Analects of the Core: Voltaire on Cunégonde’s disposition for the sciences

Un jour, Cunégonde, en se promenant auprès du château, dans le petit bois qu’on appelait parc, vit entre des broussailles le docteur Pangloss qui donnait une leçon de physique expérimentale à la femme de chambre de sa mère, petite brune très jolie et très docile. Comme Mlle Cunégonde avait beaucoup de dispositions pour les sciences, elle observa, sans souffler, les expériences réitérées dont elle fut témoin; elle vit clairement la raison suffisante du docteur, les effets et les causes.

One day when Miss Cunegonde went to take a walk in a little neighboring wood which was called a park, she saw, through the bushes, the sage Doctor Pangloss giving a lecture in experimental philosophy to her mother’s chambermaid, a little brown wench, very pretty, and very tractable. As Miss Cunegonde had a great disposition for the sciences, she observed with the utmost attention the experiments which were repeated before her eyes; she perfectly well understood the force of the doctor’s reasoning upon causes and effects.

— Voltaire, Candide, Chapter 1, English trans. by William F. Fleming.


This week’s Analects of the Core are taken from Candide in anticipation of this Saturday’s Core tip to see  the Huntington Theatre Company’s new production of Leonard Bernstein’s operatic version of Voltaire’s novel.

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