The English Department’s European Literature Society discusses Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ 

Tackling perhaps the most influential work of fiction ever – Voltaire’s ‘Candide’ – the English Department’s European Literature Society met up on Tuesday after school to discuss what made it so revolutionary, and so dangerous. Why is ‘Candide’ still considered to be one of the 100 most influential books ever written? And why, at the time, was it widely banned? We discussed how ‘optimism’ (the word) was ‘invented’ in 1737 and ‘pessimism’ (the word) was ‘invented’ in 1794. Were people neither optimistic or pessimistic in the past? The discussion centred on just how different people were in 1759 – the year of Candide’s publication. The book itself turns out to be a fascinating story of a picaresque adventure through war-torn eighteenth century Europe. Next stop – the New World. 

Mr Ahern