Candide: Or Optimism

Candide: Or Optimism


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Distinguished translator Burton Raffel captures the irreverent spirit of Candide and renders the novel in clear, vivacious English. Stylistically superior to all predecessors, Raffel's version now stands as the translation of choice for twenty-first-century readers.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780140455106
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/24/2009
Series: Penguin Classics
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 128,039
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

François-Marie Arouet, writing under the pseudonym Voltaire, was born in 1694 into a Parisian bourgeois family. Educated by Jesuits, he was an excellent pupil but one quickly enraged by dogma. An early rift with his father—who wished him to study law—led to his choice of letters as a career. Insinuating himself into court circles, he became notorious for lampoons on leading notables and was twice imprisoned in the Bastille.

By his mid-thirties his literary activities precipitated a four-year exile in England where he won the praise of Swift and Pope for his political tracts. His publication, three years later in France, of Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais (1733)—an attack on French Church and State—forced him to flee again. For twenty years Voltaire lived chiefly away from Paris. In this, his most prolific period, he wrote such satirical tales as “Zadig” (1747) and “Candide” (1759). His old age at Ferney, outside Geneva, was made bright by his adopted daughter, “Belle et Bonne,” and marked by his intercessions in behalf of victims of political injustice. Sharp-witted and lean in his white wig, impatient with all appropriate rituals, he died in Paris in 1778—the foremost French author of his day.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter Three

How Candide escaped from among the Bulgars,
and what became of him

Nothing was as beautiful, smart, dazzling, or well ordered as the two armies. The trumpets, fifes, oboes, drums, and cannons created a harmony such as never existed in Hell. First of all, the cannons struck down almost six thousand men on each side. Then the muskets removed from the best of worlds between nine and ten thousand rogues infecting its surface. The bayonet was also the sufficient reason for the death of several thousand men. The total might well have come to some thirty thousand souls. Candide, trembling like a philosopher, hid himself as best he could during this heroic butchery.

Finally, while the two kings had the Te Deum sung, each in his camp, Candide decided to go elsewhere to reason over effects and causes. Climbing over heaps of dead and dying men, he arrived at a neighboring village that lay in ashes: it was an Avar village that the Bulgars had burnt down in accordance with the principles of international law. Old men covered in wounds watched their butchered wives die clasping their infants to their bleeding breasts. Girls who had been disemboweled after having sated the natural needs of some of the heroes were breathing their last. Others, covered in burns, were begging to be put out of their misery. Brains were splattered on the ground alongside severed arms and legs.

Candide fled as fast as he could to another village. This one belonged to the Bulgars, and the Avar heroes had treated it the same way. Stepping over palpitating limbs and climbing over ruins, Candide, carrying a few provisions in his bag, finally managed to get out of the theater of war, never forgetting Mademoiselle Cunégonde. His provisions ran out when he reached Holland, but having heard that everyone in that country was rich and Christian, he did not doubt that he would be treated as well as he had been at the castle of His Lordship the Baron before he was driven from it on account of Mademoiselle Cunégonde’s beautiful eyes.

He asked for alms from several grave personages, all of whom replied that if he continued plying this trade he would be locked up in a house of correction, where he would be taught how to work for a living.
Then he approached a man who had just addressed a big crowd for a whole hour on the topic of charity.
The orator eyed him suspiciously and asked, "What are you doing here? Did you come for the Good Cause?"

"There is no effect without a cause," Candide replied modestly. "Everything is necessarily interconnected and arranged for the best. I had to be driven out of the presence of Mademoiselle Cunégonde, run the gauntlet, and beg for bread until I can earn my own. All this could not be otherwise."

"My friend," the orator said, "do you believe that the Pope is the Antichrist?"

"I have never yet heard that he is," Candide replied. "But whether he is the Antichrist or not, I need bread."

"You don’t deserve any," the orator said. "Go away, you rogue, you wretch! Don’t come near me again as long as you live!"

The orator’s wife poked her head out the window and, seeing the man who doubted that the Pope was the Antichrist, poured out on his head a chamber pot full of ...

Merciful Heaven! To what excess ladies will carry the zeal of religion!

A man who had not been baptized, a good Anabaptist by the name of Jacques, saw the cruel and disgraceful manner in which one of his brothers, a featherless, two-legged being with a soul, was being treated.* He took him to his place, washed him, gave him bread and beer, made him a gift of two florins, and even wanted to teach him to work in his factory, which manufactured Persian fabrics in Holland. Candide almost prostrated himself before him, exclaiming, "Doctor Pangloss had told me that everything is for the best in this world. I am infinitely more moved by your extreme generosity than by the severity of that man in the black cloak and his wife."

The following day, Candide was out walking when he came across a beggar covered in pustules. He had lifeless eyes, a nose that was rotting away, a mouth that was twisted, black teeth, and a rasping voice. He coughed violently, spitting out a tooth every time.

* The Anabaptists were an extreme Protestant sect that did not believe in infant baptism–in their view only adult baptism was valid. They believed in absolute social and religious equality. "A featherless, two-legged being" is a humorous reference to Plato’s definition of man.

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
Conclusion     124
Suggested Reading     131

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Reading Group Guide

Beginning with the expulsion of its eponymous hero from “the best of all possible castles” and the loss of his beloved Cunégonde, Candide takes the form of a classic journey story. Candide must endure a series of misfortunes and trials before he can be reunited with his beloved and regain a qualified kind of redemption. It is in the misfortunes that Candide and others suffer in the novel that Voltaire cuts through the pretensions, hypocrisies, and outright idiocies of the Age of Reason.

The philosopher Pangloss, Candide’s tutor, insists that they live in “the best of all possible worlds” and maintains that view through various sophistries, but reality tells a different story. In the course of the novel, Candide travels far and wide across Europe, South America (where he spends a pleasant month in the fabled land of Eldorado), and Asia in search of Cunégonde. Earthquakes, slavery, murder, floggings, hangings, the Spanish Inquisition, and other niceties of the era greet him on his way and serve to weaken his cherished optimism. He also encounters characters who view the world quite differently, most notably Martin, who asserts that he has “scarcely seen a town that did not desire the ruin of the next town, nor a family that did not wish to exterminate some other family” (p. 56). Early in the novel, while pondering the relationship between effects and causes, as he has been taught to do, Candide wanders into a war-ravaged village, where he sees “old men riddled with wounds . . . their wives lay dying, their throats cut, clutching their children . . . young girls in their last agonies, disemboweled after having satisfied the natural urges of various heroes . . .” (p. 8). This juxtaposition of abstract conceptualizing and real brutality underscores the gulf between human beliefs and human behaviors that runs throughout the novel, and the effect is amusing, disturbing, and deflating all at once. Man is capable of clever philosophizing, yes, but savagery, superstition, and ignorance still rule the day. The phrase “natural urges of various heroes” is characteristic of Voltaire’s piercing irony. In Voltaire’s world, as in ours, soldiers are not always heroes, priests are not always godly, and philosophers are not always very helpful in guiding us away from human folly.

Indeed, much of the fun of reading Candide lies in applying Voltaire’s ironic wit to the pretensions and hypocrisies of our own age. What would Voltaire say about our current political and religious leaders? How would he view the intellectual and artistic culture of our time? In this crisp new translation by Theo Cuffe, Voltaire speaks to us more sharply and clearly than ever.


(François-Marie Arouet) was born in 1694 and educated at a Jesuit school in Paris. Determined to pursue a literary career, he won a reputation as a writer of satirical plays, poetry, philosophy, and novels that resulted in spells of imprisonment in the Bastille, some of his books being banned, and eventual exile from France for his attacks on the Regent and criticism of the French government. In addition to Candide, his works include Zadig, Micromégas and Other Short Fictions, Letters on England, and Philosophical Dictionary. Voltaire died in 1778, after a triumphal return to Paris.


Theo Cuffe was educated in Dublin and at the Sorbonne. His translations include Voltaire’s Micromégas and Other Short Fictions for Penguin Classics.


Michael Wood is Charles Barnwell Straut Class of 1923 Professor of English and Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton University and the author of The Magician’s Doubts: Nabokov and the Risks of Fiction, Franz Kafka, and The Road to Delphi: The Life and Afterlife of Oracles.

  • In the very first chapter Candide is literally kicked out of the “most beautiful and delightful of possible castles,” expelled from an “earthly paradise” (p. 5). At the end of the novel, he says “we must cultivate our garden” (p. 94). What is Voltaire suggesting by framing his story in this way and by echoing the Biblical story of the Fall? Has Candide lost and then regained paradise?
  • The eighteenth century is known as the Age of Reason. What are the major disconnects that Voltaire reveals between human beliefs and human behavior? What behaviors most undercut the idea that reason had finally triumphed over the superstition and savagery of previous eras? What are the main targets of Voltaire’s satiric wit?
  • Within the context of the novel, Eldorado really is the “best of all possible worlds.” Overflowing with riches, ruled by an enlightened king, it is a land with no need of courts or prisons, where the inhabitants lack nothing and live in a state of continual gratitude. Why do Candide and Cacambo decide to leave such a paradise and return to a world riddled with greed, lust, ignorance, dishonesty, and cruelty, a world where violence both savage and civilized is the norm? What aspects of human nature is Voltaire satirizing when he writes that “our two happy wanderers resolved to be happy no longer and to seek His Majesty’s permission to depart” (p. 49)?
  • Immediately upon leaving Eldorado, Candide and Cacambo encounter a slave who has had a leg and a hand cut off. He tells them, “It is the price we pay for the sugar you eat in Europe” (p. 52). What relationship is Voltaire suggesting here between happiness and suffering, between the best of all possible worlds and the worst of all possible worlds? How might Voltaire make this point if he were writing today?
  • Candide is sustained throughout his many ordeals by the hope of being reunited with Cunégonde. But when he does at last find her, she has become ugly and ill-tempered. What is Voltaire suggesting about the exaltation of romantic love?
  • The old woman tells Candide: “Imagine my situation, the daughter of a pope, only fifteen years old, who in the space of three months had been exposed to poverty and slavery, had been raped almost daily, had seen her mother torn to pieces, had endured war and famine, and was now dying of the plague in Algiers” (p. 29). What does this passage, and others like it, suggest about the reality of women’s lives during the Age of Reason?
  • In what ways does Voltaire’s satire extend beyond his own time? What would Voltaire think of our own age, for example? What aspects of our thought and behavior might he satirize most fiercely? What kinds of political, philosophical, and religious hypocrisy are most prevalent today?
  • Near the end of the book, while Pangloss was “being hanged, and dissected, and beaten, and made to row in a galley,” he still holds firm to his original views that this is the best of all possible worlds. “I am a philosopher after all. It would not do for me to recant” (p. 88). What are the dangers in holding beliefs that are impermeable to reality, that do not alter according to actual experience?
  • Martin tells Candide that Paris is “a chaos, a throng in which everyone pursues pleasure and almost no one finds it” (p. 58). In what ways is this statement also true of nearly all the people we encounter in the novel? To what degree is it true of human beings generally? What are the consequences of this pursuit of pleasure?
  • In the book’s introduction, Michael Wood tells us that Voltaire wrote, “Satires don’t correct anyone, irritate the foolish, and make them even more mean” (p. xxvi). Do you think this is true? Would a present-day Pangloss, or someone like him, change his way of thinking if he were to read Candide?
  • Martin believes that man is equally miserable wherever he lives and that even in cities which are free from the ravages of war, “men are more devoured by envy, cares and anxiety than all the tribulations visited upon a citadel under siege. Private griefs are crueler even than public miseries” (p. 56). Is Martin’s view more accurate than Pangloss’s, or does it simply represent the other extreme? Would you agree that “private griefs are crueler even than public miseries”?
  • At the end of the novel, Martin says, “Let us set to work and stop proving things, for that is the only way to make life bearable” (p. 93), echoing the Turkish farmer who says, “our work keeps at bay the three great evils: boredom, vice, and necessity” (p. 92). Do you think Voltaire is endorsing this view? Why would doing physical work be preferable to the life of a philosopher?
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    Candide: Or Optimism 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
    shawnd on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    (This refers to the Peter Constantine translation from 2005.) This wonderful and short book ought to be first called philosophical, then satirical, then an adventure, and finally political. Unlike his contemporary Flaubert (such as in A Sentimental Education), Voltaire manages to keep contemporary references staggered in a perfect quantity to not overwhelm his 'main meal' with spices of political reference and opinionated controversy. While the story itself is a little unbelievable and facile, this fits perfectly with the satire Voltaire is able to exact on just about every nation, religion, political party, playwright, and idea he chooses--and he chooses to be inclusive! The bashful optimist Candide, the love of his life Cunegonde, and his troupe of intermittent companies such as a mulatto sidekick, a practical foil, an 'old woman', a womanizing abbot, and finally his lifelong tutor, Professor Pangloss, who teaches primarily 'metaphysico-theolog-cosmo-idiotology all serve to act out an adventure and a wonderful debate on how to think about and act toward this very hard thing called life. While not a Buddhist tract by any means, it certainly concludes with some telling signs supportive of 'calm abiding'; and resolves to a very simple, perhaps almost Theroux-esque philosophies. This is put together well on all levels and will be enjoyed by all except staunch and sensitive believers of their own religion. The book is tawdry and explicit at times, which dulls its impact.The Constantine translation is light, wry and true. It feels as if this is most like what a contemporary reader must have transacted out of the book at the time it was written, certainly in terms of humor and light pique. The last time I read this was in French in middle school and it was much more of a pleasure in English in this version.
    jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Before there was the opera by Leonard Bernstein there was the original, Candide: or, Optimism by Voltaire (nee Francois-Marie Arouet). The important thing to note about the title is the subtitle, optimism, for in all of literature there is hardly another work that argues more strongly for an optimistic approach to life. While Voltaire takes a cynical view of humanity that even denizens of the twenty-first century can appreciate, his cynicism does not lead him, or rather does not lead his character Doctor Pangloss, to reject an optimism that is best know by the phrase; this is "the best of all possible worlds". Yet, it is late in the book that we realize that Voltaire takes a view that man's life is made worth living by the exercise of hope, good nature, and industry. Indeed, the book ends with Candide saying to Doctor Pangloss, "we must cultivate our garden". And our garden, even for the skeptic Voltaire, is the one we inherited from Adam after his unceremonious exit from Eden. Voltaire's Candide is a delight for the reader almost two hundred fifty years after its first appearance from the fiery pen of one of the greatest thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment.
    sva7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    It's hard to review a book that you know you're supposed to like, but I just didn't find it as funny and charming as I guess I was meant to.
    kambrogi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    What a romp! Who would have thought that a 1759 French novel that predates the US and French revolutions could be so timely and so readable? It is perhaps best compared to Forrest Gump: a country bumpkin of limited intelligence and worldview travels widely, bumping into the social, historical and philosophical trends of his time, forever on a quest to win the hand of the ladylove who remains a bit beyond his grasp. The result is a fast-paced adventure tale, in which our optimistic hero Candide must figure a way out of a variety of sticky situations. Luckily, he is accompanied most of the time by one or more handy sidekicks whose cleverness and clarity exceed his own. Although a scholar may enjoy parsing the network of historical references that originally inspired this philosophical and social satire, the ordinary reader will probably find greater pleasure in Voltaire¿s attack on the corruption of the clergy, the excesses of government, the greed of mankind, and the abuses of businessman. These issues certainly resonate with today¿s world. In addition, the author challenges us to consider our own philosophy of life: do we live in the best of all possible worlds, or is reality bound to disappoint? Who are the happy among us: the wealthy or the poor, the adventurers or the steady workers, those with wisdom and experience or those who haven¿t a clue? Many avenues of thought beckon while reading this book, and it is anybody¿s guess where it may take you. It¿s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you¿re going to get.
    funkendub on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    ¿All is for the best¿ in this, the ¿best of all possible worlds.¿ Never mind the atrocities and civil war in Iraq, or the genocide in Darfur, or the infected-blanket politics of influence peddler Jack Abramoff, or the hate-mongering of religious zealots, or¿wait¿wrong century. No big deal, all is well and proceeding according to plan.Candide¿s optimism in the face of injustice, suffering and despair has inspired two-hundred-years¿ of parody and satire. Kurt Vonnegut recommends Voltaire¿s classic skewering of philosophical optimism (or, rather, its misinterpretation in the popular culture of eighteenth-century France), and it is clear that Candide¿s naïve ¿all is for the best¿ has aged well, maturing into Billy Pilgrim¿s blithely stoic ¿so it goes.¿Master satirists of their respective centuries and cultures, Voltaire and Vonnegut were both concerned with the portrayal of evil. As humanist students of the Enlightenment, neither has been content with a metaphysical explanation of evil. The target of both, too, is often religion. In Vonnegut¿s Cat¿s Cradle, for instance, the prophet Bokonon argues that all religion is composed of lies, but that humans need lies in order to mitigate the misery of existence. Candide, arriving hungry and broke in Holland, panhandles an anti-Catholic ranter. Asked if Candide thinks the Pope is the anti-Christ, Candide replies simply, ¿I¿ve never heard of that.¿ The ranter tells him he deserves to go hungry. But the ranter¿s wife, eavesdropping from the window above the street scene, hears Candide¿s ¿blasphemy¿ and empties a chamber pot on his head. The narrator remarks, ¿Oh! To what excesses does religious zeal carry the ladies.¿Candide learned his optimism from Dr. Pangloss, a caricature of Newton¿s rival, the seventeenth-century mathematician and philosopher Gottfried Leibniz (they invented calculus at the same time and battled for priority). Leibniz is credited by modern philosophers and cosmologists for originating the many-worlds hypothesis. He argued that God, in the act of creating the universe, had many worlds to chose from and, being omniscient and all that, picked the best possible world from the available choices. It is questionable whether Pangloss is an accurate parody of Leibniz or, more likely, of Leibniz¿s zealous disciple, Christian Wolff, who did much to damage Leibniz¿s reputation by simplifying his mentor¿s thinking. Be that as it may, Candide lives under the tutelage of Pangloss in a richly appointed, rural German paradise¿until he is kicked out.Forced to make his way in the world, Candide sees all manner of human depredation and degradation but it all, so to speak, goes in one ear and out the other. After Lisbon is largely demolished in an earthquake (in 1755, a few years before Voltaire penned Candide), the Catholic priests decide to hold an auto-da-fe, because roasting a few people over a ¿slow fire¿ was a sure way of placating the earth from any further quaking. After the embers die down, though, another devastating quake levels the rest of the city. All is well, though, because God planned that the citizens should build a new, better city. When a storm washes a friend of Candide¿s off the ship they are sailing on, Candide is reminded that this particular bit of ocean was specifically made for the drowning of the friend.Panglossism, naïve optimism in the face of contradictory evidence, abounds as much (or more) today as in Voltaire¿s time. This little story, written in three days, is a bracing reminder of what complete idiots most humans are. Candide has never gone out of style and appears in English in a number of translations. Cuffe¿s new one is fine, respecting, as it does, some of the classic lines of the earlier translations (such as the delightful last line, ¿But we must tend our gardens¿). Penguin¿s paperback edition sports a comic-book-style cover drawn by Chris Ware (Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth) that is funny and useful. An introduction by historian Mich
    emmakendon on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Absurd, impossible, vile, vicious and bawdy, Candide is a quick lampooning of Optimism, with a fine if simple final message: "We must go to work in the garden". And we must. All human ugliness is in this short book, but presented so shockingly it glances over your senses and remains in the absurd - so you can dwell in it at the time or think about it afterwards as much as you choose. Candide himself is good company on this short buffeting through horrible time. The horrors are diluted by the impossibility of characters' survival but the sense of witnessing people not learning is realistically frustrating!
    CliffBurns on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Timeless satire, expertly translated by John Butt. Misfortune after misfortune befalls the hapless Candide and yet he clings to the optimistic philosophy of his old mentor Pangloss that "all is for the best". Black humour and surrealistic episodes are juxtaposed with scenes of savagery and inhumanity--from Voltaire's cool perspective, it's all part of the majesty and misery of existence. A book that truly deserves the honorific "Classic". A magnificent volume, as relevant today as the hour it was completed.
    Proverbsforparanoids on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Edited 2-16-07My first review of this book was lukewarm, praising the physical book itself (the Penguin Deluxe Classics Edition) more than the content within. And so now I'm re-reviewing to right my past wrongs.Candide is absolutely still relevant and funny today. The first time I read it (and I am ashamed to admit this), I completely missed out on the sarcastic tone of the book, a huge, huge oversight that completely ruined it for me.However, I have since read it again, understanding both Voltaire and the issue at hand a little more, and it is indeed fantastic. It makes me wish I was around in 1759 to see the looks on the faces of those Voltaire attacked when they read it. Definitely worth your time and money.
    Larkken on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    A biting satire of early 17th century European culture, which is still surprisingly funny. I was also not expecting something quite so graphic from an old classic; queasy or uptight readers, be warned. This version sports a cartoon version of the story on the cover, which I could not resist. If you're a stickler for accuracy, however, you should be warned that some of the character names in the cartoon are incorrect, and there are other discrepancies.
    Cygnus555 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Aside from the book itself falling apart shortly after I bought it (gotta love penquin classics), it was a wonderful story. Rich with lessons for all of us, it is required reading...
    cal8769 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    I have been trying to read more of the classics for years and when I saw the cover of "Candide" I knew that this was the next classic read for me. I laughed so much during this book. Often times the older books are very dry and proper that it is a bore to read. Voltaire told it how he saw it.
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    steveiewoolf More than 1 year ago
    Candide is a third person narrative that can be seen as a piece of travel writing, a fable or a parable. What it most certainly is, is a satirical piece of writing that though written over 250 years ago it still has relevance today. To be more precise it is indirect satire which allows the readers to draw their own conclusions. It also allows Voltaire to disavow the words written. This is made clear by Voltaire not putting his name to the novel until some eight years later even though most readers were fully aware who had written it. The themes of the Candide are large, the hypocrisy of religion, the corrupting power of money and the folly of optimism.  Candide explores them all in detail within what should really be considered a novella. The edition I read is part of the Penguin Classics series, translated and edited by Theo Cuffe and has an introduction by Michael Wood, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. As with all the Penguin Classics series that I have read this is a superb edition. This edition includes a chronology, a map, notes on the text and names plus various appendices. Unless you have a good working knowledge of the 18th century then the notes are a must. With Candide being a satire than one needs to know the history of the period the book is set to understand what is being satirized.  In the midst of the novella is a love story; the love of Candide for Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter. When the Baron discovers Candide’s love for his daughter he is driven out of the castle. While trying to make his own way in the world he meets his tutor from his days at the castle, Pangloss. Pangloss informs him that Cunégonde is dead as are everyone else at the castle after it was attacked. From there Candide and the various companions he meets on his travels encounter an egregious series of events; an earthquake, the Inquisition, murder, rape, a shipwreck and many others.  Candide fights to maintain his optimism and Pangloss tries to maintain his belief that “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” Throughout the novella Voltaire is ridiculing the cosmic complacency and optimism that is expressed by philosophers of the day. The book is an intellectual, philosophical and religious journey through the period of the Enlightenment in what became known as the ‘long’ eighteenth century.  The novella moves a hectic pace which can leave one feeling breathless. The chapters are short and strangely each chapter has a heading which conveys the events that will occur in the chapter so ruining much of the novella’s suspense. The novel’s hectic pace was remarked on by the playwright Lillian Hellman who wrote the libretto for the operetta of the book for the stage; “the greatest piece of slap-dash ever written at the greatest speed.”
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    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    As one of Voltaire's most renowned works, Candide definitely lives up to its reputation. Clearly the master of satire, Voltaire's wit and heavy sarcasm are weaved throughout the very fibers of the tale, Candide. An amazing author; Voltaire has the power to entice laughter, but lull reader's into deep thought at the same time, and he does no less with Candide. It is as intellectually stimulating and humorous as his other works-at least it is for those who aren't complete optimists, as Voltaire pokes fun of the philosophy of optimism that was popular during the Enlightenment period in which it was written. Candide tells the adventures of a youth by the name of Candide who was brought up in the palace of a Baron of Germany in Westphalia. Candide's very name means optimism, purity, and innocence-which also happen to be his defining traits. He spends his days toiling around the castle practically the "oracle" of the house, Pangloss the tutor. Pangloss has adopted and preaches the philosophy of optimism that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". One day, Candide falls in love with the Baron's daughter Cunégonde, and when they are caught together he is kicked out of the household. From there Candide is enlisted in the Bulgarian army, takes in part of the Inquisition, and travels from Germany to Italy, Spain, Eldorado, and other countries, all the while having his faith in optimism brutally tested. Along his travels he is reunited with Pangloss who has become a "horrible beggar", described as being covered in sores and, "dull-eyed, with the end of his nose fallen away. his teeth black.[and was] tormented with a violent cough and spat out a tooth at every cough." The conversation of Candide and Pangloss-who has contracted syphilis-an explanation of his and Candide's former home's plight, is one of the most entertaining passages in the book. As he explains to Candide how he contracted the disease-which was from the former Baroness's chamber maid Paquette-he does so in such detail (yet ambiguous) and nonchalance that it is all too clear Voltaire is blatantly ridiculing the optimistic philosopher. Pangloss says, "Paquette received this present from a most learned monk, who had it from the source; for he received it from an old countess, who had it from an cavalry captain, who owed it to a marchioness, who derived 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." What's even better is that he even has the gall to justify that it was for the best in the, "best of all possible worlds." Sticking to his optimistic motto, Pangloss explains, "It was something indispensable in this best of worlds.for, if Columbus in an island of America had not caught this disease.we would not have chocolate and cochineal." Of course ever naïve Candide agrees and continues to foolishly believe in the philosophy of optimism. Another great part of this book is the debates the characters have. While Candide is travelling, he comes across an extremely unfortunate scholar by the name of Martin who is the exact opposite of Pangloss. Martin totes around with him the philosophy of pessimism, finding evil and despair in everything, but rightfully so as he has a difficult life. He's also more intelligent than Pangloss and is able to draw conclusions much more successfully than him.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Braffort More than 1 year ago
    Chris Ware's pseudo naive illustration on the cover add to Voltaire's acid irony. Extreme stylization allow a surprisingly realist efficiency, as is shown withe the picture of Lisbon earthquake on inside cover. Above this picture, we may appreciate Leibniz large wig, the only (but sufficient) recognizable item.
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago
    Anonymous More than 1 year ago