book cover zadig ou la destinee by voltaire

Zadig

Zadig ou la Destinée (“Zadig, or The Book of Fate”) (1747) is a famous novel and work of philosophical fiction written by Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire. It tells the story of Zadig, a philosopher in ancient Babylonia. The author does not attempt any historical accuracy, and some of the problems Zadig faces are thinly disguised references to the social and political problems of Voltaire’s own day.

It was originally published as Memnon in Amsterdam (with a false imprint of London given) and first issued under its more familiar title in 1748. The book makes use of the Persian tale The Three Princes of Serendip. It is philosophical in nature and presents human life as in the hands of a destiny beyond human control.

It is a story of religious and metaphysical orthodoxy, both of which Voltaire challenges with his presentation of the moral revolution taking place in Zadig himself. Zadig is one of Voltaire’s most celebrated works after Candide. Many literary critics have praised Voltaire’s use of contradiction and juxtaposition.

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