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Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet

french society

(French, 1694–1778)

Poet, thinker, dramatist, satirist, critic, and moralist, Voltaire was a giant of letters whose name is virtually synonymous with the eighteenth-century Enlightenment that prepared the ground for the French Revolution. Successively fêted by French society and then imprisoned in the Bastille for his satires, Voltaire exiled himself to Prussia (where he became Frederick the Great's pet philosophe) and then to England (whose constitutional monarchy he much admired). His novella-length ‘philosophical tale’ Candide (1759) is the work for which he is most remembered and which has had the most influence on subsequent authors. It describes the picaresque adventures of an engaging innocent abroad whose encounters with characters from all walks of society provide opportunities for wicked satire.

Jonathan Swift, Jaroslav Hašek, Henry Fielding  MH

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