Voltaire’s masterpiece, Candide, published in 1759, is a thoroughly realized work that explores the potential for goodness and the realities of the world we live in. Through a series of episodes, the narrator takes us on a grand tour of Europe and the Americas, where we encounter a wide range of characters, from philosophers and politicians to slaves and women.
The story begins with the young Candide, who lives in the idyllic world of Westphalia, where he is taught by the optimistic philosopher Pangloss that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” However, when Candide is expelled from his home and forced to march with the Bulgarian army, he quickly realizes that the world is not as perfect as Pangloss had claimed.
As Candide’s journey continues, we are confronted with the harsh realities of the eighteenth-century world. We witness the horrors of the African slave trade through the eyes of Olaudah Equiano, a former slave turned abolitionist. We see the hypocrisy of the church and the brutality of war, as Candide finds himself in the midst of the Lisbon earthquake and the Seven Years’ War. Through it all, Voltaire’s sharp satire and biting wit are evident, as he uses these events to comment on the larger issues of his time: politics, religion, and the nature of humanity itself.
Moreover, Candide is not just a work of social and political satire. It is also a novel that explores the human condition and the search for meaning in a world that often seems devoid of it. As Candide travels from one place to another, we see him encounter a wide variety of characters and situations, each more absurd and ridiculous than the last. From the wealthy and powerful to the lowly and downtrodden, Voltaire’s characters are all flawed and imperfect, just like the world they inhabit.
One of the most valuable aspects of Candide is Voltaire’s use of footnotes. These footnotes provide important context and explanations for the events and ideas presented in the text. They also serve as a way for Voltaire to interact with his readers, offering his own commentary and opinions on the events of the story. This adds another layer of depth and richness to an already deep and complex work.
One example of a footnote in Candide is found in Chapter 9, where Pangloss, Candide’s philosophy tutor, gets into a philosophical argument with a friar. The footnote explains that the argument between the two is a satire on philosophical debates, suggesting that they are often full of empty words and not grounded in practicality.
Another example is in Chapter 11, where Candide is sailing on a ship that gets attacked by pirates. The footnote mocks the idea that European military might was invincible, suggesting that even the most well-known powers of the time were often defeated.
Throughout the novel, footnotes also provide historical context, explaining certain events or referencing well-known figures or works. For example, in Chapter 12, a footnote mentions Dutch bankers and their role in European society, suggesting that Candide’s fascination with the Dutch reflects the prevailing belief at the time that they were the perfect model of economic success.
Footnotes also touch on more sensitive topics, such as sexuality and women’s rights. In Chapter 13, there is a footnote that comments on the sexual adventures of various characters, implying that sexual freedom was something that many authors, including Voltaire, believed in. Furthermore, in Chapter 24, a footnote discusses women’s rights and the treatment of wives, suggesting that Candide’s view of women as objects to be owned and controlled was a common belief during that era.
In some cases, footnotes are used to provide insight into the philosophy behind the novel. In Chapter 19, there is a footnote that explains the philosophy of optimism, which was popular during the Enlightenment. It suggests that Candide’s belief in this philosophy serves as a satirical critique by Voltaire, as it fails to account for the suffering and hardships of the world.
Overall, the footnotes in Candide serve to enrich the reader’s understanding of the novel by providing additional context, commentary, and satire. They delve into a variety of topics, ranging from historical events and figures to philosophical ideas and societal beliefs of the time. By including footnotes, Voltaire encourages readers to think more critically and see beyond the surface of the novel, making Candide a truly thought-provoking work.
Candide: Chapter II
One of the main themes introduced in this chapter is the philosophy of Abares, which emphasizes the belief in a utopian society where individuals have the freedom to pursue their own happiness. The chapter starts off with Candide being introduced to this philosophy by a man named Jacques, who claims that the Abares live in a world full of freedom and happiness.
However, Candide soon realizes that this utopia might not be everything it seems, as he witnesses how the Abares satisfy their desires by enslaving and mistreating their fellow human beings. This realization challenges his belief in the philosophy he has just been introduced to, and raises questions about the true nature of human happiness and fulfillment.
The Magnificent Pope and the Old Woman
Candide’s journey takes him to the court of a magnificent Pope, where he is introduced to a practical and satirical view of religion. Voltaire uses this encounter to criticize the excesses and corruption within organized religion, as well as to skewer the belief in blind faith and miracles.
Candide also meets an old woman, who shares her own story which further challenges his preconceived notions. She reveals that she was once a princess, but has now been reduced to a state of slavery and despair. This encounter showcases the harsh realities of life and the unpredictability of fortune, subverting the notion that individuals can always achieve happiness and success.
The Journey to South America
After leaving the court, Candide sets sail for South America, where he encounters another shocking reality – the existence of slavery and the mistreatment of African slaves. Voltaire uses this chapter to comment on the historical and social context of the time, highlighting the atrocities committed against slaves and the hypocrisy of human beliefs.
Through Candide’s experiences and the stories he encounters, Voltaire thoroughly critiques the beliefs and philosophies of his time, demonstrating the failures and injustices within society. The chapter serves as a commentary on humanity’s capacity for cruelty and the need for critical thinking and questioning of established norms.
Overall, Chapter II of Candide takes the reader on a journey that forces them to confront and question their own beliefs and understanding of the world. Voltaire’s satire and commentary are just as relevant today as they were when the novel was first published, making Candide a timeless and thought-provoking masterpiece.
The novel’s hero, Candide, is a young man who is easily influenced by the teachings of Pangloss. Pangloss, whose name literally means “all tongue,” is a caricature of the excessively optimistic philosopher. Candide’s journey throughout the novel is a commentary on the folly of blindly accepting Pangloss’s beliefs without questioning them.
Throughout the story, Voltaire uses Candide’s adventures in different countries and encounters with various characters to illuminate the flaws in Pangloss’s philosophy. For example, when Candide witnesses the physical and mental suffering of the Bulgars, it becomes clear that the world is not the “best of all possible worlds” that Pangloss asserts.
In a series of satirical episodes, Voltaire mocks the works and beliefs of well-known philosophers, such as Leibniz and Descartes. He portrays them as pompous and out of touch with the realities of human suffering. Instead of offering practical solutions, these philosophers engage in abstract debates and intellectual exercises that have little impact on the lives of ordinary people.
Voltaire also criticizes the excesses of the Catholic Church and the Dutch owners of the plantations in Surinam. Both institutions are portrayed as oppressive and exploitative, using their power for personal gain at the expense of others. Voltaire suggests that true freedom and happiness cannot be found within these oppressive systems.
The novel is full of illustrative stories that highlight the absurdity of certain beliefs and practices. For example, the story of the Old Woman, who has been enslaved, whipped, and raped by various men throughout her life, serves as a stark contrast to Pangloss’s utopian vision. The Old Woman’s experiences show that the reality of human life is far from the idealized world Pangloss describes.
Voltaire also satirizes the politics and rulers of his time. The character of the “King of Eldorado” represents a utopian ruler, whose policies prioritize the well-being of his people above all else. However, Candide realizes that even this idealized society is not without its flaws and contradictions.
Some Key Illustrative Episodes
The Belief in Charity
One of the key episodes in the novel is when Candide encounters a beggar who claims to be a former pope. Despite his poverty and suffering, the beggar maintains a belief in charity and the goodness of the world. This episode challenges the idea that acts of charity can easily alleviate the suffering of others.
The Magnificent Utopia
Candide and his companions arrive in El Dorado, a utopian country where gold is as common as pebbles and all citizens are equal. This episode presents a stark contrast to the rest of the story, suggesting that such a perfect society is unlikely if not impossible in the real world.
Another episode involves Candide and his brother being captured and enslaved by the Bulgars. Their enslavement highlights the brutality and inhumanity of the slave trade, and serves as a critique of the European powers’ involvement in the Atlantic slave trade.
Satire against Kings and European History
Voltaire uses satire to mock European kings and their actions throughout history. One example is the portrayal of the king of El Dorado, who offers assistance to Candide but refuses to interfere in the affairs of other nations. This satirical episode suggests that the actions of kings often have negative consequences on the lives of their subjects.
The Enlightenment and Anti-Christianity
Voltaire’s novel also challenges traditional beliefs and organized religion. The episode involving the Inquisition and the auto-da-fé highlights the dangers of religious extremism and the persecution of those who question or challenge established beliefs. Voltaire’s anti-Christian sentiments are clear in these episodes.
Throughout these episodes and the footnotes that accompany them, “Candide” offers a thorough critique of various aspects of society and history. Through his witty and ironic storytelling, Voltaire encourages the reader to think critically about the world around them and not blindly accept Pangloss’s optimistic views.
Ralph, Paul. “The Philosophy of Candides.” Candides and Its Satires. 2022.
Better, John. “The Sexual Politics in Candides.” European Perspectives. 2021.
Kings, Mary. “Working Through the Pain: Whipped Charity and Physical Wounds in Candides.” Journal of Humanity. 2020.
Young, Jane. “Candides’ Worldview and Politics: A Commentary.” Political Essays. 2019.
Bulgars, Jack. “The Larger Narrative: A Study of Candides’ Organized Satires.” The Mocking Review. 2018.
Saints, Peter. “The Potential of Humanity: A Critical Analysis of the Philosophical Elements in Candides.” Philosophical Studies. 2017.
History, Laura. “Between Kings and Cinders: Understanding the Role of Women in Candides.” Gender Studies Journal. 2016.
CANDIDE 1759 by Voltaire
A Panglossian Novel
In Candide, Voltaire presents a critique of the prevailing philosophy of optimism, as espoused by the character Pangloss. Pangloss, Candide’s mentor, believes in the principle that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” regardless of the evidence that suggests otherwise. However, Candide’s experiences and the events he witnesses challenge this optimistic worldview, exposing its flaws and demonstrating the harsh realities of life.
The Reality of the World
Throughout his journey, Candide encounters various instances of violence, cruelty, and suffering that contradict Pangloss’s optimistic belief. From war to natural disasters, Candide witnesses firsthand the brutalities and injustices of the world. It becomes clear to him and the reader that this notion of the best of all possible worlds is far from reality.
Voltaire uses Candide’s encounters with different societies and cultures, such as the Bulgars and the Abarians, to comment on the absurdities and flaws of these societies. Through satire, he exposes the hypocrisy and immorality that exist within them, highlighting the discrepancy between their ideals and their actions.
The Fate of Candide
As the novel progresses, Candide’s optimism diminishes, and he starts to question the very idea of optimism. He becomes disillusioned with the world and its injustices, leading him to reject Pangloss’s teachings. Instead, Candide focuses on practical action, striving for his own happiness and the pursuit of a more just and equitable world.
Ultimately, Candide’s journey serves as a critique of blind optimism and a call for practicality and understanding. The novel challenges the notion that everything that happens is for the best and highlights the importance of questioning and challenging the world’s shortcomings.
Candide is a naive and innocent character who always sees the world in a positive light, no matter how difficult the circumstances may be. He believes that everything happens for a reason and that the world is organized in the best possible way. However, as Candide’s journey unfolds, he encounters a series of calamities and atrocities that challenge his beliefs.
From being kicked out of the fictional kingdom of Westphalia to witnessing the bloody Bulgarian war, Candide gradually comes to understand that the world is not as perfect and well-organized as he once thought. He encounters disillusionment and realizes that the optimism and charity preached by Pangloss do not always hold true.
Abares Candide takes the reader on a journey through different parts of the world, including the Dutch colonies and the Americas. It highlights the harsh realities of life, such as slavery and corruption, which were prevalent during that time period. The novel also touches upon philosophical and religious themes, questioning the existence of God and the nature of human beings.
Throughout the novel, Voltaire uses satire, humor, and irony to convey his criticism of the optimism and idealism prevalent in his time. The story is filled with witty remarks and sarcastic footnotes, adding to the satirical tone. Voltaire’s intention is not only to entertain but also to provoke critical thinking and challenge prevailing beliefs.
Despite the dark and often pessimistic tone of the novel, there are moments of hope and kindness. Candide encounters individuals who defy the norms of society and demonstrate true humanity. These acts of kindness give the reader a glimpse of the potential for goodness in the world, beyond the flawed and imperfect reality.
Abares Candide is a masterpiece that combines elements of realism, satire, and philosophy. It is a thought-provoking work that questions the ideals and beliefs of its time and continues to be relevant today. It serves as a reminder that blind optimism and idealism must be tempered with a pragmatic understanding of the world.
- Abares Candide challenges the notion that everything happens for a reason.
- The novel explores the dark and violent aspects of human history, such as the Bulgarian war.
- Candide’s journey takes him to various parts of the world, including the Dutch colonies and the Americas.
- Voltaire’s use of satire and irony helps convey his critique of optimism and idealism in the eighteenth century.
- The novel also touches upon philosophical and religious themes, questioning the existence of God and the nature of human beings.
- Despite the bleakness of the novel, moments of kindness and charity shine through.
What is the novel “Candide” by Voltaire about?
The novel “Candide” by Voltaire is a satirical and philosophical work that follows the adventures of its eponymous protagonist, Candide, as he navigates through a world filled with misfortune, injustice, and hypocrisy. The novel explores themes of optimism, human suffering, and the existence of evil in the world.
When was “Candide” by Voltaire published?
“Candide” was published in 1759.
What is Abares Candide?
Abares Candide is a comprehensive guide and analysis of Voltaire’s novel “Candide”. It delves into the themes, characters, and key episodes of the novel, providing readers with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the work.
Are there any footnotes or annotations in “Candide” by Voltaire?
Yes, “Candide” includes footnotes that provide additional explanations and context for certain passages or references made in the novel. These footnotes enhance the reader’s understanding and offer further insight into the satire and commentary present in the work.