François-Marie Arouet, best known under his pen name Voltaire is such a historical giant that some scholars, like Ariel and Will Durant, call the eighteenth century the "Age of Voltaire." Voltaire was unrivaled in stature as an author. He criticized everyone and signed his works with "Ecrasez l’in-fame" or "down with infamy." Though he wrote more than eighty volumes of material, his most popular work remains Candide; ou L'optimisme, traduit de l'Allemand, de Mr. le Docteur Ralph, translated in 1759 as Candide; Or All for the Best. The reception of the work was controversial; in fact, the Great Council of Geneva immediately denounced it and ordered all copies to be burned.
Candide parodies the philosophy of optimism put forth by Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibnitz. This philosophy states that since God created the world and God is perfect, everything in the world is ultimately perfect. Voltaire had already attacked this philosophy of optimism in his poem on the 1756 Lisbon earthquake. Rousseau answered the poem with a letter, which was leaked to the press, saying it was Voltaire who was mistaken. Voltaire answered back three years later with the tale of Candide. The tale is a fantastic picaresque journey that takes Candide around the world. After he and his friends are killed, they are brought back to life; first rich, then poor; and finally, they wind up on a farm in Turkey.