Voltaire’s Candide, one of the French satirical works the most widely read and studied from high school to college, has been cited as one of the “World’s greatest books in twenty tweets or less”. Written between July and December 1758, the French original was published simultaneously in Geneva, Paris and Amsterdam in 1759, and several translations into English were published the same year. Many adaptations were created for the theater. The Broadway opera music was composed by Leonard Bernstein with two successive librettos, one by Lillian Hellman in 1956 and another by Hugh Wheeler in 1973. Copies the score, compact disc, and DVD of this later version are available at the Orwig Library.
Editions of Voltaire’s Candide abound and online text and audio versions are available on open access, for sale or as part of a subscription. You may then ask yourself why the company Orange France Telecom, the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF), and the Voltaire Foundation have undertaken the collaborative publication of Voltaire’s Candide, l’édition enrichie, and what sets this edition apart from other other available in electronic format.
Already known for for its vast and growing digital collection, Gallica, now available through apps for iPad and for Google Play,
Gallica on iPad
the BnF set out to develop a series of elegant and content-rich digital editions which would enable the sharing of diverse reading experiences through social media. When approached by the telecommunication company Orange, which prides itself in technological and customer-focused innovation, in developing such a digital edition, it gladly accepted the challenge along with the technical support.
Launched in December 2012, the free app, Candide, l’édition enrichie, available for the iPad. It is intended to be the first in a series of enhanced ebooks which are intellectually stimulating and aesthetically pleasing. The reception and the testing of its concept and design will pave the way for digital editions of other texts in the future.
iPad Home Page
Candide, l’édition enrichie clearly transcends the boundaries of a plain ebook by integrating the close reading of a scholarly text with functionalities that appeal to both the experienced and the novice reader. It reproduces side by side the original 1758 manuscript of the Bibliothèque de l’Arsenal MS. 3160 and the authoritative 1980 scholarly edition (Kraer and Bardin) of the latest edition published in 1775 in Geneva and edited by Professor René Pomeau with annotations of the variants of 13 other editions . The high resolution of the manuscript images enables to easily browse the document and discover all of the handwritten annotations and edits. The interface intelligently integrates multimedia with the goal of expanding one’s knowledge and presenting the work in a literary and historical context. The encoding of the printed text, commentaries, and description of illustrations is a powerful tool which enables searching and retrieval of pertinent information.
The ability to visualize and explore the texts of these editions is one factor that will appeal to teachers and scholars; beyond this feature, additional factors set Candide, l’édition enrichie, apart from previous scholarly ebook editions: 1) the quality of the reading experience, 2) the vast amount of pedagogical and scholarly materials linked to, or accompanying, the text, and 3) the integration of social media as illustrated in the three sections of the app: the book, the world and the garden.
The Book (or Texts)
This first section presents the digital reproduction of the text of both the manuscript and of the 1759 edition by side by side, and preserves the pagination of the print edition.
A menu bar at the top of the homepage offers three choices: 1) launch the reading by French actor, Denis Podalydès, who was trained at the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique and became a member of the prestigious Comédie française in 1997, 2) return to the home page, or 3) click on the magnifying glass to search one or more terms throughout the book. The search function works on keyword(s) and works of parts of words as well. I searched the two terms ‘cunégonde’ and ‘amour’, and retrieved five results. The search may be applied to the text, the map, the illustrations, the garden or the annotations and commentaries. The search results are hyperlinked, enabling the reader to keep track of the search by navigating seamlessly between the list of citations and the text. Future enhancements to ‘The Book’ may include links to dictionaries.
Additional enhanced features are easily accessible by tapping on the page and offer two modes of inquiry: ‘discovery’ and ‘research’ which focus on characters, themes, variants, annotations, and illustrations by artists who contributed to the 18th century edition and, closer to us, by Paul Klee. This deeper exploration will serve the needs of the reader quite well, either in support of a pedagogical goal or as a scholarly endeavor. Tapping on the page number at the bottom of the display enable the user to return to the page s/he was reading. Favorite passages or illustrations may be bookmarked for later retrieval or potential sharing.
Using this geographic map, readers may follow Candide’s itinerary through Europe, South America, back to Europe and Turkey. Locations with black dots are hyperlinked, enabling to expand one’s knowledge of a theme, explore iconographic treasures, related literary works, and listen to interviews of writers and philosophers such as Martine Reid, Georges Vigarello, and Michel Le Bris.
Teachers are currently experimenting with this pedagogical tool, which will also appeal to readers who enjoy some guidance. For each location, a section includes an “exploration” module which offers some insight into the culture and society of the pre-Revolutionary time period in France.For the reader who is pressed by time or needs a simple “refresher”, this section offers a summary of each chapter. This image and audio-rich section comes, however, is very needy in terms of electric power. As the charge was getting lower on my device, the app hang up and stopped responding. Faced with a black screen, I had to restore the app from iTunes.
In the social space, called appropriately, ‘the Garden’, readers may log favorite excerpts or illustrations, compose and share their own reactions and commentaries. These are visually represented by a tree; each reader may “plant” one or more trees. The branches of the trees grow as commentaries get added to the site and create a stimulating social environment.
To view a demo and and experience the feel and look of of the app, click on Video. For a detailed description of the project, refer to number 42 of the Revue of the BnF.
 Aciman, A., & E.L. Rensin. Twitterature: The World’s Greatest Books in Twenty Tweets or Less. New York, NY: Penguin, 2009.
 http://editions.bnf.fr/livres/RBNF42/index.htm 02/18/13
Illustrations, courtesy of the iTunes site.