Candide is a French satire first published in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: or, Optimism (1947). It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply Optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not rejecting optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds".
Candide is characterised by its sarcastic tone, as well as by 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 clichés, 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.
As expected by Voltaire, Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté. However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it. Today, Candide is recognised as Voltaire's magnum opus and is often listed as part of the Western canon; it is arguably taught more than any other work of French literature.
Table of Contents
- How Candide Was Brought Up in a Magnificent Castle and How He Was Driven Thence
- What Befell Candide among the Bulgarians
- How Candide Escaped from the Bulgarians and What Befell Him Afterward
- How Candide Found His Old Master Pangloss Again and What Happened to Him
- A Tempest, a Shipwreck, an Earthquake, and What Else Befell Dr. Pangloss, Candide, and James, the Anabaptist
- How the Portuguese Made a Superb Auto-De-Fe to Prevent Any Future Earthquakes, and How Candide Underwent Public Flagellation
- How the Old Woman Took Care Of Candide, and How He Found the Object of His Love
- Cunegund's Story
- What Happened to Cunegund, Candide, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew
- In What Distress Candide, Cunegund, and the Old Woman Arrive at Cadiz, and Of Their Embarkation
- The History of the Old Woman
- The Adventures of the Old Woman Continued
- How Candide Was Obliged to Leave the Fair Cunegund and the Old Woman
- The Reception Candide and Cacambo Met with among the Jesuits in Paraguay
- How Candide Killed the Brother of His Dear Cunegund
- What Happened to Our Two Travelers with Two Girls, Two Monkeys, and the Savages, Called Oreillons
- Candide and His Valet Arrive in the Country of El Dorado-What They Saw There
- What They Saw in the Country of El Dorado
- What Happened to Them at Surinam, and How Candide Became Acquainted with Martin
- What Befell Candide and Martin on Their Passage
- Candide and Martin, While Thus Reasoning with Each Other, Draw Near to the Coast of France
- What Happened to Candide and Martin in France
- Candide and Martin Touch upon the English Coast-What They See There
- Of Pacquette and Friar Giroflee
- Candide and Martin Pay a Visit to Seignor Pococurante, a Noble Venetian
- Candide and Martin Sup with Six Sharpers-Who They Were
- Candide's Voyage to Constantinople
- What Befell Candide, Cunegund, Pangloss, Martin, etc.
- In What Manner Candide Found Miss Cunegund and the Old Woman Again