Candide: or Optimism

Translated by Burton Raffel
Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 172
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    In this new translation of Voltaire'sCandide,distinguished translator Burton Raffel captures the French novel's irreverent spirit and offers a vivid, contemporary version of the 250-year-old text. Raffel casts the novel in an English idiom that--had Voltaire been a twenty-first-century American--he might himself have employed. The translation is immediate and unencumbered, and for the first time makes Voltaire thesatirist awicked pleasure for English-speaking readers.Candide recountsthe fantastically improbable travels, adventures, and misfortunes of the young Candide, his beloved Cunégonde, and his devoutly optimistic tutor, Pangloss. Endowed at the start with good fortune and every prospect for happiness and success, the characters nevertheless encounter every conceivable misfortune. Voltaire's philosophical tale, in part an ironic attack on the optimistic thinking of such figures as G. W. Leibniz and Alexander Pope, has proved enormously influential over the years. In a general introduction to this volume, historian Johnson Kent Wright placesCandide inthe contexts of Voltaire's life and work and the Age of Enlightenment.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12778-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-xii)
  3. INTRODUCTION Candide, Voltaire, and the Enlightenment
    (pp. xiii-xxvi)
    Johnson Kent Wright

    As Burton Raffel remarks in the prefatory note to his sparkling new translation,Candidehas been “compulsory reading” for nearly two hundred and fifty years now. At first glance, the explanation for this staying power seems obvious. It clearly reflectsCandide’s undiminished capacity to move, delight, and instruct its readers, according to the classical maxim. Yet it remains to explain exactlyhowVoltaire’s novella still manages this feat, so long after the world in and for which it was written has passed away. ForCandideis a satire—one of the most celebrated examples of the genre in modern literature—...

    (pp. xxvii-xxxii)
  5. Chapter One How Candide was raised in a noble mansion, and how he was driven away
    (pp. 1-4)

    In Westphalia, in Baron Thunder-den-tronckh’s mansion, lived a young man born wonderfully mild and gentle. His face revealed his soul. He possessed a sufficiency of good sense, and a profoundly straightforward mind—which is why, I believe, he’d been named Candide. The old household servants suspected he was son to the Baron’s sister and a good, respectable gentleman who lived nearby, with whom the lady refused to be married, since he could only prove seventy-one percent of his ancestry, the remainder of his genealogical tree having been destroyed by the ravages of time.

    The Baron was one of Westphalia’s most...

  6. Chapter Two What happened to Candide among the Bulgars
    (pp. 4-7)

    Driven out of this earthly paradise, Candide walked for a long time, not knowing where he was going, weeping, raising his eyes to heaven, and constantly looking back toward the noblest of mansions, containing the most beautiful of all baronial daughters. He lay down, hungry, out in the fields, between two furrows. Fat snowflakes fell.

    The next day, frozen stiff, Candide dragged himself to the nearby village, called Valdberghoff-trarbk-dikdorff, without a penny in his pocket, dying of hunger and weariness. He stopped, sorrowfully, at the door of an inn. Two men dressed in blue noticed him.

    “Comrade,” said one, “there’s...

  7. Chapter Three How Candide saved himself from the Bulgars, and what became of him
    (pp. 7-10)

    Nothing was ever so fine, so elegant, so gleamingly brilliant, so well-ordered as the two armies. Their trumpets, flutes, oboes, drums, and cannon created harmonies only ever heard in hell. First the cannon blew away almost six thousand men on each side, and then rifle fire removed from this best of all worlds some roughly nine to ten thousand wretches who’d been infecting its surface. Bayonets became a satisfactory cause of death for some thousands more. The total came to perhaps thirty thousand souls. Candide, shaking like a philosopher, hid himself as well as he could during this heroic butchery....

  8. Chapter Four How Candide met his old philosophy teacher, Doctor Pangloss, and what had happened to him
    (pp. 10-14)

    Stirred more by pity than by horror, Candide gave this ghastly beggar the two gold pieces he’d received from his honest Anabaptist, Jacques. The specter stared at him, shed a few tears, and flung his arms around Candide’s neck. Frightened, Candide backed away.

    “Alas!” cried one wretch to the other. “Don’t you recognize your beloved Pangloss?”

    “What? You, my dear teacher! You, in that horrible condition! What misfortune could have fallen on you? Why aren’t you still living in the loveliest of all mansions? What’s become of Miss Cunégonde, gem of all women, nature’s masterpiece?”

    “I can’t go on,” said...

  9. Chapter Five Tempest, shipwreck, earthquake, and what happened to Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and Jacques the Anabaptist
    (pp. 14-18)

    Half the passengers, sickened and weak, close to death from the incredible suffering caused by a ship’s wild rolling, their nerves and all their senses pulled first one way and then another, were quite unable to worry about danger. The other half screamed and said prayers. The sails were stripped away, the masts snapped, the ship was breaking apart. Those who were still able to, worked; none of them knew what they were doing; no one was in charge.

    The Anabaptist was doing what he could to help, standing on the main deck, when a raging sailor hit him so...

  10. Chapter Six How they had a beautiful auto-da-fé in order to put an end to the earthquake, and how Candide was flogged
    (pp. 18-19)

    After the earthquake, which had destroyed three quarters of Lisbon, the country’s wise men could find no better way of preventing total ruin than to give the people a beautiful auto-da-fé. It was decided, by Coimbra University, that the sight of people being burned alive over a slow fire, and very ceremoniously, was nature’s infallible, mysterious method of keeping the earth from shaking.

    Accordingly, they had rounded up a man from Spain’s northern mountains, convicted of having married his godchild’s godmother, and two Portuguese who, dining on a chicken roasted with bacon, had removed the bacon before eating, thus proving...

  11. Chapter Seven How an old woman took care of Candide and how he got back his beloved
    (pp. 20-22)

    Candide’s heart was not uplifted, but he followed the old woman into a dirty shack. She gave him a jar of ointment to rub on his back and left him food and drink. She showed him a small bed, quite decent, next to which there was a complete set of clothes.

    “Eat, drink, sleep,” she told him. “And may Our Lady of Atocha, and Saint Anthony of Padua, and Saint James of Compostela watch over you. I’ll come back tomorrow.”

    Still stunned by everything he had seen, everything he had suffered, and even more by the old woman’s kind charity,...

  12. Chapter Eight Cunégonde’s story
    (pp. 22-26)

    “I was in bed, in a deep sleep, when it pleased heaven to send Bulgars to our beautiful mansion, Thunder-den-tronckh. They slit my father’s throat, and my brother’s, and chopped my mother to bits. A big Bulgar, six feet tall, who’d seen how this spectacle made me faint away, started to rape me. That woke me up, I came to my senses, I screamed, I struggled, I bit, I scratched, I tried to rip out the big Bulgar’s eyes, not understanding that everything going on in my father’s mansion was a matter of custom and habit. The brute stabbed me...

  13. Chapter Nine What happened to Cunégonde, to Candide, to the Grand Inquisitor, and to a Jew
    (pp. 26-28)

    This Issacar had the worst temper of any Hebrew seen in Israel since the Babylonian captivity.

    “What!” he said. “You Christian bitch—the Inquisitor isn’t enough for you? You’re determined to let this rascal, too, have a share?”

    And as he spoke he drew the long dagger he always wore, and believing the adverse party was unarmed, he dashed at Candide. But the old woman had given our good Westphalian, along with his new set of clothes, a first-class sword. He was the mildest and gentlest of men, but he drew his sword and laid the Israelite stone-cold dead on...

  14. Chapter Ten In what difficulty Candide, Cunégonde, and the old woman reached Cadiz, and how they boarded a ship
    (pp. 28-31)

    “Who stole my gold and my diamonds?” said Cunégonde, weeping. “What will we live on? What will we do? Where can we find inquisitors and Jews who’ll give me more?” “Alas!” said the old woman. “I strongly suspect the thief was a respectable Franciscan priest who lodged yesterday in the inn with us, in Badajoz. God save me from a rash, reckless judgment! But he came into our room twice, and he left a long time before we did.”

    “Ah!” said Candide. “How often Pangloss explained to me that earthly possessions belong to all men in common, with everyone having...

  15. Chapter Eleven The old woman’s story
    (pp. 31-35)

    “I haven’t always had bloodshot, red-rimmed eyes; my nose hasn’t always drooped onto my chin; and I haven’t always been a servant. I am the daughter of Pope Urban the Tenth and the Princess of Palestrina. I was brought up, until the age of fourteen, in a palace that none of your German baronial mansions could have served as a stable, and one of my gowns would have been worth more than all the splendors of Westphalia. I grew in beauty, in elegance, in accomplishment, in the midst of pleasure, respect, and hope. I had already inspired love, my breasts...

  16. Chapter Twelve More about the old woman’s misfortunes
    (pp. 35-39)

    “Astonished, and delighted, to hear my native language, and no less surprised by the words the man spoke, I replied that there were worse misfortunes than the one he complained about. I gave him a succinct account of the horrors I had suffered, and dropped back into unconsciousness.

    “He carried me into a nearby house, put me to bed, gave me food, took care of me, consoled me, flattered me, said he had never seen anything as beautiful as me, and said that never had he so bitterly regretted what no one could ever give him back.

    “ ‘I was...

  17. Chapter Thirteen How Candide was forced to leave lovely Cunégonde and the old woman
    (pp. 40-42)

    Lovely Cunégonde, having heard the old woman’s story, accorded her all the courtesies owed to a person of her rank and worth. And she accepted the old woman’s challenge, asking all the passengers, one after the other, to tell her their stories. She and Candide then agreed that the old woman had been right.

    “What a shame,” Candide said, “that wise Pangloss was hanged, against the rules of the auto-da-fé. He would have told us marvelous things about the physical and moral evil that covers both earth and sea, and I would have felt myself strong enough to dare, most...

  18. Chapter Fourteen How Candide and Cacambo were greeted by the Jesuits of Paraguay
    (pp. 43-47)

    Candide had brought with him, from Cadiz, a valet of a type often found on the coasts of Spain and in the colonies. He was one-quarter Spanish, born to a half-breed in Tucuman. He’d been a choirboy, a sacristan, a sailor, a monk, a broker, a soldier, a servant. His name was Cacambo, and he was wonderfully fond of Candide, because his master was a truly good man.

    He quickly saddled both their horses.

    “Let’s go, my master: let’s take the old woman’s advice. Let’s get out of here and ride as hard as we can, and never look behind...

  19. Chapter Fifteen How Candide killed his dear Cunégonde’s brother
    (pp. 47-50)

    “I will remember as long as I live that horrible day when I saw my father and mother killed and my sister violated. When the Bulgars left, that adorable girl was nowhere to be found, and they put us in a cart, my mother, my father, and me, plus two servants and three little boys with their throats slit, to bury us all in a Jesuit chapel a few miles from my ancestral mansion. A Jesuit sprinkled us with holy water, which was horribly salty; several drops got in my eyes; the priest noticed my eye twitching. He put his...

  20. Chapter Sixteen What happened to the two travelers with two girls, two monkeys, and the savages known as Oreillons
    (pp. 50-54)

    Candide and his valet were past the frontiers, and still no one in the camp knew the German Jesuit was dead. Cacambo, ever alert, had taken care to fill his traveling bag with bread, chocolate, ham, fruit, and several containers of wine. They pushed through the forest on their Spanish horses, crossing through an unknown land and finding no road. Finally, they came to a lovely meadow, crisscrossed with streams. Our two travelers fed their horses. Cacambo suggested to his master that they too feed themselves, and promptly set the example.

    “How,” said Candide, “can you expect me to sit...

  21. Chapter Seventeen Arrival of Candide and his valet in the land of Eldorado, and what they saw there
    (pp. 55-59)

    When they’d reached the Oreillian border:

    “You can see,” Cacambo said to Candide, “that this hemisphere is no better than the other one. Believe me, let’s go back to Europe as fast as we can.”

    “How can we go back?” said Candide. “And where could we go? If I go to my own country, the Bulgars and the Abars are cutting every throat they see. If I go to Portugal, I’d be burned alive. If we stay where we are, we risk at any moment being put to the spit. But how can I make up my mind to leave...

  22. Chapter Eighteen What they saw in Eldorado
    (pp. 60-67)

    Cacambo told their host how very curious he was, and the host replied:

    “I’m very ignorant, and very comfortable the way I am. But there’s an old man, here in our village, who’s retired from the King’s court, and he’s the most learned man in the whole country, and the most talkative.”

    He immediately took Cacambo to the old man. Candide had become no more than a secondary personage, merely an accompaniment to his valet. They came to an extremely plain house, the door being ordinary gold, as were the interior walls, yet all worked with such fine taste that...

  23. Chapter Nineteen How they got to Surinam, and how Candide came to know Martin
    (pp. 67-74)

    The two travelers’ first day was pleasant enough. They were cheered by the thought of possessing treasure richer than anything Asia, Europe, and Africa together could have acquired. Candide, absolutely carried away, wrote Cunégonde’s name on trees.

    On the second day, two of their sheep sank in the marshes and disappeared, along with everything they were carrying; several days later, two more sheep died of weariness; seven or eight, still later, perished in a desert, of starvation; not long after, more of them fell off cliffs. Finally, a hundred days into their journey, all they had left were two sheep....

  24. Chapter Twenty What happened at sea to Candide and Martin
    (pp. 74-77)

    And so the old scholar, whose name was Martin, set sail for Bordeaux with Candide. They’d both seen and suffered a great deal, and even if the ship had left Surinam, headed first to Japan by way of the Cape of Good Hope, they’d have had quite enough experience of immorality and misery to last them the whole voyage.

    Yet Candide had one large advantage over Martin, which was that he never gave up hope of seeing Miss Cunégonde again; Martin had absolutely nothing to hope for. What’s more, Candide had gold and diamonds, and even though he’d lost a...

  25. Chapter Twenty-one Candide and Martin approach the French coast and argue
    (pp. 78-80)

    At last, they could see the French coast.

    “Have you ever been to France, sir?” Candide asked.

    “Yes,” said Martin. “I passed through several provinces. In some, half the inhabitants were insane; in others, people were incredibly crafty; in a few, everyone was distinctly pleasant and just as distinctly stupid; elsewhere, everyone was terribly witty; and in every single province the primary occupation was love, followed by lying, and after that by the speaking of utter idiocies.”

    “But sir, did you get to see Paris?”

    “O yes, I saw Paris. They’ve got all kinds there. It’s certified chaos, a mob...

  26. Chapter Twenty-two What happened to Candide and Martin in France
    (pp. 80-94)

    Candide lingered in Bordeaux just long enough to sell some of his Eldorado pebbles and to get himself a good light carriage, with two seats, for he could not have managed, now, without his philosopher, Martin. But he deeply regretted having to leave his sheep, which he gave to the Bordeaux Academy of Science. The Academy’s prize, that year, was given for an explanation of why the Eldorado sheep was red and was won by a northern scholar, who demonstrated by A plus B, minus C, divided by Z, that the sheep had to be red, and would ultimately die...

  27. Chapter Twenty-three Candide and Martin reach the British coast, and what they see there
    (pp. 94-96)

    “Ah, Pangloss, Pangloss! Ah, Martin, Martin!” said Candide while they were proceeding on the Dutch ship. “What kind of world is this?”

    “A mixture of mad and disgusting,” Martin replied.

    “You’ve been in England. Are they as crazy as the French?”

    “It’s a different kind of madness,” said Martin. “You’re aware that these two countries are at war, fighting over a few square acres of snow, somewhere in the vicinity of Canada, and that they’ve already spent, on this lovely scuffle, far more than the whole of Canada is worth. Telling you more precisely whether one country or the other...

  28. Chapter Twenty-four Paquette and Friar Giroflée
    (pp. 96-102)

    As soon as they got to Venice, Candide hunted for Cacambo in every inn, every café; he visited all the whores and did not find him. Every day he got the latest information on all the ships, the boats, the barges: there was no news of Cacambo.

    “How can this be?” he said to Martin. “I’ve had time to travel from Surinam to Bordeaux, go from Bordeaux to Paris, from Paris to Dieppe, from Dieppe to Portsmouth, down the French and Portuguese coasts, across the Mediterranean, then to spend several months in Venice, and my beautiful Cunégonde isn’t here! All...

  29. Chapter Twenty-five Visit to Lord Pococuranté, a nobleman of Venice
    (pp. 102-109)

    Candide and Martin took a gondola and went along the Brenta to Senator Pococuranté’s palace. His estate stretched in all directions, and his gardens were decorated with handsome marble statues; the architecture of his palace was splendid. The master of the house, a man of sixty, immensely wealthy, received his pair of curious visitors most politely but not very cordially, which troubled Candide and did not in the least displease Martin.

    Two pretty girls, well and properly dressed, served them cups of chocolate fairly foaming with whipped cream. Candide could not keep from praising their beauty, their graciousness, and their...

  30. Chapter Twenty-six A dinner that Candide and Martin shared with six foreigners, and who they were
    (pp. 109-114)

    One night, when Candide, accompanied by Martin, shared a dinner table with six foreigners who lodged in the same hostelry, a dark-skinned man came up behind him and, taking him by the arm, said:

    “Be ready to leave when we do—without fail.”

    Candide turned around and saw Cacambo. Only the sight of Cunégonde could have more astonished and better pleased him. He was almost mad with joy, and embraced his dear friend.

    “Surely, Cunégonde is here too? Where is she? Take me to her, so I can die of happiness in her company.”

    “Cunégonde is not here,” said Cacambo....

  31. Chapter Twenty-seven Candide’s journey to Constantinople
    (pp. 114-119)

    Faithful Cacambo had already arranged, with the Turkish captain who was taking Sultan Achmed back to Constantinople, that Candide and Martin would also be welcomed on the ship. And so they came on board, having first prostrated themselves before His Miserable Highness. Along the way, Candide had said to Martin:

    “There you have six dethroned kings, with whom we dined, and yet I gave alms to one of them. There may be many other kings even unluckier. Me, all I’ve lost was a hundred sheep, and I’m flying right into Cunégonde’s arms. My dear Martin: once again, Pangloss was right....

  32. Chapter Twenty-eight What happened to Candide, Cunégonde, Pangloss, Martin, etc.
    (pp. 119-122)

    “I beg your pardon, yet again,” Candide said to the Baron. “Forgive me, Reverend Father, for having run a sword through your body.”

    “Let’s say no more about it,” said the Baron. “I was a bit too hasty, I admit it. But since you’d like to know what accident allowed you to see me in the galleys, I’ll tell you that after my wound had been healed, by the Apothecary Brother of my order, I was attacked and carried off by a Spanish raiding party. They threw me into a Buenos Aires prison just after my sister left there. I...

  33. Chapter Twenty-nine How Candide found Cunégonde and the old woman
    (pp. 123-124)

    While Candide, the Baron, Pangloss, Martin, and Cacambo were recounting their adventures and arguing whether what takes place in this universe comes about by chance or according to some plan, and about causes and effects, and about physical and moral evil, and about free will and necessity, and about the solace one can find when rowing in Turkish galleys, they reached the shores of the Sea of Marmara and the dwelling of the Transylvanian prince. And the very first things they saw were Cunégonde and the old woman, who were hanging towels out to dry.

    The Baron turned pale at...

  34. Chapter Thirty Conclusion
    (pp. 124-130)

    In his heart of hearts, Candide hadn’t the slightest desire to marry Cunégonde. But the Baron’s insolence made him determined on the marriage, and Cunégonde so pressured him that he could not refuse her. He consulted Pangloss, Martin, and his faithful Cacambo. Pangloss wrote a splendid legal summary, in which he proved that the Baron had no rights over his sister and that, according to all imperial law, she could certainly enter into a morganatic marriage with a commoner like Candide. Martin’s advice was to throw the Baron into the ocean. Cacambo recommended bringing the Baron to the Levantine captain...

  35. Suggested Reading
    (pp. 131-132)