Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sardonic in outlook, it follows the naïve protagonist Candide from his first exposure to the precept that "all is for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds," and on through a series of adventures that dramatically disprove that precept even as the protagonist clings to it. The novel satirizes the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz and is a showcase of the horrors of the 18th Century world. In "Candide", Leibniz is represented by the philosopher Pangloss, the tutor of the title character. Despite a series of misfortunes and misadventures, Pangloss continually asserts that "tout est au mieux " ("everything is for the best") and that he lives in "le meilleur des mondes possibles " ("the best of all possible worlds").
Voltaire never openly admitted to having written the controversial Candide. The work is signed with a pseudonym: "Monsieur le docteur Ralph," literally "Mr. Dr. Ralph."
Memorable passages of Candide
- The one which begins with the Venetian senator Pococurante's summing up for his visitors his views of the authors whose works comprise his library.
« Les sots admirent tout dans un auteur estimé. Je ne lis que pour moi ; je n'aime que ce qui est à mon usage. » Candide, qui avait été élevé à ne jamais juger de rien par lui-même, était fort étonné de ce qu'il entendait ; et Martin trouvait la façon de penser de Pococuranté assez raisonnable.
"Fools admire everything in an author of reputation. For my part, I read only to please myself. I like only that which serves my purpose." Candide, having been educated never to judge for himself, was much surprised at what he heard. Martin found there was a good deal of reason in Pococurante's remarks.
- The one where Candide has just arrived in Holland, broke and starving, and is trying to beg from an anti-Catholic speaker for a few guilders to get a meal.
(English only) "My friend," said the orator to him, "do you believe the Pope to be Anti-christ?" "I have not heard it," answered Candide, "but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread." "Thou dost not deserve to eat," said the other. "Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again." The orator's wife, putting her head out of the window, and spying a man that doubted whether the Pope was Anti-christ, poured over him a full... Oh, heavens! to what excess does religious zeal carry the ladies.
- The one where the priests decide to burn a few people at the stake after the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 .
After the earthquake had destroyed three-fourths of Lisbon, the sages of that country could think of no means more effectual to prevent utter ruin than to give the people a beautiful auto-da-fe; for it had been decided by the University of Coimbra, that the burning of a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremony, is an infallible secret to hinder the earth from quaking. (later on, after the executions) The same day the earth sufstained a most violent concussion.
- The one where the Old Woman describes the violent state of affairs in Morocco during her time of enslavement there.
The slaves, my companions, those who had taken them, soldiers, sailors, blacks, whites, mulattoes, and at last my captain, all were killed, and I remained dying on a heap of dead. Such scenes as these were transacted on a daily basis throughout an extent of three hundred leagues, and yet they never missed the five prayers a day ordained by Muhammad.
- The one where the Dervish and an unnamed old man dispense their laissez faire views of human relations to the nearly enlightened Candide.
In the neighborhood there lived a very famous Dervish who was esteemed the best philosopher in all Turkey, and they went to consult him. Pangloss was the speaker. "Master," said he, "we come to beg you to tell why so strange an animal as man was made." "With what meddlest thou?" said the Dervish; "is it thy business?" "But, reverend father," said Candide, "there is horrible evil in this world." "What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?" "What, then, must we do?" said Pangloss. "Hold your tongue," answered the Dervish. "I was in hopes," said Pangloss, "that I should reason with you a little about causes and effects, about the best of possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and the preestablished harmony." At these words, the Dervish shut the door in their faces.
During this conversation, the news was spread that two Viziers and the Mufti had been strangled at Constantinople, and that several of their friends had been impaled. This catastrophe made a great noise for some hours. Pangloss, Candide and Martin, returning to the little farm, saw a good old man taking the fresh air at his door under an orange bower. Pangloss, who was as inquisitive as he was argumentative, asked the old man what was the name of the strangled Mufti.
"I do not know," answered the worthy man, "and I have not known the name of any Mufti, nor of any Vizier. I am entirely ignorant of the event you mention; I presume in general that they who meddle with the administration of public affairs die sometimes miserably, and that they deserve it; but I never trouble my head about what is transacting at Constantinople; I content myself with sending there for sale the fruits of the garden I cultivate."
(The men go back to the old man's house and have a wonderful meal.)
"You must have a vast and magnificent estate," said Candide to the Turk. "I have only twenty acres," replied the old man; "I and my children cultivate them; our labor preserves us from three great evils - weariness, vice, and want."
- The one where Candide reaches a sort of enlightenment and concurs with Martin.
"Let us work," said Martin, "without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable." (Whenever Pangloss starts prattling on about some quatsch, Candide's response is:) "All that is very well," answered Candide, "but let us cultivate our garden."
- Candide (character), the protagonist
- Cunegonde, Candide's love interest
- Pangloss, Candide's tutor
- Cacambo, Candide's valet
- Martin (Candide) , Candide's travelling companion
- Paquette , maid for Cunegonde's family
- Cunegonde's brother
- The old woman
- French text from University of Virginia: 
- English translation at the Voltaire Foundation, University of Oxford
- Candide by Voltaire - electronic text
- A letter written by Voltaire to the Journal encyclopédique in which the author denies being the author of Candide: 
- plot breakdown by chapter
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