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Candide Review Essay

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 Candide. By Voltaire. Translated from the German by John Butt. (New York: Penguin Books, 1947 edition. Pp. 144. Bibliography, index, introduction.)

This novel, written in 1758, was centered on Voltaire’s unfortunate experiences with the shock of the earthquakes happening in Lima in 1746 and, 9 years later, in Libson. Both quakes wreaked harsh havoc, causing the death of over fifty thousand people and completely destroying each of the cities. Deeply offended by the ‘optimistic’ ideology the public uses in interpreting these events, which is based on the Christian philosophy of Gottfried William Leibinez, Voltaire uses Candide as a powerful, yet humorous way to retaliate against the church’s clergy and these overrepresented ideals.

Voltaire was sixty-four years old when he wrote Candide. After serving two separate terms in the Bastille, being severely beaten for offending a courtier, and ultimately being exiled from Paris, he ended up near Geneva, where he began to reflect on the teachings of Leibinez and apply them to his past. This is the platform in which this novel came about. Voltaire is outraged at the church’s hypocritical practices and its abuse of power. It is important for the reader to note that he does not directly criticize the theory itself that Leibinez introduces regarding eventful reasoning, but the perception of the public ...

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