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Voltaire, candide, or optimism

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Introduction Two Parisian buildings encapsulate the life history and reputation of Francois- Marie Arouet (1694-1778), known to literature as ‘Voltaire’:

Text of Voltaire, candide, or optimism

Voltaire, candide, or optimism
Prepared by Dr. hend hamed Assistant professor of English literature Introduction Two Parisian buildings encapsulate the life history and reputation of Francois- Marie Arouet ( ), known to literature as Voltaire: 1. The bastille The Bastille Prison is the stoutest and most fearful jail maintained by what we nowcall the ancient regime in France. Demolished by a mob of rioters on the eve of the French Revolution in 1789, ithad for centuries epitomized the social repression and power of a royalist churchand state. 2. The pantheon On the left back of the Seine, is the Pantheon: Converted at the Revolution from achurch to a secular temple to house the remains of Frances most revered authors. Voltaire is notable for being an occupant of both buildings: he was brieflyimprisoned in the first for his outspokenness in , and his body was finallytransferred to the second with great pomp and ceremony in 1791. Voltaire: biography Voltaire was born into a wealthy family in 1694 and educated by the Jesuits(Jesus Society) at the College Louis-le-Grand. Voltaire became a reluctant law student to please his father, and was briefly adiplomat. From 1715, he occupied himself exclusively with his writing, earning his first briefspell of imprisonment in for writing a satire against the Regent (ruler). Voltaire: biography He was released, then by 1726, he was in trouble again and had to flee toEngland where he met King George I and many members of the literary andscientific elite. For much of the 1730s, Voltaire was in official disfavor and living in exile. By the 1740s, his fortunes recovered, and he became major figure on theEuropean stage: friend to Frederick of Prussia, a protg of Madame dePompadour (a mistress of Louis XV), Royal Historiographer, and Member of theAcademie Francaise. Voltaire: biography By 1754, he quarreled with Frederick, was refused entry back into France, andwas forced to wander around central Europe. He settled in Switzerland, and in 1756 published the first edition of his Essai surlhistoire generale et sur les moeurs et lesprit de nations (Essay on General Historyand on the Manners and Spirit of the Nations). In 1757, Voltaire was involved in secret peace negotiations between Frederick ofPrussia and Louis XV. Voltaire: biography In early 1759, Candide was published, and the French parliament impounded theloose sheets; even Geneva briefly banned the book. Voltaire stayed in the relative safety of Switzerland for most of the rest of hislife, producing literary works well into his 80s. In , he challenged the French government over its treatment of Jean Calas,a French protestant merchant falsely accused of murdering his son for wanting toconvert to Catholocism. Voltaire: biography In 1778, when he returned to Paris for the first time in twenty years, he saw hislast play, Irene, performed. While he was there, he fell ill and died with the words For Gods sake, leave mein peace. Candide: publication history
Candide first appeared in late January 1759 when it was issued in 3 simultaneouseditions of a thousand copies each in Paris, Geneva, and Amsterdam. This strategy was motivated by the desire to sell as many copies as possiblebefore it was pirated and by the fear of censorship. In February 1759, authorities in Paris and Geneva seized copies of Candide in anattempt to suppress it. Candide: publication history
The title page bore the inscription from the German of Doctor Ralph, andVoltaires name did not appear. He only publicly admitted to being the author in In 1956, an acclaimed musical version of Candide was produced on Broadway. In this book, several kinds of travel are implicated, either directly or indirectly.Among them are the personal diaries/journals of Candide and Cunegonde, aswell as the digressions from the main track taken by minor figures such asCandides servant Cacambo. Travel writing Travel writing may seem to constitute a genre that is primarily descriptive andnarrative. It tells the story real or imagined of a person or a group of personsvoyaging from place to place. In practice, no such writing is ever neutral, since travelers inevitably compare theworlds they are travelling through to their own world. Sometimes, this can leadtravelers to make negative and even racist judgements; at other times, it can leadthem to recognize flaws in their own society; and on yet other occasions, it canlead them to reflect upon the universality of the human condition. Early travel writing Fifth century BCE, Greek historian Herodotus, for example, was much interested inthe religion and morals of the countries through which he passed. Early modern period In the early modern period it was a comparatively straightforward developmentfor writers schooled in such ancient travel accounts to turn the focus back to front. Instead of deriving insights into customs and beliefs from observations of differentpeoples and places, they started out with propositions concerning the socialnature of humankind that they then tested by applying them to various real or, inmany cases, imagined worlds. Utopian versus dystopian literature
Utopian literature which appeared for the first time in 1516 with the publicationof Utopia by the English scholar Thomas More ( ), projected imaginaryenvironments based upon political principles or ideals. A contrary tendency later arose whereby authors fantasised about worlds inwhich human ideals of a perfect society were shown to be ridiculous, or at leastimpracticable. Gullivers travels by jonathan swift
Gullivers Travels (1726), by the Irish writer and cleric Jonathan Swift ( ), a ships surgeon, Lemuel Gulliver, is cast away on a succession ofimaginary islands, in each of which facets of human stupidity or greed areexaggerated. A book such as Gullivers Travels constituted an anti-Utopian or dystopianexercise that gave the lie to particular myths of human perfectibility. To some extent, Voltaire is writing in a Swiftean satiric vein. Voltaire and swift Swift, like his near-contemporary Daniel Defoe in Robinson Crusoe (1719), drewon real-life accounts left by actual travelers, but the islands he describes do notcorrespond to any one recognizable location. Voltaire, on the other hand, was very interested in evoking the feel of the worldas it is its hard, inescapable reality. He, thus, situates the environments featuredin Candide fairly specifically on the map. However unpleasant his characterizations of cities or countries, his Westphalia isbased on the real country, his Lisbon is the real capital of a real country, his Parisand his Constantinople likewise. Voltaire and swift He, thus, draws on the existing or surviving memoirs of travelers far more directlythan do either Defoe or Swift. When writing about South America, for example, Voltaire mentions theexplorations of Guiana by Sir Walter Raleigh ( ). When his narrativemoves to Turkey, he is also possibly aware of the letters from Constantinoplewritten by Lady Wortley Montagu ( ) [An ambassadors wife and oneof the few Westerners ever to have been allowed inside a seraglio, or harem]. Voltaire and Samuel johnson
A contemporaneous work, published in the same month as Candide (January1759), was an English text close to it in structure and theme: The History ofRasselas Prince of Abyssinia by the writer Samuel Johnson ( ). Though Johnson regarded Voltaire as a notorious radical and skeptic,resemblances of shape and viewpoint are apparent in these two narratives. The genre of candide novel?
The long eighteenth century was the first great period in the evolution of thenovel. In France, the form was known as the roman because of its roots inmedieval romance. In England, it was known as the novel. According to strict definitions of the 18th century novel, Candide does not entirelymeet the generic requirements for the novel, or indeed for the novella (a shortnovel). The genre of candide parable? Tale?
In shape and thrust, Candide is far closer to a fable or parable, since its meaningslie comparatively close to the surface, and little happens within it that is notdesigned to make a point in the ongoing argument. The term used by the French to classify this kind of exercise was une contephilosophique, which translates roughly as a philosophic tale. The genre of candide Satire?
Another literary category often associated with Candide is that of satire, which iswriting that ridiculous or mocks the failings of individuals, institutions or societies.As Voltaire allows his readers to draw their own conclusions, Candide shouldprobably be classified as indirect satire. Together with his contemporaries Swift, Johnson and the poet Alexander Pope( ), Voltaire contributes in no small way to the long eighteenth centurysreputation as Europes greatest period of sature. The title page The title page The words on the title page give the impression that Candide, or Optimism is atranslation from German of a story by one Doctor Ralph. The inventions of an original German text and a Doctor Ralph lend a quasi- objectivity to the text, and distance the narrator from Voltaire himself. The idea of a German original and the existence of a Doctor Ralph areinventions; are part of the fiction. The title page This playful element subverts the superficially earnest account of the young manCandides personal history in the opening paragraph. The very first words themselves Once upon a time- suggests the beginning of afairy tale, and the combination of absurd name (Monsieur the Baron von Thunder- ten-tronckh) and the ironic tone establish immediately a distinctive narrative. Very nave narrator The gossip of the older servants is the source for the belief that Candide was theillegitimate son of the Barons sister and a kindly and honest gentleman of theneighbourhood (p.3). That the narrator describes Candides (presumed) father soindulgently and not as an adulterer suggests unworldly and nave qualities,qualities we so

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