Detailed summary of Candide with commentary Seventeen topics discussed. These notes were recommended to A-Level French teachers in the BBC 84th Active Language Newsletter

Monday, 24 August 2009

Candide- Detailed summary-commentary - Ideas - Characters- Style

(Please click on one of the 18 titles below to access your chosen topic)


  Right - In this old edition of "Candide", Voltaire conceals his identity

2) Voltaire - His life and character   

Pictured below


3) The literary genre to which "Candide" belongs.

The BBC Jonathan Swift webpage to which reference is made can be reached with this link:"Gulliver's Travels": How it Comments on Society


(Voltaire’s aim in the book was to attack Philosophical Optimism and there are four sections, 4-7 below, to cover this topic :)

4) Optimistic Philosophy in the eighteenth century

5) Direct references to Philosophical Optimism in Candide

6) Voltaire's hostility to Philosophical Optimism

7) Voltaire's evidence against Philosophical Optimism

Above right a picture of one of his pieces of evidence - The disastrous Lisbon earthquake


(If Voltaire is attacking optimism, we ask the question whether this makes for a gloomy, pessimistic book? Topics 8- 10 below are relevant to this question)

8) Is "Candide" a totally pessimistic book?

9) What is Candide's final philosophy of life?

10) Voltaire's literary style (This topic is relevant to the question of pessimism also because the style serves to dispel any gloomy tone)


(Finally we discuss the characters in topics 11- 18)

11) Are the characters merely puppets?

12) The Character of Candide

13) The character of Pangloss

14) The character of Cunegonde

Picture right - Cunegonde and Candide are caught behind the screen after she had invited him to join her in a human biological experiment

15) The character of the German Jesuit Baron

16) The character of the old woman

17) The character of Cacambo

18)The character of Martin

Below - The Auto-da-fe at which Candide had a starring role, burnt over a slow fire as a heretic, at a religious service, in front of a huge congregation, which included Cunegonde.


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