Candide (Bedford Series in History and Culture)

ISBN: 0312148542
ISBN 13: 9780312148546
By: Voltaire Daniel Gordon

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Classic Classics Favorites Fiction French Humor Literature Philosophy Satire To Read

About this book

Preserving the text's provocative nature, Daniel Gordon's translation amplifying the book's innuendo, enhancing its readability and highlighting the text's wit and satire for 20th-century readers. The introduction places the work and its author in historical context, showing students how the complexities of Voltaire's life relate to the events, philosophy and characters of Candide. A related documents section with personal correspondence to and from Voltaire is also translated by Gordon, and gives students another lens through which to view this influential thinker. Helpful editorial features include explanatory notes throughout the text, seven illustrations, a chronology of Voltaire's life, questions for consideration, a selected bibliography, and an index of key concepts.

Reader's Thoughts

Alice Poon

In reading this review, please be warned that I have only limited knowledge of philosophy. I'm just going to record what I was able to grasp. The moral of the story would appear to be that since there is a limitless amount of unpredictable chaos in life, much of which is catastrophic, evil and wretched, be they man-made (like rape, war, massacre, plague, religious intolerance) or from force majeure (like earthquake, shipwreck), that one can be easily tempted to give up all hope on mankind, but that despair is not the answer.The author takes the protagonist Candide from place to place, putting him through the most horrible ordeals in order to make him see the falsity in the philosophical thinking mode of his teacher Dr. Pangloss, which is unadulterated optimism no matter how dire the situation is. In the end, Candide has seen too much absurdity and pain in life and evil in people to still believe in Pangloss's theory. But neither does that mean life is not worth living. Candide has come to learn that humans by nature have a penchant for living, no matter how harrowing life is (as the old woman who has survived unspeakable atrocities says, 'A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but still I loved life!'). So perhaps some measure of deprivation and evil is actually beneficial, because it gives purpose and contrast to life. Besides, too much comfort and complacency only breeds boredom and lethargy (like the rich Venetian nobleman Pococurante who has everything but shows no interest in anything). Candide finally comes to the conclusion that "we must cultivate our garden", meaning that despite all, we should all strive to develop our own individual talent for our own good and the good of society.I rather like the uplifting conclusion. I just feel that in terms of philosophical notion, it sounds a bit like Albert Camus's absurdism and revolt.

Benjamin Duffy

I think that Candide is probably the type of book that enriches the reader the deeper he or she delves into it. It would probably reward repeated readings. It would probably reveal deeper layers of satire and absurdity if it were read in the original French. It would probably take on deeper shades of meaning if it were read in conjunction with any of the commentaries that have been written about it over the past 250-odd years.Having said that, I'm not going to do any of those things. I have way too many books on my plate to reread this book any time in the next year; the limits of my French (one year of college French, an ex-wife who was fluent) would make reading it in that language a brutal, dictionary-in-hand chore; and I generally dislike reading books about books, so commentaries are right out.So, I didn't dig too deeply into Candide, instead just reading it as the absurd tale it was, not looking for too much meaning beyond the surface. And you know what? I enjoyed it thoroughly. It was like Forrest Gump, only with a little less faith in humanity and a lot more murder, rape, cannibalism, zoophilia, and child prostitution. It was full of pitch-black humor, and the breezy, matter-of-fact way in which some of the horrific situations were described only served to make it funnier.Unsurprisingly, this was a super dark book, and an angry one, full of scathing satire. It served up a double middle finger salute to pretty much everyone: nobility, clergy, self-styled intellectuals, real intellectuals, commoners, the French, the Germans, the English - nobody escapes Voltaire's poison pen. Virtually everyone is portrayed as stupid, dishonest, self-serving, small-minded, and hypocritical. Religion and government receive the brunt of Voltaire's onslaught; it isn't hard to see why this book was banned in so many places for so many years - even well into the 20th century in parts of the United States.This was a fast, hilarious, exhilaratingly bitter read, and just the thing to top off your misanthropy tank if it's ever running low. Fine family fun!


كنديد "فولتير "رواية جميلة تحتوي علي جدال فلسفي عميق حول أصل الشر وطبيعه الروح و النظام المقدر.فهو يسأل "هل الكون في حالته هذه هو أفضل ما يمكن أن يكون أم أن الإنسان قد مد إليه يدالأفساد والتخريب. وما هو السبب وراء خلق حيوان عجيب كالإنسان؟؟؟ويجيب فولتير بحسم علي هذه التساؤلات من خلال "كنديد" بطل القصه الذي جاب الأرض في رحلة مليئة بالآلآم والعذاب والتعذيب بحثآ عن محبوبته التي كانت سبب نكبته الاولي فهي أبنة البارون بألمانيا وعند علم أبوها بحب "كنديد " لها وهو الأبن الغير شرعي لأخت البارون ماكان منه غير ضربه وطرده من القصر ونكبته الثانيه عندما علم بقتلها بعد إغتصابها علي أيدي الغزاة الفرنسيين ولكنه يكتشف أنها لاتزال علي قيد الجياة ويقرر البحث عنها بعد أن علم أنها أخذت سبيه وتنتقل من مكان لأخر بأوروبا وأفريقيا.وخلال الرحلة يتوصل إلي الحقيقة الأكيدة أن ردآ علي ان كل شئ جعل علي أحسن ما يكون أن لابد من أن يكون الناس أفسدوا في الطبيعة وذلك لأنهم لم يولدوا ذئابآ فصاروا ذئابآ ,ولم يعطهم الرب مدافع ولم يعطهم الرب حرابآ, فصنعوا مدافع وحرابآ ليبيد بعضهم بعضآ."وأن الإنسان لم يولد للراحة وأن العمل كما قيل علي لسان الفيلسوف يدفع عنا ثلاثة شرور كبيرة "السأم والرذيلة والعوز"وقال مقولته الشهيرة :"يجب أن تُزرع حديقتنا "رواية جميلة تستحق القراءةمن أجمل وصف للحياةالذي قرأته فيها:" بلغ الشيطان من شدة التدخل في شئون هذا العالم ما يمكن أن يوجد معه في جسمي كما يوجد في أي مكان آخر ,ولكنني أعترف لك بأنني ,إذ ألقي نظرة علي هذه الكرة أو الكرية ,أري الرب قد تركها لبعض الموجودات الشريرة ,فلم أر, قط, مدينة لم ترغب في خراب المدينة المجاورة لها , ولم أر, قط, أسرة لا تريد استئصال أسر أخري, وفي كل مكان يلعن الضعفاء الاقوياء الذين يزحفون أمامهم, ويعاملهم الاقوياء كقطاع يباع صوفها ولحمها, وتجد مليون قاتل مدرب يجوب طرفي البلاد ويمارس القتل وقطع الطرق بنظام كسبآ لعيشه وذلك لأنه لم ير حرفه أصلح من هذه, ويفترس الناس في المدن التي يلوح تمتعها بالسلم والتي تزدهر في العلوم حسد وهموم وقلق أشد من البلايا التي تعانيها مدينة محاصرة , ثم إن الكروب الخفية أقسي من المصائب الظاهرة , ولذلك أنا أري أن الخير والشر يتساويان قوة فيتنازعان الكون"وفي وصفه عن الأنسان وما آل أليه:"أتعتقد أن الناس كانوا يتذابحون كما يصنعون اليوم؟وهل كانوا في كل وقت كاذبين مداجين مخادعين جاحدين سارقين واهين طائشين خسيسين حاسدين شرهين سكيرين بخلاء طمعاء سفاكين مفترين فاسقين متعصبين منافقين أغبياء ؟"أو تعتقد أن البيزان في كل وقت تأكل الحمام حيثما تجدها؟أجل ,لا ريبوالآن إذاكانت البيزان تتصف بذات الطبع دائما فلم تريد أن يغير الناس طبعهم؟

MJ Nicholls

A re-read from undergraduate days. I wasn’t quite as amused the second time around: the shambolic charm seems to have worn off and I found the freewheeling structural chaos more vexing. I’m a spoiled bourgeois used to precision engineering in my novels. Having said that, Candide is more about the quotable lines and shining philosophical maxims littered among the dismembered torsos. But: the text requires a boatload of explanatory notes, which engulf the chapters themselves, lending a glaze of dullness to the reading experience. So, what to do? Voltaire is such a fascinating figure, plump with wisdom, I would pick out a biography and lick up the pages instead. Give me a minute and I’ll find one. OK, how about this one: The Age of Voltaire?

David Wallace Fleming

I really like Candide. I've only read it once, however, it really resonated with me. That was several years ago and for the longest time I've been trying to figure exactly why I liked this book so much. This book is a rule breaker. One of the first rules of fiction, of course, is: "Don't lecture your audience!" This book is one, 94-page lecture. It's extremely disjointed in place, time and action, ignoring these classical unities without so much as a second thought. It's themes set-up a collision course between the commoner and the aristocrat. And to that a mix of gritty realism, historic allusion and fantasy and you've got a whole lot packed into those brief pages. You get the sense while reading this that Voltaire did what he wanted while writing and had fun while doing it. I would argue that the success of this novella rests upon it's countermining of the Poetic's Unities of action, place and time. He covers an enormous amount of time, places and events to support his thesis.

Ellen Adkins

I absolutely loved this book. It was unexpectedly quirky and funny, yet had heart and depth to it. Voltaire definitely takes you on an adventure as you follow the escapades of young and naïve Candide as he learns and discovers the harsh realities of the world. Riddled with tragedy and loss, this book is definitely for somebody who can appreciate dark humor, possibly bordering on morbid. This story is truly timeless, a tale that can cross centuries yet still be relevant. The thing that I enjoyed most about this book was how deep it actually was. Yes, on the surface, it is a wild tale full of humor and silly situations, yet there is a darkness and sadness that I found as well. It was the good kind of sadness, if you know what I mean. Pangloss has taught Candide his entire life that “all is for the best”. While this philosophy may seem all good and well, I think it was detrimental to Candide in the end. This excessive optimism actually gave way to sadness when I realized that Candide was living in complete denial about his life and the horrible, albeit comical, situations he found himself in. This sadness stuck with me… not enough to make me not want to read the book or not enjoy it, but just enough to make me think about the importance of reality and coming to terms with what is happening around me. It really stuck with me and made me think for quite some time after reading the story.

Robert Delikat

After a number of unspecified decades, I reread this classic and moved it from 4 to 5 stars. I do not even remember this book being as great as I now think that it is. The book is hilarious and, given when it was written, centuries ahead of its time.


I found this a very difficult read since intellectually I could see the argument and the satire but emotionally the images were so graphic that it was hard to get through all of the traumatic events that occurred. I also felt the actual flow of writing was off.Having said that I think Voltaire successfully used satire to show that many of the new philosophies of his day (and which continue today) did not correlate with reality. That a theory on paper might have looked reasonable but in practical application failed.It is amazing how even though the world has changed dramatically in the last 250 years the cynicism against public officials and powerful church leaders still remains. That the disconnect between those in academia that fail to connect with the people or issues they study continues to be a criticism. The desire for people to think for themselves and grow in their experiences.


While fruitlessly searching for something decent to read, I invariably come across a ton of acclaim for total hacks being labeled as ‘master satirists’. God that pisses me off, especially since none of those books are worth a damn, and while the authors wrongly think they have something interesting or unique to say, the thing that really disheartens me is that someone out there agrees with them. For each of these books, there should be a simple label affixed to the front cover that reads ‘Not As Good As Candide’. I seriously think this would alleviate about 30% of all my unresolved issues with the public’s perception of what makes for decent reading. The other 70% could be resolved by making major overhauls to a universal ‘required reading’ list: The Great Gatsby, eh….let’s just toss that crap out and put Cosmos on there, how about actually learning something while you read? I’m not about to give Candide a perfect score, and I don’t think that it deserves one, but I will say that it’s damn good. It seems that some of the popular philosophy making the rounds back in Francois-Marie’s day was just rubbing him wrong, especially the absolutely moronic concept that we live in ‘the best of all possible worlds’. Most people hear something that weak and simply binge drink to erase the awful memory that somebody out there could possibly believe that kind of shit. A lot of people write against these notions and somehow get their pitiful little whims published in the commentary of the local newspaper, and you wish you could choke those imbeciles as well, for giving more press to an already absurd concept. Lastly, there are the few that decide to sit down and write a satire about a hundred pages long to denounce what they consider absolute folly. And with Candide, Voltaire relentlessly attacks the ridiculous philosophy of Liebniz and his familiars, attempting to show that this is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the best of all possible worlds (mainly because of the large number of utter clods totally f--king up the works). Our hero, Candide, is a naive youth being reared in the castle of a Westphalian Baron, living the good life while being tutored by a total fraud and hack named Pangloss, the Baron’s oracle/scholar. The only hindrance in the life of our featherbedded little friend is that his love interest, Cunogonde, happens to be the Baron’s vivacious 17-year old daughter, and the Baron isn’t about to have his daughter betrothed to some chump lacking the amount of noble ancestry suitable to his standards. The soothing, silver tongue of Pangloss has made an indelible mark on Candide, however, and when the opportunity arises to plant a surreptitious smooch on Cunegonde, he’s busted in the act and driven from the castle “when the Baron saluted Candide with some notable kicks on the rear”. That’s just hilarious, 'notable kicks', and there’s something this appealing on basically every page to follow: as this is only just the beginning; the first misfortune to befall our thick-skulled friend, Candide. Each successive f--king he suffers along the way is not only totally hilariously described in an absurd fashion, but is usually resolved in awesomely unreal turns of fate (I don’t think I could make it more than five pages without either cracking a smile or outright laughing for all the right reasons). The Baron’s castle is sacked by Bulgarians following Candide’s exile, setting the lively and luscious Cunegonde in flight from Westphalia as well, and one unfortunate event after another befalls both lovers; with Candide’s life quickly becoming filled with floggings, poverty, the Inquisition. natural disasters, piracy, and getting pimp-jacked as a result of some devious manipulation, while his beloved is reduced to harlotry, being ravished or ravaged, and unbecoming servitude at the hands of her completely offensive captors and suitors. Wow. It probably isn’t the best book you’ll ever read, but I'd be pretty shocked to find out it wasn't even enjoyed.


- Bonjour, M. Candide! Bienvenue au site Goodreads! Qu'en pensez-vous?- It's OK, we can speak English. Pour encourager les autres, as one might say.- Eh... super! I mean, good! So, what do you make of twenty-first century Britain?- Vraiment sympathique! I am reading of your little scandale with the expenses of the Houses of Parliament. It is a great moment for la démocratie. Now there will be des élections, 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?- Absoluement! 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 président you could have at this moment très difficile de l'histoire...- But I think they chose him, more than anything else, because of the economic meltdown?- Bien sûr, the war on its own would not have been enough, la crise économique 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?- Mais, ça se voit! Because of the global warming, la science et la technologie will be forced to make new avances, people in all countries will start to work together, and we will enter a new golden age. Soon it will be as in El Dorado, that I visited once in l'Amerique du Sud...- 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?- Evidement! First, le SIDA. By making drug companies and researchers focus on...- No, wait. Forget AIDS. What about Stephenie Meyer? Is she a good thing too?- Eh... oui... non... this book, Fascination... how do you say, "Twilight"... alors. If only my dear Doctor Pangloss was here, he could explain to you...


Humans really do have a great capacity to be miserable…I dare not propound any way with which to look at this piece of writing – I’m hardly equipped to do so. I just want to say that I greatly enjoyed reading this. The circumstances and twists in the fates of all the characters were so fantastical as to be probable, unbelievable enough to be actually quite possible.In the center of it all is the hugely naïve, pitifully gullible, but steadfastly noble and generous Candide. Through this character’s experiences – mostly dismal – the author explores (among other things) questions on the nature of humanity: are people inherently good but are later inevitably corrupted? Or is it the other way around? What is the root and extent of misery? Is there such a thing as real happiness and contentment? And is it worth believing at all in the ‘goodness’ of human beings?Through it all, Candide’s exploits are narrated in a quirky, dryly ridiculous, and even slightly phantasmagoric way. The personas he meets along the way reveal to him the nuances of human behavior – there are those whose optimism cannot be shaken; others who take pleasure in being critical of everything in life; and others still who manage to hold onto a threadbare shred of strength amidst seemingly reprehensible fates.Moralistic without remonstrative. Subtly witty underneath all the silly twists and turns. Truly a remarkable piece of work.

Mike Puma

3.5 stars rounded up for its Classic-ness. Everyone knows this story, don’t they? A gentle-hearted and dimwitted pretty boy has his life turned upside-down, repeatedly, and in the most reprehensible ways—not just him, everyone he knows or admires or loves—all for the love of a woman* whose name is, presumably, premised on a joke, a pun, for female genitalia. Yes, folks, a charming little picaresque which, in addition to being an extended opportunity for risqué jokes, afforded Voltaire a much-needed opportunity to vent and rail against every philosophy, religion, nationality, public official, and cleric which or whoever had cause enough to offend him. Well done, sir. Glad you got that off your chest.Now my own minor rant—Barnes & Noble Classic Editions. Don’t get me wrong, in many ways I love them (even if most are the public domain versions of classics). At least B&N has the decency to include often-valuable Introductions chock-full of insight and SPOILERS. In my experience, these introductions are best-read after reading the work(s) they precede when reading the title for the first time unless one is reading as an assignment when there’s no expectation of enjoying the work contained.But, alas, now I must cultivate my garden—brown and withered though it may be.* Straight people, right? As much as I’d like to think so, (blame, point fingers, taunt, etc.) when I look around, I’m kinda stuck thinkin’ : People.


I don't know quite how it happened, but this book has come up again and again over the past month. Though I read it in college and enjoyed it then, I had forgotten exactly what made Candide so brilliant.It's not the characters. Though, to be fair, the characters are remarkable. A hopelessly naive protagonist you feel tremendous sympathy for along with a remarkable cast of characters from nobles to ne'er do wells, priests to prostitutes, philosophers, fanatics and fiends connect you with Voltaire's world as easily as if they were standing around you.It's not the plot's absurdity. Though, to be honest, the silliness going from nobility to serfdom, from penury to largesse, from power and misery to anonymity and contentment, is so unconventional and unlike 90% of all the other novels in the world that each and every reader becomes enraptured by the unfolding events that though it's all absurd, it's also extremely real.It's Voltaire himself. The more you read the more you realize that he's peeking out from behind the pillars in the scenery, winking at you or whispering in your ear. Telling you what he really means and who he's really talking about. A long string of knowing jokes, and sly smiles creep off the page giving the reader an extra bit of insight into the novel, its historical context and the author himself.The characters, the absurdity, and the author himself. Three reasons to read it again and again. Three explanations as to why it keeps coming up year after year.


CANDIDE or 'Optimism' refers to the eighteenth-century doctrine of Optimism expoused by Gottfried Leibniz in "Theodicy" written in 1710. Optimism is an attempt to answer the theological question, "Why is there evil in the world?" With an all powerful, all knowing, all loving supreme being, how can evil flourish? Leibniz says evil and misfortune have a purpose and are necessary in this best of all possible worlds. Acceptance and inaction are underlying themes is his pronouncement.Francois-Marie Arounet (Voltaire) lost his fragil belief in optimism in 1755 when an earthquake, tsunami and fire leveled Lisbon, Portugal killing sixty-thousand people. Voltaire set about refuting optimism in a prapagandist satirical book (written in three days) that has universal appeal. Voltaire's philosophy is "we must tend our gardens" eliminating the weeds of greed, lust, and vice. Realizing that life is complete with the highs and lows, the good and bad, we must actively ward off the evils instead of accepting them. Subjectively we are responsible for naming the virtues and the vices without relying on the judgments of the Church.These beliefs are played out in just over one hundred pages with Candide as our guide, Pangloss and Martin as prophets, and Cunegonde as his muse. This romp from Europe to South America to Turkey challenges the accepted beliefs with the Enlightenment's illumination of realism and reason over idealism and unquestioning faith.Some say Voltaire's renderings in over two-thousand letters, essays and books foreshadow modern man. That is recommendation enough!

mai ahmd

من الأدب الساخر بطلها يدعى كانديدوترجمتها حسب ما قرأت هي الساذج تقوم الرواية على فكرة أن العالم ملىء بالشر وإن الإنسان عليه أن لا يسرف بالتفاؤل ولعلها فعلا كما ظن جاك جان روسو كانت الرد على رسالته التي وجهها إلى فولتير والتي تنتقد النظرة التشاؤمية التي يكتب بها فولتير وإن كان يظن أن فولتير لم يطلع على تلك الرسالة مع إن كل الدلائل تشير لعكس ذلك ، ينتقد فولتير هذا العالم الممتلىء بالقسوة فالكل في هذه الرواية يبدو شريرا .. كما إنه لا توجد قوانين أخلاقية تجمع بين البشر ..بل المنفعة والأنانية والسلطة المتوحشة التي لا تأبه لأي قانون ما تعرّض له شخوص الرواية من مصائر مروعة خلال رحلات النجاة كان طريفا وإن لم يتوجب ذلك أعني أن تضحك في عز مأساة أحدهم لذلك يبدو وكأن استخدام روح الدعابة التي مرت عبر النص بأكمله أمرا غير مستساغا لكن فولتير يخلق الطرافة لأن الرواية أريد لها أن تكون ساخرة لتعبر الخطوط الحمراء ..ربط فولتير الأفكار والقضاياالتي يريد تمريرها ببعض العبارات الفلسفية ..ومن خلال الجمع ما بين هذا وذاك فولتير ينتقد ما تفعله الحروب وما يولده التعصب الديني ، والعنف والعبودية ..شخصيتان في الرواية تمثلان صفتين نقيضتين في الحياة التفاؤل والتشاؤم التفاؤل ممثلا في شخصية بانجلوس الفيلسوف وهو معلم كانديد ، التشاؤم يمثله مارتن رفيق إحدى رحلاته ، في الوقت الذي كان الفيلسوف يرى أن مهما حدثت هناك من مصائب فإن ..الأمور لا زالت على مايرام وهي فكرة تثير الغيط وتجعلك تود أن تشد شعركبينما يسيطر على مارتن القلق ويسرف في التشاؤم المثير للحزن.. فهو دائما لايرى أي مخرج وكل الطرق تؤدي إلى لا مكان يبدو فولتير ساخرا من كلا الموقفين .. وفي النهاية يدعو فولتير لتحسين العالم من خلال بذل المزيد من الجهد ( لنزرع حديقتنا )في الوقت الذي تشعر فيه الخادمة العجوز بالملل من الوضع الجديد وتظن أن كل ما مر بهم من ويلات لهو أفضل من هذه الحياة الباردة التي قررها كانديد استخدم فولتير أسلوب المبالغة في الحدث لتبدو الشخصيات أقرب للكاريكاتورية التي تضخم أنف أو فم أو تكبر رأس .. مما يذكرني برواية جوستين للماركيز دو ساد والتي كان تُضرب بالسوط أينما إتجهت وتتعرض للإيذاء وهذه المبالغة لا تختلف عنها المبالغة في الأحداث في عالم كانديدفتجد كانديد يبكي على وفاة الفيلسوف أو وفاة حبيبته لكنهما يعودان للظهور وكأن شيئا لم يحدث لهم .. إلا أن الفرق شاسع في الهدف من هذه المبالغة بكل بساطة فولتير كان يود أن يقول : كيف يمكن أن نتجاهل كل هذا الشر والقتل الفساد والعبوديةونقول أن الأمور مازالت على ما يرام !ومع كل الأفكار التنويرية التي طرحها فولتير غير أني لا أحب الأدب الساخر ثلاث نقاط فقط :(

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