[VOLTAIRE (1694-1778).] Candide ou L'Optimisme, traduit de l'allemand de Mr. le Docteur Ralph. [?Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1758 or] 1759.
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[VOLTAIRE (1694-1778).] Candide ou L'Optimisme, traduit de l'allemand de Mr. le Docteur Ralph. [?Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1758 or] 1759.

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[VOLTAIRE (1694-1778).] Candide ou L'Optimisme, traduit de l'allemand de Mr. le Docteur Ralph. [?Amsterdam: Marc-Michel Rey, 1758 or] 1759.

Earliest known edition of Voltaire's famed philosophical tale. The complexity of its clandestine publication is evident from the fact Wade groups 16 editions, all of which appeared without an imprint, but with a date of 1759, into 4 distinct groups. The present lot conforms to the textual points and design of fleurons of Wade 2 and Morize 59x, and does not have the 'Avis au Relieur' leaf at the end. In Voltaire and Candide (1959) Wade convincingly argues that Voltaire first had a trial edition made, and the present lot conforms to this. Wade suggests that the present lot was already in the press by December 1758, warranting a date of 1759 on the title. However, Wade, does state that the Cramer-published edition in Geneva (Wade 1; Morize 59a) should be considered 'the authoritative edition'. Pomeau, in Complete Works of Voltaire vol. 48 (1980), places Morize 59a first among the editions of 299 pages, putting the Morize 59x edition second. However, Pomeau notes that the present lot is the only one of two 1759 editions with the celebrated paragraph 'Candide était affligé...' on p.242 criticising German poets, which Voltaire wanted to suppress in subsequent editions. This passage's survival in Wade 3/Morize 59y, which was almost certainly published in London, and his attribution of a fleuron to an English engraver, leads Pomeau to suggest the present copy was published in London, a possibility conceded by Wade. Voltaire's extraordinary secrecy over the publication of Candide was not without cause. On 2 March 1759, the work was denounced by the Council of Geneva who ordered it to be destroyed. Bengesco II,XVII; Morize 59x; Pomeau 299L; Wade 2.

12mo (166 x 94mm). Woodcut title fleuron, other woodcut ornaments and in text. Contemporary calf (upper joint splitting, extremities lightly rubbed). Provenance: Lord Carmichael (armorial bookplate).
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