12 Voltaire

12 Voltaire - Voltaire, Candide, or Optimism (1759)...

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Voltaire, Candide, or Optimism (1759) Voltaire was the favorite penname of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778; Arouet actually used another 177 pseudonyms for his works). He was one of the leading lights in Enlightenment circles in Paris, writing 2,000 books and pamphlets and more than 20,000 letters. He was notorious for his humor, aimed mostly at what he called “the infamous thing”—traditional institutions and above all the Catholic Church. Voltaire had to flee to Britain in 1725 after an argument with the Chevalier de Rohan. He returned to Paris in 1728, only to have to flee again. In 1750 he moved to Berlin, but after falling out with Frederick the Great he ended up in 1758 a large estate at Verney, on the French frontier. There he wrote his comic novel Candide, a thinly veiled attack on the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. He spent most of the rest of his life at Verney, and on his deathbed is said to have told the priest sent to hear his confession “For God’s sake, let me die in peace.” I. HOW CANDIDE WAS BROUGHT UP IN A MAGNIFICENT CASTLE, AND HOW HE WAS EXPELLED THENCE. In a castle of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth, whom nature had endowed with the most gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. He combined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was the reason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants of the family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by a good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady would never marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-one quarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost through the injuries of time. The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his castle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hung with tapestry. All the dogs of his farmyards formed a pack of hounds at need; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village was his grand almoner. They called him "My Lord," and laughed at all his stories. The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honors of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-colored, comely, plump, and desirable. The Baron's son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. The Preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character. Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses. "It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for
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12 Voltaire - Voltaire, Candide, or Optimism (1759)...

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