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About the Author
Born in Paris in 1694, François-Marie Arouet, who would later go by the nom-de-plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment philosopher, poet, historian, and author. Voltaire’s writing was often controversial, and in 1715 he was sent into his first exile in Tulle after a writing a satirical piece about the Duke of Orleans, the Regent of France. It was during this time that he produced his first major work, the play Oedipus. Although allowed to return to Paris a year later, Voltaire’s writing continued to land him in trouble. He was jailed in the Bastille two more times and was exiled from Paris for a good portion of his life. Throughout these troubles, Voltaire continued to write, producing works of poetry, a number of plays, and some historical and political texts. His most famous work is the satirical novel Candide, and many of his plays, including Oedipus and Socrates, are still performed today. Voltaire died in 1778.
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HOW CANDIDE WAS BROUGHT UP IN A MAGNIFICENT CASTLE, AND HOW HE WAS EXPELLED THENCE.
In a castle of Westphalia, belonging to the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth whom nature had endowed with the most gentle manners. His countenance was a true picture of his soul. He combined a true judgment with simplicity of spirit, which was the reason, I apprehend, of his being called Candide. The old servants of the family suspected him to have been the son of the Baron's sister, by a good, honest gentleman of the neighborhood, whom that young lady would never marry because he had been able to prove only seventy-one quarterings, the rest of his genealogical tree having been lost through the injuries of time.
The Baron was one of the most powerful lords in Westphalia, for his castle had not only a gate, but windows. His great hall, even, was hung with tapestry. All the dogs of his farmyards formed a pack of hounds at need; his grooms were his huntsmen; and the curate of the village was his grand almoner. They called him "My Lord," and laughed at all his stories.
The Baron's lady weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, and was therefore a person of great consideration, and she did the honours of the house with a dignity that commanded still greater respect. Her daughter Cunegonde was seventeen years of age, fresh-coloured, comely, plump, and desirable. The Baron's son seemed to be in every respect worthy of his father. The Preceptor Pangloss was the oracle of the family, and little Candide heard his lessons with all the good faith of his age and character.
Pangloss was professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and that, in this best of all possible worlds, the Baron's castle was the most magnificent of castles, and his lady the best of all possible Baronesses.
"It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed for stockings—and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and to construct castles—therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were made to be eaten—therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should have said all is for the best."
Candide listened attentively and believed innocently; for he thought Miss Cunegonde extremely beautiful, though he never had the courage to tell her so. He concluded that after the happiness of being born of Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, the second degree of happiness was to be Miss Cunegonde, the third that of seeing her every day, and the fourth that of hearing Master Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the whole province, and consequently of the whole world.
One day Cunegonde, while walking near the castle, in a little wood which they called a park, saw between the bushes Dr. Pangloss giving a lesson in experimental natural philosophy to her mother's chamber-maid, a little brown wench, very pretty and very docile. As Miss Cunegonde had a great disposition for the sciences, she breathlessly observed the repeated experiments of which she was a witness; she clearly perceived the force of the Doctor's reasons, the effects, and the causes; she turned back greatly flurried, quite pensive, and filled with the desire to be learned; dreaming that she might well be a sufficient reason for young Candide, and he for her.
She met Candide on reaching the castle and blushed; Candide blushed also; she wished him good morrow in a faltering tone, and Candide spoke to her without knowing what he said. The next day after dinner, as they went from table, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen; Cunegonde let fall her handkerchief, Candide picked it up, she took him innocently by the hand, the youth as innocently kissed the young lady's hand with particular vivacity, sensibility, and grace; their lips met, their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands strayed. Baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh passed near the screen and beholding this cause and effect chased Candide from the castle with great kicks on the backside; Cunegonde fainted away; she was boxed on the ears by the Baroness, as soon as she came to herself; and all was consternation in this most magnificent and most agreeable of all possible castles.CHAPTER 2
WHAT BECAME OF CANDIDE AMONG THE BULGARIANS.
Candide, driven from terrestrial paradise, walked a long while without knowing where, weeping, raising his eyes to heaven, turning them often towards the most magnificent of castles which imprisoned the purest of noble young ladies. He lay down to sleep without supper, in the middle of a field between two furrows. The snow fell in large flakes. Next day Candide, all benumbed, dragged himself towards the neighbouring town which was called Waldberghofftrarbk-dikdorff, having no money, dying of hunger and fatigue, he stopped sorrowfully at the door of an inn. Two men dressed in blue observed him.
"Comrade," said one, "here is a well-built young fellow, and of proper height."
They went up to Candide and very civilly invited him to dinner.
"Gentlemen," replied Candide, with a most engaging modesty, "you do me great honour, but I have not wherewithal to pay my share."
"Oh, sir," said one of the blues to him, "people of your appearance and of your merit never pay anything: are you not five feet five inches high?"
"Yes, sir, that is my height," answered he, making a low bow.
"Come, sir, seat yourself; not only will we pay your reckoning, but we will never suffer such a man as you to want money; men are only born to assist one another."
"You are right," said Candide; "this is what I was always taught by Mr. Pangloss, and I see plainly that all is for the best."
They begged of him to accept a few crowns. He took them, and wished to give them his note; they refused; they seated themselves at table.
"Love you not deeply?"
"Oh yes," answered he; "I deeply love Miss Cunegonde."
"No," said one of the gentlemen, "we ask you if you do not deeply love the King of the Bulgarians?"
"Not at all," said he; "for I have never seen him."
"What! he is the best of kings, and we must drink his health."
"Oh! very willingly, gentlemen," and he drank.
"That is enough," they tell him. "Now you are the help, the support, the defender, the hero of the Bulgarians. Your fortune is made, and your glory is assured."
Instantly they fettered him, and carried him away to the regiment. There he was made to wheel about to the right, and to the left, to draw his rammer, to return his rammer, to present, to fire, to march, and they gave him thirty blows with a cudgel. The next day he did his exercise a little less badly, and he received but twenty blows. The day following they gave him only ten, and he was regarded by his comrades as a prodigy.
Candide, all stupefied, could not yet very well realise how he was a hero. He resolved one fine day in spring to go for a walk, marching straight before him, believing that it was a privilege of the human as well as of the animal species to make use of their legs as they pleased. He had advanced two leagues when he was overtaken by four others, heroes of six feet, who bound him and carried him to a dungeon. He was asked which he would like the best, to be whipped six-and-thirty times through all the regiment, or to receive at once twelve balls of lead in his brain. He vainly said that human will is free, and that he chose neither the one nor the other. He was forced to make a choice; he determined, in virtue of that gift of God called liberty, to run the gauntlet six-and-thirty times. He bore this twice. The regiment was composed of two thousand men; that composed for him four thousand strokes, which laid bare all his muscles and nerves, from the nape of his neck quite down to his rump. As they were going to proceed to a third whipping, Candide, able to bear no more, begged as a favour that they would be so good as to shoot him. He obtained this favour; they bandaged his eyes, and bade him kneel down. The King of the Bulgarians passed at this moment and ascertained the nature of the crime. As he had great talent, he understood from all that he learnt of Candide that he was a young metaphysician, extremely ignorant of the things of this world, and he accorded him his pardon with a clemency which will bring him praise in all the journals, and throughout all ages.
An able surgeon cured Candide in three weeks by means of emollients taught by Dioscorides. He had already a little skin, and was able to march when the King of the Bulgarians gave battle to the King of the Abares.CHAPTER 3
HOW CANDIDE MADE HIS ESCAPE FROM THE BULGARIANS, AND WHAT AFTERWARDS BECAME OF HIM.
There was never anything so gallant, so spruce, so brilliant, and so well disposed as the two armies. Trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, and cannon made music such as Hell itself had never heard. The cannons first of all laid flat about six thousand men on each side; the muskets swept away from this best of worlds nine or ten thousand ruffians who infested its surface. The bayonet was also a sufficient reason for the death of several thousands. The whole might amount to thirty thousand souls. Candide, who trembled like a philosopher, hid himself as well as he could during this heroic butchery.
At length, while the two kings were causing Te Deum to be sung each in his own camp, Candide resolved to go and reason elsewhere on effects and causes. He passed over heaps of dead and dying, and first reached a neighbouring village; it was in cinders, it was an Abare village which the Bulgarians had burnt according to the laws of war. Here, old men covered with wounds beheld their wives, hugging their children to their bloody breasts, massacred before their faces; there, their daughters, disembowelled and breathing their last after having satisfied the natural wants of Bulgarian heroes; while others, half burnt in the flames, begged to be despatched. The earth was strewed with brains, arms, and legs.
Candide fled quickly to another village; it belonged to the Bulgarians; and the Abarian heroes had treated it in the same way. Candide, walking always over palpitating limbs or across ruins, arrived at last beyond the seat of war, with a few provisions in his knapsack, and Miss Cunegonde always in his heart. His provisions failed him when he arrived in Holland; but having heard that everybody was rich in that country, and that they were Christians, he did not doubt but he should meet with the same treatment from them as he had met with in the Baron's castle, before Miss Cunegonde's bright eyes were the cause of his expulsion thence.
He asked alms of several grave-looking people, who all answered him that if he continued to follow this trade they would confine him to the house of correction, where he should be taught to get a living.
The next he addressed was a man who had been haranguing a large assembly for a whole hour on the subject of charity. But the orator, looking askew, said:
"What are you doing here? Are you for the good cause?"
"There can be no effect without a cause," modestly answered Candide; "the whole is necessarily concatenated and arranged for the best. It was necessary for me to have been banished from the presence of Miss Cunegonde, to have afterwards run the gauntlet, and now it is necessary I should beg my bread until I learn to earn it; all this cannot be otherwise."
"My friend," said the orator to him, "do you believe the Pope to be Anti-Christ?"
"I have not heard it," answered Candide; "but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread."
"Thou dost not deserve to eat," said the other. "Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again."
The orator's wife, putting her head out of the window, and spying a man that doubted whether the Pope was Anti-Christ, poured over him a full.... Oh, heavens! to what excess does religious zeal carry the ladies.
A man who had never been christened, a good Anabaptist, named James, beheld the cruel and ignominious treatment shown to one of his brethren, an unfeathered biped with a rational soul. He took him home, cleaned him, gave him bread and beer, presented him with two florins, and even wished to teach him the manufacture of Persian stuffs which they make in Holland. Candide, almost prostrating himself before him, cried:
"Master Pangloss has well said that all is for the best in this world, for I am infinitely more touched by your extreme generosity than with the inhumanity of that gentleman in the black coat and his lady."
The next day, as he took a walk, he met a beggar all covered with scabs, his eyes diseased, the end of his nose eaten away, his mouth distorted, his teeth black, choking in his throat, tormented with a violent cough, and spitting out a tooth at each effort.CHAPTER 4
HOW CANDIDE FOUND HIS OLD MASTER PANGLOSS, AND WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM.
Candide, yet more moved with compassion than with horror, gave to this shocking beggar the two florins which he had received from the honest Anabaptist James. The spectre looked at him very earnestly, dropped a few tears, and fell upon his neck. Candide recoiled in disgust.
"Alas!" said one wretch to the other, "do you no longer know your dear Pangloss?"
"What do I hear? You, my dear master! you in this terrible plight! What misfortune has happened to you? Why are you no longer in the most magnificent of castles? What has become of Miss Cunegonde, the pearl of girls, and nature's masterpiece?"
"I am so weak that I cannot stand," said Pangloss.
Upon which Candide carried him to the Anabaptist's stable, and gave him a crust of bread. As soon as Pangloss had refreshed himself a little:
"Well," said Candide, "Cunegonde?"
"She is dead," replied the other.
Candide fainted at this word; his friend recalled his senses with a little bad vinegar which he found by chance in the stable. Candide reopened his eyes.
"Cunegonde is dead! Ah, best of worlds, where art thou? But of what illness did she die? Was it not for grief, upon seeing her father kick me out of his magnificent castle?"
"No," said Pangloss, "she was ripped open by the Bulgarian soldiers, after having been violated by many; they broke the Baron's head for attempting to defend her; my lady, her mother, was cut in pieces; my poor pupil was served just in the same manner as his sister; and as for the castle, they have not left one stone upon another, not a barn, nor a sheep, nor a duck, nor a tree; but we have had our revenge, for the Abares have done the very same thing to a neighbouring barony, which belonged to a Bulgarian lord."
At this discourse Candide fainted again; but coming to himself, and having said all that it became him to say, inquired into the cause and effect, as well as into the sufficient reason that had reduced Pangloss to so miserable a plight.
"Alas!" said the other, "it was love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sensible beings, love, tender love."
"Alas!" said Candide, "I know this love, that sovereign of hearts, that soul of our souls; yet it never cost me more than a kiss and twenty kicks on the backside. How could this beautiful cause produce in you an effect so abominable?"
Pangloss made answer in these terms: "Oh, my dear Candide, you remember Paquette, that pretty wench who waited on our noble Baroness; in her arms I tasted the delights of paradise, which produced in me those hell torments with which you see me devoured; she was infected with them, she is perhaps dead of them. This present Paquette received of a learned Grey Friar, who had traced it to its source; he had had it of an old countess, who had received it from a cavalry captain, who owed it to a marchioness, who took it from a page, who had received it from a Jesuit, who when a novice had it in a direct line from one of the companions of Christopher Columbus. For my part I shall give it to nobody, I am dying."
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Table of Contents
Introduction Johnson Kent Wright xiii
Translator's Note xxvii
How Candide was raised in a noble mansion, and how he was driven away 1
What happened to Candide among the Bulgars 4
How Candide saved himself from the Bulgars, and what became of him 7
How Candide met his old philosophy teacher, Doctor Pangloss, and what had happened to him 10
Tempest, shipwreck, earthquake, and what happened to Doctor Pangloss, Candide, and Jacques the Anabaptist 14
How they had a beautiful auto-da-fe in order to put an end to the earthquake, and how Candide was flogged 18
How an old woman took care of Candide and how he got back his beloved 20
Cunegonde's story 22
What happened to Cunegonde, to Candide, to the Grand Inquisitor, and to a Jew 26
In what difficulty Candide, Cunegonde, and the old woman reached Cadiz, and how they boarded a ship 28
The old woman's story 31
More about the old woman's misfortunes 35
How Candide was forced to leave lovely Cunegonde and the old woman 40
How Candide and Cacambo were greeted by the Jesuits of Paraguay 43
How Candide killed his dear Cunegonde's brother 47
What happened to the two travelers with two girls, two monkeys,and the savages known as Oreillons 50
Arrival of Candide and his valet in the land of Eldorado, and what they saw there 55
What they saw in Eldorado 60
How they got to to Surinam, and how Candide came to know Martin 67
What happened at sea to Candide and Martin 74
Candide and Martin approach the French coast and argue 78
What happened to Candide and Martin in France 80
Candide and Martin reach the British coast, and what they see there 94
Paquette and Friar Giroflee 96
Visit to Lord Pococurante, a nobleman of Venice 102
A dinner that Candide and Martin shared with six foreigners, and who they were 109
Candide's journey to Constantinople 114
What happened to Candide, Cunegonde, Pangloss, Martin, etc. 119
How Candide found Cunegonde and the old woman 123
Suggested Reading 131
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Candide was a beautiful story, filled with humor, love, and lots of humor. I think the story is still stimulating even after hundreds of years! I recently read this for my Classics Book Club and we all took turns reading various passages from our varying translations of the book, which is something we tend to do each month. My only complaint about the story is this: the Morley translation (of the B&N Classics version) was AWFUL! All of the beautiful, poetic passages that the others in my group read aloud were translated as drivel in my copy (the only one with the B&N version of this book in our group). It seemed as if Mr. Morley literally translated the French to English (such as "the horse brown" instead of "the brown horse") and thus, lost much of the wonderful wordsmithing of Voltaire. I almost cried when it was my turn to read the opening passage because I knew the B&N version was horrible! Aside from the horrible translation, I would recommend this story to anyone. I wouldn't however, recommend THIS translation of the story. Sorry B&N...
I don't think I know enough of the political and historical background of the times to really understand parts ofthis story. But it was still interesting.
Candide as a story is worth reading in any language, although it is much funnier and much more enjoyable in original French. However, the reason for that may just be that this is a very poor translation. The language is more archaic than in the original, and many subtleties are lost through poor word choice (for example, in this version Martin "hopes" that all is for the best, while in the original he pessimistically "wishes" that everything was indeed AT ITS BEST). Nevertheless, Candide is a witty and brilliant story that can be enjoyed for philosophical enlightenment or simply for a rainy day. I would recommend, though, that if you're going to read it in English, get a different edition. Normally B&N Classics are nice, quality editions, but this is sadly an exception.
This book is definately one of the best things I've read in a while. The humor is great, and the characters all seem to fit in a way that makes the story an interesting one.
I wasn't as taken with this book as many of the reviewers here, but found the book worth reading and interesting since I haven't ever read somethign from this time by a man.
I always feel silly reviewing classics because what hasn't been said about them, right? But perhaps my take on it is personal. Lately I have been severely depressed. This is nothing new; I've battled depression and anxiety for ten years now. I know that it will never go away completely. But lately it's been so bad, I find myself questioning if my life even matters at all. For the past few months, I've harbored very dark thoughts and have gone through some rough patches. But reading this book has instilled me with renewed hope. While it does critique blind optimism, the ending is rather optimistic in the fact that it conveys a positive message. I like how it ends with realism rather than forced optimism. The main idea I got from the conclusion is that life will happen and that even though bad things will occur to us, we need to keep moving forward no matter what. We have to try to be realistic, which is very hard, but in the end I think it's better for us. Personally, I find a realistic approach to be more fulfilling than blind hope. It helps me to move on and challenge myself. Voltaire is a wonderful writer and I can't wait to read his other works. I highly recommend the novel to Philosophy fans and lovers of classical literature.
Candide by Voltaire is a tale that leaves the reader questioning his or her own hardships, experiences, and views of the world. The philosophical aspect of the book teaches the reader of many different views of people based on their experiences. For example the Character of the old woman in the book serves to represent a pessimistic and hopeless view of the world. The old lady lives her life thinking of what should have been and lives her life in the present in a depressed state. Candide, however had suffered many hardships throughout his life too, always tried to keep a positive mind set and never gave up on the hope for a better life. The book also leaves the reader questioning the issues of morality and human nature. The injustices showed in the book such as rape and murder were recurring throughout the story. These terrible acts done by other people to the main characters in the book shows that human nature is cruel and unforgiving. Voltaire makes it so Candide never gets what he had been so desperately searching for through the course of the whole story in the end to make a point that in the real world, most of the time people do not end up getting what they want and they usually end up having to settle for less that their ideal “happy ending.” Candide is a very realistic and blunt representation of hardship and the overall human experience. The moral of the story is that all a person can do in life is attempt to stay positive and to keep moving forward when faced with hardship. This story provides many aspects and ways that people deal with life when faced with suffering and turmoil. The book serves as an accurate representation of human emotion and coping methods in the real world.
Voltaire's Candide offers a very witty and comical satire on society. The novel is very funny and is worth the read.
Strange little story
OMG! SOOOOOOO FUNNNNYYYY! I could not stop laughing--but then again, not everyone understood the humor and irony of this book in my class. Me, on the other hand, enjoyed every bit of it! Such a witty book!
Candid is utterly tragic, and yet magnificent humor is so cleverly entwined. I found myself laughing throughout the novel. It is profound and beautifully disparaging, and I will read this over again and again.
Loved it! It even had illustrations that showed nicely on my nook.
If you're considering getting this version based on the "psychedelic peacock feathers", then you must know: This cover listing (as of this review) is the old version. The newest version in Dover Thrift Editions features a portrait of Voltaire on the front instead. Now on to what's really important. Candide is a fun story with several twists and turns that could only happen in fiction. The language is pleasurable if a bit misleading at times, though it is an older style. Some of the real places Candide visits and peoples he meets can be obscure to the uninitiated, but the notes in the back help somewhat. The book isn't very long, but I imagine one would return again and again since the plot is quite dense. A shame the back cover spoils the ending, even if it's in simple terms.
I loved Candide for its blatent criticism of Leibniz, bleeding with sarcasm and disgust from every page. It is just so cool (for the lack of a better term) that Voltaire wrote a novel just to trash an opposing viewpoint. This book actually made me laugh while reading about the inquisition.
i am 17 years old, and i heard about candide from a musical conductor. i was playing euphonium in a band and he was guest conductor- he chose 'candide suite' for us to play. he told us about the story and how it applied to the music. i was so curious that afterwards i went out and bought it. reading candide made me enjoy the music and understand it's sarcasm and wit so much more. i suggest this book to anyone, young or old, to read with an open mind.
I read this book a few years ago, because I heard it was interesting. It certainly was! It's a short book about the adventures of Candide, an innocent young man who believes that the world he lives in is the best of all possible worlds - despite the horrible things that keep happening to him. I love this book because Voltaire, with great skill and humor, manages to show us the realities of life and his own philosphy of the world. Sad and dark core, clothed in Candide's sunny outlook.
The pacing was nice, & a lot happens. The end's a bit dumb, & I probably don't totes understand the philosophical implications, but decent.
Its been a while since I wrote a review...its proving a lot easier to read than to write :)My first time to read Voltaire. Frankly, I chose Candide cause its a short novel (90 pages!) which should make it easier for me to plow through it. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to read (as opposed to the usual old school classics or philosophical tomes). And it was lots of fun (of the satirical kind). The topic, however, is all seriousness...its a debunking of the claim that everything that happens in our life happens for the best possible reason, whether we know or understand that reason or not (this is my own wording of Pangloss' - Candide's metaphysics teacher - maxim: we live in the best possible version of the world) .By putting Candide and the other characters into the most ridiculously horrific situations, Voltaire puts the doctrine of optimism (and every other form of organized thought) to its limits. If the optimists, the religious, the academics, etc., are wrong about the world (just look at the rampant evil and suffering in the world), how do we make sense of living?Voltaire proposes a solution that is incomplete and far from perfect, which makes the book all the more thought provoking and satisfying. The heaviest 90-page book I've read! My fear is that I may not have understood it enough.Will I recommend it to others? 100% yes!Will I read it again? Yes.Will I read the author's other works? If Candide is any indication of Voltaire's talent as a writer/thinker, then I think I will be looking forward to reading more of his works.Favorite Quote(s):Candide: 'But for what purpose was this world created then?'Martin: 'To drive us mad.'
"Voltaire would probably have been both pleasantly surprised as well as bemused by the exceptional and enduring popularity of Candide, which he viewed as one of his minor works, unworthy to vie with his tragedies, historical essays, and epic and philosophical poems, on which he staked his posthumous reputation... Voltaire wrote contes (tales) late in his career and almost as an afterthought, for he subscribed to the neoclassical canon and hierarchy of literary genres according to which tragedy in verse and epic poetry gave an author his most reliable passport to posterity and immortality. Novels, short stories, and contes were looked upon suspiciously as upstart genres with n credible aesthetic or even moral pedigree." (Gita May, 2005)The above quote from the Barnes & Noble 2005 "Introduction" ironically demonstrate the message of Candide - Voltaire spent a lifetime working in neoclassical genres, serious long works that are largely no longer read today - this is a tragedy really almost exactly like that described in Chapter XXV about a noble Venetian with a great library that he never reads. However, in a comic twist, it is Voltaire's least serious work in an "upstart genre" (the novel) that has remained the most popular and widely read. Thus Voltaire in a way pre-saged his own career, a timeless message in which the message is the message itself. Today the "classical" form is the novel, perhaps in the future it will be a new "upstart genre" such as blogs, Wikiipedia or other online written forms.
Voltaire is still recognized as one of history's greatest satirists, and after reading Candide it's not hard to see why. Two and a half centuries later, it still has the power both to amuse and to shock.On the surface, as has often been noted, Candide is obviously a critique of the philosophy of Liebniz, and especially of the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds and everything is as it had to be in order for this to be so (in accordance, presumably, with the plans of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent Creator). Voltaire goes quite over the top in showing the misadventures and misfortunes that befall his befuddled hero, who at first whole-heartedly buys into this "optimism."Eventually, Candide's tale concludes with his advice that we should all just tend to our gardens--the precise meaning of which has been widely (and wildly) speculated about. Many take it to be a rejection of philosophy as such as being entirely useless, and we should just take a more pragmatic approach to life, though I find this interpretation untenable. More likely, given what we know about Voltaire as an Enlightenment thinker and from the content of Candide itself, it is simply a rejection of one philosophical school, namely that of rationalism. This is wider than just Liebniz, and Voltaire does target the ideas of other major rationalists (e.g., Descartes) as well. The message seems to be that philosophy is useless *when it has nothing to do with, and is in fact contradicted by, our actual experience.* The ending then suggests a much more practical sort of philosophy, like the one represented in America by Voltaire's contemporary Benjamin Franklin, but it is a philosophy nonetheless.In the end, this is a highly entertaining and thought-provoking story that is still very relevant in today's world, and should still be required reading for everybody.
Very funny book. Candide travels the world finding injustice everywhere he goes. It's a fast and easy read.
Voltaire published Candide - a classic satire which skewers politics, religious fanaticism, war, and colonialism - in 1759 to almost immediate success, despite being quickly condemned by French and Swiss authorities and banned by the Catholic church. The book sold phenomenally well "underground" and is considered one of the greatest satires of all time.Voltaire created the naive, young Candide as a way to poke fun at religion and politics, while at the same time questioning the philosophy of Leibniz who was the eternal optimist, believing that all happened for the best and we lived in the best of all worlds. Faced with cataclysmic events (such as the 1755 earthquake of Lisbon which killed thousands), Voltaire questions the idea of a benevolent God who could allow such tragedy.In the novel, Candide faces ludicrous and horrible situations...including floggings, beatings, betrayal, imprisonment, and separation from his beloved Cunegonde. Throughout his travels, Candide meets officials, Jesuits, and philosophers...and discovers a Utopian community...which all gives Voltaire ample opportunity to to attack corruption and hypocrisy in religion, government, philosophy and science. One of my favorite moments in the book was when Candide questions the leader of the Country of El Dorado (Utopia). The scene that follows puts Voltaire's cutting humor on display:Candide was interesting in seeing some of their priests and had Cacambo ask the old man where they were; at which he, smiling, said: "My friends, we are all priests. The king and all the heads of the families sing solemn hymns of thanksgiving every morning, accompanied by five or six thousand musicians." What!" says Cacambo, "you have no monks among you to dispute, to govern, to intrigue, and to burn people who are not of the same opinion as themselves?" -From Candide, page 71-Voltaire's classic is as relevant today as it was nearly 250 years ago. Truly a book which will stimulate important discussion, this one is highly recommended; rated 4.5 stars.
I enjoyed delving into the theological wanderings of this 17th century philosopher; the backgrounds and criticisms also helped to give the book more depth and context. It was thrilling for me to "get to know" a writer so bold and unflinching in his views, who lived 400 years before I was even born. Candide was delightful--a tease for the brain as well as a story for the soul. I'd recommend.
I read this book several times 1/2 way through, and I finally decided to read it in its entirety. It's a fantastic book and forces you to look at the philosophy presented in the book with a critical eye. It is especially helpful to read the notes at the end. My favorite: "Voltaire failed to appreciate the importance of Canada".
This short work is the finest example of a sustained literary assault on a philosophical idea; in this case, the idea of Optimism put forth by Leibniz. It was inspired in part by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake that claimed up to 100,000 lives, a disaster that did not fit well in the Leibnizian Optimistic View that this was the best of all possible worlds. Candide is a short, precise and very focused attack on this attitude. As such, it is a masterpiece of world satire along with other notable works like Gulliver's Travels and Huckleberry Finn.