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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony amidst Swift-Like Satire
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...
Published on 4 Sept. 2004 by Donald Mitchell

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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
Be careful. I bought this book expecting a normal French-language edition of Candide. In fact, it is extensively adapted and annotated, as a book for intermediate French students. If that's what you want, then fine. It turned out not to be what I wanted, so I had to send it back.
Published on 6 Sept. 1999


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting, 6 Sept. 1999
By A Customer
Be careful. I bought this book expecting a normal French-language edition of Candide. In fact, it is extensively adapted and annotated, as a book for intermediate French students. If that's what you want, then fine. It turned out not to be what I wanted, so I had to send it back.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony amidst Swift-Like Satire, 4 Sept. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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 Candide, 11 Aug. 2012
By 
Peter Hesketh - See all my reviews
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Candide is a satire written by Voltaire who wished to ridicule ideas which were current at the time.
Candide lived in the castle of Baron Thunder-Ten-Tronckh and was tutored by Pangloss who taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmolonigology. Everything,according to Pangloss, was for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Misfortunes there had to be but these could always be explained away.
Candide listened attentatively to Pagloss but had his first of many misfortunes when he was booted out of the castle by the baron who noticed Candide's attentions to his daughter Cunegonde.
The story of the catastrophies which follw is lively and humerous both in French and English tranlation. It ends with the famous solution to life's problems, "We must cultivate our garden".
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4.0 out of 5 stars Moving, 20 April 2013
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A review of the story of Candide and its meaning can be found elsewhere. This is classic Voltaire, a free scanned text that is more than suitable for reading and enjoying. Possibly one or two mistakes to the text from the scanning but more than adequate, As with most/all such free scans, shortcuts/links to chapters don't work but your reader should keep your place.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Wise Roots of Modern Irony, 29 Aug. 2001
This review is from: Candide (Mass Market Paperback)
This is a wonderful piece of literature, rich in style, humour and content. Voltaire demonstrates beuutifully the expression: "The power of accurate observation is often called cynicsm by those who don't have it". Candide's adventures, which are wildly extravagent, are a superbly accurate view of the world and show how Candide's initial naivety gradually becomes subtle wisdom of the world. The descent from the optimistic "everything is possible in the best of all possible worlds" to the depressing pessimistic realism is not for the faint-hearted. However, the final sentiment that "it is necessary to cultivate your garden" is one of the truest, wisest and most far-reaching sentiments of any conclusion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A classic, 20 May 2014
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This book is amazing! There is a clear focus on philosophy here, but even then the events which occur in rapid succession are genuinely entertaining. This is by far Voltaire's greatest piece, and I urge you all to download and read it for free.
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5.0 out of 5 stars philosophy of optimism, 18 Jan. 2013
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Loved using the e-edition to revisit this work. An easy to access, amusing satire on the philosophy of optimism. Recommend it to all who may be a little sceptical about politics and entrenched positions in all situations.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting, 26 Jun. 2014
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I was told many times during my schooling that this was a classic, but it was never on the lesson plan. I understand why now, little shocking for young soles. But definitely deserves the qualifier of a classic
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5.0 out of 5 stars Always worth reading and re-reading. Crisp, concise, mordant. A classic. Try reading Voltaire's 'L'Ingenu' too., 14 Feb. 2014
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Highly recommended, still relevant today. Always worth reading and re-reading. Crisp, concise, mordant. A classic. Try reading Voltaire's 'L'Ingenu' too.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious Irony amidst Swift-Like Satire, 4 Sept. 2004
By 
Donald Mitchell "Jesus Loves You!" (Thanks for Providing My Reviews over 127,000 Helpful Votes Globally) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
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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Candide by Voltaire (Mass Market Paperback - 31 Oct. 2005)
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