Candide, or, Optimism

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Voltaire: Candide, or, Optimism (1991, Norton)

208 pages

English language

Published Sept. 7, 1991 by Norton.

ISBN:
978-0-393-96058-7
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5 stars (2 reviews)

Candide, ou l'Optimisme ( kon-DEED, French: [kɑ̃did] (listen)) is a French satire written by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment, first published in 1759. The novella has been widely translated, with English versions titled Candide: or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: Optimism (1947). It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism by his mentor, Professor Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow and painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes Candide with, if not rejecting Leibnizian optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best" in the "best of all possible worlds". Candide is characterized by …

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comedy sketch

4 stars

The novel is about Candide, an extreme optimist who, along the journey, has his optimism worn down, until him and his friends find satisfaction in a simpler life.

The novel is very silly, a lot of good hoots to be had. The Old Woman With One Buttock and Martin the Philosopher are particularly funny sketches. Still, the characters are intentionally paper-thin plot devices.

Candide answered: —I have seen worse; but a wise man, who has since had the misfortune to be hanged, taught me that everything was marvelously well arranged. Troubles are just the shadows in a beautiful picture.

—Your hanged philosopher was joking, said Martin; the shadows are horrible ugly blots.

They make a trip to the legendary city of El Dorado, a utopia without suffering or conflict. That whole event was my favorite part. I think it's a statement about how people don't want what is good for …

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Subjects

  • Voltaire, 1694-1778