This essay Candide has a total of 2027 words and 13 pages.


Voltaire\'s Candide

Translated with an Introduction by John Butt

In a world of bureaucrats, engineers, and producers, Voltaire is the necessary philosopher.
--Gustave Lanson

The Best of All Possible Worlds
An Introduction to Candide

While Candide is without a doubt a farcical, humorous, and far-fetched tale, a seriousness lies beneath its satirical veneer. Candide is the story of an innocent young man embarking on a series of adventures during which he discovers much evil in the world. Throughout his journey Candide believes in and adheres to the philosophy of his teacher, Pangloss, that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." This philosophy was prevalent during Voltaire\'s day, and Candide is Voltaire\'s scathing response to what he saw as an absurd belief that for its followers, the Optimists, was an easy way to rationalize evil and suffering. Candide was composed mainly as an attack on Gottfried Leibniz, the main proponent of Optimism. Candide was also written in opposition to Alexander Pope\'s Essay on Man, which espouses that "partial evil" is for the "greater good." Though he was by no means a pessimist, Voltaire refused to believe that what happens is always for the best.

Voltaire\'s vehement response was triggered in part by two catastrophic events: an earthquake in Lima, Peru, in 1746, and an even more devastating earthquake in Lisbon, Spain, that killed fifty thousand people in 1755. Incensed that the Optimists were comforting the earthquake victims by assuring them that this event had happened for "the best," Voltaire wrote Po鋗e sur le d廥astre de Lisbonne (1756), in which he expresses sympathy for the earthquake victims and lashes out at the Optimists. In the Introduction to the poem, Voltaire addresses their callousness by writing: "The heirs of the dead would now come into their fortunes, masons would grow rich in rebuilding the city, beasts would grow fat on corpses buried in the ruins; such is the natural effect of natural causes. So don\'t worry about your own particular evil; you are contributing to the general good." Voltaire again confronted the mockery of this belief in Candide, which he wrote three years later in 1759.

Candide is rooted in historical events of the time, including the Seven Years\' War, the execution of Admiral Byng in 1747, and the war between England and France for Canadian territory. Furthering this time of political u

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