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

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

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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #220,702 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

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 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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Format: Paperback
Candide: or, Optimism (Modern Library Classics)
I lost account how many times I have read this book since my adolescence through the autumn I live in now, but every time I approach it, my soul gets unsuspected gratification. I have read it in Spanish translation, and it was good because at that time I was really young not only of age but in literature knowledge. Then, I read it in French and even my French is not the best, and enjoyed it, and understand a lot of things I had lost the first time I read it. I read the French one many times to learn French and because I was fascinated with the book until I lost it by lending it to a friend. But this edition is the best book I have read. It is a very good translation with footnotes that help a lot to understand who and what subject is Erasmus targeting and satirizing. The typing is a good size, so is easy to read.
I strongly recommend this book even for people not used to classic literature, but to those looking for a book to relax by knowing that life was always the same mess we are living now, and the world follow its course.
Yes, it is about the foolishness of France and Europe politics, churchmen, businessmen, and women above all. Folly complains are not out of fashion but presently, and we conclude that now it is not worse than before as we are used to be preached, but the same. So we could follow going on without remorse of our own foolishness!
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Format: Paperback
Candide's book-length longing for Miss Cunegonde was a constant reminder for me of Layla and Majnun with a bit of philosophy thrown in the mix. Candide's constantly putting his dear master Pangloss's philisophy of everything being for the best to the test (and always reasoning that he was), his endless travels, and hard times (along with everyone comparing their hard luck stories at various points in the story) makes for a quick, but deep and interesting read.

With "Candide," Voltaire proved there is no publicity like free publicity. He could have fictionalized his philosophical nemesis' names here, but, perhaps, direct hits are best in fiction.

And it needs to be noted that Gita May's twelve-page long Introduction was one of the best I've ever read from the Barnes aand Nobles Classics series. Usually the intros are biased in some way, but Ms. May's did not reek of this affliction at all. It was a pleasure to read that because it whetted my appetite for the text to come. - Donna Di Giacomo
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By footsore on March 11, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Two hundred and fifty years after Voltaire put it on paper it is fresh and clever still. A book to be read and digested by all.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marcos on November 27, 2014
Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
Candide is obviously one of the greatest novels of all time. The audio cassette version was narrated well on quality tape.
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By avidreader on May 14, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Candide is a satirical story about a man who travels the world, ultimately showing the reader that it takes good friends and family to achieve and share happiness, not materialistic things like money or power.

Voltaire pokes fun at the things we are so used to being force-fed that we take them for granted:

"Imagine all contradictions, all possible incompatibilities--you will find them in the government, in the law-courts, in the churches, in the public shows of this droll nation."

In searching for happiness in this difficult life, Voltaire suggests that many things are inevitable--beyond the reach of our control--and that we should focus our attention and effort toward making the best of things, and that we're required to take control of our own destiny with the only means that we in fact can control: knowledge.
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