Voltaire - the last happy writer

Written By: Paul Kent

This book is about four things: Voltaire, happiness, writing – and us.

It takes its title – and its thesis – from an essay written by that other great French philosopher, Roland Barthes, in 1958, in which he controversially declared:

a) that Voltaire was the last great writer whose work was motivated by happiness and optimism;
b) that the age Voltaire lived in (the eighteenth century) was the last one in which a writer, or indeed anyone, could feel truly happy.

Voltaire continues to pose questions that need answering in every age – including our own...