Born in 1694, Brother François Marie Arouet’s real name has been all but forgotten, replaced by the writer’s famous pseudonym — Voltaire. He began writing at the age of twelve to early success and ready sales. His satirical writing, distributed in pamphlets to his readers, led to his arrest and subsequent imprisonment in the Bastille, at the age of twenty. After passing a year in prison, François learned the value of secrecy and subsequently protected his true identity under the mask of Voltaire.
A most versatile and prolific writer, Brother Voltaire produced thousands of literary works, including letters, essays, plays, poems, novels, and historical and scientific treatises. He was an outspoken critic of religious dogma, intolerance, and political tyranny, despite the strict censorship laws which he labored under.
Freemasonry had a profound impact on Voltaire’s life. His intimate circle of friends included some of the most influential Freemasons of the day, including Brother Benjamin Franklin. In fact, Brother Franklin was present when he was initiated into the Craft in the Lodge of the Nine Sisters, in Paris, on April 7, 1778. Voltaire’s death soon followed on May 30, 1778, which gave rise to a memorable Lodge of Sorrow, held by the Lodge on November 28th of that year.
Considered his Magnum Opus, Candide has enjoyed immense success despite early scandal. Immediately after its secret publication under the author’s alias “Docteur Ralph,” Candide was widely banned due to cries of religious blasphemy, political sedition, and hostility towards intellectualism. With dangerous wit and insight, Brother Voltaire paints an illuminating portrayal of the human condition in humanity’s ceaseless evolution towards perfection.
Voltaire’s craftsman-like wielding of the pen bequeathed to the world another iteration of that ultimate lesson for mankind; that, while beautiful, all the philosophy and knowledge in the world cannot save us; for our hands must be prompt to accomplish the work or else we devise in vain.