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Translated with an Introduction by John ButtIn a world of bureaucrats engineers and producers Voltaire is the necessary philosopherWhile Candide is without a doubt a farcical humorous and far-fetched tale a seriousness lies beneath its satirical veneer Candide is the story of an innocent young man embarking on a series of adventures during which he discovers much evil in the world Throughout his journey Candide believes in and adheres to the philosophy of his teacher Pangloss that all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds This philosophy was prevalent during Voltaires day and Candide is Voltaires scathing response to what he saw as an absurd belief that for its followers the Optimists was an easy way to rationalize evil and suffering Candide was composed mainly as an attack on Gottfried Leibniz the main proponent of Optimism Candide was also written in opposition to Alexander Popes Essay on Man which espouses that partial evil is for the greater good Though he was by no means a pessimist Voltaire refused to believe that what happens is always for the bestVoltaires vehement response was triggered in part by two catastrophic events an earthquake in Lima Peru in 1746 and an even more devastating earthquake in Lisbon Spain that killed fifty thousand people in 1755 Incensed that the Optimists were comforting the earthquake victims by assuring them that this event had happened for the best Voltaire wrote Poe sur le dastre de Lisbonne 1756 in which he expresses sympathy for the earthquake victims and lashes out at the Optimists In the Introduction to the poem Voltaire addresses their callousness by writing The heirs of the dead would now come into their fortunes masons would grow rich in rebuilding the city beasts would grow fat on corpses buried in the ruins such is the natural effect of natural causes So dont worry about your own particular evil you are contributing to the general good Voltaire again
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