Voltaire was born François-Marie Arouet in 1694 to a middle-class Parisian

family. He became famous in France for his satirical writing at a young age. At the age 

of twenty-one, he was imprisoned in the Bastille for several months for a poem that 

satirized the French monarch. Upon his release in 1718, he assumed the pen name 

Voltaire, an anagram of the Latin spelling of his surname. In spite of his incarceration, 

Voltaire never stopped writing his biting satire, and he never stopped getting into trouble 

for it. He was imprisoned again in 1726, and the condition of his release was that he 

agreed to a three-year exile in England. Voltaire was welcomed in England by other 

great thinkers and philosophers of the day such as Alexander Pope, John Locke, and 

Sir Isaac Newton.

Through the lens of history, Voltaire is seen as a preeminent writer of the 

intellectual period known as the Enlightenment or Age of Reason. This period was 

characterized by a decisive move toward understanding the world through science and 

reason, as well as a spirit of social reformation encompassing the ideas of equality 

among men and personal liberty. Although Voltaire’s work is grounded within this 

period, Candide demonstrates that the Enlightenment was also characterized by 

differences of opinion and philosophical debate. 

The central focus of Voltaire’s satire in Candide is the idea, popular with many 

thinkers of the day, that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” The 

character of Pangloss,...
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Essays About Candide