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Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics) Paperback – June 30, 1950

ISBN-13: 978-0140440041 ISBN-10: 0140440046

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"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" by Raymond Carver
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"What We Talk About When We Talk About Love" by Raymond Carver
Join Carver in his second collection of stories as he rightly celebrates those characters that others too often consider peripheral. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (June 30, 1950)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140440046
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140440041
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (246 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #345,535 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Political satire doesn't age well, but occasionally a diatribe contains enough art and universal mirth to survive long after its timeliness has passed. Candide is such a book. Penned by that Renaissance man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, Candide is steeped in the political and philosophical controversies of the 1750s. But for the general reader, the novel's driving principle is clear enough: the idea (endemic in Voltaire's day) that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and apparent folly, misery and strife are actually harbingers of a greater good we cannot perceive, is hogwash.

Telling the tale of the good-natured but star-crossed Candide (think Mr. Magoo armed with deadly force), as he travels the world struggling to be reunited with his love, Lady Cunegonde, the novel smashes such ill-conceived optimism to splinters. Candide's tutor, Dr. Pangloss, is steadfast in his philosophical good cheer, in the face of more and more fantastic misfortune; Candide's other companions always supply good sense in the nick of time. Still, as he demolishes optimism, Voltaire pays tribute to human resilience, and in doing so gives the book a pleasant indomitability common to farce. Says one character, a princess turned one-buttocked hag by unkind Fate: "I have wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most melancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to be eager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, to loathe one's very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snake that devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"--Michael Gerber

Review

“When we observe such things as the recrudescence of fundamentalism in the United States, the horrors of religious fanaticism in the Middle East, the appalling danger which the stubbornness of political intolerance presents to the whole world, we must surely conclude that we can still profit by the example of lucidity, the acumen, the intellectual honesty and the moral courage of Voltaire.”
—A. J. Ayer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

THIS EDITION of the book is very good.
DisneyDenizen
Really opens your eyes to how naive and stupid our society can be.
Lubov Volosevych
I bought this because I read it decades ago.
R. Larson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Phil in Mågnøliá TOP 500 REVIEWER on February 3, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
NOTE: Due to difficulties in posting this review, until it is completely updated the full text of the review, with links, can be found in the comments section directly below. I apologize for this but have been having an unusually difficult time in getting this review to post. This note will be removed once the review is finalized and posted in final form.

This review will address the newly issued Kindle edition of Candide that has been released by Open Road Media as well as give an overview of editions of Candide available for the Kindle and available on Amazon.

Many Kindle versions of well-known classic books are available. For books available in the public domain, as is the case for Candide, oftentimes these Kindle versions are available for free or for very low price.

Some of these Kindle editions are of low quality and have various issues that make them less desirable for those who like to read classics on their Kindles. When I am looking for a classic book to purchase for my Kindle, it is usually a minor research project to determine which one I think will be the 'best' for my reading, and sometimes I end up purchasing more than one version in order to get one that is well presented and formatted for the Kindle.

This is a relatively short book, normally about 100 pages in printed form, and not a difficult read. This Kindle edition is well produced, the publishers website claims that it has been professionally proofread, and I have detected no errors myself (such as often appear in Kindle books which have been scanned and published without careful check).
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By CW on December 11, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a combination of genius, logical argument and humor. It is definitely hilarious. I laughed so hard as I read this book that i had never before. I highly recommend this book. it makes you think about the world around you and the people and their sufferings yet you only laugh at it. It does not make you sad.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By mcikathy on April 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not at all pleased with this translation. Major errors: the "Bulgars" are translated as "Bulgarians"; the "Avars" are translated as "Abars"; "generations" is translated as "quarterings," etc. Too many errors to count.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Dahl on February 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
Voltaire seems to be one of those figures in philosophy who's name everybody seems to recognize and yet one doubts whether they've actually read anything by him. Most seem ready to quote him as saying "a witty saying proves nothing" whenever they've been bested with a quote; which is at once incorrect, a self-contradiction and a misquotation.

The writers of the movie The Nines are some of these individuals who know Voltaire's name but don't seem to have ever read him. This is evidenced in their having the main character reading a copy of Candide, while another character comments on the the desirability of "the best of all possible worlds" (and then the movie ends with the best of all possible worlds). While it's true that Candide does revolve around the best of all possible worlds, it's express goal is to argue that this world is not the best one possible.

Voltaire's Candide, is as said, written in response to an argument in which his opponent is claiming that this world is the best that it can be and can be no different. The Professor Pangloss takes up the role of Voltaire's opponent in the book, arguing that "`It is demonstrable,' said he, `that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end. `" Whenever anything bad happens it is his role to respond "it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds."

The formula of the book is very simple, and it would suffice for the reader to simply read the first few chapters and the last - everything in-between is fluff serving to drive home a repetitive argument.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Raven DeLajour on February 14, 2015
Format: Paperback
I always feel silly reviewing classics because what hasn't been said about them, right? But perhaps my take on it is personal. Lately I have been severely depressed. This is nothing new; I've battled depression and anxiety for ten years now. I know that it will never go away completely. But lately it's been so bad, I find myself questioning if my life even matters at all. For the past few months, I've harbored very dark thoughts and have gone through some rough patches. But reading this book has instilled me with renewed hope.

While it does critique blind optimism, the ending is rather optimistic in the fact that it conveys a positive message. I like how it ends with realism rather than forced optimism. The main idea I got from the conclusion is that life will happen and that even though bad things will occur to us, we need to keep moving forward no matter what. We have to try to be realistic, which is very hard, but in the end I think it's better for us. Personally, I find a realistic approach to be more fulfilling than blind hope. It helps me to move on and challenge myself.

Voltaire is a wonderful writer and I can't wait to read his other works. I highly recommend the novel to Philosophy fans and lovers of classical literature.
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