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Voltaire Quotes


Voltaire
Voltaire was a French philosopher whose thinking predated the French establishments absolutism and religious control. Never one to disguise his feelings he became a perpetual thorn in the side of tyranny that saw him repeatedly jailed and exiled as a pariah of the kingdom of France. He avoided a second jail term in the Bastille by suggesting he be banished to exile in England to which the French authorities somewhat surprisingly agreed. This was to prove pivotal in the thinking of Voltaire as he found English society impressive and he was greatly influenced by the literature of Shakespeare and the constitutional monarchy that granted greater freedoms than were permitted in France. Upon his return from exile he published Lettres philosophiques (about the English) that sparked outrage and public burnings of the book, this forced him into a long exile to escape arrest and imprisonment. He spent the next 16 years in the Champagne region of France before moving around Europe at the behest of elites such as Frederick The Great of Prussia. He was a prolific writer penning many books on history, poetry and politics whilst his polemic prose captured the attention of many and the contention of the establishment. He eventually returned to Paris in 1778 and was greeted as a national hero until his death in May of the same year. His legacy is the story of the 18th century and is regarded as one of the all times literary greats. His polemist writings led to freedoms previously unheard of and he impressed the great and the good with Napoléon Bonaparte quoted as saying about him; "The more I read Voltaire the more I love him. He is a man always reasonable, never a charlatan, never a fanatic". Both Frederick the Great and Catherine the Great were heavily influenced by his writing as were other great writers like Shelley, Byron, Goethe and Victor Hugo. He is possibly one of the most quoted people of all time and researching my compilation of 12 of the best Voltaire quotes was an absolute pleasure.
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: François Marie Arouet
  • Born: 21st November 1694, Paris, France
  • Died: 30th May 1778, Paris, France
  • Pseudonym: Voltaire
  • Alma mater: Collège Louis-le-Grand
  • Occupation: Writer and philosopher
  • Famous for: Championing the cause for freedom of religion and freedom of speech
  • Brushes with authority: He was twice sentenced to prison in the Bastille and exiled to England for nearly 3 years. Agents of Frederick The Great also had him arrested and held in Frankfurt. In 1734 he fled Paris to avoid another arrest and spent much of the rest of his life avoiding the metaphorical chains the French establishment wished upon his free thinking
  • Trivia: The University of Oxford has a Voltaire room in the Taylor Institution which is home to more than 200 volumes of the works of Voltaire including in excess of 20,000 of his personal letters

"The more often a stupidity is repeated, the more it gets the appearance of wisdom"

Voltaire

"If you want to know who controls you, look at who you are not allowed to criticize"

Voltaire

"Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities"

Voltaire

"It is dangerous to be right in matters where established men are wrong"

Voltaire

"Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers"

Voltaire

"The more you know, the less sure you are"

Voltaire

"What is history? The lie that everyone agrees on"

Voltaire

"Faith consists in believing what reason cannot"

Voltaire

"There are truths which are not for all men, nor for all times"

Voltaire

"Flies are born to be eaten by spiders and man to be devoured by sorrow"

Voltaire

"Superstition sets the whole world in flames, but philosophy douses them"

Voltaire

"Man is free at the instant he wants to be"

Voltaire

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