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In this new translation of Voltaire's Candide, distinguished translator Burton Raffel captures the French novel's irreverent spirit and offers a vivid, contemporary version of the 250-year-old text. Raffel casts the novel in an English idiom that--had Voltaire been a twenty -first-century American--he might himself have employed. The translation is immediate and unencumbered, and for the first time makes Voltaire the satirist a wicked pleasure for English-speaking readers. Candide recounts the fantastically improbable travels, adventures, and misfortunes of the young Candide, his beloved Cunégonde, and his devoutly optimistic tutor, Pangloss. Endowed at the start with good fortune and every prospect for happiness and success, the characters nevertheless encounter every conceivable misfortune . Voltaire's philosophical tale, in part an ironic attack on the optimistic thinking of such figures as GW Leibniz and Alexander Pope, has proved enormously influential over the years. In a general introduction to this volume, historian Johnson Kent Wright places Candide in the contexts of Voltaire's life and work and the Age of Enlightenment.
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  In a castle of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron ofThunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth, whom nature had endowed with themost gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. Hecombined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was thereason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants ofthe family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, bya good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady wouldnever marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-onequarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost throughthe injuries of time.

  The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for hiscastle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hungwith tapestry. All the dogs of his farm-yards formed a pack of hounds atneed; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village washis grand almoner. They called him "My Lord," and laughed at all hisstories.

  The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and wastherefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours ofthe house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. Herdaughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely,plump, and desirable. The Baron's son seemed to be in every respectworthy of his father. The Preceptor Pangloss[1] was the oracle of thefamily, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith ofhis age and character.

  Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. Heproved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, inthis best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the mostmagnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possibleBaronesses.

  "It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than asthey are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for thebest end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bearspectacles--thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed forstockings--and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and toconstruct castles--therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for thegreatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs weremade to be eaten--therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequentlythey who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they shouldhave said all is for the best."

  Candide listened attentively and believed innocently; for he thoughtMiss Cunegonde extremely beautiful, though he never had the courage totell her so. He concluded that after the happiness of being born ofBaron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to beMiss Cunegonde, the third that of seeing her every day, and the fourththat of hearing Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the wholeprovince, and consequently of the whole world.

  One day Cunegonde, while walking near the castle, in a little wood whichthey called a park, saw between the bushes, Dr. Pangloss giving a lessonin experimental natural philosophy to her mother's chamber-maid, alittle brown wench, very pretty and very docile. As Miss Cunegonde had agreat disposition for the sciences, she breathlessly observed therepeated experiments of which she was a witness; she clearly perceivedthe force of the Doctor's reasons, the effects, and the causes; sheturned back greatly flurried, quite pensive, and filled with the desireto be learned; dreaming that she might well be a _sufficient reason_ foryoung Candide, and he for her.

  She met Candide on reaching the castle and blushed; Candide blushedalso; she wished him good morrow in a faltering tone, and Candide spoketo her without knowing what he said. The next day after dinner, as theywent from table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen;Cunegonde let fall her handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she took himinnocently by the hand, the youth as innocently kissed the young lady'shand with particular vivacity, sensibility, and grace; their lips met,their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands strayed. BaronThunder-ten-Tronckh passed near the screen and beholding this cause andeffect chased Candide from the castle with great kicks on the backside;Cunegonde fainted away; she was boxed on the ears by the Baroness, assoon as she came to herself; and all was consternation in this mostmagnificent and most agreeable of all possible castles.