The Works of Voltaire: A Contemporary Version [Introduction; Candide; Political Dissertations] - Vol. 1

By Voltaire; William F. Fleming | Go to book overview

PUBLISHER'S PREFACE.

Students of Voltaire need not be told that nearly every important circumstance in connection with the history of this extraordinary man, from his birth to the final interment of his ashes in the Panthéon at Paris, is still matter of bitter controversy.

If, guided in our judgment by the detractors of Voltaire, we were to read only the vituperative productions of the sentimentalists, the orthodox critics of the schools, the Dr. Johnsons, the Abbé Maynards, Voltaire would still remain the most remarkable man of the eighteenth century. Even the most hostile critics admit that he gave his name to an epoch and that his genius changed the mental, the spiritual, and the political conformation, not only of France but of the civilized world. The anti‐ Voltairean literature concedes that Voltaire was the greatest literary genius of his age, a master of language, and that his historical writings effected a revolution. Lord Macaulay, an unfriendly critic, says: "Of all the intellectual weapons that have ever been wielded by man, the most terrible was the mockery of Voltaire. Bigots and tyrants who had never been moved by the wailings and cursings of millions, turned pale at his name." That still more

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