Do you think Voltaire's real-life experience provided motivation for his creation of Candide?

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ecofan74 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a large degree of similarity between the narrative of Voltaire's Candide and the author's life itself.  Both the title character Candide and Voltaire were born into the upper class but were cast out at an early age, and both lived lives filled with tragedy and misfortune.

Voltaire's did not kiss the wrong the girl, as Candide does; however, he does get on the wrong side of the censors, even at an early age.  For this, he was imprisoned in the Bastille in 1717, and it was certainly not the last time that happened.  He was imprisoned on more than one occasion, and he was forced to flee Paris on at least two occasions, all for works he had written - Candide included.  Candide, however, meets with misfortune all over the world.  Much of his misfortune results in the death of his friends - Dr. Pangloss (apparently) and the Jesuit, among others.

Like Candide in the text, Voltaire experienced a scandalous love affair.  Until her death in 1749, Madame du Chatelet was Voltaire's mistress.  As a married and well-known figure in French intellectual circles, Madame du Chatelet's relationship with Voltaire proved problematic.  Candide's relationship with Cunegonde proves even more difficult than Voltaire's.

In the end, both Candide and Voltaire find some semblance of peace in their lives.  It was after 1749 when Voltaire wrote the majority of his work, and he was only forced to flee Paris at one point.  Candide likewise finds something of a "normal" life.