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Voltaire's Candide

Author and his work
by

Susan Shank

on 13 October 2015

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Transcript of Voltaire's Candide

Candide by Voltaire
Francois-Marie Arouet is best known under his
pen name Voltaire.
He criticized everyone and signed his work with
"Ecrasez l'in-fame" or "down with infamy."
His most popular work is Candide
Great Council of Geneva denounced it and ordered
all copies to be burned.
Candide parodies the philosophy of optimism by
Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz which states since
God created the world and God is perfect, everything
in the world is ultimately perfect.
Voltaire attacked this philosophy in his poem on the
1756 Lisbon earthquake.
Rousseau answered the poem with a letter which was leaked
to the press, saying it was Voltaire who was mistaken.
Voltaire answered back 3 years later with the tale of Candide
(such is politics and lively bantering between philosophers)
"The Best of All Possible Worlds"
Optimism vs. Pessimism
Satire
Voltaire, 1694-1778
pen name of Francois Marie Arouet
chose writing over a career in law
his enemy was Rousseau, who had him exiled to England where he met Jonathan Swift
French author and philosopher
style, wit, intelligence, strong sense of justice
attacks superstition, intolerance, fanaticism, and injustice
Best known for Candide (1759)
"Age of Reason"
Died in 1778 in Paris; ashes moved to Parthenon in 1791
Candide
philosophical tale
describes adventures of an inexperienced young man as he wanders the world
satire that attacks intolerance and abuse seen in the church, government, and society
complex look at the meaning of life and nature of evil as it exists in the world
Vocabulary
Anti-Cleric - France, during Voltaire's life was a Catholic country, and the church had a great deal of temporal power, which it used to punish those who attacked its beliefs or criticized its priests. Since Voltaire attacked church practices, he was labeled as anti-clerical.
Dervish -- member of a Muslim religious order
Ichoglan -- page or messenger
Iman -- Muslim holy man
Janizaries -- Turkish soldiers who guard sultan
Primogeniture -- practice by which land and estate go to the oldest son, thus leaving younger sons no other options but to enter priesthood or military
Slave Galley -- sailing ship that has rows of slaves rowing
Inquisition (Spanish Inquisition) -- Roman Catholic court that indicted, tried, and sentenced religious heretics to death.
Major Characters
Candide -- hero; name means pure, innocent, naive
Pangloss -- Candide's teacher; name means all language
Cunegonde -- love of Candide's life
Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh -- Cunegonde's brother
Old Woman -- Cunegonde's maid
Paquette -- chamber maid of Cunegonde's mother
Cacambo -- Candide's beloved valet and traveling companion; guides him through Eldorado
Martin -- scholar who guides Candide; cynical
Pococurante -- Venetian senator
Themes
Human condition -- what is the best way to approach life? Free will
Religion -- something between a man and God, not something that lends itself to priests or churches
Happiness -- method one uses to get through another day of miserable living
War -- barbaric system governed by its own rules and using its own reason; a complete waste of resources
Style
Setting
The world
ideal societies and and backward societies in obscure parts of the world
Exaggerated -- Eldorado, Amazon
Eden trope -- series of gardens
Satire to challenge cult of optimism
Comic satirist, loved humans too much to be tragic
Exposure of man's follies in the insane but fantastic adventure of Candide
Picaresqueto satirize the chivalric romance
Hero rambles along by his wits
Low form of artistry
Historical Context
Lisbon
destroyed by six minute earthquake
fervently Catholic city is destroyed on a Catholic feast day, All Saint's Day, Nov. 1, 1755.
Enlightenment Period
Reason becomes supreme power
France under control of an all-powerful King and Catholic Church
French Revolution is brewing
Seven Years War
France renews hostilities with England over control of North America
Optimism
Based on Gottfried Leibnitz who uses logic to explain existence of evil
Laws of sufficient reason restrain even God's ability to create a perfect universe
While containing evil, it is still the "best of all possible worlds."
Upholds belief of optimism to point of absurdity
Justifies all events through cause-effect relationship
Pangloss says,"Things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end; we have spectacles because our nose was made to support spectacles." Tortured logic which makes him the epitome of a learned fool.
Voltaire opposes these ideals with constant examples of human cruelty and natural disasters that defy all explanation
Pessimism
Sees the goodness in no one
God and the devil hold equal power in the universe and the devil effectively rules human existence
Misery is universal and inevitable; efforts to curtail it are futile
Avoid emotional attachments and commitments to others
Wrote Candide as a roman à clef or roman à clé
French--"novel with a key"
This genre describes real-life events but masks it all through fictional characters and events.
"Key" is a famous figure or the author
Used this style to enhance their satire, write about issues that may prove too scandalous or dangerous to write about more directly, and to possibly change the ending to match what they want to happen versus reality itself.
•The opposite meaning is usually true. When Voltaire sounds like he is praising someone or something, he is usually not.
•Exaggeration will get you everything. Read closely for exaggeration and how Voltaire uses it to make a point.
•Shock value is okay. In traditional narratives, exaggeration would mislead and confuse the reader, but in Candide, it enhances the satirical effect.
•Typical narrative devices can be used or not at the author’s whim. Voltaire is not bound by rules of time, place and action in his work.
•Characters’ names typically have multiple meanings. This is true of almost every one of Voltaire's characters so read carefully.
•Language is crucially important. It is not always what Voltaire says but how he says it.
•Fantasy and reality can interplay without penalty.
•Although satire is usually meant to be humorous, the purpose of satire is not primarily humour but criticism of an event, an individual or a group in a clever manner.
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