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Voltaire on Arts, Literature, and Movies

Since his childhood, Voltaire was seen as having a gift for writing verse. In effect, his foremost published writing was poetry. The Henriade and the La Pucelle d’Orleans were Voltaire’s two long poems while he also wrote small pieces of poems (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). The Henriade was completed in replication of Virgil, employing the Alexandrine verse transformed and delivered tedious and droning tones for thespian rationale.

Voltaire was short of eagerness for and sympathetic of the theme, both of which unconstructively affected the quality of poem. The La Pucelle d’Orleans, in contrast, was a mockery work that was designed in opposition to religion and history (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). Nevertheless, Voltaire’s other poems were commonly regarded as better to whichever of these two long poems. Most of prose works and romances done by Voltaire were typically created as booklets were completed as polemics.

Candide criticized philosophical and religious confidence; L’Homme aux quarante ecus argued on particular social and political traditions of the period; Zadig and others contended on the established structures of metaphysical and moral convention; and several of his works were published to ridicule the Bible. Throughout these works, Voltaire’s satirical approach, devoid of embellishment, was obvious, specifically the moderation and straightforwardness of the oral conduct.

Voltaire on no account settled excessively extensive on a point, remained to chuckle at what he had claimed, clarified or remarked on his own funny stories, laughed over them or overstated their structure (Williams, 2002). Candide in specific was the most excellent illustration of Voltaire’s method (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). Voltaire also had similarities with Jonathan Swift in such a way that his works followed the latter’s the peculiarity of introducing the philosophical irony of science fiction, specifically in his work Micromegas.

In broad analysis and various writing, Voltaire’s style was similar with that through his other writings (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). Roughly all his considerable works, whether in poetry or prose, were heralded by introductions of one kind or another, which were examples of his sharp yet informal nature. In a huge selection of unremarkable booklets and writings, he exhibited his talents in journalism. In unadulterated literary analysis, his major work was the Commentaire sur Corneille even though he produced numerous comparable works — occasionally in competition and at times as component of his Siecles (Brown, 2007).

Voltaire’s masterpieces, particularly his personal letters, commonly have the expression l’infame and the phrase ecrasez l’infame – which means crush the infamy (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). The latter pertains to the situations that Voltaire observed around him, the influences of which he had experienced in his own exiles, the amputations of his published works, and the repugnant affliction of Calas and La Barre. The most notable excerpt of Voltaire was fictional. He was mistakenly attributed with the line “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it (Pearson, 2005).

” In reality, such were not really come from him. But instead, they were made by Evelyn Beatrice Hall during 1906 which were written in her work The Friends of Voltaire. She meant to sum up in her own version exhibited attitude of Voltaire towards Claude Adrien Helvetius and his contentious work on De l’esprit but her structure, which was made in the first person style, was misguided for a real reference from Voltaire (Brown, 2007). Voltaire’s major theoretical work is the Dictionnaire philosophique which was composed of articles supplied by him to the Encyclopedia and some other works.

It hurled condemnation at French political establishments and organizations, particularly on the government, Voltaire’s own enemies: the Roman Catholic Church and the Bible (Williams, 2002). Over all, Voltaire achieved the most cunningly amusing and humorous effects by means of an indiscernible twist of an expression; his sentences run with flair; his words are always fortuitous and not difficult; his paradox is as overwhelming as its stroke is gentle. Conciseness and clarity distinguish all his works. The Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) is a collection of Voltaire’s ideas and reflections on the most diverse issues.

In his stern prosaic writings, the excellence of his approach is frequently shared with an aloofness that has deprived them of enduring impact, though they surpass on top of those of other 18th-century impressionists of Racine (Williams, 2002). Voltaire was important in contributing to bring in to the staged plays’ genuine costumes, and he worked productively for the development of the social standing of artists. Voltaire’s Greatest Legacy By means of his literary and philosophical works, Voltaire tried to result in reorganization of the social and legal constitution that was present during his time (Pearson, 2005).

During the 18th century in France, the supreme authority was vested on the King and the Church. By Voltaire’s works, he enlightened the people during those times that the Church was the real bearer of power in the entire France. He conversed that all that the Church did was to grab more and more power to the point of making the King as its own puppet. Voltaire had succeeded presenting such issue to the public by his sarcastic criticism against the Church which paved the way for the reformation on the government and other societal aspects, particularly the place of the Church.

During the 18th century in France, being a social reform writer was not an easy undertaking. All published writings had to go by the officers who were in charge of censorship before these writings could be published (Pearson, 2005). A law which declared that no publisher may distribute any form of books or writings without passing the censorship committee established by the King was implemented during Voltaire’s time. Only those works which gained the permission through a letter sealed with the “Great Seal” should be allowed to be published (Pearson, 2005).

In order to obtain such seal, the officers who were in charge of censorship must state under oath that the work did not have any inclusion of anything that goes against the Church, the government, and the current social status. Works which were published without the consent of the government would be burned while the author and the publisher would be imprisoned. Through this edict, much of Voltaire’s writings were turned into ashes. However, Voltaire, together with other social reform writers during those times, had thought of a way by which they could publish their works without being censored by the government.

So what he did was he made his writings be published in other states (in Geneva, and Amsterdam) and then smuggled them back to France (Pearson, 2005). With that, his works were able to read by the public. Finally, one of Voltaire’s most celebrated contributions in the history of arts, literature and movies was the establishment of the idea of copyright. Copyright did not exist during the early times of Voltaire (Bowker, 2007). The publisher could print anything that went on their hands without paying or even acknowledging the author of the work.

Like Voltaire, much of the authors during that time earned meager salaries because of such arrangement. Thus he included such reform on his writings encouraging other authors and writers to appeal for the implementation of the copyright provision. In the contemporary times, most of the books and the writings and even the films that are being presented to the public are all copyrighted acknowledging the writer’s effort in doing his “masterpiece” (Bowker, 2007). Voltaire as Portrayed by Others Voltaire was known for his ironic representation in almost all of his works.

As mentioned earlier he was able to master the art of writing satirical verses which were directed towards his fight against the Catholic Church as well as the government in France during his time. Thus his masterpieces were treated, up to this contemporary time, as the reverse of what was there in reality. In Arts, he is portrayed as the great artist who desires to go beyond what the nature suggests (naturalism) and instead treat nature with so much openness as Voltaire advocated the idea of surrealism.

Artists during the French Enlightenment had realized that there was really no single explanation of things thus embracing Voltaire’s means of expressing himself through art –and that is through surreal and weird artworks. Even Voltaire’s interpretations of sculptures, artworks, and other great masterpieces are used by notable artists of this period to go with Voltaire’s character on art as being so hooked on the concept of freedom (that even in his treatment of the arts, he exhibited how he loved the truest essence of freedom. In Literature, there is no doubt that Voltaire is a master of literature.

His influences spread all over the world originating from the Western culture and penetrating the Eastern traditions. His way of writing in sarcastic and paradox form is regarded by others as a way to express his desire to achieve freedom (since during his time, freedom was something a person would really die for in pursuit to achieve it) (Pearson, 2005). Hence all throughout the portrayals given to Voltaire, he is someone who truly embodies a true-blooded artist who would do everything for the sake of his passion for writing.

His plays were notable for they showed how he really wanted change for the then France. He worked out several tragedies to imply the prevailing status of the French society during his time (Wheeler & Foote, 2007). Thus, many authors and writers on this contemporary age who wishes to include Voltaire’s approach in expressing their dissent and opposition to the wrongs of the government as well as other aspects of the society. In Philosophy, Voltaire is known to be an advocate of absurdity in a sense that he admits that reason is not sufficient to justify all things that are being presented to human consciousness.

Thus, he recognizes the limits of reason and embraces the character of being open to the absurdity of everything (which led to his ideas on surrealism). In Religion, he is portrayed by anti-monotheistic critics as the great thinker who believes that by imposing a one ultimate god, mankind is compelled to believe in it thus taking way from it its capacity to choose for its own, to decide for its own, and to find out the true essence of a god (Pearson, 2005).

In a way, such character of Voltaire, as perceived by others (critics, supporters, scholars), was in lieu of the fact that he was against the authoritative character of the Roman Catholic Church during his time; that even the function of the government was displaced by the Church’s greed on power. In Movies, Voltaire’s character is portrayed as being so pessimistic in terms of religion, as how often he is compared with another well-known thinker Marx. He is also depicted as a character that has an overwhelming spirit in such a way that freedom and openness would always his line of thinking and expression.

His character is also illustrated with so much absurdity and sardonic whose lines are always open-ended in form. To sum up, Voltaire is an embodiment of courage and unsurpassed freedom which is not only limited to his political and social ideologies but also goes with his literary works. Though many of his critics claim that Voltaire’s character is totally weird and unpredictable, his openness runs to set up the artist’s capability and to show how an artist’s talent could be significant in pursuit of freedom – by which every artist should strive for such achievement.


Bowker, R. R. (2007). Copyright: Its History And Its Law. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. Brown, A. (2007). Memoirs of the Life of Monsieur de Voltaire. Hesperus Press. Pearson, R. (2005). Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom. Bloomsbury. Wheeler, J. M. & Foote, G. W. (2007). Voltaire: A Sketch Of His Life And Works With Selections From His Writings. Kessinger Publishing, LLC. Williams, D. (2002). Voltaire: Literary Critic. Voltaire Foundation.

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