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Voltaire's Candide (1888) - PDF ebook

Voltaire's Candide (1888)  

Voltaire's Candide (1888)


Voltaire's Candide: or, The optimist. Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia


Voltaire was a true man of action, a knight of the Holy Ghost. He plunged fiercely into the human arena, and fought through a laborious life, against obscurantism, stupidity, and tyranny. He had a clear-cut, aristocratic mind. He hated mystical balderdash, clumsy barbarity, and stupid hypocrisy. Candide is not only a complete refutation of optimism; it is a book full of that mischievous humor, which has the power, more than anything else, of reconciling us to the business of enduring life.


Excerpt from the book introduction:

 Voltaire was the third child of Francois Arouet, a rich notary. His mother died when he was five years old. His brother Armand, ten years older than himself, was drawn towards the Jansenists; but he was himself placed in a school of the Jesuits the College Louis le Grand that was favored by the nobility, among whose sons he could make friends for the future. 

He was a lively student, and when but eleven years old earned credit for his verse. He won the favor of Ninon 1'Enclos, who left him at her death, in 1705, two thousand lives to buy books with. Voltaire left the Jesuit school in 1711, with the credit of brilliant success as a student, and much literary skill. He passed into a law school that disgusted him, then turned to literature and wrote odes in 1712 and 1713; that of 1713 was " Sur Les Malheurs du Temps." Then he began a tragedy on Oedipus. 

His father, to send him away from the temptation to rhyme and live idly, attached him as secretary to an ambassador to the Hague. But at the Hague, he consoled himself by an increase of dissipation and was sent back to Paris, where he had at first to hide from the wrath of his father. Then he allowed himself to be placed as a clerk with a lawyer but picked up friends among young poets, who became companions in his dissipation. 

In 1715 his father placed Frangois-Marie Arouet under the care of M. de Caumartin, who had a father loud often in praise of Henri IV. Here he conceived the plan of his " Henriade," and of a history of the age of Louis XIV. He worked on his " Oedipus," and resolved to give all energies to literature that were not occupied with dissipation. Louis XIV. died on the ist of September 1715, and soon afterward young Arouet was made answerable for verses on the Regent. He was banished to Sully-sur-Loire and found there so much idle pleasure that nothing, he said, was wanting to his enjoyment of the place except the liberty to leave it. As verses had caused his banishment, verses obtained his recall to Paris; but a spy having fixed on him
 the writing of another satire on the Regency, he was arrested in May 1717 and sent to the Bastille. There he remained a prisoner for a year, wrote the two first books of the " Henriade," and finished " Oedipus." It was when he left the Bastille that he changed his name to Voltaire. " I have been very unhappy," he said, " with the old name; let me see whether I shall do better with the new." The first sign of improvement was the success of his " Oedipus," which first acted in November 1718. He was now sought as a poet by the world of fashion. There was another banishment to Sully, much dissipation, much work with the pen. 

The "Henriade" was finished; more plays were written and acted. In 1722, his father's death left Voltaire a fortune, and he received also a pension of two thousand livres from the King. Insulted by the Chevalier de Rohan, who caused him to be fallen upon and beaten,

 Voltaire challenged him and was again locked up in the Bastille. The indignity and wrong thus suffered caused Voltaire, when set free, to ask for his passport to England. He came to England in August 1726. In England, in 1728, he published the "Henriade." In the spring of 1729, he returned to Paris. The mocking spirit in which he dealt with the religion of England in his " Lettres sur les Anglais " caused that book to be burned and his own liberty to be again in danger. He withdrew to Cirey, and wrote for Madame du Chatelet a " Traits de Meta- physique." 

His literary energy remained unbroken; his works multiplied. In 1740 he first met Frederick II. of Prussia. In 1750, after many changes of life in France, he accepted the invitation of Frederick to live with him at his Court, with a large pension. But after three years at Potsdam, he escaped from his Majesty and settled in France with a niece, Madame Denis. He had bought an estate at Tourney and another at Ferney.

 
Author: Voltaire.
 Translated by Richard Aldington
Publication date:1988

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