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Candide (Penguin Popular Classics) [Paperback]

Voltaire , Norman Cameron
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Sep 2007 Penguin Popular Classics
Brought up in the household of a powerful Baron, Candide is an open-minded young man, whose tutor, Pangloss, has instilled in him the belief that 'all is for the best'. But when his love for the Baron's rosy-cheeked daughter is discovered, Candide is cast out to make his own way in the world. And so he and his various companions begin a breathless tour of Europe, South America and Asia, as an outrageous series of disasters befall them - earthquakes, syphilis, a brush with the Inquisition, murder - sorely testing the young hero's optimism.

Product details

  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; New Ed edition (27 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140623035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140623031
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 11.4 x 17.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 141,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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 on 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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony Amidst Swift-Like Satire 1 Sep 2004
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.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biting satire from a political animal. 1 Dec 2002
Candide is a true populist masterpiece. Salacious, insidious, and refreshingly free, Voltaire's ubiquitous cynicism provides the ultimate defence of free thought. As a text-book of common-sense, it parodies beautifully some of the philosophical faiths of his time, and lambastes the incongruity of the worship of Reason which he reveals to produce a succession of unreasonable conclusions. Reason should be blindly praised only when we have all the answers, yet how can this be possible when we haven't yet asked every question?
No religion is safe. Protestant schism, Catholic dogma, and philosophical mantras all suffer in a cacophony of irony, the ostensible flippancy of which is simply a veil for a web of observational brilliance. After all, Voltaire is a superb observational comic: more satirically charged than Swift, with the outrage of Monty Python and the caustics of Spike Milligan. And yet so much more clever. His ability to destroy an empty argument is always clear and impressive, even though we are never immediately aware of how he did it. Voltaire’s vision for inconsistency is unique.
Adorned with rape, scandal, and brutal humour, Voltaire’s work is a paragon of how tabloid literature would appear in an intellectual’s wet-dream. And for such a short volume, Candide provides some of the greatest value-for-money known to man. There is enough from 100 pages to last a lifetime, whatever your background. For those who are a little familiar with 18th Century philosophy, politics and war, the content is an irrepressible summary of the mania of the age. For everyone else, this is a timeless tome on humanity: its frivolities, its fortunes, and its failings. Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars satirical fun 4 Nov 2009
By bekin
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Voltaire's classic is a fantastical tale which takes a clever swipe at his contemporaries. And of course the objects of his satire, the blithely ignorant optimists, are with us still. Great fun to read in a lively translation.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bonkers 18th Century Romp 26 Mar 2009
By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
What surprised me about this book was how short it was, how accessible it was and how funny it was. Imagine Swift but with better editing.

In this picaresque romp through the atrocities and hot spots of the world Voltaire leads his young ingenue hero Candide a merry dance. Candide has been taught to believe that the world is a good place and that good things happen to good people. The book disproves that theory in spades, but does it in a typically gruesome, funny 18th century type way.

It's not often one gets to read a philosophical work that is both fun and thoughtful. This is it.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Candide is quite a book. I think first it is important to mention the fact that this is not a book for the squeamish - it does contain some pretty horrible events being perpetrated by human beings against one another - so only start reading if you have a pretty strong stomach.
The book deals with a number of themes but the one that seems to emerge the most often is Voltaire's deconstcruction of the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds and that everything works out for the best in the end (this was apparently a popular idea at the time expounded by a number of philosophers including Leibniz). Voltaire uses some very imaginative occurances to illustrate his points and it is within these that most of the books humour is found.
This is however not a book of despair as Voltaire, like Paine and Newton was a deist (i.e. they beilieved in God and hoped for something better in the next life but that is all - no dogma etc), so towards the end of the book Voltaire suggests ways in which people can occupy themselves satisfactorily in spite of lifes unpleasantries......he doesn't quite go as far as solving the riddle of existence though. Shame.
In addition, Voltaire manages to cram masses of story into very few pages but in a way that is still immensly readable. I think the only other author I have come across who manages to do that so beautifully is Bohumil Hrabal.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Candid - Voltaire
Lovely little copy of this classic: I have read it many times. This came well packed and in good condition as stated and within the time set.
Published 12 months ago by Katharine Marquis
5.0 out of 5 stars superb
idont think i've ever come across a book in which some much mayhem, disaster, chaos, tragedy and misfortune occurs, whilst at the same time remaining humerous and entertaining. Read more
Published on 20 April 2011 by Matt
5.0 out of 5 stars Voltaire; Candide
Great value edition of 19th century classic, approriately green as it is made from recycled paper. Recommended if you have not read it before, a strange and often hilarious tale of... Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2010 by Ceej
2.0 out of 5 stars You won't find enlightenment in this historical curiosity
Written as part of a philosophical spat between Voltaire and Gottfried Leibniz this is really only of limited historical interest. Read more
Published on 28 July 2010 by Brownbear101
4.0 out of 5 stars A Series of Unfortunate Events
"Candide" is an entertaining little novel about a well-off orphan who gets kicked out of his benefactor's castle in Germany after getting overly amorous with his nubile daughter,... Read more
Published on 10 Jun 2010 by L. Davidson
1.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book. Terrible translation.
I don't think further expansion is needed on the title. I was terribly disappointed by Penguin's version having also read the book from it's original form in French by Voltaire. Read more
Published on 27 May 2010 by Amanda Vincent
5.0 out of 5 stars loved it!
a very clever thought-provoking book - i have recommended it to many of my AS philosophy students to help them understand the problems with many Christian theodicies and they have... Read more
Published on 26 May 2009 by OB1
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential
Thought provoking, heartwarming and frequently hilarious novel.

Should be required reading for everyone, unmissable. Read more
Published on 20 Oct 2008 by An avid reader
4.0 out of 5 stars Everything really is for the best!
I thoroughly enjoyed this little gem by the much celebrated French philosopher. Slightly suprised by its short length and its relative tameness, I nonetheless loved the satirical... Read more
Published on 1 July 2008 by Femmielala
5.0 out of 5 stars All is for the best in this world
Candide is an ambitious book. It should be an example for all `would-be' writers all over the world. Read more
Published on 19 Dec 2007 by Luc REYNAERT
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