Candide Introduction

by Voltaire

Candide, ou l’Optimisme is a French satire written in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. Candide is characterized by its sarcastic tone and its erratic, fantastical, and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel with a story similar to that of a more serious bildungsroman, it parodies many adventure and romance clich├ęs, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is mordantly matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years’ War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. As philosophers of Voltaire’s day contended with the problem of evil, so too does Candide in this short novel, albeit more directly and humorously. Voltaire ridicules religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers through allegory; most conspicuously, he assaults Leibniz and his optimism.

Candide I

Candide II

Candide III

Candide IV

Candide V

Candide VI

Candide VII

Candide VIII

Candide IX

Candide X

Candide XI

Candide XII

Candide XIII

Candide XIV

Candide XV

Candide XVI

Candide XVII