Candide: ou l’Optimisme
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
Candide is a delightful story filled with boundless misadventure while tackling the great philosophical issues of the Enlightenment era. The story is about Candide, a young man who is the illegitimate nephew of a German baron with whom he resides. When it is discovered he is kissing the baron’s beautiful daughter he is thrown from the castle where he experiences the horrors of war, poverty, the maliciousness of man, and the hypocrisy of the church. Obviously, Voltaire is poking fun at Leibniz, Pope, and others who assail that the world created by God was the best possible of all worlds with perfect order and reason, as spoken through the greatest of all fictional philosophers, Candide’s tutor, Pangloss. As you listen to segments of Candide, take the time to research both the book and Voltaire to gain a richer understanding of the themes interlaced throughout the book.
Voltaire was a French writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day. He was a prolific writer with more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them.