While he appreciated the classical taste the college instilled in him, the religious instruction of the fathers served only to arouse his skepticism and mockery. He witnessed the last sad years of Louis XIV and was never to forget the distress and the military disasters of nor the horrors of religious persecution. He retained, however, a degree of admiration for the sovereignand he remained convinced that the enlightened kings are the indispensable agents of progress. He decided against the study of law after he left college.
The Philosopher as Critic and Public Activist Voltaire only began to identify himself with philosophy and the philosophe identity during middle age. His work Lettres philosophiques, published in when he was forty years old, was the key turning point in this transformation.
His early orientation toward literature and libertine sociability, however, shaped his philosophical identity in crucial ways. But in each case, he ended up abandoning his posts, sometimes amidst scandal. Escaping from the burdens of these public obligations, Voltaire would retreat into the libertine sociability of Paris.
It was here in the s, during the culturally vibrant period of the Regency government between the reigns of Louis XIV and XV —that Voltaire established one dimension of his identity.
His wit and congeniality were legendary even as a youth, so he had few difficulties establishing himself as a popular figure in Regency literary circles. He also learned how to play the patronage game so important to those with writerly ambitions. His literary debut occurred in with the publication of his Oedipe, a reworking of the ancient tragedy that evoked the French classicism of Racine and Corneille.
Its published title page also announced the new pen name that Voltaire would ever after deploy. During the Regency, Voltaire circulated widely in elite circles such as those that congregated at Sceaux, but he also cultivated more illicit and libertine sociability as well.
Philosophy was also a part of this mix, and during the Regency the young Voltaire was especially shaped by his contacts with the English aristocrat, freethinker,and Jacobite Lord Bolingbroke.
The occasion for his departure was an affair of honor. A very powerful aristocrat, the Duc de Rohan, accused Voltaire of defamation, and in the face of this charge the untitled writer chose to save face and avoid more serious prosecution by leaving the country indefinitely.
In the spring oftherefore, Voltaire left Paris for England. Bolingbroke, whose address Voltaire left in Paris as his own forwarding address, was one conduit of influence. In particular, Voltaire met through Bolingbroke Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and John Gay, writers who were at that moment beginning to experiment with the use of literary forms such as the novel and theater in the creation of a new kind of critical public politics.
After Bolingbroke, his primary contact in England was a merchant by the name of Everard Fawkener. It also included figures such as Samuel Clarke and other self-proclaimed Newtonians.
Given his other activities, it is also likely that Voltaire frequented the coffeehouses of London even if no firm evidence survives confirming that he did. It would not be surprising, therefore, to learn that Voltaire attended the Newtonian public lectures of John Theophilus Desaguliers or those of one of his rivals.
Whatever the precise conduits, all of his encounters in England made Voltaire into a very knowledgeable student of English natural philosophy.
But he was also a different kind of writer and thinker.
But the English years did trigger a transformation in him. After his return to France, Voltaire worked hard to restore his sources of financial and political support. The financial problems were the easiest to solve.François-Marie Arouet, known by his nom de plume, Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state.
Francois-Marie Arouet (November 21, - May 30, ), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire, - , actually Francois Marie Arouet, writer of the French and the European Enlightenment, historical woodcut.
François-Marie Arouet (), known as Voltaire, was a writer, philosopher, poet, dramatist, historian and polemicist of the French Enlightenment.
The diversity of his literary output is rivalled only by its abundance: the edition of his complete works currently nearing completion will . View Voltaire from ENG at Baruch College, CUNY.
Franois-Marie Arouet, known by his pseudonym Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for . Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet to a prosperous family on November 21, , in Paris, France.
He was the youngest of five children born to François Arouet and Marie Marguerite d'Aumart. Widely considered one of France's greatest Enlightenment writers, Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet to an upper-middle class family on November 21, , in Paris, France.
He was the youngest of five children born to François Arouet and Marie Marguerite Daumand. When Voltaire was just 7 years old, his mother passed away.