Or, Optimism

Book - 1947
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"All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds"

It was the indifferent shrug and callous inertia that this "optimism" concealed which so angered Voltaire, who found the "all for the best" approach a patently inadequate response to suffering, to natural disasters, not to mention the questions of illness and man-made war. Moreover, as the rebel whose satiric genius had earned him not only international acclaim, but two stays in the Bastille, flogging, and exile, Voltaire knew personally what suffering entailed. In Candide he whisks his young hero and friends through a ludicrous variety of tortures, tragedies, and a reversal of fortune, in the company of Pangloss, a "metaphysico-theologo-comolo-nigologist" of unflinching optimism. The result is one of the glories of eighteenth-century satire.
For more than sixty-five years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,500 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Publisher: London ;, New York :, Penguin Books,, [1947]
Copyright Date: ©1947
ISBN: 9780140440041
Branch Call Number: FIC VOLT
Characteristics: 144 pages ; 18 cm.
Additional Contributors: Butt, John 1906-1965.
Alternative Title: Optimism


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May 16, 2010

Another surprisingly readable classic, very accessible and very funny. This short work gives huge points on the well-read meter. Unfortunately, even at less than 100 pages, it still managed to drag on a bit. I certainly didn’t get all of the jibes and in-jokes, but it’s impossible not to see the humour and the point being made when you satirize the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds.

I was a bit miffed that the author was anti-racist, religiously tolerant, and unbiased by class, yet still had the main character want to dump his fiancee when she lost her looks.

Jun 20, 2006

Voltaire's most renowned work lives up to its expectations. His style of writing keeps the reader thoroughly interested with only a few slow spots. His description is imaginative but not overdone. If you like this wonderfully written masterpiece, Leonard Berstien used the novella to create a comical operetta that is also very entertaining. Enjoy!


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Jul 09, 2013

"Candide" by Voltaire, read by Jack Davenport

Candide is cast out and must make his way in life, having been taught that "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds," but finds that there is much that is wretched, unjust, and painful; along the way he meets up with a series of coincidences that would be a perfect fit in any Dan Brown novel, but here used for comic effect.

I recently read a book that billed itself as inspired by Candide, so I decided to read the original. (I should have started with this one and not read the other.) This is seriously laugh-out-loud funny. Wish I had read it in high school. The voice the reader used for Candide reminded me of a young Michael Palin, so that's who I imagined throughout, which was perfect.


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