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Ban This Website! New York Public Library Unveils Provocative Approach to Experiencing Voltaire’s Candide


Get Busy with a Notorious Literary Masterpiece at 

January 20, 2010, New York, N.Y., The New York Public Library is fashioning a new way to wrestle with Voltaire’s scandalous satirical novella at On the Road with Candide—NYPL’s latest digital exhibition—showcases pioneering digital content, using the on-site exhibition Candide at 250: Scandal and Success (on view at the StephenA.SchwarzmanBuilding, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, through April 25) as an embarkation point for a unique online journey. The site solicits the involvement of diverse communities of readers, including students, visual artists, and scholars. This unconventional presentation of Candide befits the book’s whimsical and rebellious reputation while aspiring to enthuse a whole new generation of readers.

Highlights of the site include:

·        Rockwell Kent illustrations
This feature takes the viewer through the great American artist Rockwell Kent's illustrations for a 1928 edition of Candide, a landmark of the American illustrated book (the first book published under the Random House imprint). His nearly four-score inset illustrations and numerous illustrated capitals, all exquisitely integrated, serve as an unexpectedly elegant journey through Voltaire's nefarious world of "liars, cheats, traitors, ingrates, brigands, idiots, thieves, scoundrels, gluttons, drunkards, misers, envious, ambitious, bloody-minded, calumniators, debauchees, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools." Galleries of work by other notable artists will follow shortly.

·        2-Minute Candide
This playful two-minute animated digest of Candide using Rockwell Kent’s illustrations spotlight the characters’ trials and tribulations as they voyage half way around the world (and back).

·        “Candide Journey” created in Google Earth
Through a partnership between NYPL’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division and Google Earth, 10th-grade students from Brooklyn’s Edward R. Murrow High School chart their favorite locales along Candide’s madcap journey, devising personal maps augmented by resources from the Library’s digital collections, or by uploading videos, images, or audio of their own creation or uploaded from the Internet. For example, students may employ the work of illustrators featured on the site, or prized historical maps and prints from the vast collection of images in the NYPL Digital Gallery. Student Anna Sherman, 15, remarks, “I’ve never used technology like this … this is the direction in which education is heading. This is a new way to learn.”

·        Do-It-Yourself Candide
This feature solicits any reader’s modern-day riffs—drawings, photographs, videos, poetic reimaginings, and textual commentaries—for inclusion on the site. Any and all brainy, cheeky, quirky, and witty interpretations are now being accepted and will be posted as they arrive.

For as long as Candide has existed in the world, innumerable readers have commandeered the tale for their own artistic and scholarly exploits. Now, The New York Public Library advances the tradition by handing over the reins on this classic via Web 2.0, the best of all possible worlds indeed. Visit to partake in transforming this 18th-century swashbuckling saga into a 21st century experience! And follow @nypl on Twitter to receive special Quotable Candide updates.

About The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library was created in 1895 with the consolidation of the private libraries of John Jacob Astor and James Lenox with the Samuel Jones Tilden Trust. The Library provides free and open access to its physical and electronic collections and information, as well as to its services. Its renowned research collections are located in the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street; The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center; the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem; and the Science, Industry and Business Library at 34th Street and Madison Avenue. Eighty-seven branch libraries provide access to circulating collections and a wide range of other services in neighborhoods throughout the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. Research and circulating collections combined total more than 50 million items. In addition, each year the Library presents thousands of exhibitions and public programs, which include classes in technology, literacy, and English for speakers of other languages. All in all The New York Public Library serves more than 17 million patrons who come through its doors annually and millions more around the globe who use its resources at

Contact: Angela Montefinise, angela_montefinise[at]nypl[dot]org, 212.592.7506