The cosmopolitan and the slave are the offspring of a global world governed by exchangeability and transportability. In Voltaire's most famous work, Candide, ou l'optimisme (1759), these two juxtaposed characters represent radically different results of globalization. A historical reading that explores the context of colonialism, war, and the increasing world trade of the eighteenth century reveals how migration defines the identities of the cosmopolitan and the slave, and the ways in which both characters challenge a traditional notion of belonging. While the cosmopolitan moves freely, the slave is unfree and only moved by others. Focusing on Candide's encounter with a Negro slave in Surinam, I discuss how the tale deals with the legal and philosophical problems raised by the transatlantic slave trade, and question why Voltaire treats North African slavery differently. Following from these discussions, I examine the attitude towards European colonialism shown by Voltaire's cosmopolitans, arguing that these characters reject the global market on the basis of an ethics of human rights.
Kjørholt, Ingvild Hagen
"Cosmopolitans, Slaves, and the Global Market in Voltaire's Candide ou l'optimisme,"
1, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/ecf/vol25/iss1/4
Ingvild Hagen Kjørholt, PhD, is a lecturer in the Department of Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU). Her PhD thesis was on Voltaire's world citizens and French eighteenth-century cosmopolitanism. Contact: . This article was chosen as the runner-up in the 2011 Eighteenth-Century Fiction graduate essay contest.