Kingwood College Library

Candide by Voltaire 1694 - 1778

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Candide is the story of the improbable travels and adventures of acandide.jpg (23181 bytes) young man, Candide, his fiancée Cunegonde and his tutor Pangloss. Voltaire was disillusioned and pessimistic over the death of his mistress, his alienation from Frederick the Great, and the horrible suffering of victims of the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Thus he wrote this exaggerated adventure to attack the optimistic philosophy of Leibnitz and Pope who believed that this was "the best of all possible worlds."

First published 1759.

Source: [REF PN 451.M36 174] McGill, Frank. "Voltaire." Cyclopedia of World Authors. Vol. III. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Salem P, 1958. 1847.

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Literature Resource Center current library card required for login  Get Card

Find articles, work overviews, and critical essays from this electronic database from Gale.

Library Catalog

To find books on  Candide, consult the LIBRARY CATALOG. Type in Candide in the Subject box. Most literature is located in the P section, so you may wish to browse in the stacks in that general area. Remember, most academic libraries will have their literature in the P section.

Reference Books

  • Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature [REFPN56.U8 S66]. The longing for "the good place" is a literary theme treated here in depth.
  • Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800* [REFPN86 L53] LC contains exerpts from critical essays in books and journals.
  • Magill's Survey of World Literature [REFPN523.M29] Coverage of Voltaire and his writing style and characterization.
  • Short Story Criticism* [REFPN3335.S5] SSC contains exerpts from critical essays in books and journals.
  • Twayne's World Authors* [PQ2122.R48 on reserve] Critical essays on Voltaire's works.
  • World Literature Criticism 1500 to the Present [REF PN523.W67] Exerpts from critics and biographers. There is even a book review of Candide from the time of the original publication, 1759.
    Also check at the Circulation Desk in the library for books which your instructor may have placed on reserve.

*also in the Literature Resource Center

Journal Articles

MLA Bibliography current library card required for login  Get Card  This is the most important database for your research. Use it to find articles in journals and essays in books. This is not a full text database, but many of the journals will be available at the library. And remember, Interlibrary Loan is always an option.

Themes to consider: Comic invention, loyalty, utopia, satire, war as play, treatment of garden, evil and optimism.

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"Voltaire was one of the greatest 18th century European authors, remembered as a crusader against tyranny and bigotry and noted for his wit, satire, and vigorous critical capacity."

Source: "Voltaire." Encyclopedia Britannica. Micropedia.Vol. 12. Chicago: Britannica, 1998. 426 - 427.

An excellent biographical sketch by subject expert, Thomas DeLaine is available on the Internet.

  • Cyclopedia of World Authors [REF PN451.M36] Three page summary of the author's life and literary significance.
  • Blackwell Companion to the Enlightenment [REF CB 411.B57] Using a multidisciplinary approach, this handbook covers history, culture, theatre, and many other aspects of the Enlightenment.
  • Great Foreign Language Writers [REF PN524.G74] Short biographical essay and bibliography.
  • European Writers; the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment [REF PN601.E9] Extensive biographical essay. Also in Literature Resource Center

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The eighteenth century was a time of new ideas and perspectives. The European intellectual movement known as the Enlightenment changed the way man viewed his world. Reason and observation, not spirituality or intuition, was the road to understanding the world in which he lived. Isaac Newton introduced the notion that the universe was governed by set and discoverable laws. This concept undermined the faith in a personal God. Tolerance of varying religious beliefs was advocated by philosophers such as Voltaire. Churches should not interfere with scientific research. In politics the authoritarian state as exemplified by such absolute monarchs as Louis IV of France came into disrepute. By the end of the century the idea of self-government had resulted in reform in England and revolution in France and America. Europe changed from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. At the close of this century the world had changed dramatically as the advances in science, political democracy, and religious freedom swept away the last vestiges of the Middle Ages. Now the belief that human history was a record of general progress and that the condition of mankind would only get better with each succeeding generation fostered a halo of optimism.
by Bettye Sutton, Reference Librarian

Other historical sources:

  • The Atlas of Literature [PN164.A85] A short, but good study of Voltaire and others of his time.
  • Poem on the Disaster of Lisbon
    Literature Resource Center
  • Strachey, Lytton."Voltaire and Frederick the Great." Books and Characters, French and English. 1915. Ed. Geoffrey Sauer. 1997. How the lives of these two great men intersected.

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  • Brief Bibliography for the Study of Candide from the Voltaire Society of America
  • Online Text
  • Resources for Study of Voltaire's Candide from the Voltaire Society of America
  • Voltaire Society of America out of the University of Chicago has an excellent page for Voltaire online sources.
  • Voltaire Foundation, based in England from Oxford University,  studies the Enlightenment and sells research publications.

Assignment Guide: English 1302


Copyright © 1999 []
Written by: Updated: Jun. 12, 2002 cbg