One of my favorite authors is Voltaire (ヴォルテール). Voltaire was a French author who was born in 1694. He wrote many things including poems, plays and books. He wrote both fiction and non-fiction. He is one of the most important writers in French literature. Voltaire was just his pen name, his real name was François-Marie Arouet(フランソワ-マリー・アルエ) but he changed his name when he began writing.
One reason why I like his books is because he writes in a simple way. I can use his books to practice French because he is a very clear writer. His books are often short. I have more difficulty with other French writer’s books but I find Voltaire easy to understand.
The other reason I like his work is he writes very interesting satire. In his time, the king, the aristocrats, and the church were very powerful but corrupt. Voltaire would often make jokes about powerful people. Because of this many of his books did not list the author. Sometimes the government would make it illegal to sell his books.
Voltaire’s life was also very interesting. Because he often made jokes about powerful people, the government made him leave France a few times. His most interesting trip was to England. One of his most famous books is a nonfiction book about his trip. In English the book is called ‘Letters on the English’ (哲学書簡).
In France, the king had all the power and normal people had no power. This was called an ‘absolute monarchy’. England had a king and queen but they did not have as much power. In England, parliament had a lot of power. Voltaire was interested in the English government and thought it was better than the government in France.
Also while in England, he learned about Isaac Newton’s new laws of gravity. At the time the laws of gravity were very new and few people knew about them. Voltaire helped bring them to France. However, it was Voltaire’s lover who was most important for bringing Newton’s book to France. Émilie du Châtelet (エミリー・デュ・シャトレ) wrote the first translation of Newton’s book. Her translation is still the most popular in France.
Voltaire’s most important book is “Candide” (カンディード、あるいは楽天主義説). In Voltaire’s time there was a popular idea called ‘optimism’. The optimists believed that the world was the best world and everything, even bad things, happen for a good reason. Voltaire did not like this idea. Voltaire saw problems in the world. He believed that people should see the problems in the world and try to make the world better. His book made jokes about the optimists and is a very funny book.
Voltaire lived to be 83. When he died he was one of the most famous writers in France. Not only is he a good writer but also his books are important for history. He taught people about many new ideas and helped make the modern world. I recommend reading some of his books if you have a chance.
fiction (noun) – literature and stories about imaginary people or events
pen name (noun) – a name chosen by a writer to be used instead of using his or her real name when publishing books
satire (noun) – a way of criticizing people or ideas in a humorous way, especially in order to make a political point
corrupt (adj.) – dishonestly using your position or power to get an advantage, especially for money
parliament (adj.) – in some countries, the group of (usually) elected politicians or other people who make the laws for their country
translation (noun) – the version of a document that has been changed into a different language