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Candide

A French satire written in 1759 by Voltaire.

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A satirical view of.... everything. Great novella.

  • May 25, 2010
Rating:
+5

I was (predictably) assigned this book for a literature class and loved it. It was the first I'd read of Voltaire, and I've recently picked up a copy of 'The Complete Tales of Voltaire.'

Written toward the height of the Enlightenment period and prior to the French Revolution, 'Candide' is an outrageous satire in which nothing is safe. War, religion, death, disease, love, wealth... It's all questioned, and picked on, and ridiculed. References to real events are combined with fictional could-be real ones, only to further the absurdity of the character's plights. Pangloss, the title character's mentor, states repeatedly throughout the book "all's for the best in the best of all possible worlds."  His mantra is questioned time and time again, with horrific scenes and terrible happenings.

The plot is so twisted and wayward, it would be terrible to spell it out here,  and I recommend this book so strongly, I trust that either it has been read, will be, or you've no interest in it whatsoever.
+5 from me.

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November 17, 2011
I haven't read this one yet and think I'm going to have to change that! Thanks for sharing, this sounds like a great read :)
 
May 26, 2010
Hey nice choice! Puts me in mind of a Cabell quote: "The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all possible worlds; and the pessimist fears this is true." (from Silver Stallion) Gotta love the satirist greats - good review, thanks!
May 29, 2010
Thank ya much. Wonderful quote.
 
May 26, 2010
Believe it or not, I was never assigned a Voltaire book, even though I took years of French.  I've read about him, and excerpts of his writing.  Based on your review, it sounds like I've got some catching up to do.  Thanks for sharing!
May 29, 2010
Still up to date? I think it'd be awesome to read it in the original form. I'm terrible with foreign languages.
 
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More Candide reviews
review by . June 13, 2011
Lowell Bair's notable translation of a popular classic, almost marred by a mediocre foreword
Voltaire's fictional critique of Leibnizian optimism is as relevant, hilarious, touching and profound as it was when Arouet penned it in the midst of the eighteenth century. Voltaire's urbane knowledge and keen intuition were deftly intertwined here as he presented a blunt, brutal, painfully accurate depiction of an unkind world as it existed in his time, one that pummels the colorful cast of this exciting novella. As with almost all of Voltaire's satire, no infamy remains unexposed, …
Quick Tip by . August 08, 2010
On the one hand, the structure of his novel Candide is Homeric, it is the journey narrative, the hero with a thousand faces, but it is a satirical restructuring of that classical motif of the hero on a quest. What is the importance of the quest in Candide? What is the quest about in the classical sense? The quest is about learning.
Quick Tip by . July 03, 2010
incredibly clever and insightful
Quick Tip by . June 26, 2010
It a masterpiece from the French literature but I found it difficult to read and appreciate without explanations from literature teachers for instance
Quick Tip by . June 11, 2010
great and funny satire,lots of twist and turns.Poor Candide!!
About the reviewer
Skye ()
Ranked #684
I'm in the process of learning about me... practicing being me, sometimes pretending to be me. I'm figuring out who I am as opposed to who I'd like to be. It's anongoing journey, and I'll take a moment … more
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Candide, ou l'Optimisme (pronounced /ˌkænˈdiːd/ in English and [kɑ̃did] in French) is a French satire  written in 1759 by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist  (1762); and Candide: or, Optimism (1947).  It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds".

Candide is characterized by its sarcastic tone and its erratic, fantastical, and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel with a story similar to that of a more serious bildungsroman, it parodies many adventure and romance clichés, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is mordantly matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years' War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake.  As philosophers of Voltaire's day contended with the ...
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