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Evaluation of Candide

An inherent difficulty in evaluating Voltaire’s Candide lies in the artistry of the author.  In basic terms, the novel is not so much the fictional adventures of its young and naïve hero as it is a thinly disguised assault on the optimistic ideology of the Age of Enlightenment.  Voltaire was first and foremost a philosopher, and not a novelist.  He had a distinct message to convey yet, as a craftsman, he understood how more effectively he could speak if he used the genre of fiction to promote his ideas.  This then creates the difficulty.  On one level, the author’s intent, if not agenda, is clear throughout the work; on another, the skill Voltaire exercises in moving Candide through adventure after adventure blurs the actual motivation.  This is in a sense the price Voltaire pays as an artist, in that his primary objective may become diffused by the complexity and richness of the story presenting the objective.