Study Guide

Candide Chapter 1

By Voltaire

Chapter 1

  • Candide lives in the country home of the influential Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia. We’d like to take this opportunity to give major props to Voltaire for creative names.
  • Candide is the illegitimate son of the Baron’s sister.
  • Candide’s mother refused to marry his father because his lineage could not be traced back sufficiently far.
  • The daughter of the Baron and Baroness is a beauty named Cunégonde, who, by our calculations, is Candide’s cousin. Apparently, people didn’t really care about that stuff back then.
  • Candide is tutored by Pangloss, a scholar of metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology. Pangloss teaches that in the best of all possible worlds, everything is ultimately for the best, and that every effect has a cause.
  • One evening, Cunégonde and Candide meet behind a screen when leaving the dinner table. Cunégonde drops her napkin and Candide picks it up for her.
  • They share a kiss before Cunégonde’s father catches them and flips out. He banishes Candide.