Voltaire Short Fiction Analysis
Voltaire’s wit and insight into the human condition found a memorable forum in his short stories. These stories were not merely entertaining fantasies but were works of philosophical and social reflection as well. By allowing his readers to see the world through his characters’ eyes, Voltaire taught new ways of thinking about the attitudes and situation of humanity.
Voltaire’s fiction ranges from extremely short pieces to the longer works Zadig: Ou, La Destinée, Histoire orientale (1748; originally as Memnon: Histoire orientale, 1747; Zadig: Or, The Book of Fate, 1749), Le Micromégas (1752; Micromegas, 1753), Candide, and L’Ingénu (1767; The Pupil of Nature, 1771; also as Ingenuous, 1961). While those longer works are the primary stories for which he is remembered, his shorter tales contain many of the same themes in a tightly crafted and inventive form.
Voltaire was fascinated throughout his life with the issues of good and evil, freedom and determinism, and the nature of Providence. A Deist to the end of his life, convinced that God had created the world and left it to run according to an original plan, Voltaire yet struggled with the concepts of fate and Providence from the human perspective. The view of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and others that this is the best of all possible worlds fit with Voltaire’s Deism but not with his experience of the...
(The entire section is 1764 words.)
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