Candide and Related Texts

By Voltaire; David Wootton | Go to book overview

CANDIDE,
OR
OPTIMISM1

TRANSLATED FROM THE GERMAN OF
DR. RALPH
WITH THE ADDITIONS2 THAT WERE
FOUND IN THE DOCTOR’S POCKET WHEN
HE DIED AT MINDEN,3 IN THE YEAR OF
OUR LORD 1759


CHAPTER ONE: How Candide was brought up in a beautiful castle,
and how he came to be driven out of it

In Westphalia, in the castle of His Excellency the Baron of Thunder-tentronckh, there was once a young man on whom nature had bestowed the sweetest of dispositions. You could read his soul by watching the expressions on his face. He was not without intelligence, but he was incapable of being devious; I presume this was why he was called Candide.4 The older household servants suspected that he was the son of His Excellency the Baron’s sister, and that his father was a good and honest gentleman who lived in the neighborhood. The baron’s sister had never been willing to marry this man because he could only demonstrate that seventy-one of his

1. The word optimisme is rare in French in 1758: the first recorded usage is 1737, and it appears in the Dictionnaire de Trévoux in 1752: “It is the name that is given to the system of those who claim that all is for the best, that the world is the best that God could create; that the best possible is to be found in all that which is and which happens. Even crimes exist to further the beauty and the perfection of the moral order, for they give rise to good. The crime of Tarquin, who raped Lucretia, produced the liberty of Rome, and consequently all the virtues of the Roman republic. See the Théodicée of M. Leibniz.” It is used once in the text of Candide (below, p. 43) in a passage that is a late addition to the text. It would therefore seem that Voltaire hesitated to use a word that might prove ephemeral. It first appears in English in one of the 1759 translations of Candide; but of the six editions, five translate optimisme as “all for the best.” The publication of Candide was followed promptly by the invention of the word pessimisme (1759).

2. Chapter 22 was substantially revised in the edition of 1761.

3. The French army suffered a severe defeat at Minden on 1 August 1759, after the first publication of Candide.

4. In Latin the word candidus means “white,” “unspotted,” and by extension “honest” and “fair-minded.”

-1-

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Candide and Related Texts
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction viii
  • Chronology xxxiv
  • Further Reading xxxviii
  • A Note on the Texts xli
  • Notes on the Translation xlii
  • Candide, or Optimism1 1
  • Before Voltaire 84
  • The Lisbon Earthquake- Rousseau versus Voltaire 95
  • Toward Candide 123
  • Voltaire’s Correspondence 132
  • After Candide 137
  • Voltaire’s Feminism 143
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