Candide Questions and Answers
by Voltaire

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In Candide by Voltaire, what kind of narrator is Candide, and can he be trusted?

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Candide, ou L'optimisme, traduit de l'allemand de M. le docteur Ralph (in English, Candide, or Optimism, translated from the German of Dr. Ralph), written by Voltaire, was first published in 1759. The 1761 edition of the book included revisions made by Voltaire and was titled Candide, or Optimism, Translated from the German of Dr. Ralph. With the additions found in the Doctor's pocket when he died at Minden, in the Year of Grace 1759.

Candide is therefore ostensibly narrated by Dr. Ralph, a third-person omniscient narrator who supposedly knows everything about the stories and the characters in the book and who can travel freely through time and in and out of the character's minds. In fact, Dr. Ralph serves only as an intermediary between Voltaire and the persons who told Dr. Ralph the stories, which Voltaire presumably translated from German and put into book form.

Candide is written in a "frame narrative" structure—or a "story-within-a-story" structure—in which Dr. Ralph is telling a...

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