On Voltaire and Candide
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.
Voltaire’s tale of how Candide — young, naive, and not too bright — endures a series of trials, travels, and misadventures as he searches for his beloved Cunegonde was a publishing sensation in Europe in 1759. Some 20,000 copies were printed in that year alone, confirming its status as a bestseller in the context of that era. The satirical treatments of religion, sexuality, and authority made Candide both a target of censorship by governments and the church as well as a hugely popular underground success. Over the centuries, the tale has been imitated, augmented with further adventures, illustrated more than a hundred times by artists anonymous and famous, adapted into various other art forms, translated into all the major languages of the world, and canonized as an outstanding contribution to both French and world literature.
This section of On the Road with Candide brings together basic resources on Voltaire and his most famous work, as well as the primary texts of the Library's 2009–2010 exhibition, marking the 250th anniversary of the first edition of Candide, and a treasure gallery of Voltairiana.