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Eric Palmer, Allegheny College, editor of the Broadview Editions 'Candide'

Evil Candide? (1 of a series of 3)
Nicole Horjesi has noted a turn in Candide’s actions. Others writing about Voltaire’s book often portray Candide as a blank white sheet upon whom first Pangloss and then society write (and white is one meaning of ‘candid’). I haven’t checked carefully, but I think the second slaying is Candide’s first unguided and non-reactive decision to injure. Candide will show at least a half-dozen flashes of temper, most frequently when confronted with the pompous nobility of Cunegonde’s brother. He will never again be quite “so gentle,” and he does not recover his equilibrium until the final chapter. Candide fails in an important and different way at mark 6 of Chapter 19 (

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The Lisbon earthquake was also notable to Voltaire and Europe because it happened Nov. 1 1755 — while all those Catholics were in church, on All Saints’ Day. John Wesley suggested that it was punishment for all those corrupt souls, and I saw a very few similar pronouncements following the 2006 Boxing Day tsunami.
Voltaire took a different view: in the Poem on the Disaster at Lisbon (translated), he writes:
Cannot then God direct all nature’s course?
Can power almighty be without resource?
Humbly the great Creator I entreat,
This gulf with sulfur and with fire replete,
Might on the deserts spend its raging flame,
God my respect, my love weak mortals claim

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An interesting point about the translation of ’sheets’ — I had forgotten the correct use, myself. A zip into the Oxford dictionary shows that literary figures had been misusing the term, indeed, for 120 years, and Alexander Pope was one of them. Not surprising, since sheet makes one think of sheet of paper, and so, back to sail — at least, it makes a bookish person think as much!

The slip also gives some evidence that the unknown translator, in 1918, was consulting a translation done in 1759 (unknown translator, working for Nourse). I’ve looked at a few passages now — I re-edited the Nourse version for Broadview Press, so I know it well — it looks very much like the translator was copying and altering the Nourse version in minor respects, for the most part.

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