philosophers. Young Francois Marie received
an excellent education at a Jesuit school. He left school at 16 and soon formed
friendships with a group of sophisticated Parisian aristocrats. Paris society
sought his company for his cleverness, humor and remarkable ability to write
verse. In 1717 he was arrested for writing a series of satirical verses
ridiculing the French government, and was imprisoned in the Bastille. During his
eleven months in prison he wrote his first major play, "Oedipe," which
achieved great success in 1718. He adopted his pen name "Voltaire" the
same year. In 1726 Voltaire insulted a powerful young nobleman and was given two
options: imprisonment or exile. He chose exile and from 1726 to 1729 lived in
England. While in England Voltaire was attracted to the philosophy of John Locke
and ideas of the great scientist Sir Isaac Newton. After his return to Paris he
wrote a book praising English customs and institutions. The book was thought to
criticize the French government and Voltaire was forced to flee Paris again. In
1759 Voltaire purchased an estate called "Ferney" near the
French-Swiss border where he lived until just before of his death. Ferney soon
became the intellectual capitol of Europe. Throughout his years in exile
Voltaire produced a constant flow of books, plays, pamphlets, and letters. He
was a voice of reason, and an outspoken critic of religious intolerance and
persecution. Voltaire returned to a hero's welcome in Paris at age 83. The
excitement of the trip was too much for him and he died in Paris. Because of his
criticism of the church Voltaire was denied burial in church ground. He was
finally buried at an abbey in Champagne. In 1791 his remains were moved to a
resting place at the Pantheon in Paris. Voltaire was famous during the
enlightenment for his satirical writings about major issues. He was loved by
supporters of the enlightenment, but he was hated by some who didnt see the
genius in his satires. He had a unique point of view on things that few could
see at that time.

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