Love that smirk! It's hard to summarize someone as full as personality and as controversial as Voltaire. Briefly, Voltaire was the pen-name of François-Marie Arouet, a Parisian who was causing trouble as soon as he exited the womb. His father was determined to make him a lawyer, but although Voltaire had the fighting spirit, he craved to express it with the pen, outside the courtroom. Monsieur was very critical of the French judicial system as well as religion. It was his words which got Voltaire in trouble not only with his parents but also with the government, landing him in the Bastille and then later putting him in exile in England among other places. This only fired up the philosopher more and he only wrote more, this time with his new found anglophilia, discussing how the British constitutional monarchy was much more successful than the French absolute monarchy; oh if only they had listened! Voltaire was sassy to the very end. Dying in 1778, his last words were to a priest attempting to have him renounce his atheist ways, "For God's sake, let me die in peace." Love him or hate him, I think we could all use a modern Volatire right now!
But the best means of celebrating or studying Voltaire would probably be with his own words. After all, he had no problem can speaking for himself!
Freedom of Speech
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”
“Common sense is not so common.”
"Marriage is the only adventure open to the cowardly."
"Behind every successful man stands a surprised mother-in-law."
"A witty saying proves nothing."
“It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets”
“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
“The longer we dwell on our misfortunes the greater is their power to harm us”
The Fairer Sex
"I hate women because they always know where things are."
“Christianity is the most ridiculous, the most absurd, and bloody religion that has ever infected the world”
"Of all religions, the Christian should of course inspire the most tolerance, but until now Christians have been the most intolerant of all men."
"I have never made but one prayer to God, a very short one: 'O Lord, make my enemies ridiculous.' And God granted it."