Publication Date: October 11, 2005
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A flamboyant and controversial personality of enormous wit and intelligence, Voltaire remains one of the most influential figures of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment. Candide, his masterpiece, is a brilliant satire of the theory that our world is “the best of all possible worlds.” The book traces the picaresque adventures of the guileless Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunegonde, tortured by the Inquisition, et cetera, all without losing his resilience and will to live and pursue a happy life.
This Modern Library edition, published to celebrate the seventy-fifth anniversary of Random House,
is a facsimile of the first book ever released under the Random House colophon. It includes the timeless illustrations by Rockwell Kent, a twentieth-century artist whose wit and genius serve as a counterpart and compliment to Voltaire’s.
Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694—1778) was one of the key thinkers of the European Enlightenment. Of his many works, Candide remains the most popular.
Peter Constantine was awarded the 1998 PEN Translation Award for Six Early Stories by Thomas Mann and the 1999 National Translation Award for The Undiscovered Chekhov: Forty-three New Stories. Widely acclaimed for his recent translation of the complete works of Isaac Babel, he also translated Gogol’s Taras Bulba and Tolstoy’s The Cossacks for the Modern Library. His translations of fiction and poetry have appeared in many publications, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, and Paris Review. He lives in New York City.
“When we observe such things as the recrudescence of fundamentalism in the United States, the horrors of religious fanaticism in the Middle East, the appalling danger which the stubbornness of political intolerance presents to the whole world, we must surely conclude that we can still profit by the example of lucidity, the acumen, the intellectual honesty and the moral courage of Voltaire.”
—A. J. Ayer