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5.0 out of 5 stars Action-packed, hilarious, vulgar ... brilliant!
Francois-Marie Arouet (pen name Voltaire) was one of the greatest thinkers of 18th-century Europe. In his brief novella CANDIDE -- which takes less than two hours to read -- he explains the purpose of human existence, with brilliant observations and witty humor. Voltaire offers up numerous philosophies devised by the greatest minds in history, none of which makes the...
Published on Aug. 30 2003 by burghtenor

3.0 out of 5 stars Candid About Candide
The style of exposition used in this book is reminiscent of The Misfortunes of Virtue by the Marquis de Sade. Voltaire presents a catalog of calamities meant to debunk the belief that our world is perfect, and that everything happens "for the best" according to some divine plan. While there is no doubt that Candide is persuasive in its comical misadventures, the...
Published on July 14 2004 by Sean K.

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4.0 out of 5 stars The Best of All Worlds, Dec 4 2001
Voltaire's short 1759 lampoon of the fashionable feel-good philosophies then making the rounds of Europe continues to bring a smile. It's not a literary masterpiece, but a quick and funny satire. In style, it reads something like Swift's "Gulliver's Travels", but its humor is more pointed and its satire more trenchant.
Candide is an illegitimate boy expelled from his adoptive home for kissing the Baron's daughter. A simple and candid man, he resolutely adheres to his tutor's absurd theory that "all is for the best". In coming years, Candide and everyone he meets suffer tortures, rapes, slavery, and death. Yet Candide remains ever the silly optimist, chasing the Baron's daughter around the world and giving Voltaire space to vent against the happy feel-good philosophers with their buzzwords, tautological reasoning, and empty aphorisms. The tutor, for example, demonstrates the "necessity" of syphillus, as having brought chocolate to Europe though "it is to be observed that this malady is, like religious controversy, peculiar to our continent".
Candide is a quick satire, silly and contrived, but we can read it with pleasure 250 later, long after the targets of Voltaire's wit have faded away.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Have you ever read Volatire's Candide?, Dec 3 2001
It says live life at Benny Hill freak out speed.
--- The Bloodhound Gang
Not quite, but on to the review.
Candide may be both difficult and easy for people to read; it's a very quick novel and can be finished within two hours, but the scope of said novel is huge. The protaganist, Candide, is a young German nobleman who experiences many things in a very short period of time; finding love, losing love, finding love, losing lose, finding ugly love, etc. Meanwhile, he experiences earthquakes, storms, whippings, the death of friends and even comes across the fabled city of El Dorado when he happenstances upon the Americas. Candide shouldn't be read for it's character development - it should be read for it's message. One thing I must add is the virulent anti-semitism which is found in this book. Apparently, Voltaire was a strong anti-semite. This discovery greatly lowered my opinion of him.
Still, Candide is a must read for anyone interested in classical literature of important medieval thought.
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2.0 out of 5 stars so-so, Nov. 11 2001
David L. Bernard (Berkley, Michigan USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Candide (Paperback)
I studied philosophy in college. A professor who taught us about Leibniz, theodicy, and similar subjects mentioned Candide to the class. Ten years later, I still am interested in philosophy but with the challenges of career and life in general, I'm interested in readable, not overly long books in philosophy to read. I thought Candide fit the bill. Well, it is very readable and brief. As far as being an entertaining read, it was only so-so. The story moves very quickly but the narration style is very weak. The author tells you that things happened, without showing you. The story is funny occasinally, but as a whole it was a very mediocre read. As philosophy, it makes its main point about the existence of evil (that things do not always work out for the best) very well, but that point is not too difficult to make. Voltaire is a great figure in the intellectual history of the west, but I don't think that a lot of what he wrote is still widely read (Candide is an exception) because the battles he wages (the anti-clerical, pro-scientific, etc.)have been won. So, the end result seems banal and not at all daring, which in its day I imagine it was. If you want to read something to expand your mind or if you want a good literary experience, I would pass.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Fine edition of Voltaire and invaluable contextual material, June 27 2001
First off, this new edition of "Candide" has numerous virtues, not the least of which is the amazing erudition invested in the explanatory footnotes that run the length of Voltaire's text. Wootton puts his (and others') knowledge of this masterpiece to good use, and his clarifications are invaluable, helping both to situate Voltaire's thought in the context of his own life and culture, and to resurrect some of the more historically specific humor that has, sadly, been bled away by the last two and a half centuries. Why is it funny, for example, that Voltaire sends his naive protagonist first to the Bulgars? Wootton tells you.
Second, the wealth of contextual material is great for enlarging the reader's understanding of the intellectual climate that Voltaire is critiquing. The Leibniz summary chosen is a bit opaque (small bits of the "Theodicee" would have worked better towards explaining the basics of Leibniz, or at least Voltaire's merciless version of Leibniz), but the portions of Pope and the excerpts of Voltaire's correspondence are enlightening.
The translation is, by and large, very good. We lose a little humor (which always happens in translation), as when the baron's wife is said, due to her weight, to be "regarded as a person of substance" (2); Voltaire here says that, due to her weight, she "s'attirait par là une très grande considération [attracted great consideration]," a wee comical nod to Newtonian physics that must be seen as the first scientific pun of many to come.
This is minor, but another moment of the translation gives me great pause, and, judging from Wootton's impassioned introductory defense of his decision, it must have given him greater pause. Most translations of "Candide" have reliably rendered the famous final lines as "we must cultivate our garden," or something to that effect. Very few have dared omit the word "garden." Wootton delivers it as "we must work our land," and he defends his choice with a well-reasoned appeal to Voltaire's cultural context and correspondence, and claims further that the great symbolic appeal of the "Garden of Eden" image was largely behind the traditional rendering of the line as "we must cultivate our garden." The problem with his defense is not just that Voltaire's line bluntly (and literally) reads "il faut cultiver notre jardin [we must cultivate our garden]," but that the Garden of Eden resonance of which Wootton is so wary is not imported by the reader but rather quite present in "Candide," and even in Wootton's translation of "Candide." When, on page 3 of this translation, Candide is "driven out of the Garden of Eden," he begins a motion that will eventually cycle him back, older and wiser, to a different garden, one drained of religious specificity but not resonance. By tampering with Voltaire's last line, Wootton's translation robs the narrative of its aggressive insistence on this return.
This is fairly nit-picky stuff, though, and any reader can keep the translation difficulties squarely in mind, since Wootton makes--to his credit--no attempt to conceal them. So what you have, in the end, then, is a largely faithful and superbly readable rendition of a work that does not fail, to this day, to make us think, laugh, and feel ashamed. Unpalatable social insitutions like slavery fall under Voltaire's sharp attack, as does the particular cruelty of which organized religion has shown itself capable. The guileless protagonist is back in vogue (see the tributes to Candide in Boyle's "Tortilla Curtain" and Groom's "Forrest Gump"), as candid as ever. For [the price], that's a lot of bang for your buck.
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5.0 out of 5 stars CANDIDE - THE TRUE LOVER, Feb. 1 2001
This review is from: Candide (Paperback)
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5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony Amidst Swift-Like Satire, Sept. 28 2000
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
This review is from: CANDIDE by Voltaire (Hardcover)
Ever since philosophers began thinking about the meaning of life, a favorite question has been "Why do bad things happen to good people?". In Voltaire's day, this issue was primarily pursued either from the perspective of faith (everything that happens is God's will and must be for Divine purpose) or of reason (What do these events mean to you, as you interpret them subjectively?). Infuriated by the reaction by some members of the church to a horrible loss of life from an earthquake in Lisbon, Voltaire wrote this hard-biting satire of the human condition to explore these questions.
Before reading further, let me share a word of caution. This book is filled with human atrocities of the most gruesome sort. Anything that you can imagine could occur in war, an Inquisition, or during piracy happens in this book. If you find such matters distressing (as many will, and more should), this book will be unpleasant reading. You should find another book to read.
The book begins as Candide is raised in the household of a minor noble family in Westphalia, where he is educated by Dr. Pangloss, a student of metaphysical questions. Pangloss believes that this is the best of all possible worlds and deeply ingrains that view into his pupil. Candide is buoyed by that thought as he encounters many setbacks in the course of the book as he travels through many parts of Europe, Turkey, and South America.
All is well for Candide until he falls in love with the Baron's daughter and is caught kissing her hand by the Baron. The Baron immediately kicks Candide out of the castle (literally on the backside), and Candide's wanderings begin. Think of this as being like expulsion from the Garden of Eden for Adam. Soon the penniless Candide finds himself in the Bulgarian army, and receiving lots of beatings while he learns to drill.
The story grows more far-fetched with each subsequent incident. To the casual reader, this exaggeration can seem unnecessary and annoying. It will remind you of the most extreme parts of Swift in Gulliver's Travels and Rabelais in Gargantua and Pantagruel. But subtly, Voltaire is using the exaggeration to lure the reader into making complacent judgments about complacency itself that Voltaire wants to challenge. The result is a deliciously ironical work that undermines complacency at a more fundamental level than I have seen done elsewhere. Basically, Candide challenges any view you have about complacency that is defined in terms of the world-view of those who are complacent.
Significant changes of circumstances (good and ill) occur to all of the members of the Baron's household over the course of the story. Throughout, there is much comparing of who has had the worst luck, with much feeling sorry for oneself.
That is the surface story. Voltaire is, however, a master of misdirection. Beneath the surface, Voltaire has another purpose for the book. He also wants to expose the reader to questioning the many bad habits that people have that make matters worse for everyone. The major themes of these undercurrents are (1) competing rather than to cooperating, (2) employing inhumane means to accomplish worldly (and many spiritual) ends, (3) following expected rules of behavior to show one's superiority over others that harm and degrade others, (4) focusing on money and power rather than creating rich human relationships, (5) hypocritical behavior, and (6) pursuing ends that society approves of rather than ends that please oneself.
By the end of the story, the focus shifts again to a totally different question: How can humans achieve happiness? Then, you have to reassess what you thought about the book and what was going on in Voltaire's story. Many readers will choose to reread the book to better capture Voltaire's perspective on that final question, having been surprised by it.
Candide is one of my favorite books because it treats important philosophical questions in such an unusual way. Such unaccustomed matching of treatment and subject matters leaves an indelible impression that normal philosophical arguments can never match. Voltaire also has an amazing imagination. Few could concoct such a story (even by using illegal substances to stimulate the subconscious mind). I constantly find myself wondering what he will come up with next. The story is so absurd that it penetrates the consciousness at a very fundamental level, almost like doing improvisation. In so doing, Voltaire taps into that feeling of "what else can happen?" that overcomes us when we are at our most pessimistic. So, gradually you will find yourself identifying with the story -- even though nothing like this could ever happen to you. Like a good horror story, you are also relieved that you can read about others' troubles and can put your own into perspective. This last point is the fundamental humanity of the story. You see what a wonderful thing a kind word, a meal, or a helping hand can be. That will probably inspire you to offer those empathic actions more often.
After you have finished Candide, I suggest that you ask yourself where complacency about your life and circumstances is costing you and those you care about the potential for more health, happiness, peace, and prosperity. Then take Voltaire's solution, and look around you for those who enjoy the most of those four wonderful attributes. What do those people think and do differently from you?
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5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing tale, Voltaire is my hero!, July 30 2000
"Candide" by Voltaire is probably the best non-fiction work that I've read in a long time. It serves as a satirical introduction the philosophical problem of evil and as an attack on the philosophy of optimism, which is still adhered to today, although perhaps not like in Voltaire's time.
Voltaire eviscerates everyone's sacred cows. He satarizes everything. Nothing is not reduced to rubble by his vitriolic writing. In "Candide" Voltaire intelligently satarizes: Christians, Jews, Muslims, war, authority, religious intolerance and bigotry, free will, determinism, the Bible, priests, imams, monks, France, the Papacy, the Inquisition, the Catholic Church, the Protestants, the Jesuits, the Spaniards, the English, Frederick the Great, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, the so-called morals of religious figures, as well as optimism, and pessimism.
There is no work of fiction that has a better grounding in fact than "Candide." And the final statement of the book, that we must cultivate our garden, is the most universal task put to mankind. It serves as an answer to evil, and as an indictment: Life is a garden, your life is your own garden, YOU must cultivate it in order to reap its benefits. Thus, Voltaire ends his razing of life by endowing it with purpose and meaning.
This book is a great adventure in philosophy, satire, religion, and life. It is an easy read, although it can spawn discussions and questions bound to confound almost any theologian. Too bad I can only give it five stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Satire That Endures, July 20 2000
By A Customer
"All is for the the best of all possible worlds."
Utopia generally conjures up images of beauty, brilliance and harmony. How is it possible to conceive of the violent and brutal happenings in Candide as "the best of all possible worlds?" Our world is clearly not perfect, so isn't it more logical to conclude that all is not for the best? At least not all of the time? Such are the questions raised in Voltaire's timeless masterpiece of satire, Candide.
Candide tells the journey of a young man through the world and the realities he must face, deal with and eventually come to be defined by. During his ventures, Candide leaves behind the naive innocence of his childhood and assumes the status of an intelligent and distinguished man.
Candide was born and grew up in the castle of the Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, in the land of Westphalia in Germany. Soon after his mentor, the philosopher, Dr. Pangloss introduces him to the idea of extreme optimism, Candide's adventures begin as he is banned from the kingdom for kissing the Baron's beautiful daughter, Lady Cunegund.
As Candide travels through Germany, Holland, the New World and the remainder of Europe, he encounters trials and evils of every sort--war, hatred, betrayal, starvation, natural catastrophes of all kinds, in short, any and every evil to which man has ever fallen prey.
In the course of his travails, however, one thing becomes outstandingly familiar to Candide; the parallels of events that denote the universality of evil.
Finally, coming full circle, Candide settles down to cultivate his own garden and make the best of his own possible world.
As with most satire, the characters in Candide exist for one unique purpose rather than being fully fleshed out. Dr. Pangloss is the most notable. Pangloss is not present in most of Candide's adventures but he does provide the theme underlying the whole of the book. He serves to sway Candide with his one, unrelenting optimistic outlook on life.
The epitome of Pangloss's philosophical outlook, "Everything is for the best," is assimilated by Candide very early in the story. Being young, sheltered and naive at the time, Candide proceeds to live his life according to this tenet. When faced with a problem he always asks himself what Pangloss would do or say in a similar situation.
Candide, however, eventually learns to form his own opinions and concepts and thus the philosophical optimism of Dr. Pangloss is tested and challenged throughout the book.
The "Pangloss Effect" is also demonstrated through Candide's experience in El Dorado, Voltaire's fictional utopia. Candide, traveling with Cacambo, his servant, finally discovers El Dorado, the purported "perfect" place. Why would anyone ever want to leave this perfect place, Candide asks himself? His quest had been to prove the theory of optimism of Pangloss and now apparently, he had succeeded. However, all is not what it may seem, even in El Dorado, and Candide is confronted with many ironic and enigmatic questions.
As his journeys draw to a close, Candide comes to realize that it is man's almost limitless ability to accept the fate that befalls him and move on to new and better things that allows him to remain sane, happy and productive. In this sense, Candide comes to represent change and development while Pangloss remains the apex of the unchanging and inflexible.
While most satire grows stale and dated, Candide remains as fresh as it was when Voltaire wrote it. In the end, as Candide wisely shows us, in the best of all possible worlds, we all tend our gardens as best as we possibly can.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Voltaire's witt and views combine in this delightfull tale, July 16 2000
Chris Scarborough (Yorba Linda, CA USA) - See all my reviews
A brilliant member of what historians have deemed the philosophes, Voltaire's views on government and church are comical at worst. Voltaire's Candide is clearly a stab at the church of his time, a church unwilling to accept what are now basic scientific truths such as the earth orbiting the sun (and not the other way around). The church is painted in a less than flatering light, seeing as a few characters in Candide include the daughter of the pope, a monk with a favorite prostitute, and an Inquisitor with an illegitamate lover. Characters such as Doctor Pangloss display brilliantly the ancient thought, painting it (perhaps a bit too exaggerated)in a way nearly blind to the real world. Pangloss's views of all things happening "for the best of all possible worlds" is clearly defied in the story which is in essence a collection of horrific stories painted in a comical array of words. The innate sarcasm in the book pokes a great deal of fun at the thinking of the times, and yet Candide's views are applicable today. Truly an entertaining and intellectually stimulating book, Candide is one of the greatest works of its time.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Why Voltaire write Candide?, July 16 2000
This review is from: Candide (Paperback)
I read this book because it is a required book in my History class. When I read the book for the first time, I did not understand much of it. However, after doing some research about Voltaire and his work, I think that Candide is a really good book. Voltaire is a good author since he can smoothly write his arguements toward Liebniz and Alexander Pope. Candide criticizes the optimitism of Liebniz and Alexander Pope's belief that "All is best of all possible worlds." Voltaire first thought that Alexander Pope is a great poet in his and he admires him. He even says that he can not write as good as him.However, after the earthquake in Lisbon earthquake in Lisbon in November 1755 which killed two third of the city, he doubts the belief that become very popular at that time. He realizes that Alexander Pope is the same as Leibniz. He finds that their optimitism is ridiculous. He questions the belief and finally writes a poem about the earthquake in Lisbon. He soon gets replies from Rousseau. Nevertheless, Voltaire replies the Rousseau's letter by simply saying that he was sick and couldn't talk anything about it. Few years later, Candide was produced which also replies Rousseau's letter. He actually denies that he is the writer of this book because he is afraid of the punishment, but everybody knows that he is the writer. Candide's books were burn as soon as it is being published because of its strong criticism. In conclusion, the book is really great and Candide was the best of such in Voltaire's.
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Candide by Voltaire (Paperback - Jan. 1 1991)
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