Carla Hesse

Dec 14, 2022

On Voltaire's "Candide"

A Discussion with Carla Hesse

New Books Network 2022

Many people made the European Enlightenment, but probably nobody better represents the movement’s spirit than the French writer and philosopher Voltaire. He was a man of letters and strong critic of the Catholic Church. In 1759 Voltaire published one of his best known works, Candide. In this satirical fable, Voltaire used current events of the day—like the 7 Years War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake—to explore larger philosophical questions, such as how there could be evil in a world created by a benevolent god. In Candide, Voltaire frees us from the naive optimism that there is a perfect order to things. Carla Hesse is the Peder Sather Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of The Other Enlightenment: How French Women Became Modern See more information on our website,

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