Take a visual journey through Voltaire's Candide



Chapter VIII:
The History of Cunegonde

Illustration by Rockwell Kent from: Voltaire. Candide. New York: Random House, 1928. NYPL, Rare Book Division. By Permission of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum, The Rockwell Kent Gallery & Collection.


Don Issachar: A Jewish merchant who keeps Cunegonde as his sexual slave; Voltaire’s depiction of him is an example of anti-Semitism in the tale.

Lord Inquisitor: a high officer of the Holy Inquisition, an ecclesiastical tribunal that investigated heresy and punished — and often executed — heretics.

auto-da-fé: The burning at the stake of a heretic; in Candide, a torture ritual conducted in Lisbon to fend off (unsuccessfully) another earthquake.

sanbenito: an ankle-length garment decorated with flames and devils, worn by heretics condemned to the auto-da-fé.

miter: a miter is the distinctive hat worn by a bishop.

Said Cunegonde to Candide, "At length, to avert the scourge of earthquakes, and to intimidate Don Issachar, my Lord Inquisitor was pleased to celebrate an auto-da-fé. He did me the honor to invite me to the ceremony. I had a very good seat, and the ladies were served with refreshments between Mass and the execution.... But what was my surprise, my fright, my trouble, when I saw in a sanbenito and miter a figure which resembled that of Pangloss! I rubbed my eyes, I looked at him attentively, I saw him hung; I fainted. Scarcely had I recovered my senses than I saw you stripped, stark naked, and this was the height of my horror, consternation, grief, and despair. I tell you, truthfully, that your skin is yet whiter and of a more perfect color than that of my Bulgarian captain. This spectacle redoubled all the feelings which overwhelmed and devoured me.... Pangloss most cruelly deceived me when he said that everything in the world is for the best."