Voltaire: A Very Short Introduction

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9780199688357: Voltaire: A Very Short Introduction

Voltaire (1694-1778), best remembered as the author of Candide, is one of the central actors — arguably the defining personality — of the European Enlightenment. In this Very Short Introduction, Nicholas Cronk explores Voltaire's remarkable career and demonstrates how his thinking is pivotal to our notion and understanding of the Enlightenment.

In a fresh and modern examination of his writings, Cronk examines the nature of Voltaire's literary celebrity, demonstrating the extent to which his work was reactive and practical, and therefore made sense within the broader context of the debates to which he responded. The most famous living author in Europe in the 18th century, Cronk emphasises Voltaire's skills of 'performance' as a writer and his continued relevance today. He concludes by looking not only at Voltaire's impact in literature and philosophy, but also his influence on French political values and modern French politics.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.

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About the Author:

Nicholas Cronk is Professor of French Literature in Oxford and Director of the Voltaire Foundation. For the last decade, he has been general editor of the Complete Works of Voltaire. He is also currently Président of the French Société des études voltairiennes, based at the Sorbonne. He has published many editions of individual Voltaire texts, and over fifty articles on Voltaire, in English and French. He has also edited a number of books on Voltaire, including Voltaire and the 1760s (2008), and Les 250 ans de Candide (with N. Ferrand, 2013). He also recently edited the Cambridge Companion to Voltaire (2009) and has edited and introduced two Voltaire works in the Oxford World's Classics series.


  • 1: The actor
  • 2: The Epicurean
  • 3: The Englishman
  • 4: The scientist
  • 5: The courtier
  • 6: The Swiss exile
  • 7: The patriarch
  • 8: The after-life
  • Further reading
  • Index

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