Monday, January 7, 2013

Education : Voltaire's Candide : app for iPad

Candide et l'Optimisme
screenshot Candide app 

The Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Orange, with the participation of the Voltaire Foundation, have launched a digital edition of Voltaire's Candide. 

This free app for iPad is now available for download on iTunes.

Watch the video below (French language):


"Why do bad things happen to good people? Well, why not? The handsome young Candide, having been taught that this is the best of all possible worlds, quickly learns that is far from true. (...)  we must surely conclude that we can still profit by the example of lucidity, the acumen, the intellectual honesty, and the moral courage of Voltaire's Candide."

Voltaire, Candide et l'Optimisme

Candide from Voltaire
Frontispiece and first page of chapter one of an early English translation by T. Smollett et al of Voltaire's Candide, printed by John Newbery, 1762

First publication in 1759, the novel follows the adventures of a young man, Candide, and his mentor, the philosopher PanglossCandide has become Voltaire's most celebrated work. 

"C'est pour se distraire que Voltaire se lance dans le conte philosophique. Publié anonymement à Genève, Candide connait un succès fulgurant : « Queste coglionerie se vendent mieux qu'un bon ouvrage. » Le roman d'apprentissage du jeune homme à la poursuite de sa chère Cunégonde, à travers une Europe dévastée, permet à Voltaire de donner libre cours à sa verve satirique." (...)

Educators and students have now a opportunity to rediscover one of the major literary classics, always read in Humanities curricula: Voltaire’s Candidea new app

The app innovatively redefines the scope of a literary masterpiece and help us rediscover this important French classical book, in new and engaging ways as you could watched on the video. 

The enhanced e-book includes the original Voltaire manuscript preserved at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France and further exclusive content.

Candide et l'Optimisme
screenshot Candide app

The app contains three parts:

  • Book : To provide an optimal reading experience, the app can simultaneously display the text and the BnF's manuscript We can also hear a personable interpretation of Candide by major French actor Denis Podalydes. With one touch, the reader can make use of the enhanced reading mode which facilitates access to the work: definitions, variants of the critical edition as established by the Voltaire Foundation, character sheets, place, concepts, illustrations of the text by 18th century engravers but also by Paul Klee.

  • World : A map allows the reader to chart Candide’s journey while offering opportunities to further in-depth study thanks to interviews, a bibliography, and an iconographical library. Michel Le Bris, Alain Finkielkraut, Martine Reid and Georges Vigarello all shed new light on such themes as "Women in the 18th century", "El Dorado", "Cultivating you own garden", and "The image of the other".

  • Garden : A collaborative space facilitating discussions on CandideThe garden allows each reader the opportunity to organise and publish a notebook made up of their own comments and their favourite analyses as a book visible to everyone. Each notebook appears in the garden as knowledge trees, which grow as the reader enriches them. 

Candide et l'Optimisme
screenshot Candide app

This part will be an important educational tool for schools: 

Teachers can create their own presentation (notebooks) in the garden and invite their sudents to contribute to them from the website (feature availability: early 2013).


Teachers and students can use the BnF website Candides


Humanities: Literature; Philosphy; History.


French language


Secondary Education; Higher Education.


The app is free.

Candide et l'Optimisme

screenshot Candide app

My thoughts:

Candide is a timeless and universal text. The creation of Candide app was designed to make Voltaire’s masterpiece accessible to the widest audience possible.

It's exciting! This new digital resource is free, beautiful, accessible, and in no way inferior to the most erudite of editions. 

The two levels of annotations, ‘discovery’ and ‘research’, solve the limitations of a paper edition by making it a useful tool for both academics and students. 

Candide et l'Optimisme
screenshot Candide app

Thanks to these two levels, as well as the map of the world charting Candide’s travels, the reader can choose their own way into the text. 

Just like Candide, the reader is free to wander through this voltairean world and make their own discoveries at their own pace.

(based on considerations of Voltaire Foundation)

François-Marie Arouet (1694–1778), known as Voltaire 
French Enlightenment writer and philosopher
Nicolas de Largillière, c.1724

Voltaire was one of the wisest, funniest and cleverest people of the 18th century. He continues to have lots to teach us about toleration, modesty and kindness. 

As a specialist of Humanities & ICT, I'm really happy! Voltaire's Candide app is marvellous! This will be an exciting teaching and learning tool to academics and students. Classical Literature lessons wil be creative and contagious.

Other important digital resources for teachers and students:


An interesting presentation of Voltaire and his ideas:

Voltaire's Candide | BBC Radio Player (May 2012)

An interesting and complete discussion about Candide with David Wootton (Anniversary Professor of History at the University of York); Nicholas Cronk (Professor of French Literature and Director of the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford); Caroline Warman ( Lecturer in French and Fellow of Jesus College at the University of Oxford).


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Education : Candide Voltaire : app for iPad by G-Souto is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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