These two classic coming-of-age stories by Voltaire parody the romanticism of his day with the ruthless wit that has made him the undisputed master of social commentary.
Candide, which is alternately titled Optimism, is a merciless satire and exposé of the ideas and institutions men live by. In this philosophical fantasy, the naïve Candide comes to witness and to suffer such misfortune that he rejects the philosophy of his tutor, Dr. Pangloss, who claims that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.”
Zadig is the story of another optimist—young, rich, beautiful, and engaged to a woman he loves. When his early hopes and assets are destroyed, he embarks on a journey that will systematically explore science, religion, and the military, contributing to each, betrayed by all. Through these trials, he will eventually win the kingdom of Babylon.