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Voltaire

Voltaire, pseudonym of Francois Marie Arouet (1694-1778). French philosophical writer, playwright, poet, and satirist, famous for his attacks on political and religious oppression. His early satirical poems caused him to be banished three times from Paris and imprisoned twice between 1716 and 1726. He began using his pseudonym during one of his periods in the Bastille; it is thought to have been an anagram of Arouet 1(e) j(eune). His satirical Philosophical Letters (1734) were inspired by a two-year stay in England. In 1750 Voltaire went to Berlin at the invitation of Frederick the Great, but the two men quarrelled and Voltaire left after three years. Candide (1759), a parody of Leibniz’s optimistic philosophy, was written at Ferney, Voltaire’s home from 1758 to 1778. He made a triumphant return to Paris shortly before his death.

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