10 Interesting Facts about Voltaire

One of these following facts about Voltaire might probably be interesting for you to read. Voltaire was a French Englightenment 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. Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. To get to know more about him, here are some other facts about Voltaire you might like.

Facts about Voltaire 1: The Name

The name “Voltaire”, which the author adopted in 1718, is an anagram of “AROVET LI”, the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of “le jeune” (“the young”). The name also echoes in reverse order the syllables of the name of a family chateau in the Poitou region: “Airvault”. The adoption of the name “Voltaire” following his incarceration at the Bastille is seen by many to mark Voltaire’s formal separation from his family and his past.

Facts about Voltaire 2: Death

In February 1778, Voltaire returned for the first time in 20 years to Paris, among other reasons to see the opening of his latest tragedy, Irene. The five-day journey was too much for the 83-year-old, and he believed he was about to die on 28 February, writing “I die adoring God, loving my friends, not hating my enemies, and detesting superstition.”

Facts about Voltaire - Voltaire

Facts about Voltaire – Voltaire

Facts about Voltaire 3: History

Voltaire had an enormous influence on the development of historiography through his demonstration of fresh new ways to look at the past. His best-known histories are “The Age of Louis XIV” (1751) and his “Essay on the Customs and the Spirit of the Nations” (1756). He broke from the tradition of narrating diplomatic and military events, and emphasized customs, social history and achievements in the arts and sciences.

Facts about Voltaire 4: Poetry

From an early age, Voltaire displayed a talent for writing verse and his first published work was poetry. He wrote two book-long epic poems, including the first ever written in French, the “Henriade”, and later, “The Maid of Orleans”, besides many other pieces.

Facts about Voltaire - Candide

Facts about Voltaire – Candide

Facts about Voltaire 5: Prose

Many of Voltaire’s prose works and romances, usually composed as pamphlets, were written as polemics. Candide attacks the passivity inspired by Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism; “L’Homme aux quarante ecus (The Man of Forty Pieces of Silver)”, certain social and political ways of the time; Zadig and others, the received forms of moral and metaphysical orthodoxy; and some were written to deride the Bible

Facts about Voltaire 6: Letters

Voltaire also engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence during his life, totaling over 20,000 letters. Theodore Besterman’s collected edition of these letters, completed only in 1964, fills 102 volumes.One historian called the letters “a feast not only of wit and eloquence but of warm friendship, humane feeling, and incisive thought”.

Facts about Voltaire - Voltaire's Chateau

Facts about Voltaire – Voltaire’s Chateau

Facts about Voltaire 7: Religion

Like other key thinkers during the European Enlightenment, Voltaire might have considered himself a deist, expressing the idea: “What is faith? Is it to believe that which is evident? No. It is perfectly evident to my mind that there exists a necessary, eternal, supreme, and intelligent being. This is no matter of faith, but of reason.”

Facts about Voltaire 8: Bible

As for religious texts, Voltaire’s opinion of the Bible was mixed. Although influenced by Socinian works such as the Bibliotheca Fratrum Polonorum, Voltaire’s skeptical attitude to the Bible separated him from Unitarian theologians like Fausto Sozzini or even Biblical-political writers like John Locke.

Facts about Voltaire - Paris House

Facts about Voltaire – Paris House

Facts about Voltaire 9: Religious Tolerance

In a 1763 essay, Voltaire supported the toleration of other religions and ethnicities: “It does not require great art, or magnificently trained eloquence, to prove that Christians should tolerate each other. I, however, am going further: I say that we should regard all men as our brothers. What? The Turk my brother? The Chinaman my brother? The Jew? The Siam? Yes, without doubt; are we not all children of the same father and creatures of the same God?”

Facts about Voltaire 10: Race and Slavery

Voltaire rejected the Christian Adam and Eve story and was a polygenist who speculated that each race had separate origins. Like other philosophes, such as Buffon, he divided humanity into varieties or races and attempted to explain the differences between these races. He wondered if blacks fully shared in the common humanity or intelligence of whites because of their participation in the slave trade.

Facts about Voltaire - Voltaire's Tomb

Facts about Voltaire – Voltaire’s Tomb

Hope you would find those Voltaire facts interesting and useful for your additional reading.

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