Voltaire

I do not agree with a word that you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. (Lowers, p.6) In a way this quote by Voltaire describes the way he lived his life. He was a freethinker who believed that everybody should be able to say and write what he or she wanted. He was the most controversial writer during the time of the Enlightenment. He believed that he should be able to write what he wished without anything happening to him. However, that was not the case. Voltaire, the pen name of Francois-Marie Arouet, was born November 21, 1694 to a middle class family. As a child and through his whole life Voltaire was always ill. He was also a Hypochondriac. Once in a letter to a friend Voltaire said, the pen falls from my hand and I am sick as a dog. ( Parton, p.18) Since his birth his mother had never been well. When Voltaire was seven his mother died. This allowed his father to be a primary influence, but the relationship proved to be filled with friction. His father was a lawyer who was very well known and had some famous clients. (Mason, p. 16) His father always wanted him to become a lawyer so at the age of 10 he sent his son to a Jesuit school. At the school he was a brilliant student and at the age of sixteen he went on to law school. In 1718 his revolt against his father was concluded when he chose to be known as Arouet de Voltaire. (Durant, p. 8) Where he got this name is unknown. His father died in 1722. In 1728 his brother wanted to block his right to the inheritance but it was thrown out of court. (p.9) After law school Voltaire joined a legal firm but it was too strict for him so he soon left. Immediately following his brief law career he was exiled and then thrown in the Bastille because of obscene political writings. (p.11) During this first time in jail he wrote Oedipe. When he got out of the Bastille it was performed for the first time. It was a success. In …

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