François-Marie Arouet, better known like Voltaire, was one of the main thinkers of the Illustration, writer, philosopher, historian and French lawyer, recognized by to have been chosen in a member of the French Academy in 1746, in which he occupied the seat number 33. He was born in Paris, France on November 21, 1694; and was the son of François Arouet and Marie Marguerite d’Aumary.
He studied at the Jesuit school Louis-le-Grand in Paris between 1704 and 1711, this gave him a broad knowledge of Latin and Greek. Then he studied law and frequented the Sociedad Libertina del Temple. By 1706, Voltaire wrote the tragedy Amulius and Numitor.
For the year 1713, he was in the Hague as embassy secretary, but an idyll with the daughter of a Huguenot refugee forced him to return to the city of Paris. At that time he wrote his tragedy “Oedipus” which was published in 1718.
In the year 1717, he was imprisoned for one year in the Bastille, time in which he devoted himself to study literature. When he was released, he was exiled to Châtenay-Malabry, where he adopted the pseudonym Voltaire.
In 1723, “La Henriada” an epic poem dedicated to King Henry IV, achieved great success. With these two works, Voltaire stood out as an author. But a disagreement with the noble De Rohan caused him to be imprisoned again in 1726. On that occasion, he was released, on the condition that he exiled himself in Great Britain. That period lived in the Anglo-Saxon country was fruitful, since he shared with personalities of politics and culture such as Isaac Newton and John Locke.
“Beauty pleases the eyes; the sweetness chains the soul” Voltaire
By the year 1728, Voltaire returned to France and devoted himself to spread his political ideas and the thinking of the scientist Newton and the philosopher, Locke.
In 1731, he wrote the History of Carlos XII, where he posed the problems and topics that, later, he manifested in his famous work: “Philosophical Letters” published in 1734. In May, he was arrested for defending religious tolerance and ideological freedom. Voltaire took refuge in the castle of Émilie du Châtelet, a woman with whom he established a long and loving relationship with which he worked on his work “Newton’s philosophy” where he summarized and divulged in French the new physics of the English genius.
Voltaire took advantage of that time and wrote plays, novels, short stories, satires and short poems. He traveled frequently to Paris and Versailles, where, thanks to the influence of the Marquise de Pompadour, he became one of the favorites of the Court. He was named “Historian of France” and later “Knight of the Royal Chamber.
In the year 1746, Voltaire was chosen as a member of the “French Academy.”
For the year 1762, he published under the title of Testament of J. Meslier, a text that presented as an extract of another more voluminous, found by him and in which the Catholic priest Jean Meslier, cure of Étrépigny, professed with determination his atheism and he gave himself up to a radical critique of the social injustices of his time. Two years later, he wrote the “Treaty on Tolerance” and in 1764 his “Philosophical Dictionary.”
“The pride of the mediocre consists in always talking about themselves; the pride of great men is never to speak of them.” Voltaire
Time later, Voltaire intervened in various court cases, such as the Calas case and the La Barre case, which was accused of impiety, defending tolerance and freedom against all dogmatism and fanaticism.
Voltaire died on May 30, 1778, in Paris, at the age of 83, and was buried in the Benedictine monastery of Scellières, near Troyes. He died being very rich and one of the biggest rentiers in France.
Voltaire did not believe in divine mediation in human affairs. He was a fervent opponent of the Catholic Church. In 1791, his ashes were transferred with great ceremony to the Pantheon of Illustrious Men, in Paris.
His writings were always characterized by the simplicity of language, fleeing from any kind of pomposity. He was considered a master of irony, which he always used to defend himself against his enemies, especially those who sometimes made fun by demonstrating at all times a very fine sense of humor.
- Oedipus: 1718.
- The Henriada: 1728.
- History of Carlos XII: 1730.
- Brutus: 1730
- Zaire: 1732
- The temple of taste: 1733.
- English Letters or Philosophical Letters: 1734.
- Adélaïde du Guesclin: 1734.
- Mundane: 1736
- On Newton: 1736.
- Treaty of metaphysics: 1736.
- The Prodigal Son: 1736
- Essay on the nature of fire: 1738.
- Elements of Newton’s philosophy: 1738.
- Zulima: 1740
- Fanaticism or Muhammad: 1741.
- Mérope: 1743.
- Zadig or Destiny: 1748.
- The world as it goes: 1748.
- Nanine or Prejudice vanquished: 1749.
- The century of Luis XIV: 1751.
- Micromegas: 1752
- The poem about the Lisbon disaster: 1756.
- Study on the habits and spirit of nations: 1756.
- History of the trips of Scarmentado written by himself: 1756.
- Candide or optimism: 1759.
- History of a good brahmin: 1761.
- Tancredo: 1760.
- The Maid of Orleans: 1762.
- What ladies like: 1764.
- Philosophical dictionary: 1764.
- Jannot and Colin: 1764.
- The horrible danger of reading: 1765.
- Small digression: 1766.
- The ignorant philosopher: 1766.
- Tried about tolerance: 1767.
- The naive: 1767.
- The princess of Babylon: 1768.
- The letters of Memmius: 1771.
- There are to take sides: 1772.
- The cry of innocent blood: 1775.
- From the soul: 1776.
- Evémero’s Dialogues: 1777.
SOME OF HIS QUOTES
- “Providence has given us sleep and hope as compensation for the care of life.”
- “I do not share what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
- “True value consists in knowing how to suffer.”
- “Who is not more than just, it is hard.”
- “Those who believe that money does everything, end up doing all for money.”
- “When fanaticism has hardened the brain, the disease is almost incurable.”