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Unformatted text preview: Irony is a rhetorical device by means of which the writer's or speaker's actual intent is expressed in a manner carrying the opposite meaning. Quite often, as in Voltaire's work, it is characterized by grim humor. Usually the writer sets down words of praise to imply blame, and words of blame to imply praise, the former practice being more common. As a literary device, irony is effective because it calls for restraint. The satirist who depends upon it never descends to railing or to sarcasm; he expects his audience to get the point. One can understand why Thierot lauded Voltaire as the "most excellent author of quips and jests" and that both Baron Grimm and Mme. de Stal stressed the comic aspects of Candide while not ignoring the underlying seriousness of the tale. The targets of Voltaire's satire are many and varied. First in importance, to be sure, is philosophical optimism; others include religion, kings and the State, war, avarice, social pride, and folly of one kind...
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