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Thursday, February 18, 2010

All possible worlds

All Possible Worlds, the Candide blog and digital edition are up at the New York Public Library. I've been working on these projects for months, and now they need readers and commenters to make this experiment in public reading work!

I'm most excited to see how discussions bubble up from the marginal comments, so that will work when there's a good feedback loop going. Nicholas Cronk, the director of the Voltaire Foundation, began his digital marginalia with a comment on how story-telling is suspect in Candide from the very first paragraphs. That's a great conversation starter! That question about story-telling shows up other chapters, especially in the many interpolated tales by the people Candide meets on his travels. And it's a good way to think about the project as a way to tell a story about reading that is associative, linkable, digressive. In future weeks, we're hosting commentary and digital marginalia by novelists, professors, singers, translators, librarians, and other people associated with Candide in its many forms. It's a Candide media extravaganza, so it's fitting that Nicholas Cronk kicked off the event with a great post about the Candide phenomenon in 1759:
Of course, the censors tried to halt the progress of the work, and of course they failed: the more they criticized the work, the more it sold, and the more it sold, the more pirated editions were produced. The censors and the pirate publishers – often seen as the author’s enemies – all contributed hugely to the success of Candide. Part of Voltaire’s genius lay in his understanding of the medium of print and his ability to manipulate the book market for his own ends. If he had lived today, we can only imagine his career as a spin-doctor working in the modern media of TV and Twitter…

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