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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading
This book is a collection of stories so one can dip in when time allows and have a complete experience yet still come back for more. And what stories?! Tremendous stuff; gripping, fantastic, humorous, exotic and challenging. After reading this I had a list in my head of all the people I'd like to send it to as a gift. It is as relevant now as it ever was, challenging the...
Published on 10 May 2011 by Amazonian

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy Read but some of the stories can be downloaded onto pdf from the internet for free
Had I looked online in more detail I could have saved myself quite a bit of money and just downloaded the pdf version of Voltaire's L'Ingenu which was the only story I needed to study. The Ingenu is an easy read, quite comical in places. I haven't read any of the other stories.
Published 9 months ago by Laura Cresswell


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required Reading, 10 May 2011
This book is a collection of stories so one can dip in when time allows and have a complete experience yet still come back for more. And what stories?! Tremendous stuff; gripping, fantastic, humorous, exotic and challenging. After reading this I had a list in my head of all the people I'd like to send it to as a gift. It is as relevant now as it ever was, challenging the reader to further thought and consideration far beyond the book's narrative. A must read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique stories, 7 Sep 2009
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Despite being written 250 years ago I found the book to be very readable and full of subtle humour that was not lost on my average intellect.Don't be put off by people waffling on about philosophical meaning and rationalism etc and intellectualising the life out of it, these stories are probably the basis of modern fiction and the framework and concepts have been copied many times.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good edition of a great enlightenment work, 9 Dec 2007
This Oxford publication is very good because it has the usual foreword by a worthy academic which gives a little historical and literary insight into the works contained. The main piece is Candide, and this still manages to make the reader think philisophically about issues raised in the story. This is very much a thesis novel (novella) which rightly questions the dominant theistic notions of the day, which are based on divine decree, providence, and fate. In other words, the line all Christian souls were being forced to live by, was that 'Everything is as it is, by the will of God'. Thinkers of the age were obviously starting to doubt this, although it was still brave to contradict the bible or even question the extent to which God was really in charge of us all. Voltaire was one of the first and one of the bravest writers to challenge the accepted wisdom of the age, that somehow didn't feel quite true, and certainly didn't seem very fair, if it was true.

It is a story that still gets one thinking about deeper matters, while remaining an entertaining tale of one man's unenvious trials in a very harsh and unsympathetic world, where God is supposed to be his saviour! Today we'd be allowed to call this sort of thing respectful atheism, but in Voltaire's day they still had to encouch those sort of beliefs in a less open and direct way, giving themselves a chance to be able to give two differing definitions of the work, if called upon by some outraged prelate or politician to explain theirselves. Voltaire's craft shows a very good example of how passionate and determined thinkers were able to find ways to express their thoughts and beliefs and help shape the great Humanist movement which led eventually to the freedom of thought and beliefs that the West still enjoys today. So yes, an important literary work, in a good package here.
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32 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony Amidst Swift-Like Satire, 18 May 2004
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Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 124,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Oxford World's Classics: Candide and Other Stories (Paperback)
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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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some great writings from one of the greatest freethinkers., 4 Dec 2000
This review is from: Oxford World's Classics: Candide and Other Stories (Paperback)
Voltaire's works never cease to enlighten and entertain. The ones in Candide and other stories are among his greatest pieces.
Candide itself is a great story that attacks Liebniz' theory that "in the best of all possible worlds, all things are for the best." By showing a man travelling through the world amidst chaos and ruin to find his true love. In Micromegas, he attacks the Geocentric theory and the belief that man is God's finest and greatest creation by a visit from two aliens to Earth. The other stories all display Voltaire's rapier wit, humanist and liberal outlook and his disgust at organised religion and the violent religious wars around him. His works haven't lost their greatness through the centuries since being penned.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars source for my comic novel, "A Visit From Voltaire", 4 Jun 2003
This review is from: Oxford World's Classics: Candide and Other Stories (Paperback)
Of course, this is the One that everybody will have read if they've read Voltaire. But ever notice how hard it is for people to tell you what Candide was really about? What was Voltaire the Philosopher's "philosophy?" Something about "Cultivating your garden?" They'll recall the old woman who donated part of her derriere to cannibals, or Cunegonde's passage as a high-class courtesan but.." After three years of research, I realized that these disjointed episodes acquired so much more meaning if read against the political and religious context of the day. Voltaire was, after all, satirizing particular people and popular reactions to events--wars, natural disasters, the Church misjudgements of his time, etc. Knowing a little about Voltaire's "issues" helped some of the two-dimensional characters lift off--some of them are satires of critics and enemy essayists that drew his ever-ready venom, others betray references to the royal behavior he himself often kowtowed to, (he was a bit of a kiss-ass where monarchy was concerned!) I'd recommend people also check out the Portable Voltaire, "Voltaire in Love," and the recent "Voltaire in Exile" if they're doing background reading, and Vol. Nine of Will and Ariel Durant's History of Civilization--The Age of Voltaire-- if they're an addict like me with Vol. Ten, The Age of Rousseau to extend the tour. Also see my list posted on amazon, "Voltaire and His Friends." They might even end up "living with the ghost of Voltaire" as I did and writing a comedy of their own...Like the kings sent adrift in Voltaire's satirical boat, Bon Voyage!
Dinah Lee Küng, "A Visit From Voltaire", "Under Their Skin"
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5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book!, 27 Dec 2012
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Great story which combines facts, satire, fiction, comedy, philosophy in a very subtle and concise way (The story is very compact and powerful). It'll keep you entertained at the same time as you get acquainted with the intellectual 'historicism' of the epoch when it was writtent. Voltaire is definitely a master!
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4.0 out of 5 stars "If we must have fables, let them at least be the emblems of truth!", 26 Jun 2012
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This is the Ingenu's opinion on ancient history, and seems to me to describe well one of Voltaire's aims in writing his 'philosophical tales'. Each of the stories in this collection ('Candide', 'Micromegas', 'Zadig', 'The Ingenu', and 'The White Bull') is told to demonstrate the absurdity of certain aspects of Voltaire's society.

Thus 'The White Bull' satirises literal academic interpretations of the Old Testament: for example, the logistics of feeding all the animals on Noah's Ark. In 'The Ingenu' the naivete of a North American Indian come to France demonstrates the ridiculous nature of French customs, especially at the royal court in Paris, all the while demonstrating the intelligence of the 'savage'. In 'Micromegas', the philosophers of Earth are cut down to size (literally) when visited by the enormous Sirian and his smaller friend, the Saturnian. 'Zadig', an Oriental tale, explores the most virtuous, just, and intelligent of men subjected to all manner of misfortune.

'Candide' is undoubtedly the story in which the ridiculous and nonsensical is taken to the extreme in order to demonstrate the absurdity of the theory of Optimism of the eponymous hero's philosophy tutor, Dr. Pangloss. In this 'best of all possible worlds', Candide and his friends and companions experience all manner of misfortune, and all the worst vices of mankind, from shipwreck to theft and rape. This is the most encompassing of the stories, geographically, intellectually and socially, with Voltaire commenting on human conflict, religion, trade, and, of course, philosophy.

Voltaire's philosophical ideas are compelling and challenging, and his decision to convey them in the various kinds of stories fascinating and revealing; the narratives themselves sometimes lack finesse or true imagination, sometimes seeming repetitive, but this does not really seem to matter. Voltaire's bold, satirical and witty observations on hypocritical religions, philosophical systems or military campaigns, while to some extent of their time (the Introduction and Notes are here very helpful), still have the power to make us think today. Whether we agree with Voltaire's Utopia of Eldorado is another matter...
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent !, 5 Jun 2012
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This was a beautiful book and made an ideal present. The book was safely packaged and arrived promptly. Good show!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Candide camera, 27 April 2012
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Robert Cordner (Northern Ireland, UK) - See all my reviews
Voltaire's satire follows the travels of young Candide's expulsion from Germany, through a series of bizarre and calamitous incidents, around the world, to an eventual resolution...of sorts. Depending on which version you acquire, the original novella by Voltaire is appended with a 'sequel', or Book II, by one of his many imitators. The difference in quality is obvious but this should not put off readers from tackling one of the best short novels ever written. This is without doubt, despite its subject matter, a very humorous story. Whereas the humour in Swift's Gulliver's Travels is confined largely to politics and the social norms of the powerful, Voltaire's Candide combines this with an examination of the behaviour of ordinary people and everyone else besides. His critique of established power, especially aristocracy and Church, is wonderfully wicked. His main protagonist, Candide, is genuine, combing an Optimism (the novella's subtitle) and generosity with an inner-voice expressing self-interest (again, a development from Gulliver's Travels). But while Voltaire has Candide experience the brutality of the aristocracy and church, he is equally scathing of philosophy. An Enlightenment writer, Voltaire warns readers against adhering to the doctrines of new authorities as much as old. 250 years ago, it was a fortuitous warning given how Enlightenment ideals ever since have been twisted by those who seek to compel the world to adhere to one philosophy or another.
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Oxford World's Classics: Candide and Other Stories
Oxford World's Classics: Candide and Other Stories by Voltaire (Paperback - 2 April 1998)
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