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Candide: an enhanced digital edition of Voltaire’s classic

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Orange and the BnF, along with the Voltaire Foundation, have launched a new free new digital edition of Voltaire’s Candide. You can read a write-up by Anna Amber at Reading Treasure.

This iPad app involves three complementary sections:

The Book:

To provide an optimal reading experience, the app can simultaneously display the text and the BnF’s manuscript. Denis Podalydès’s voice allows the reader to hear a lively and personable interpretation of Candide by a major actor. With one touch, the reader can make use of the enhanced reading mode which facilitates access to the work: definitions, variants of the critical edition as established by the Voltaire Foundation, character sheets, place, concepts, illustrations of the text by 18th century engravers but also by Paul Klee, etc.

The World:

A map allows the reader to chart Candide’s journey while providing opportunities to further investigate the text thanks to interviews, a bibliography, and an iconographical library.

Michel Le Bris, Alain Finkielkraut, Martine Reid and Georges Vigarello all shed new light on such themes as women in the 18th century, El Dorado, cultivating one’s garden, and images of the Other.

The Garden:

A collaborative space facilitating discussions on Candide, the garden gives each reader the opportunity to publish a notebook made up of their own comments and their favourite analyses. Each notebook takes the shape of a tree of learning in the garden. A living space in constant evolution, this garden grows according to the reinterpretations produced by the online reader-contributors. This section will be a vital learning tool for schools: teachers will be able to create their own presentations in the garden and invite their students to contribute to them.

Orange and e-books

This project is part of Orange’s ongoing project to support as many players in the book distribution chain as possible during their process of digitization. Accordingly, Orange is developing a series of innovative services such as the platform Read and Go (facilitating the digital reading of magazines, books and graphic novels), and experimenting with narrative projects (Fanfan2…). Orange also launched in 2009 the Orange Prize for Fiction, a literary prize judged by Internet users and chaired by Erik Orsenna. Furthermore, Orange initiated the project MO3T, an open model of e-book distribution, and created a consortium with all key players in a book’s creation: telecom operators, editors, booksellers, IT and technology service providers…

What is at stake for the BnF

The BnF digitally uploads an increasingly large portion of its vast collection. Gallica, its digital library, provides users with nearly 2 million documents, including 381 000 books and more than 500 000 images.

Access to this collection is now facilitated by a particularly ergonomic iPad app.

Through its educational policies and activities, such as its online exhibitions (expositions.bnf.fr) and teaching resources (classes.bnf.fr), the BnF aims to make the cultural heritage it preserves accessible to the largest audience possible.

This project is also aligned with the BnF’s aims, along with the Ministry of Education, to offer digital resources to all secondary school students to help them engage with language, history, history of art, and literature.

The Voltaire Foundation’s point of view

Candide is a timeless and universal text. The Voltaire Foundation is proud to be associated with the creation of this Candide app, designed to make Voltaire’s masterpiece accessible to the widest audience possible.

What is exciting about this new digital edition is that it is free, beautiful, accessible, and in no way inferior to the most erudite of editions. Its starting point is the definitive critical edition of Candide by René Pomeau published by the Voltaire Foundation. The two levels of annotations, ‘discovery’ and ‘research’, solve the limitations of a paper edition by making it a useful tool for both academics and students. Thanks to these two levels, as well as the map of the world charting Candide’s travels, the reader can choose their own way into the text. Just like Candide, the reader is free to wander through this voltairean world and make their own discoveries at their own pace.

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