For other uses, see Voltaire (disambiguation).
Nicolas de Largillière, François-Marie Arouet dit Voltaire (vers 1724-1725) -001.jpg
portrait by Nicolas de Largillière
Born François-Marie Arouet
21 November 1694
Died 30 May 1778 (aged 83)
Pen name Voltaire
Occupation Writer, philosopher, playwright
François-Marie Arouet (French: [f??~.swa ma.?i a?.w?]; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire (pronounced: [v?l.t???]), was a French Enlightenment 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. He was an outspoken advocate, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voltaire
Voltaire's Candide is a decidedly playful romp through certain parts of history, satirizing religion, philosophy, and government along the way. The title character is instructed in the concept of optimism, which through the course of the short novel, he finds unraveling about him. When first published, the novel was banned, but it has enjoyed a long life due to its scathing satire on society and the world.