Voltaire

Voltaire is not his real name. His name is actually Francois-Marie Arouet,but Ill just call him voltaire. I will not be talking much about the guy himself,rather how he got the nickname voltaire. The name “Voltaire”, which the he adopted in 1718, is an anagram of “AROVET LI,” the Latinized spelling of his surname, Arouet, and the initial letters of “le jeune” (“the young”). The name also echoes in reverse order the syllables of the name of a family chateau in the poutioregion: “airvault”. The adoption of the name “Voltaire” following his incarceration at the Bastille is seen by many to mark Voltaire’s formal separation from his family and his past.

Richard holmes supports this derivation of the name, but adds that a writer such as Voltaire would have intended it to also convey its connotations of speed and daring. These come from associations with words such as “voltige” (acrobatics on a horse), “volte face (a spinning dude about to face one’s enemies), and “volatile” (originally, any winged creature). “Arouet” was not a noble name fit for his growing reputation, especially given that name’s resonance with “à rouer” (“to be broken on the wheel” – a form of torture then still prevalent) and “roué” (a “débauché“).

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