V is for Voltaire


Book 22 in A to Z challenge

Voltaire, or Franis-Marie Arouet, was a 18th century writer and philosopher best known for his sharp wit and contributions to the Enlightenment. His works are distinguished through their defence of the freedom of religion, freedom of speech and his support for the separation of church and state. His best known fictional work is Candide which was even made into a musical by Leonard Bernstein.

Candide is a satire about a young man, who, indoctrinated by his tutor, sees this world as perfect and has to live through a wide range of ever more outrageous, and funny, circumstances which seemingly challenge that view. Through robbery, murder, inquisition, betrayal, loss of love he has to find more and more contrived ways to justify how this world, and the narrow-minded selfishness in it, fits with his world view of perfection.

Candide is a clever parody, an attack on the core of the prevalent philosophical thinking as displayed by Leibnitz, who assures us that this must be the best of all worlds as God could not have created anything but. With laughter, sharp wit and, on occasion, a healthy shock, we follow through this satirical view of what it means to be willing to question everything. In the end we are, just as Candide, left with no proscribed philosophy which tells us what is right or wrong - but with a laughing admission that nothing can be taken for granted without giving it some rational thought.

Candide is a book for those who just want to laugh, and cry, whilst emerging themselves a little into the way the 17th century thought and wrote - and a book for those wanting to take a deeper look at the enlightenment and the source of our modern thinking. With its brevity it is a quick sojourn into a world we have almost forgotten but which has shaped our norms and constitutional perceptions.

Reviewed by:
Christine Blackthorn




Anonymous said...

I loved your take on Voltaire and Candide. Very thurough treatment in a brief post. thanks! Hope to read more. Good luck with the A-Z!

Trisha F said...

I see I am going to have to go through all your A to Z posts and make sure I add any books that appeal to me. I haven't read any Voltaire but obviously I need to!

Shawn Yankey said...

Voltiare was a name I knew but after reading this post I have no idea why that name sounded familiar to me. Candide sounds like it would be a very interesting read. Great post!
Shawn from Laughing at Life 2

Dawn Embers said...

Thank you, Christine for the great review. And thanks to everyone who commented.

I've also heard of Voltaire but haven't actually read any myself. Will have to fix that in the future.

Christine Blackthorn said...

Thanks Dawn, for giving me the chance to reread and review Candide. I had not touched it in a few years and thoroughly enjoyed the revisitation of an old favourite. It is a book well worth reading, not only for the smiles but the thought-provocing wit which leaves you chuckling (and contemplative) still weeks after.

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