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Candide Paperback – November 28, 2014
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About the Author
François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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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).
This Open Road Media version of Candide appears to be the most common version offered on Kindle and uses the translation by Philip Little (see note below) which was originally published by Modern Library in 1918 and is public domain and readily available online (see for example Project Gutenberg link below). It includes the following:
- short introduction written by the translator Philip Littell
- complete text of Candide (presumably also translated by Philip Littell)
- table of contents is included and functions properly, with book 'locations' indicated but not page numbers
It does not include footnotes, which the Gutenberg Library (online) version of Candide does include (see comments section below for link to the Gutenberg Library website). The two versions are otherwise identical as far as I can tell, and the Gutenberg Library version indicates where edits have been made in order to correct typos, and those corrections have all also been included in this Open Road Media version.
(I note that this Kindle edition does not indicate which translation is used, nor does the Open Road media website provide that information, however it does show Philip Littell as the author of the introduction and several references I've found also indicate Littell is the translator. However, the NY Public Library article on Candide (see link in comments below) refers to this as an anonymous translation, saying "NYPL is using the most widely available e-text of the book, from the anonymous translation published by the Modern Library in 1918, available on Project Gutenberg").
Candide has been well reviewed on Amazon and is available in many different editions, both for the Kindle and in print. The listings on Amazon with the greatest number of reviews are listed below. I would refer to these listings and the accompanying reviews for discussion of the book itself, which is generally regarded as a major classic and which has been included on many lists of 'best' or 'most influential classic novels:
- Candide with 166 reviews at the present time (1918 Modern Library translation)
- Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) (Listed on Amazon as ASIN B00B7NP1HQ - Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) with 72 reviews and this page on Amazon also provides links to the greatest number of formats available, including 8 different versions for the Kindle
Candide was written by the French philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) and first published in 1789, in France. It has been translated into English numerous times. I am not going to attempt to judge which of the various translations might be preferable for one reason or another. I do list some of the translations currently available below, for those interested. Generally they can be sampled using Amazon's 'Look Inside" feature to get an idea of the quality of the translation, and in some cases the customer reviews here on Amazon will also address the quality of the translation. I do not know that there are huge differences in the various translations but I'll include in the notes below any comments I do run across that might indicate a preference for any of the translations (some works, War and Peace for example, have strong points of view from different scholars regarding which translation is more true to the original writing). Not all translations are available in Kindle editions.
Other editions and more recent translations available include (this is not intended to be a complete listing of all translations currently available, only a selected few):
- this 1947 translation by John Butt available in Penguin edition (I do not find this translation available for Kindle): ( Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics) Listed on Amazon as ASIN 0140440046 - Candide) The Annenberg Learner website considers this to be the recommended version, saying "This is our recommended edition. This 1947 translation by John Everett Butt provides a clear and stylish English equivalent for the mordant original. This edition has an introduction by the translator, a noted scholar and literary editor, who was Regius Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University." See [...]
- This 1961 translation by Daniel M. Frame (I do not find this translation available for Kindle): (Listed on Amazon as ASIN 0451531159 - Candide, Zadig and Selected Stories) which includes 15 additional stories by Voltaire.
- a newer 2005 translation by Theo Cuffe also released by Penguin and available on Kindle: (Listed on Amazon as ASIN B00EK28X1C - Candide, or Optimism (Penguin Classics) or (Listed on Amazon as ASIN B00B7NP1HQ - Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition). These Penguin editions for Kindle do include a number of supplementary notes (translators note, note on the text, note on names, map, appendices, chronology, further reading) but do not include any additional works by Voltaire in addition to Candide.
- translation by Peter Constantine available in Everyman's Library edition (I do not find this translation available for Kindle): (Listed on Amazon as ASIN 067941746X - Candide and Other Stories (Everyman's Library Classics & Contemporary Classics), includes other stories by Voltaire (according to one of the Amazon reviews the included stories are: Micromegas, Zadig, What Pleases the Ladies, The Ingenu, The White Bull).
- 1990 translation by Roger Pearson available in Oxford World Classics edition (the first link is an earlier edition published by Oxford and the second link is a Kindle edition that is a newer version of the same thing): (Listed on Amazon as ASIN 0192807269 - Candide and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics), or the more recent printing (Listed on Amazon as ASIN B005JJ9RME - Candide and Other Stories (Oxford World's Classics) includes several other stories by Voltaire (Micromegas, Zadig, What Pleases the Ladies, The Ingenue, and The White Bull).
- Norton Critical Edition, translated by Robert M. Adams and including extensive accompanying essays giving background and criticism, and first published in 1966 (I do not find this translation available for Kindle): (Listed on Amazon as ASIN 0393960587 - Candide (A Norton Critical Edition). This edition does not include other works by Voltaire but does, as mentioned, include a great deal of supplementary material on Candide.
My opinion is that this is a fully satisfactory version of Candide for those readers interested in this book and wanting an inexpensive copy for their Kindle. It is being offered for free at the present time on Amazon but will probably be sold at a slightly higher price once this 'introductory' period has been completed. It is essentially equivalent to the several other 99 cent Kindle versions presently available for the Kindle, from Dover Publications, and a couple from unidentified publishers and simply showing "Amazon Digital Services".
The short novel reads quickly, with the hero Candide and his companions falling into some new misadventure on practically every other page. Both the Old World and New are traveled with a special visit to Eldorado, the Lost City of Gold. The characters are quite shallow and undeveloped but this doesn't detract from Voltaire's quite clear message, which is that fate generally does not have a happy life in store for each of us and that we must work to improve each of our lots.
Recommended and at less than 150 pages it doesn't take long to get through. I felt the 1947 John Butt translation to be excellent and very readable.
It is an older translation, but a good one. If you are assigned this book for class, I would stick with whatever translation the teacher gives you. But if you want to read this for pleasure, or just want to have it read for your core reading list (for college or whatnot), then this is a great version. The wry sense of black humor is wonderful. The spellings may seem odd, but Voltaire wrote this in French in the 1750s, so it's pretty old. And yes, the British were probably spelling Buenos Ayres instead of Buenos Aires and such.
The operetta Candide is based off of this novel as well, though it strays from the novel in the end (though is faithful throughout the first 2/3 to 3/4). A recommended reading for anyone interested in classic literature. Now you're ready for some Kafka!