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Fine Literature
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Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire

Voltaire was the assumed name of Francois Marie Arouet. The French writer was born in Paris and educated in under the Jesuits at College Louis le Grand. He began writing at an early age, his expert satire getting him into trouble from the first. While imprisoned in Bastille (1717-18), he finished his first tragedy, OEdipe, and began an epic poem on Henry IV of France. La Henriade was completed on his return from England. His observations on English social and political institutions are contained in the Lettres Anglaises ou Philosophiques, which caused an uproar making it necessary for him to seek seclusion. In 1750 Voltaire accepted an invitation to visit Frederick the Great at Prussian court. There he prepared and published his greatest historical work Le Siècle de Louis XIV (1751). The last twenty years of his life were spent at Ferney, near Geneva. Voltaire gained fame as a defender of victims of religious intolerance, but chiefly as a master of satire. Among his works are the tragedies Brutus (1730), Zaïre (1732), Alzire (1736), Mahomet (1741), Mérope (1743); philosophical novels Zadig (1747), and Candide (1759; a satire on the philosophical optimism of Pope and Leibnitz); Philosophical poems Le Mondain (1736), Discours sur l'Homme (1738), and Le Dèsastre de Lisbonne (1756); historical works Charles XII (1730), and Essai sur les Mæurs (1756); and the Dictionaire Philosophique (1764).

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