Candide

Author: Voltaire

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Candide is a French satire first published in 1759.

It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism by his mentor, Professor Pangloss.

The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide’s slow and painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes Candide with, if not rejecting Leibnizian optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, “we must cultivate our garden”, in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, “all is for the best” in the “best of all possible worlds”.

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Letters on England

Voltaire

One of the most controversial and polemic works of the 18th century, it generated much uneasiness in French high society. Voltaire earned the contempt of the monarchy and the Parisian upper echelons by comparing the English nobility and society with the French in a very derogatory way.

Letters on England is a satirical and direct criticism of the decadent French society of the century. But with special emphasis on the monarchy and the high spheres that surrounded it. In it, he describes as an example to follow a developed and cultured English society, capable of tolerating and accepting the differences of the different social classes, and far from fanaticism and religious superstition.

This work set a precedent as a point of reference in the thinking of the middle and lower classes, being adopted as one of the writings that inspired the social movements of 1789, elevating Voltaire as a figure of free and revolutionary thought.

Short Works

Voltaire

The Short Works of Voltaire are a compendium of essays, extracts from novels, social criticisms, analyses, poems, and even sonnets and manuals of good living, written by him from his beginnings to the moment of his consecration as one of the most prominent figures of free thought in 18th century France.

These Short Works show in each line the deepest aspects of Voltaire’s thought. Texts that reflect how his mind was structuring itself as a machine of freedom and social reflection.

Today, among all his works, these Short Works go somewhat unnoticed. Compared to his more prominent writings, in many lines they do not reflect the grandiloquence with which Voltaire displayed his humor or his social thought, however, if you want to understand and know this great author, they are undoubtedly a must read.

Zadig

Voltaire

Zadig or «The Book of Fate» is a philosophical tale by Voltaire, first published in 1747 under the name Memnon. Extended by a few chapters, it was republished in 1748 under its present title.

According to Longchamp, Voltaire’s secretary, it was during social evenings at Sceaux, with the Duchess of Maine, that the idea of writing short stories inspired Voltaire to produce this short novel, also qualified as a philosophical tale, which knows several editions from 1747. He also refrained from being the author, considering it as a simple «couillonnerie».

Micromegas, Philosophical History

Voltaire

With Micromegas, Voltaire invites us, following his extraterrestrial hero, to cross the immensities of space, to visit with fantasy some distant planets in order to quickly bring us back to our good old Earth.

Throughout this marvelous and philosophical journey, Voltaire wanted to make us reflect on his essential concerns of the time: how to situate man in relation to the cosmos and what wisdom can we draw from this confrontation? At the apogee of the universe, human behavior very quickly obeys the division between reason and unreason.

Voltaire's Romances

Voltaire

Each of the works included in this compendium belongs to that select list of Voltaire’s best works. Starting with: The White Bull: A Satirical Romance, through The Princess of Babylon, to The Study of Nature.

Voltaire’s Romances have the philosophical and romantic essence that Voltaire, a lover of the times and of human thought, is so fond of, without leaving aside his satirical sense of humor.

These works written with a beautiful and sharp pen, inspire us to see the world, societies, love and humor, from the eyes of one of the greatest humanists and fighters for social rights that humanity has ever known. Allowing us to understand the pleasures and excesses of 18th century France.