Voltaire

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Voltaire’s Letters on England is a collection of written documents that Voltaire wrote between 1726 and 1729 on his experiences he had while staying in England. After its publication in French in 1734, many people of French ethnicity saw it as a bashing of the French government, and even a little bit on the Catholic religion. Voltaire does seem to be fairly favorable towards the English in his letters, which is understandable after he was exiled in his homeland of France multiple times. In many cases Voltaire saw in England what he wished to see in France. In England, Voltaire saw a land with a more tolerant government, and freedom of religion as compared to France, which he saw as cruel and oppressive. Voltaire goes into detail, comparing multiple aspects of life in his letters on the English culture compared to how he perceived life in France. Voltaire talks about religion, politics, trade and commerce, medicine, famous Brits, art, and finally philosophy. Voltaire’s Letters on England tell us just as much about life in France and what Voltaire thought needed to be done in order for France to grow as a nation as it does about life in England. These letters provide an insight to one of the most cunning and intelligent men of the era, and what he thought needed to be done in order to shape French government and religion. Before diving farther into Voltaire’s letters, I would like to provide a little background information on Voltaire himself. Voltaire was born on November 21, 1694 in Paris, France by the name of Francois-Marie Arouet. Voltaire, a famous writer during the enlightenment era was one of the most versatile writers of all time. Voltaire wrote plays, poems, novels, essays, historical works, and scientific works. In other words Voltaire basically did it all. Voltaire wrote more than 20,000 letters (like the ones in Letters on England) and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. Voltaire’s writings often got him into trouble with French law.

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