Candide and Related Texts

By Voltaire; David Wootton | Go to book overview

VOLTAIRE’S CORRESPONDENCE

LETTER TO JEAN-ROBERT TRONCHIN, 24 NOVEMBER [1755]1

Well, sir, physics can be a cruel science. It would really be quite difficult to work out how the laws of physics create such horrendous disasters in the best of all possible worlds. One hundred thousand ants, our neighbors, crushed all of a sudden in our ant heap, and half of them doubtless dying in indescribable torments in the midst of the debris from which it was impossible to extricate them. Families all across Europe ruined. The wealth of a hundred thousand businessmen from your homeland destroyed in the ruins of Lisbon. What a miserable game of chance is the game of human life! What will the preachers say if the palace of the Inquisition has survived? I reassure myself that at least the reverend fathers the inquisitors will have been crushed along with everyone else. That ought to teach people not to persecute other people, for just when some holy idiots are burning some fanatics the earth opens up and swallows both together!

I have already seen our friend Gauffecourt. I will go to Montriond as late as I can. I believe our mountains are protecting us from the earthquakes. Goodbye, my dear correspondent, tell me, I beg you, the latest news regarding this dreadful event.


LETTER TO FRANÇOIS-LOUIS ALLAMAND, 16 DECEMBER 17552

I have come, sir, to Montriond to turn myself into a squirrel for the winter, after having undergone my own little earthquake3 like everyone else. The best of all possible worlds seems to me to be a bomb. Like you, I mourn the Portuguese; but human beings do more harm to each other on their little mole hill than nature does harm to them. Our wars murder more people than are swallowed up in earthquakes. If there was nothing in this world to fear but the Lisbon disaster, we would be in a reasonably good situation. Moreover we are now told that half that city is still standing. At first both the good and the bad are always exaggerated. I believe that Lisbon still looks less turned over than the cliffs and rocks where you are. If you could leave your lair to join me in my squirrel hole, we could argue back and forth about physical and moral evil during the periods when my physical pains occasionally let up. I would be delighted to see how an imagination

1. D6597.

2. D6629.

3. 9 Dec. 1755.

-132-

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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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