Voltaire (Franсois-Marie Arouet) : biography
On November the 21th in 1694 in Paris was born a boy in family of Marie Marguerite d'Aumart and Francois Arouet. When christening, the boy was given name Francois-Marie. His mother Mari d’Aumart died when he was seven years old, so the boy’s childhood was far from happy. To make the things still worse François never loved his father – Francois Arouet partially because he considered his profession of lawyer and tax collector quiet shameful. Later he avoided using his name not only in his work but for everyday life too – he replaced it with the pseudonym. Many researchers consider that pseudonym to be the anagram for “Junior Arouet” in Latin. Voltaire’s dislike for his father was so great that in 1744 he announced himself to be an illegitimate child of poor poet and musketeer.
Voltaire studied in Paris Jesuitical college for 6 years. Actually at that time Jesuits were the best teacher their only imperfection was excessive piety. When Voltaire finished studying at college in 1711 his pragmatic father decided the young man should become a lawyer and got him into the office of lawyer Alan to study the laws. However young Voltaire was much more interested in poetry and drama rather than laws, moreover he was a member of an aristocrat circle headed by duke Vandom – the leader of Paris Tamplars. Voltaire quite fast made a reputation of the author of splendid satiric poems and a wit. His contemporaries mentioned Voltaire’s radical views.
The result of Voltaire’s carelessness for his law studies and evident disregarding attitude were frequent conflicts with his father though they where pointless in relation of changing Voltaire’s mind. Some of the young man’s verses were against of Orleans duke. And to make things still worse people attributed some anonymous poems to Voltaire which he actually never wrote. One of those creations took Voltaire to Bastille for 11 months. They said that conditions for prisoners in Bastille of those times were quite bearable and the imprisonment brought more emotional than physical suffering. But the fair sentence and 11 months long imprisonment were more than enough to make up Voltaire’s mind and he imbibed hatred for the despotism of authorities and held it through his life. However every cloud has a silver lining and during his imprisonment Voltaire started to plan his future epic poem “La Henriade” as many biographers considered. That poem would bring him fame.
After releasing from Bastille, Voltaire started to work at the performance of his play “Oedipus”. The play was rather a tricky one, its main idea seemed to be the criticism for pagan superstitions but in fact it was the criticism for religionists. Since that performance of the play on the stage of the theater “Frances Comedy” twenty-four years old Voltaire began his way to famous life. Even at that time people called him a deserving rival for Raisin, Cornel and Sophocles. The play “Oedipus” was played using his pseudonym Voltaire and not his real name. However the author was not shy to add aristocratic ” d’ ” to his name.
At that period Voltaire wrote his first variant of epic poem about king Henry the IV – later the writing would be known as “Henriade”. Such kind of creativity brought Voltaire the king’s favour and by the age of thirty was the leading writer in France. However at the end of 1725 Voltaire fell from favor once again.
Having been humiliated by an offspring of one highborn family of France – young d’ Rohan-Chabot he couldn’t keep silent. Voltaire’s answer was naturally precise and rather sharp, there was no tolerance in his words. In a couple of days Voltaire and Rohan-Shabot met occasionally in the theater and had an arguing conversation. However the Chevalier went further. Duke d’Sully invited Voltaire for dining and as they dined some people asked for Voltaire to come out. As he walked out they attacked him and Rohan-Shabot himself was commanded those people. Most of Voltaire’s friend supported him in that situation. However the officials in order to avoid troubles put to Bastille Voltaire instead of the offender.
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