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Voltaire was a colorful figure in Paris in the time just before both France and America began turbulent revolutions for their freedom. Voltaire was a 17th century writer philosopher and supporter of social reform. He spoke openly in defense of civil liberties and freedom of religion. His satires often poked fun at the Catholic Church and other French institutions. Voltaire along with other authors of the Enlightenment period was influential in the American and French Revolutions. Voltaire was a prolific letter writer having written over 21,000 letters. As a young outspoken poet in Paris, Voltaire was often in trouble with the crown. An excerpt from the preface reads, It is only really by enlightened people that this book can be read; the ordinary man is not made for such knowledge; philosophy will never be his lot. Those who say that there are truths which must be hidden from the people, need not be alarmed; the people do not read; they work six days of the week, and on the seventh go to the inn. In a word, philosophical works are made only for philosophers, and every honest man must try to be a philosopher, without pluming himself on being one. This alphabet is extracted from the most estimable works which are not commonly within the reach of the many; and if the author does not always mention the sources of his information, as being well enough known to the learned, he must not be suspected of wishing to take the credit for other people's work, because he himself preserves anonymity, according to this word of the Gospel: Let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth.
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