Candide, by French Enlightenment writer and satirist Voltaire, first published in 1759 as Candide, ou l'Optimisme (Candide, The Optimist). It is a satirical novella that follows the adventures of its optimistic yet naive protagonist, Candide. The plot takes Candide through a series of misadventures, including war, natural disasters, and encounters with various philosophical ideologies. The setting spans continents and offers a biting critique of the optimism of the Enlightenment era. Voltaire uses the character of Candide to satirize the prevailing philosophical ideas of the time and to question the notion that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.”

In the historical context of the 18th century, Candide serves as a commentary on the social, political, and intellectual landscape of the Enlightenment. Voltaire uses wit and irony to challenge the optimism of the time and highlight the hypocrisy and absurdity of social institutions. The novella critiques religious hypocrisy, the aristocracy, and the human capacity for cruelty.

Today, Candide remains relevant for its exploration of the human condition and its critique of blind optimism. The novella’s themes continue to resonate in discussions about philosophy, human nature, and the pursuit of happiness.

Read the free full text, the full book summary, an in-depth character analysis of the character Candide, and explanations of important quotes from Candide.

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