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or Optimism

Voltaire; Translated by Burton Raffel

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The translation of choice for twenty-first-century readers of Voltaire's satiric masterpiece.

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 G. W. 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.

Burton Raffel is Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Arts and Humanities and emeritus professor of English, University of Louisiana at Lafayette. His other translations from the French include Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and Rabelais’s Gargantua and Pantagruel, winner of the French-American Foundation Translation Prize, 1992.

"Burton Raffel has provided a readable, sprightly, intelligent translation of Candide. In clear, idiomatic, even elegant English he reproduces the brisk, staccato pace of this famous tale, its arresting scenes and striking images."—Gita May, Columbia University



“Burton Raffel’s excellent translations of a wide variety of texts are rightly admired, and so will this one be. Thanks be, he possesses the wit necessary to take us on and along the satirical road of Voltaire’s Candide.”—Mary Ann Caws, editor of The Yale Anthology of Twentieth-Century French Poetry

“[A] fine new translation. . . . Raffel [is] the more daring of the two new [Candide] translators.”—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

Selected for Association of American University Presses (AAUP) Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries, 2006
ISBN: 9780300119879
Publication Date: December 15, 2006
176 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
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