Voltaire [François Marie Arouet]

(1694–1778)
   Philosopher.
   Voltaire was educated by the Jesuits and he became one of the most celebrated of the French ‘Philosophes’. A determined critic of the Roman Catholic Church, which he regarded as a hotbed of superstition and corruption, he was a committed Deist. Between 1726 and 1729, he was exiled in London and he regarded England as a model of rationality and tolerance. He was influenced by locke and newton and despised the views of Blaise pascal. As a proponent of humanitarian justice, he set up a model village on his country estate in Ferney, in south-east France, complete with small industries and himself as a paternalistic landlord. He was a prolific letter-writer and he also produced more than twenty plays, a blasphemous epic based on the life of joan of arc and various philosophical treatises. Today his best-known work is Candide, a satirical story of a simpleton who believes in ultimate goodness. Voltaire was a hugely influential figure and, although many of his works were placed on the Index, his views and attitudes were shared by many educated people of his time.
   W.F. Bottiglia, Voltaire’s Candide: Analysis of a Classic, 3rd edn (1964);
   J.H. Brumfitt, Voltaire, Historian (1970);
   R. Pomeau, La Religion de Voltaire, revised edition (1969) [no English translation available];
   N. Torrey, The Spirit of Voltaire, revised edition (1968).

Who’s Who in Christianity . 2014.

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