2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Good edition of a great enlightenment work,
This review is from: Candide and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
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.