Candide by Voltaire

Candide

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 Ame...

Title:Candide
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0486266893
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:129 pages

Candide Reviews

  • Manny

    -

    - It's OK, we can speak English.

    , as one might say.

    -

    I mean, good! So, what do you make of twenty-first century Britain?

    -

    I am reading of your little

    with the expenses of the Houses of Parliament. It is a great moment for

    . Now there will be

    , the people will be able to choose better representatives, we will see that the country ha

    -

    - It's OK, we can speak English.

    , as one might say.

    -

    I mean, good! So, what do you make of twenty-first century Britain?

    -

    I am reading of your little

    with the expenses of the Houses of Parliament. It is a great moment for

    . Now there will be

    , the people will be able to choose better representatives, we will see that the country has become stronger as a result...

    - So really it was a good thing?

    - Oh, of course, all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds!

    - What? Including, I don't know, the Iraq War?

    -

    It is similar. If M. Bush had not started this very unpopular war, then the American voters would never have decided to choose M. Obama, who you can see is the best possible

    you could have at this

    ...

    - But I think they chose him, more than anything else, because of the economic meltdown?

    -

    , the war on its own would not have been enough,

    also was necessary. All is for the best!

    - M. Candide, you think that global warming and the impending collapse of the world's climate is also for the best?

    -

    Because of the global warming,

    will be forced to make new

    , people in all countries will start to work together, and we will enter a new golden age. Soon it will be as in

    , that I visited once in

    ...

    - Um. So I suppose that the spread of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, genocide in Rwanda and Rush Limbaugh are also good things when you look at them from the right angle?

    -

    First,

    . By making drug companies and researchers focus on...

    - No, wait. Forget AIDS. What about Stephenie Meyer? Is she a good thing too?

    -

    this book,

    ... how do you say, "Twilight"...

    . If only my dear Doctor Pangloss was here, he could explain to you...

  • Fabian

    Slightly disappointed with the next-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I took on this classic in one sitting.

    J**US!

    Where has this one been all my life? I adore "Candide" because it is rife with adventure, it is a speedy read, and at the very end you experience a vortex of feelings and NOVEL concepts. It transcends literature itself.

    Compare this to Dante. To Shakespeare. I could not help but smile at all the awful misadventures of our poor fool. This is made for someone, like me, who thinks "The Alchemist"

    Slightly disappointed with the next-Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I took on this classic in one sitting.

    J**US!

    Where has this one been all my life? I adore "Candide" because it is rife with adventure, it is a speedy read, and at the very end you experience a vortex of feelings and NOVEL concepts. It transcends literature itself.

    Compare this to Dante. To Shakespeare. I could not help but smile at all the awful misadventures of our poor fool. This is made for someone, like me, who thinks "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho isn't all that.

    I even told G that I was put off by the cover--that is, not until the entire book is ravished & torn apart by the ravenous reader does the simple, almost academic print of a globe in this particular edition of "Candide" make sense.

    So...

    voila! Voltaire.

    Easily EASILY Top Ten.

  • David Lentz

    "Candide" is an accessible masterpiece which demonstrated to the world Volatire's genius as a satirist. The eponymous Candide is a young man tutored by an optimist who is convinced according to the cause and effect philosophy of Leibniz and perhaps is best summarized in Voltaire's leitmotif that human beings live in the "best of all possible worlds." Alexander Pope rather laughably made the same outrageous claim in his "Essay on Man" in which he writes, "Everything that is is right." How can thi

    "Candide" is an accessible masterpiece which demonstrated to the world Volatire's genius as a satirist. The eponymous Candide is a young man tutored by an optimist who is convinced according to the cause and effect philosophy of Leibniz and perhaps is best summarized in Voltaire's leitmotif that human beings live in the "best of all possible worlds." Alexander Pope rather laughably made the same outrageous claim in his "Essay on Man" in which he writes, "Everything that is is right." How can this be so, you may well ask? Here is the nut of the problem: it seems that a perfect God has created a highly imperfect world. How can a good, omnipotent, loving God create a world in which so much catastrophic evil exists and which is so often allowed even to thrive? It is a question for the ages. Theologians argue that God created mankind with free will and without it they would simply be puppets without the freedom to make choices. Theologians also point out that the majority of the evil resident in our world is perpetuated on vast masses of humanity by other human beings, not God, and that evil is the cause and effect of conflicting self-interests imposed by people with more power upon the less powerful. But this point doesn't explain why a loving, all-powerful God would allow any of it to exist and endure. Why not cast down all the devils and give his human creatures a perfect garden, a paradise on earth, without snakes anywhere? Why did God create the serpent in the Garden of Eden in the first place? Voltaire, like Rousseau, was an avid gardener and Voltaire jests at Rousseau's good faith in the "Confessions" as if the latter were simply a country bumpkin. But gardens have a great deal of meaning in "Candide" as in, for example, Milton's "Paradise Lost" or "Genesis" and are thematically significant for Voltaire who concludes that gardens are, after all, a wise place to reside out of harm's way. Voltaire absolutely skewers the optimistic cause and effect of Pope and Leibniz with a catalog of tragicomic catastrophes which plague not only Candide and Pangloss but all of mankind infinitely. Consider the Great Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 which burst suddenly out of nowhere with all its raging fires and tidal waves to destroy nearly all of the city and the ships in its harbor. Is there no end even to the great catastrophes in which man has no hand but from which we are compelled to suffer except for God's grace? Voltaire's vivid and piercing wit is hilarious as he brazenly brings parody to places high and low, near and far, rich and poor to depict our world as the ultimate dystopia. In his novel Candide can only find a semblance of happiness in El Dorado, a rich, hidden world in South America: in other words, happiness in real life can only be found in a utopia without a basis for reality. So what are we to deduce about Candide? Is he a sometimes violent fool for all his naivete? And is Pangloss not a buffoon who earns his suffering so extensively at every turn of the road for his unjustified, unbridled optimism? Or are they heroic for their optimism despite the epic disasters that nearly devastate them time after time. Or is their fate really just the human condition and are they both just being all too human? You decide. In the course of your reading of this brief novel you may discover, as I did, that the optimists are constantly challenged by the gap between their optimism and reality, and that the pessimists are doomed to be the unhappiest people on the planet because they cannot imagine a world without misery and, thereby, create it for themselves wherever it doesn't really already exist. Take your pick of perspectives as a "free" human being and challenge your own assumptions about the human condition. Clearly, Balzac would seem to agree with his compatriot, Voltaire, that whatever you make of life on this earth, surely it is no less than an epic human comedy. At least in this life, thankfully, if you can stand back far enough, there is, God knows, no end to the laughter of the human condition.

  • Lisa

    “If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”

    If the world was created to drive us mad, as one character in "Candide" suggests, it is quite well suited for its purpose and running like a fine-tuned machine. If, on the other hand, everything is for the best in this best of possible worlds, as the optimist philosopher Pangloss claims in admiration for Leibniz' idea of a benevolent, planning, organised deity, the above question is fair and scary. What are the other worlds like,

    “If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”

    If the world was created to drive us mad, as one character in "Candide" suggests, it is quite well suited for its purpose and running like a fine-tuned machine. If, on the other hand, everything is for the best in this best of possible worlds, as the optimist philosopher Pangloss claims in admiration for Leibniz' idea of a benevolent, planning, organised deity, the above question is fair and scary. What are the other worlds like, if this is the best the creator can manage?

    Candide is born into a garden Eden and taught the dogma of optimistic thinking before being thrown out into the cruel world and embarking on an absurdly funny, incredibly brutal and increasingly cynical odyssey around a fictionalised, yet recognisable violent and unfair world. Consistently striving to understand his surroundings, he keeps asking questions and challenging the people he meets, and he keeps reflecting on the events he witnesses, such as the earthquake in Lisbon in 1755.

    How does reality fit in with metaphysical thoughts? Is it possible to reconcile life and faith and satisfy both body and soul, while facing the blatant inequality in the world?

    In the end, Candide resigns himself to his own, active but detached business of "cultiver notre jardin", - working to be able to shut out the atrocities of the world. He emancipates himself from the philosophical framework of his teacher Pangloss, even though he lets him keep on reflecting in his typical way, thus demonstrating more tolerance than Pangloss himself accomplishes.

    When I first read Candide, some twenty years ago, I thought of it as a roller coaster ride through different societies, on a quest to find individual meaning and happiness by figuring out what matters in life. I considered the external circumstances and the Leibnizian optimism a highly exaggerated sarcastic joke, a backdrop for the development of the idea that bliss is to be found in active, yet private pursuit of small scale business without dogmatic allegiances to any creed, be it religious, social or political.

    Now I am not so sure about the exaggeration anymore - having spent decades studying the interactions between human beings, and their habit of labelling a "total disaster" a "great win", positioning themselves somewhere in the grey zone between delusional optimism, brutal cynicism and complete disregard for truth.

    "L'optimisme c'est la rage de soutenir que tout est bien quand on est mal."

    If that is what the leaders of the world support, and the majority of populations accept in resignation while minding their own private business, how can we ever get to the point of attempting to fix the problems of this best of possible worlds?

    Acknowledging the issues would be the first step, wouldn't it? If we maintain climate change isn't happening, we will have human-induced catastrophes of the scale of the flood following the Lisbon earthquake. If we do not fight injustice and violence, but claim it is part of the bigger picture of the best possible of worlds, life will continue to be as brutal for our contemporaries as it was for Candide and his friends:

    “I should like to know which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off, and run the gauntlet of the Bulgarians, and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley -- in short, to undergo all the miseries we have each of us suffered -- or simply to sit here and do nothing?'

    That is a hard question,' said Candide.”

    Having grown older, and more angry at the world, I do not agree with the two options presented. Life is not either about passively suffering it or withdrawing from the world altogether, it is about actively looking for change. It is about honestly admitting that we do not live in the best possible of worlds, while keeping up the fight to make it a tiny bit better, despite feeling despair creeping into our hearts every so often. It is about "cultiver notre jardin" - but not hidden away in a remote corner.

    The garden of our shared global community has to be tended! It is not oblivious, exclusive Eden, and never will be. But it can be a good enough place to live, if the Candides of this world decide to make it a common project - one that shows collaborative commitment despite continuous disappointment. I still love Candide with all my heart, but I think it is about time he applies the knowledge he gained from travelling the world to make it a more bearable place to be - for all people - starting by telling optimistic Pangloss that facts are more important than a false mantra hiding the issues under propaganda.

    Il faut cultiver notre planète - malgré tout!

  • Lizzy

    Roger made me think: what major literature work, as nothing less would do!, that I read would fit the definition of

    ? Of course,

    came up front to my mind. And what makes Candide so brilliant and hilarious? Not one think, but various factors combined:

    : a hopelessly naïve protagonist, for whom you ha

    Roger made me think: what major literature work, as nothing less would do!, that I read would fit the definition of

    ? Of course,

    came up front to my mind. And what makes Candide so brilliant and hilarious? Not one think, but various factors combined:

    : a hopelessly naïve protagonist, for whom you have no choice but be sympathetic with; wastrel nobles, besides a motley group from priests to prostitutes, philosophers (how could Voltaire not include a parody of himself?) ending with fanatics and fiends;

    : The plot is dizzying, hectic and horrifying, while its protagonist goes from nobility to serfdom, from penury to extravagance, from significance and misery to anonymity and contentment. Wholly unconventional! And its readers become dazzled by its unfolding events that that despite being absurd are also utterly real;

    : as you turn the pages you realize that’s he is there, peeking from behind the curtains into the stage, whispering to you:

    Oh, yes! So, a long string of jokes creeps from the pages to the reader, absurdities that are not so absurd; and enriches the reading experience with insight into its context.

    reveals itself as a

    Journal of genuine charitable naivety. The tragedies and violence are never ending, more than anybody’s fair share. Poor Candide, he skips from one misadventure to another: gets kicked out of his home; is drafted into the army; gains a fortune, loses his fortune; chases the object of his desire all over the world:

    At all his disasters and misfortunes, his teacher and traveling companion Dr. Pangloss simply rationalizes:

    This is the best possible world we live in, and the bad things that occur happen to be the best to show us the blessing of what we have. Is that it?

    Voltaire goes further:

    How could it not be more absurd and hilarious! And so Voltaire succeeds in ridiculing his world. And, in a way, our own!

    Exhausted, Candide finally finds his just-retreat

    Yes, Candide is one of my favorite books, and it occupies a very special place in that collection.

  • James Lafayette  Tivendale

    Voltaire's novel introduces the reader to Candide, a wide-eyed, calm and slightly bland young gentleman who resides at Castle Westphalia and who believes in the philosophy that "everything in the world is for the best." One of the first scenes is filled with two emotional opposites for Candide who first gets to kiss his love, Cunegonde behind a screen, only to then be kicked out of the castle, literally, by the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh.

    Here then begins Candide's incredible, fantastical adve

    Voltaire's novel introduces the reader to Candide, a wide-eyed, calm and slightly bland young gentleman who resides at Castle Westphalia and who believes in the philosophy that "everything in the world is for the best." One of the first scenes is filled with two emotional opposites for Candide who first gets to kiss his love, Cunegonde behind a screen, only to then be kicked out of the castle, literally, by the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh.

    Here then begins Candide's incredible, fantastical adventure which takes him all over the globe with his mind ever believing in "The Folly of Optimism". From being a soldier in the Bulgarian army to being shipwrecked, being involved with the aftermath of an earthquake to being robbed and swindled more times than seems fair. Our hero has a lot of bad luck. One of the points of this book though is to present that it isn't just Candide that bad things happen to and that the world is just pretty horrible. Tragic things happen to all our main characters including philosopher Dr. Pangloss and a nice old lady who saved Candide from certain death. The tale is humorously and satirically presented in short, sharp chapters by Voltaire. Some descriptions of doom and degradation are presented in a comic fashion because if they were not they might be too unspeakable to keep us interested in reading about the negativity and heartlessness of humans. The novel features all sorts of nastiness such as rape, murder, prostitution and slavery among others. The only part of this book where Voltaire excludes any use of humour is when he talks about slavery after we meet a mutilated man. This is quite poignant when presenting all the diabolical activities that slavery doesn't deserve any humour - arguably making this the crime Voltaire begrudges the most in this world.

    Candide and his valet Cacambo, after nearly being eaten by indigenous people; arrive in Voltaire's Utopia El Dorado. This was my favourite section of the book as this unobtainable existence is a polar opposite of everything that the two young men have faced so far. Gold and diamonds litter the streets as pebbles, there is no law, science advances to make the Western world jealous, no prisons and is opposite to the popular viewpoint of the story that "all is misery and illusion". The main plot progression throughout the book is Candide trying to find his love Cunegonde as he wishes to marry her which is his reason for (stupidly in my opinion) leaving this wonderful place.

    The whole cast is likeable. Some of the times they meet up with friends spontaneously all over the world is amazingly far fetched. Two of the main characters are previously mentioned optimistic philosopher Dr. Pangloss and ultimately pessimistic scholar and travel companion of Candide's, Martin. The juxtaposition here is very interesting. It is very "black and white" for these extreme viewpoints. There is no compromise or middle ground. A great amount of philosophy is discussed throughout the book in conversations usually prompted by Candide who wants answers to how the world works. It may very well be that he changes his optimistic opinion throughout the narrative.

    I probably shouldn't like a book with so much negativity but it is incredibly written. It reminded me of Verne's - Around The World In Eighty Days. Both being high octane adventures transversing across the globe but with Candide's undertones being a lot more macabre.

    My favourite scene was when Candide discusses classic literature such as Homer, Virgil and Horace to a King who dislikes everything. "You will agree that this is the happiest of mortals, for he is above everything he possesses." Negativity and hatred is a main theme throughout the whole story.

    The problem with reviewing classic literature like this is that many greater wordsmiths over centuries have written more poetic and moving opinions. Yet, I enjoyed the book so much I had to write down a few blurbs of thoughts however much the quality is lacking compared to previous critics.

    Thanks for reading, James.


Top Books is in no way intended to support illegal activity. We uses Search API to find the overview of books over the internet, but we don't host any files. All document files are the property of their respective owners, please respect the publisher and the author for their copyrighted creations. If you find documents that should not be here please report them. Read our DMCA Policies and Disclaimer for more details.