Voltaire

Tagged: Author

Pseudonym of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), enormously productive and successful French philosopher, historian, playwright, belletrist. Of interest to the student of Proto SF is "Micromégas", the title story contained in Le Micromégas de Mr. de Voltaire, avec une Histoire des Croisades & un nouveau plan de l'Histoire de l'esprit humain (coll 1752; trans anon as Micromegas, a Comic Romance [for full subtitle see Checklist] 1753), in which two Alien giants (see Great and Small), the larger from a planet circling Sirius and a smaller giant from Saturn, visit Earth, where their responses to human life make some satirical points, not least that our species may not be so very important in the context of the much larger physical Universe that was coming to be accepted at the time Voltaire was writing. Candide, ou l'Optimisme, Traduit de l'Allemand de M le Docteur Ralph (1759), the best known of all tales of the innocent abroad, can be seen as a precursor of Satirical picaresques from Kurt Vonnegut Jr to Robert Sheckley. Certainly a Fantastic Voyage, Candide is arguably also an early example of Anthropological sf; it was made into a musical comedy in 1957 by Leonard Bernstein. Other contes philosophiques with explicitly fantastic content include Zadig ou la Destinée ["Zadig or the Book of Fate"] (1748; trans anon as Zadig; Or, the Book of Fate: An Oriental History 1749) and Le taureau blanc (1774; trans as The White Bull; an Oriental History: from an Ancient Syrian Manuscript 1774). There are many further translations of these various works, none given below. [JC/PN]

see also: France; Outer Planets; Religion.

François-Marie Arouet

born Paris: 21 November 1694

died Paris: 30 May 1778

works (highly selected; there are many later translations, not listed here)

links

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