Candide by Voltaire

Candide by Voltaire

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Voltaire pulled no punches when he wrote Candide, arguably the most influential work of satire to emerge from the Enlightenment. Through a fast-moving plot centered on the eponymous protagonist, Voltaire lampoons his contemporaries with biting criticism.

Candide himself is a young man, living a sheltered life while being instructed (read: brainwashed) by his mentor in Leibnizian optimism. But Candide has an abrupt about-face, resulting in an adventure that leads him around the world and to his own disillusion. Candide must then reconcile the optimistic indoctrination of his youth with his own first-hand experiences of the world.

Upon its first release, Candide was banned for its insubordinate take on various societal institutions, but its impact has withstood the test of time: today, Voltaire's magnum opus is considered one of the most influential books ever written.