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1. Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary
2. Candide
3. Candide
4. The Portable Voltaire (Portable
5. Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship
6. Candide (Barnes & Noble Classics
7. Candide and Other Stories
8. God and Human Beings
9. Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel
10. Voltaire: A Life
11. Socrates: A Play in Three Acts
12. Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit
13. A Philosophical Dictionary (Volume
14. Memoirs of Casanova - Volume 15:
15. Voltaire: Political Writings (Cambridge
16. Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin
17. Philosophical Letters: Or, Letters
18. Zadig; L'Ingenu (Penguin Classics)
19. Voltaire in Love
20. A Treatise on Toleration and Other

1. Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary
by Voltaire
Paperback: 212 Pages (2008-10-21)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$9.22
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1595476377
Average Customer Review: 2.0 out of 5 stars
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This book does not demand continuous reading; but at whatever place one opens it, one will find matter for reflection. The most useful books are those of which readers themselves compose half; they extend the thoughts of which the germ is presented to them; they correct what seems defective to them, and they fortify by their reflections what seems to them weak.It is only really by enlightened people that this book can be read; the ordinary man is not made for such knowledge; philosophy will never be his lot. Those who say that there are truths which must be hidden from the people, need not be alarmed; the people do not read; they work six days of the week, and on the seventh go to the inn. In a word, philosophical works are made only for philosophers, and every honest man must try to be a philosopher, without pluming himself on being one. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

2-0 out of 5 stars Love Voltaire's fiction, his opinions, however, are dated
After reading Candid, I wanted more! I had read reviews for this book, and purchased it expecting random short reads on interesting subjects. Instead, I received some sort of personal opinion of general crap book disguised as a dictionary. A bit too arrogant, a bit too boring, and way dated. Perhaps if I wasn't already an existential nihilist, it might be more shocking or revealing. ... Read more

2. Candide
by Voltaire
Paperback: 124 Pages (2009-12-31)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$22.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1412812488
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Appearing in 1759, Candide is a foreboding, ironic, and fierce satire. The protagonist, Candide, is an innocent and good-natured man. Virtually all those whom he meets during his travels, however, are scoundrels or dupes. Candide's naivete is slowly worn away as a result of his contact with the story's rogue elements. The wisdom Candide amasses in the course of his voyages has a practical quality. It entails the fundamentals for getting by in a world that is frequently cruel and unfair. Though well aware of the cruelty of nature, Volitaire is really concerned with the evil of mankind. He identifies many of the causes of that evil in his work: the aristocracy, the church, slavery, and greed.

Axel Sowa has chaired the department for architecture theory at RWTH Aachen University since 2007.

Susanne Schindler is an assistant professor in the department for architecture theory at RWTH Aachen University.

Amazon.com Review
Political satire doesn't age well, but occasionally a diatribecontains enough art and universal mirth to survive long after itstimeliness has passed. Candide is such a book. Penned by thatRenaissance man of the Enlightenment, Voltaire, Candide issteeped in the political and philosophical controversies of the1750s. But for the general reader, the novel's driving principle isclear enough: the idea (endemic in Voltaire's day) that we live in thebest of all possible worlds, and apparent folly, misery and strife areactually harbingers of a greater good we cannot perceive, ishogwash.

Telling the tale of the good-natured but star-crossed Candide (thinkMr.Magoo armed with deadly force), as he travels the worldstruggling to be reunited with his love, Lady Cunegonde, the novelsmashes such ill-conceived optimism to splinters. Candide's tutor,Dr. Pangloss, is steadfast in his philosophical good cheer, in theface of more and more fantastic misfortune; Candide's other companionsalways supply good sense in the nick of time.Still, as he demolishesoptimism, Voltaire pays tribute to human resilience, and in doing sogives the book a pleasant indomitability common to farce. Says onecharacter, a princess turned one-buttocked hag by unkind Fate: "Ihave wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still inlove with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our mostmelancholy propensities; for is there anything more stupid than to beeager to go on carrying a burden which one would gladly throw away, toloathe one's very being and yet to hold it fast, to fondle the snakethat devours us until it has eaten our hearts away?"--MichaelGerber ... Read more

Customer Reviews (146)

5-0 out of 5 stars To quote my daughter, he is my kind of dude!
Just Brilliant, brilliant,(did I say brilliant? I mean brilliant!)Devilishly intelligent, brutally candid, deliciously twisted but poignant, deeply philosophical, and strangely entertaining." Man was born to live either in the convulsions of misery, or in the lethargy of boredom." Hmmm....what would Voltaire say about our modern day insanity---war over oil, what is going on in Africa and Muslim countries, Aids, TB epidemic on one hand, then fanatic positivism, over the top political correctness, all dogmatic religious righteousnes, self-help, inspirational self actualization movement etc on the other.Interestingly enough, I have read a few books recently that I think may be relevant---Red and Black by Stendahl, Eichmann in Jerusalem by hannah Arendt, God's Problems by Bart Ehrman, The Age of Wonder by Richard Holmes.

2-0 out of 5 stars Heavy Handed
Candide may have been something in its day, but as a modern reader only marginally versed/interested in 18th century France, I found reading it to be rather dull. (Before I get comments about how I'm stupid, I would like to point out that although I sometimes like to read classics for fun, my career and focus has always been in the sciences)

Like other satires I've read, Candide seemed heavy-handed and flat. The philosophy of optimism is silly! Absurd things happen! Cue another character who only stands for symbols and has no real personality!

This is why I don't read satire very often.

I gave this two stars rather than one because I recognize that one may potentially get a chuckle out of the some of the ridiculous situations, and that someone more well acquainted with the particular philosophies may find Voltaire's criticism more entertaining. And it only took one day to read, which I suppose is a mark in its favor as well.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Hobo Philosopher
Voltare worte this play in response to Leibniz's philosophical claim that God does not make mistakes and therefore this must be the "best of all possible worlds."

Basically this book states that if this world can be considered by any rational person to be "the best of all possible worlds" they and their God are mentally deranged. This is an anti-religious and anti-wise creator tract.

Voltare does a number on this misguided notion and he does it with a sense of humor. It is an easy read. It is not difficult to follow and makes the counter-point intended. Though many, including many of the reviewers here on Amazon, don't seem to get it.

I don't understand why any "true believers" would find this book inspiring. I can only conclude that they don't get what the author is stating.

I have friends who have read this book and had no idea of the philosophical arguments involved and thought it to be an entertaining comedy. It is certainly more than a comedy. The author was making a serious statement. A statement that is as relevant today as it was in the day that it was written.

Books written by Richard Noble - The Hobo Philosopher:
"Hobo-ing America: A Workingman's Tour of the U.S.A.."
"A Summer with Charlie" Salisbury Beach, Lawrence YMCA
"A Little Something: Poetry and Prose
"Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother" Novel - Lawrence, Ma.
"The Eastpointer" Selections from award winning column.
"Noble Notes on Famous Folks" Humor - satire - facts.
"America on Strike" American Labor - History

2-0 out of 5 stars Candide
This book's eponymous protagonist is a naive young man who was taught by his teacher, the philosopher Pangloss, that ours is the best possible world and that everything in it always happens for the best. According to Pangloss, misfortunes only ever visit us because they contribute in some way to the general good and "the more private misfortunes there are, the more general good" there is. Pangloss also dusts off the old chestnuts that all men were created equal and that all property should belong to everyone. Voltaire wrote this novella mainly to refute these ideas, which he attributed to Gottfried Leibniz.

It was hard for me to get excited about this book-length refutation because I don't know anyone who believes that everything in our world always occurs "for the best". Most of us are aware of people who think that private property is evil and that all men were created equal, but unfortunately, those are not the parts of Pangloss's thought that Voltaire spends most of his time refuting. He simply has Candide go through a long series of fantastically cruel misadventures, all just to prove to him that life isn't a piece of cake after all.

At one point in the novella a character named "the wise man of taste" (oh, the subtlety!) holds forth on literature. Among other things he says that a good writer should always strive for newness without being bizarre. Voltaire clearly failed his own test here - all of "Candide" is bizarre.

While pretty violent, this book is not at all depressing. This is mostly because Voltaire seems completely uninterested in his characters' inner lives. I can't imagine what a movie based on "Candide" would look like, in large part because a cartoon would be far more appropriate for it. After being hanged, raped and pierced with swords, the characters invariably dust themselves off to cheerfully continue their arguments about Leibniz's ideas. Their emotional responses to being hanged and raped aren't any more realistic or thought-provoking than the physical ones.

Voltaire made his naive, honest, idealistic protagonist German. After two and a half centuries that stereotype hasn't really changed. Another one has though: in Voltaire's imagination Germany seems to have been a wild, provincial country situated on the far outskirts of civilization. In the 18th century his native France was still the cool kid of nations - a dynamic trend-setter, envied by everybody with a clue. Northern Italy had held that place during the Renaissance, but by Voltaire's time it was already considered a decadent has-been. Voltaire dramatized that feeling here through the character of the Venetian aristocrat Pococurante, who has seen everything and is tired of everything. The cycle that takes some societies from provincialism to leadership and then, almost invariably, to decline is, of course, fascinating. A century after Voltaire's death it was France's turn to become a symbol of decadence in the world's imagination, and Germany's turn to start setting the trends. Then, in the late 20th century, Germany itself joined the rest of Western Europe in the declinist camp, while America and Russia tried their hands at leading.

In his time Voltaire was a notorious liberal, and consequently a very fashionable guy to know. But times change - so much so that some of the stuff in this book would probably get him thrown in jail as a Nazi in modern France. For example: "The northern nations have not that heat in their blood, nor that raging lust for women, so common in Africa." Or this, from one female character's description of how she was raped by a pirate: "He was an abominable negro, and yet believed that he did me a great deal of honor". And this is how the same woman explains the pirates' attraction to her and to her European companions: "...our maids of honor, and even our waiting women, had more charms than are to be found in all Africa..." In a different chapter he describes women from an Indian tribe in Paraguay being amorous with apes, incorrectly stating that such unions are capable of producing offspring.

Through the character of Pococurante Voltaire dismisses all scientists and their work as utterly useless: "...if only one of those rakers of rubbish had shown how to make pins; but in all these volumes there is nothing but chimerical systems, and not a single useful thing." It's fun to note here that Voltaire belonged to the last generation of Europeans who could have honestly made that claim. He died in 1778, just as the Industrial Revolution was starting up in England.

Another interesting thing in the Pococurante episode is that it contains a short review of what people of Voltaire's age considered great literature. Most of the authors mentioned were unsurprisingly Greek and Roman. Only one English writer is discussed and it is Milton, not Shakespeare. In 1759, when "Candide" was first published, Shakespeare hadn't become super-important yet.

Voltaire spends a lot of time decrying the horrors of war here. Actually, I've never thought of the first three quarters of the 18th century as having been particularly violent. It is only with the French Revolution, many of whose leaders were inspired by Voltaire, that the quaint little wars and cartoonish despotisms of his age gave way to the megawars and megadespotisms of the Jacobin and Napoleonic types.

Voltaire, a staunch enemy of organized religion, included an auto-da-fe scene here as an example of how violent his clerical foes could be. Of course, the Revolution and its copycats across Europe ended up killing a lot more people than the Inquisition ever could, with most of the Revolutionaries being as anti-clerical as Voltaire. It's important to state here, however, that unlike many modern European critics of Christianity, Voltaire was a consistent secularist - his attitudes towards Islam and Judaism were often negative as well.

As a contrast to the crumminess of the real world, Voltaire included in this book a description of a utopia called Eldorado. Like everything else in "Candide", this utopia is painted in pretty broad, cartoonish brushstrokes, but I'd like to single out one of its aspects nevertheless.

Eldorado is apparently devoid of war, crime and all other forms of human conflict. Let's disregard for a moment the fact that no such society has ever existed. Let's just ask if such a society COULD ever arise, and if it could, what would be the long-term consequences?

I believe that man, like all other animals, is a product of evolution. The competition for survival, essential to evolution, takes many forms, most of them involving conflict in some way. Regardless of whether or not they want to admit it, most people enjoy conflict. I know that Voltaire did because I've just finished a book of his that joyfully attacks the church, Leibniz, a bunch of now-obscure Parisian writers who happened to be his professional rivals and lots of other people besides. If a society was somehow forced, against its will, to abandon all forms of conflict, what would become of that society long-term? Voltaire died long before the rise of political correctness, so he must have been aware of the correct answer to that question, yet he described his utopia as being devoid of conflict anyway. It is no excuse at all to say here that he couldn't have been aware of the theory of evolution as such. The 18th century was obsessed with the idea of breeding, both human and animal, so he must have known how that system worked even if he wouldn't have used modern terms to describe it.

To me the most likely explanation for the Eldorado episode, as for much else in "Candide", is simple intellectual sloppiness.

1-0 out of 5 stars Can't review what I have not received
I have not yet received theh item I ordered despite many, many e-mails to Woody's. I wanted this book IN SPANISH and they assured me they could get it IN SPANISH. SO far I have received two copies in English,and have heard nothing from them in more than two weeks. I cannot returnr the second incorrect copy which was in English becasue it shipped from some place in Argentina! I don't want the English version. I want the Spanish versiosn. Woody's customer service is terrible. Iguess mymoney is wasted. ... Read more

3. Candide
by Voltaire
Paperback: 102 Pages (2010-09-22)
list price: US$4.99 -- used & new: US$4.99
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1453846344
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Voltaire's Candide is a decidedly playful romp through certain parts of history, satirizing religion, philosophy, and government along the way. The title character is instructed in the concept of optimism, which through the course of the short novel, he finds unraveling about him. When first published, the novel was banned, but it has enjoyed a long life due to its scathing satire on society and the world. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (31)

4-0 out of 5 stars Candide : A lifelike tale to the most fantastical degree
Candide is a tale told to the heights of disbelief...I mean Candide has to be cursed worse than the Chicago Cubs between his lady love being rapped, the loss of his sheep that were due to make him quite wealthy, the return of his lady love all be it in a much less attractive package and the numerous disappearances and reappearances of Pangloss and the other characters are enough to drive the inattentive reader into fits of rage and cursing, but at its' heart is a message truer and greater to life. Candide at first so optimistic that everything will somehow be okay no matter how much treasure is lost, how many people disappear or die or how many bodily appendages are lost. By the end of the story transformed by his difficult decades journey there's a real questioning between optimism and pessimism. How do the journies of one's life change them? Do they view the world as naturally cruel and therefore treat people cruelly? Or do they maintain the optimism that everything will be okay throughout life. Candide could actually be described as a book for today's America, in a period of economic and political hardship does America react like a Pangloss or a Candide?

5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read & Funny
After reading Darwin's Dreams, which featured "the best of all possible worlds," I decided to revisit some classics that I haven't read since high school or college.

This was one of the few satires that geuinely made me laugh. Candide is taught by his teacher, Dr. Pangloss, that they live in the best of all possible worlds. Right away, this is put to the test when Candide is banished for loving Cunegonde, who is considered above his station. Not only do horrible things happen to Candide, but terrible events also happen to everyone he knows.

What I found funny is how Candide seemed to bring it on himself; he makes one bad decision after another, to the point of being predictable. The ending is exactly a happy ending, but Candide finally finds a place in the world that doesn't bring on more problems.

I think this is a great book to entice young minds to read classic literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars 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.

4-0 out of 5 stars The Secret to Happiness....
This book was hilarious! I LOVED the end especially, the big lesson learned cracks me up every time I think of it.

There were times while reading the book that I wanted to pop Candide. I know this was intentional, but it's hard to stay with a book when you are irritated with the main character. Some of this was hard to pull through, which is why I gave it four starts. It's totally worth it in the end though.

I recommend this book to satire fans and philosophy fans and of course literature or humanities students.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!!!!!!!!!!
This book was a delight. The satire is witty, and fun. It is an easy read. Just remember you can not take anything Voltaire writes in this book seriously. It is all meant to be a joke. People who take it too seriously will be offended, and will not understand the humor. ... Read more

4. The Portable Voltaire (Portable Library)
by Voltaire, Francois Maria Arouet De Voltaire
Paperback: 576 Pages (1977-07-28)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$5.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140150412
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Includes Part One of Candide; three stories; selections from The Philosophical Dictionary, The Lisbon Earthquake, and other works; and thirty-five letters. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars The French Genius - Voltaire
Incorporating the Philosophical Dictionary into this paperback along with the standards Candide,Zadig,and Micromegas makes this a must for any small library. The "Dictionary" portrays Voltaire's intellectual genius and writing flair in no uncertain terms.This is a marvelous reference item.

3-0 out of 5 stars Voltaire's ideas are good but this is heavy going for a modern audience
(****) for the presentation but (**) for the contents.

If you love Voltaire then this is an excellent volume gathering together many of the highlights of his writing.

One can see why the major work in this volume "Candide" was a stunner in its time but as an entertainment for today it is woefully inadequate.
Voltaire makes his point about the "Best of all Possible Worlds" early on but then bores us silly with an idiotic plot about Candide's journey in which characters disappear, reappear, die, come back to life, etc. The book is "oh-so-clever but we don't feel that Candide has made any kind of personal journey by the end.

I bought this volume because I am a great admirer of Voltaire's ideas but like many of the "great works" the IDEAS are compelling but wading through the actual source material is heavy-going indeed.

"Candide" was turned into a opera by Leonard Bernstein in the 1950s who identified with Voltaire's humanist philosophy in reaction to the paranoia of the McCarthy era. This opera was a failure - not due to the music which is often magnificent - but due to the silly plot. Trying to turn this into an opera was ill-conceived from the start.

Judging from the other (generally glowing) reviews of "Candide" I know I am going to be vilified but I think people need to be warned that they may be in for disappointment.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fast Service
The book arrived in great condition in a couple of days even though I had selected ground service.It's nice to get a product that was in better condition than advertised.

3-0 out of 5 stars Voltaire, or a tale of pessimism
It is said that Voltaire never lost an argument. It is strange to note, therefore, that this brilliant author and scholar, this celebrated sceptic, philosopher, and wag, reknowned throughout the world for his views and regarded still today as one of the principal leaders of ''the age of reason'', was a prejudiced and spiteful man, a nihilist and atheist whose most barbaric and sinister attacks were often directed against those who least deserved them: specifically, the Jews.
Anti-semitism, or at least some semblance of it, was not uncommon in Voltaire's age, even among the more educated and cultured members of the elite upper class of French, as well as world, society. Voltaire's contemporary, Historian Jules Michelet, wrote ''There is no better, more docile, more intelligent slave'', than the Jew. And ''intellectual'' writer Pierre-Joseph Proudhom asserted ''The Jew is the enemy of mankind''. Yet Voltaire himself was certainly among the most vocal of anti-semites, referring to his enemies as:

An ignorant and barbarous people, who have long united the most sordid avarice with the most detestable superstition, and the most invincible hatred for every people by whom they are tolerated and enriched...still, we ought not to burn them.''

The outrageous irony, hypocrisy, and sheer imbecility of this statement are glaring: even more astonishing to note is the manner in which this splendid thinker, this savant who supposedly never lost an argument, could allow his hatred and xenophobia to stand so firmly in the way of reason, going so far as to accuse the Jews of ''barbarism'' and ''superstition'' while simultaneously overlooking the trials and witch burnings that had taken place in America only a century earlier, and which, needless to say, were perpetuated by gentiles. In describing the Jews as ''ignorant and barbarous'', Voltaire seems only to be describing himself and his fellows, giving voice to his own despicable hatred and fear towards that which he did not understand and of which he was ignorant.
Voltaire's enmity towards the Jews could perhaps be overlooked, however, were it not for the fact that it consituted such a blemish, as well as such a determining factor, in his art.
In ''Candide'', for example, one of Voltaire's sharpest satires and best known writings, the author's anti-semitism and ignorance concerning all things Jewish is given stark expression in the character of one ''Don Issachar'', a repulsive old man who is regarded as one of the principal forces of evil in the world, and who attempts to rape the heroine as part of his ''Sabbath rights''.
''Candide'', on it's simplest level the tale of an optimist who in his pursuit of happiness is confronted with the randomness of life and the ugliness and barbarity of human nature, is a brilliant and scathing, if broadly painted, self-righteous and exaggeratedly pessimistic critique of human hypocrisy, a case against the existence of God and the way in which human happiness is blunted by it's own flaws. On yet another level, ''Candide'' is essentially a catalogue of man's ills. How ironic then, that Voltaire's own íntolerance and racial bigotry make their appearance so frequently (another racially slurred moment occurs in the depiction of an evil black pirate) within his story, yet are, unsurprisingly, excluded from the number of diseases that plague mankind!
One part of ''Candide''s episodic narrative involves the accidental discovery of El-Dorado by the titular character. ''El-Dorado'' is essentially a vaguely defined utopia, a magical and beautiful dream-land in which the citizens are compassionate and gentle (though none, of course, are applied with any specific racial characteristics), the streets are paved with gold, and each day is a cheerful pleasure-fest. Needless to say, Candide benefits from this situation immensely. There is a catch, however: for Voltaire states that, once one deserts it, the magical paradise of El-Dorado can never be regained. What he overlooked, though, was that the land of ''El-Dorado'' is possible to regain, granted one sows one's life with the seeds of love, tolerance, and most importantly, racial acceptance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Best Volume of the "Old sinner from the eighteenth century"
The portable Voltaire is the best single volume representing all his works. You don't just get the finest short novel ever written (Candide), you get Zadig, Micromegas, selections from the Philisophical Dictionary, Letters from England, and more.

This is the volume to get if you want to find out why that weird looking character was always smiling... ... Read more

5. Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West
by John Ralston Saul
Paperback: 656 Pages (1993-11-30)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0679748199
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
Argues that the rationalist political and social experiments of the Enlightenment have degenerated into societies dominated by technology and a crude code of managerial efficiency. These are societies enslaved by manufactured fashions and artificial heroes, divorced from natural human instinct. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (61)

4-0 out of 5 stars Stimulates further inquiry
Many reviewers here have misstated the author's thesis. He asserts that the western world has suffered from a dictatorship of reason for lo' 500 hundred years - and that this reliance on reason in the absence of common sense and morality is at the root of many of our problems and at the inability of our society to deal with problems. He does not assert that reason is not an essential tool.

The book is flawed, but not seriously. It is true that it seems to meander, and that it is not in the form of a traditional scholarly work. IN reference to the former, Ralston Saul is attempting to cover not just the 500 years since the founding of the Jesuits, (his historical marker for the birth of the religion of reason), but the entire history and culture of the western world. In truth, this is one of the strengths of the book as the portraits of historical figures that are painted only serve to excite and engender in this reader a spirit of historical interest and literary curiosity. Regarding the latter fault, for me, there are too few notes/citations. He does make many fairly controversial statements without substantial evidence. Given, he is trying to skewer one of the biggest of sacred cows, and forks quite a few smaller along the way. Even when notes are provided, they are typically not truly supporting works, but rather further signposts for independent inquiry. This all seems to be the author's attempt to walk his talk. He exhorts to question, not to provide answers.

1-0 out of 5 stars I did not receive my order and I will not order again!
I did not receive what I had ordered and I am tired of this type of service and will not be ordering from Amazon any longer!

5-0 out of 5 stars The Most Important Book I Have Read in a Decade
Saul's remarkable book tracks the journey from the ideals of the Age of Reason to their corruption in today's vastly compromised fragile Democracy.It was the intention of the French and American Revolution to protect the people from the excess of power.Saul offers " From the beginning of the Age of Reason, the law had been intended to protect the individual from the unreasonable actions of others, especially those in power.This involved regulating the proper relationship between ownership and the individual.Or between the state, the individualand the corporation."What was intended to protect the citizens has been misused and perverted into "Blind reason" - placing us at the mercy of multinational corporations and those addicted to power.Democracy becomes a thing of the past.What is lost is the practical, imaginative and reasonable.

Through Saul's vast historical knowledge he tells the tale of the powerful and those addicted to power --- CardinalRichelieu, Louis XIII, Bonaparte, Louis XVI, James Baker, Robert McNamara and so many others.His skill as a writer transforms the book into a page turner.I could not put it down.

This is a book that could seed a revolution -- and a return to the true roots of Democracy.

1-0 out of 5 stars I'm over 13
How absurd!And from the opening page it is absurd.This presumptuous intellectual who cut no knowledge stands to rebuke a towering light that pointed the way out from Semitic superstition.When we see medieval pictures of animals hanging from trees apparently this had nothing to do with religion and all to do with philosophy.I THINK NOT.This book is a prime example of a stupid idea that sits on a false premise.Modern physics also is full of absurd abstractions.But what is the truth?The truth in justice hands sits in logic and Voltaire lead people out away from the absurdity of the wishful thinking of humanity in the love of universal justice in feelings , which changes every day.Not even a family can be run on such hopefulness.
A turgid load of nonsense.Marx would revere-but I'm not confused.
The state promotes this as a remedy for clear though-Its cancer for an ordered society.


5-0 out of 5 stars Knife-sharp Analysis
This remarkable book is only just now beginning to reveal it's true value.
Admidst political upheavals and civil distress troughout the world, because of the financial crisis, you cannot but admire the knife-sharp analysis which the author gives. In retrospect it seems that he's had almost an uncanny vision of the disaster which loomed ahead for western societies. We are now on a brink of a financial collapse and this book is a must-read for everyone who wish to understand how the present situation came about. ... Read more

6. Candide (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)
by Voltaire
Paperback: 176 Pages (2003-06-01)
list price: US$4.95 -- used & new: US$2.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 159308028X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Candide, by Voltaire, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.

One of the finest satires ever written, Voltaire’s Candide savagely skewers this very “optimistic” approach to life as a shamefully inadequate response to human suffering. The swift and lively tale follows the absurdly melodramatic adventures of the youthful Candide, who is forced into the army, flogged, shipwrecked, betrayed, robbed, separated from his beloved Cunégonde, and tortured by the Inquisition. As Candide experiences and witnesses calamity upon calamity, he begins to discover that—contrary to the teachings of his tutor, Dr. Pangloss—all is perhaps not always for the best. After many trials, travails, and incredible reversals of fortune, Candide and his friends finally retire together to a small farm, where they discover that the secret of happiness is simply “to cultivate one's garden,” a philosophy that rejects excessive optimism and metaphysical speculation in favor of the most basic pragmatism.

Filled with wit, intelligence, and an abundance of dark humor, Candide is relentless and unsparing in its attacks upon corruption and hypocrisy—in religion, government, philosophy, science, and even romance. Ultimately, this celebrated work says that it is possible to challenge blind optimism without losing the will to live and pursue a happy life.

Gita May is Professor of French at Columbia University. She has published extensively on the French Enlightenment, eighteenth-century aesthetics, the novel and autobiography, and women in literature, history, and the arts.

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Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly enjoyable
Candide by Voltaire is another one of those books that I wasn't sure what to expect when I picked it up. In fact, if it hadn't been listed on the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list I might not have picked it up at all. This book is short - weighing in at approximately 130 pgs and probably took me longer to read than it should have.

The story follows the titular character Candide, who believes that everything that happens is always for the best and despite the many misfortunes that happen to him on his various journey's he is unshakable in his beliefs. This story is a satire and Voltaire never misses a beat to make pokes and jibes at contemporary beliefs (and people) of his day. According to the Introduction this book was written after Voltaire's own beliefs changed from optimism to pessimism based on negative events that were happening around the world and also to himself. In Candide, he seems to want to try to prove that bad things happen and that they aren't always for the best and those that still hold to that belief are as foolish as the central character is.

Candide is humorous and at times also scathing in its attacks against those who Voltaire had personal gripes with. It is also a story that withstands the test of time. There is a distinct modern feel to the words and scenarios that make the story as relevant today as it was 200+ years ago when it was first published. I am not sure if this is a story that I would read more then once but it is definitely one that I would recommend to others.

As originally posted on my blog Ticket to Anywhere

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
Highly enjoyed the book, I'll recommend it to those who are interested in interesting philosophy.

My favorite excerpt:

It is demonstratable that things cannot be otherwise than they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles; therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings; accordingly we wear stockings. - Mastor Pangloss, Candide by Voltaire

5-0 out of 5 stars "We must cultivate our garden."
I knew very little about Voltaire prior to picking this up, other than he was a leading French figure of the Enlightenment.I had heard of him, but after reading Rousseau's Dog: Two Great Thinkers at War in the Age of Enlightenment (P.S.), his name was still fresh in my mind when I saw this edition on sale at a local bookstore.I shrugged my shoulders and bought it, not even sure then when I might get round to reading it.

Actually, I was a little intimidated by it.I was afraid it would be written in that dense, thick style common to the times, and that it would be pure drudgery.At least I could see that it was short, which went a long way toward me bringing it home in the first place.

As usual, my uninformed prejudices came home to roost again, as it was obvious from the very beginning that Voltaire's style is as readable today as it must have been 250 years ago.There are hundreds of critical reviews of 'Candide', both on Amazon and other sites, so I'll not try and analyze too much, though the author raises questions just as pertinent now as then.The reader may broach those questions after an event such as Voltaire himself witnessed (The horrific Lisbon earthquake of 1755, which killed hundreds of thousands), or from one as recent as 9/11 - in a nutshell, why does a perfect Creator allow pain and suffering into the world?

To be a little more specific, Voltaire was really responding to the philosophy of blind optimism as spelled out by Gottfried Leibniz, who proved (at least to himself) that ours was the best of all possible worlds.A perfect Deity would be incapable of creating anything but a perfect world - thus our world was 'the best'.Evidently, this was accepted axiomatically by Voltaire, until he came up against the tragedy of the Lisbon Earthquake.'Candide' is his response.

Earthy and at times grotesque, Voltaire chronicles the misfortunes of the eponymous character as he travels the globe, continually falling out of the frying pan and into the fire.Candide and his companions (especially Dr. Pangloss, as the stand-in for Leibniz) suffer one truly horrific setback after another, until finally, Candide and his companions, much the worse for wear, are able to retire to a small farm in Turkey.Even there, though, disension begins again, until a neighboring farmer tells Candide that by tending his small plot of land with his children, they avoid "the three great evils - boredom, vice, and want."Candide takes the farmer's example to heart, and organizes his small community, giving them all useful tasks.Die-hard Dr. Pangloss, at the end, tries to stir them up one last time with his pondering on optimistic philosophy, but Candide cuts him short."Excellently observed," he tells him, "but we must cultivate our garden."

Apparently, there is still some discussion over what exactly Voltaire was trying to get across with these final words, and different readers may come up with different interpretations after reading the book.As the answer lies somewhere in the borderland between theology and pragmatism, I think it's best that the individual comes to their own conclusion, but I will say that blindly following any philosophy (as Pangloss does in 'Candide') only sets one up for having his legs knocked out from under him.By cultivating his own garden, Candide leaves much of the rest of the world to blindly follow whatever philosophy they want, while he tends to his own simple labors.

Humorous at times, 'Candide' as a satire may be somewhat diluted in this day and age, as people's beliefs aren't nearly as homogeneous as they were at the time of it's writing, though I think the underlying questions are still valid.In our time of 'personal theology', one may have a very comfortable relationship with their convictions, but if they haven't yet answered for themselves the questions posed by Voltaire, then it's only a matter of time before they will have to wrestle with them anyway.I don't necessarily advocate Voltaire's answers, but I do think he gave us an entertaining starting point for our own investigations.

This Barnes and Noble classic edition is a very inexpensive and quality reprint, which also includes the illustrations by Alan Odle, and typesetting that is easy on the eyes.The translation by Henry Morley has been revised by Lauren Walsh, and Gita May has written a new introduction.With footnotes and endnotes, a list for further reading and some concluding thoughts by noted critics, this edition should satisfy all but the most demanding scholars.

5-0 out of 5 stars Clearly he paints the world's con artists in their largely candid pose.
In his most unguarded writing, Voltaire portrays several unforgettable characters and unmemorable personae devoid of character in this novella about Candide who resides in a castle belonging to the baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh.There, the young kindhearted man falls for the baron's daughter Cunegonde.Suspecting a romance in progress between the two, the baron speedily kicks the suitor out of the castle.War in Bulgaria ensues.The Bulgars tear the castle into pieces and abduct the lovely Cunegonde.To Candide their reunion deems inauspicious.Candide's arduous journey takes him from Portugal to France, to the mythical island of El Dorado, the English Coast, from Italy to Turkey in quest of his long lost love.In his travels, he encounters hardships and witnesses privation beget by people's greed and inhumanity.

Voltaire narrates how Candide overcomes his travails with sublime sanguinity in constrast to Leibniz's unsupported optimism.The novelist exemplifies purity of desire and integrity of friendship through Candide's companions Cacambo and Martin.However, Voltaire is unyielding in his attack on issues of government, religion, philosphy, medicine, even humankind in general where tidalwave of hypocrisy is likely to surface.

Candide is not a book for everyone.It was definitely not France's book of choice during the 18th century.It is discernible how the naive would be flabbergasted and the impostor would be offended after reading this book.Nonetheless, this is an admirable piece of writing if one overlooks the satire and focuses on the story's significance; that the secret to happiness lies not on the bulk of one's plot but on the "cultivation of one's garden."

4-0 out of 5 stars Man creates hell for his fellow man right here on earth
This novel is very short, requiring less than 4 to 6 hours to finish, depending on your reading speed. It is a satire that attempts to explore a specific aspect of human existence - why is it that human beings suffer? This may sound simple but the answer to such a question also then evokes questions around the existence of God and whether meaning is created by mankind or given by the Creator.

The characters a two dimensional and cartoons, as they should be in a satire meant to explore concepts rather than to be a novel with fully developed characters for purposes of character analysis. Candide is the eternal optimist in love. Professor Pangloss is the eternal abstractionist, unable to see reality unless it is framed within some conceptual system. Much is made of associating Pangloss with Leibnitz. Who can say? These two have adventures after adventures experiencing the acquisition of great fortunes and then the loss of these fortunes, both through accident and chance happening.

Candide travels across Europe, to South America, back to Europe. Along the way he sees vast social injustice created by social and economic inequities that are supported by both the noble and religious castes as the will of God. We see rape used by the military troops of all sides of a conflict. We see man created famine due to unequal distribution of resources and opportunity. We see warfare and torture engaged in for the most idiotic of reasons. We see great plagues and earthquakes that create conditions where man can be wolf to man once again. We see floggings and other forms of punishment that are meant to restore the social order but which are so arbitrary that they in fact undermine the social order they are suppose to support. We see criminal behavior at the highest social levels as well as the lowest. Kings and generals operate under the same principles as thieves, murderers, and pirates in this novel.

All these wild events go by very fast, each only lasting a page or two before another great calamity hits. We are then introduced to the final message of the novel which is that only those who tend their own gardens and find meaning in work are capable of weathering the vast storms of human suffering that plague all men and women during our lifetimes.

It is a classic. It is certainly odd by our current standards of literature. I came away from the novel less convinced of the final messages about tending my own garden and more convinced of the ability of man to create hell for other men with little empathy or foresight.
... Read more

7. Candide and Other Stories
by Voltaire
Paperback: 190 Pages (2010-01-01)
list price: US$7.49 -- used & new: US$6.92
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Asin: 1420934627
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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"Candide" is the famous satire and best-known work by Voltaire. First published in 1759, "Candide" is the story of its central character who travels throughout Europe and South America experiencing and witnessing much misfortune on the way. It is within the clever construct of this narrative that Voltaire refutes the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, whose central idea was that life was the best of all possible worlds and that disasters, should they occur, were harbingers of better things to come. Voltaire found this philosophy insultingly ridiculous and within the humorous and satirical construct of this work he effectively exposes the idiocy of a philosophy that was so pervasive in his time. Also included in this volume are the additional short stories 'Micromegas', 'Zadig', 'The Huron (The Ingenu)', 'The White Bull', and the poem 'What Pleases the Ladies'.Amazon.com Review
Candide, the wittiest and best-loved book of a geniuswho is still unequaled in his ability to spin art out of philosophy,became a huge bestseller in Europe after it was published in1759. Voltaire, skeptical of the systems of philosophy that werefloated about to explain the workings of the world, used thissatirical story about the optimist Candide and his friend Dr. Panglossto interrogate and discredit the philosophies and approach moreclosely the truth about human life, suffering, and happiness in thereal world. Now, the short novel Candide is considered one ofthe most important texts of the enlightenment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (14)

5-0 out of 5 stars Back to the Future
Funny and interesting view of France mid 18th century.
If you buy one whopper of a tale there is another a paragraph away.

5-0 out of 5 stars "...Lot, the best, the most loving father that ever was..."
The title of my review is a quote from "The White Bull," the last of the stories in this collection, and is a particularly funny example of Voltaire's wit and sarcasm for those that can catch on. You have to know your Bible stories, you see.

The stories included in this volume are:

1. Candide -- a tale of chivalric romance filled with comical tragedy
2. Micromegas -- an 18th century science-fiction story with a Sirian and Saturnian finding insignificant life on this insignificant planet
3. Zadig -- a sort of oriental tale like "The Thousand and One Nights"
4. What Pleases the Ladies -- a long risque poem which gives one a few different ideas on what pleases the ladies
5. The Ingenu -- a novella on the worldly education of a novice to civilization, and his frustrated love
6. The White Bull -- a sort of satire on the fancifulness of certain religious literature

Being Voltaire, I cannot recommend enough the careful reading of such tales for the entertainment of the irreverent mind.

5-0 out of 5 stars Is Life Good?
Voltaire is a master saterist, not a comedian.As with all satire, it hslps if we understand the contemporary world in which the author writes, but Voltaire's skill raises Candide above this level of satirical writing.He is masterful in the use of comedy to poke fun at the customs, mores, and beliefs of his time and show us the silliness to shich theunenlightened mind can go in the pursuit of perfection in an imperfect world.As a commentator on human culture he is followed by Mark Twain. Not that Twain can match Voltaire in his skill, only in some of his perceptions.This is an "old" book by new world reckoning, but as a masterpiecce well worth the time and effort of exploaration it is a timeless masterpiece.I highly recommend it to both believer and non-believer.

5-0 out of 5 stars Voltaire at his most sarcastic
This was required reading for a graduate course in the Humanities.A great story and important historical work in literature.Voltaire was a Renaissance Christian humanist who played a role in the development of the Enlightenment.

On the one hand, the structure of his novel Candide is Homeric, it is the journey narrative, the hero with a thousand faces, but it is a satirical restructuring of that classical motif of the hero on a quest.What is the importance of the quest in Candide?What is the quest about in the classical sense?The quest is about learning.In the classical sense the hero leaves, has to acquire some sort of knowledge, learn a set of skills that is going to help him or her enact the quest surmount the obstacles that they encounter at one point or another, and the finally what does the hero have to accomplish?What is out there the "Holy Grail" The prize, the whole quest is about attaining some sort of ultimate end or some sort of ultimate knowledge.Does it end there?No, you got to go back with that knowledge, because the quest is never just about attaining the goal, it's about bringing it home to make everybody better, to restore the community.The individual quest, the heroic quest in the classical sense always has a larger social corrective end.The purpose of the individual, the function of the individual all depends on his ability to return to the collective, whatever it is that he has found that he has acquired that is going to change the way things are.Now how does that compare to the journey or quest narrative in Candide?Contrary to the notion of what prepares us for the world, OK here is the important structure of the journey or the quest, and the critique of knowledge by Voltaire.It is contrary to the idea of the knowledge that we acquire prepares us for the world.That each new bit of knowledge that we acquire, prepares us for the next step, and prepares us for the next stage.Contrary to the idea that life is somehow to be understood or that human history is somehow to be understood as a journey organized around progress, around betterment advancement acquiring new knowledge more knowledge more science more learning, we're getting better again, Candide tells the story that goes in the opposite direction.So, then you acquire knowledge and then you spend the rest of the journey finding out that the knowledge is useless, bit by bit, and every lesson you've acquired has to be cast aside, everything you learn you have to abandon.Instead of gaining and getting better, it is throwing off, letting go, and getting worse.Where does Voltaire want us in the end to think of the notion and narrative of progress?

Of course, you know that Candide is steeped in so many of the political and philosophical controversies of the 1750's.One of his big critiques is of the philosopher Leibnitz who said that `this is the best of all possible worlds," the idea championed by Leibnitz was a simple version of the philosophy espoused by enlightenment philosophers that the existence of any evil in the world was a sign that god was not entirely good or very powerful.The idea of an imperfect god would be nonsensical.So if you are a philosopher who takes for granted that god exists, you would have to conclude logically; and here is where humanities and Christianity really start messing with each other in all kinds of obvious ways, that god is perfect if you logically conclude that god exists.Therefore, his creation, the world, and man must also be perfect.According to many enlightenment philosophers, people perceived imperfections of the world only because they do not get the plan.This is a teleological idea of the world.Now obviously Voltaire does not accept this theory, or that god or any god has to exist.Therefore, he makes fun of the idea that the world is completely good.Much of the novel is a satire addressed to the notion that the optimists who witness countless horrors and unbelievable injustice such as floggings, robberies, and earthquakes will always find a way to write it off.They will say, `oh well there must be part of a plan, even though none of these calamities seem to serve any good at all it must point to human cruelty ignorance and barbarism and points to the indifference of the natural world.Pangloss the philosopher in the book throughout the story is always trying to find some justification forthe terrible things that he sees and the arguments that he makes seem increasingly to be absurd, like his quote that "Syphilis needed to be transmitted from the new world to Europe so that Europeans couldtaste new world delicacies.What other things is Voltaire criticizing here that connects to some of the debates that define the enlightenment period of the 1750's Religion?Religion- He criticizes the whole hypocrisy of religion.In the book, Voltaire has a parade of corrupt hypocritical religious leaders who are like the Pope that has a daughter (should have been celibate).Hard line Catholic inquisitors, a Franciscan monk who should have vow of poverty but is a jewel thief.Here Voltaire provides countless examples of the immorality and hypocrisy of religious leaders, he does not really condemn believers per say, he is really out to attack church leadership and church hierarchy.For example Jacques, who is an Anabaptist is arguably one of the most generous and humane characters.

What else does Voltaire criticize or satirize?Wealth- money corrupts; Candide seems to have more problems when he has lots of money.Things get worse he gets unhappy.An interesting point, Voltaire was deeply involved in a debate with the many deep thinkers of his time, most notably was Rousseau, who lambasted the aristocracy.Voltaire himself really moved very comfortably among aristocratic circles and interestingly the French enlightenment philosophy really took off among the French aristocracy.Since they had the leisure time to contemplate so many of the new ideas in reason, science and rationalism and his notions of progress and advancement were ideas that were principally championed and discussed by members of the French aristocracy.Therefore, it was among some of the idle members of the French aristocrats that these enlightenment philosophers were able to find their most ardent followers.Despite the fact that the church and the state were not more often that not completely allied with each other, kings could be attracted on occasion to arguments that seemed to undermine the authority of the church.The fact that the aristocrats were very much unaware of the precariousness of their position tended to make them overconfident.Dabbling in some new ideas that were part of the enlightenment movement caused them not to take seriously the kind of jeopardy they were in or what the enlightenment would lead to in the championing of the common man and the overthrow of the French aristocracy.Because they found these ideas somewhat new, interesting, and exciting and they did not really see this as at all leading inexorably to the demise of the aristocratic class.Now of course it was thinkers like Rousseau not at all like Voltaire on this particular point that made his chief adversary.Rousseau distrusted the aristocrats out of a hunger to overthrow the class but because he believed that people of wealth betrayed decent traditional values.Rousseau opposed the theatre, which is Voltaire's lifeblood; he shunned the aristocracy, which Voltaire very much courted.He courted their attention he courted their interests.Rousseau argued for something dangerous like democratic revolution, and Voltaire argued that equality was impossible it would never come about.Rousseau argued that inequality was not only natural but that if it were taken too far it would make any decent government a total impossibility.Voltaire was very charming and witty, which led largely to his success in moving about aristocratic and social circles.Rousseau insisted on his own correctness and was not a charming person to be around; he was very intense and very serious about his ideas.Voltaire endlessly repeated the same handful of core enlightenment notions, where as Rousseau was a deeply original thinker.Who was always challenging his own way of thinking contradicting himself, coming up with ideas on the equality of education, the family, the government, and the arts in a matter that was much more radical than Voltaire was ever willing to go along with.They were both skeptics, and Voltaire is nothing if not a skeptic.

What does Voltaire do with the idea of philosophy in Candide?Philosophy- What is the value of philosophical speculation?It is useless for Voltaire; it is one of Pangloss' biggest flaws.Abstract philosophical argument is not based on any real world evidence.In the chaotic world of this novel, philosophical speculation repeatedly proves to be useless, and at times even dangerous.Time and again it prevents the characters from making any useful assessment of the world around them, it prevents them from bringing about any kind of change, it prevent them from thinking that they might try to bring about some social change.Pangloss is the character most susceptible to this kind of foolishness.Example, while Jacques is drowning, Pangloss stops Candide from saving him by proving that the bay was formed for Jacques to drown in.Therefore, at the end of course at the novels conclusion Candide rejects Pangloss' philosophies.If philosophical speculation is useless, what does Voltaire suggest you put in its place?Hard practical work in general.Therefore, it is somewhat surprising in that sense that this judgment against philosophy that is portrayed in the book becomes very dramatic when we think about Voltaire's own status as a philosopher.

What about the garden at the end of the novel?At the end of the novel Candide defines happiness in raising vegetables.On the one hand it is indicative of the turning away from the following of philosophy, from the abstract speculative nature of philosophy towards something hands on something pragmatic.Does the garden have a symbolic resonance to it?Is it related to the Garden of Eden?For Adam and Eve the garden is the beginning of their troubles, here it is the end of their troubles.It is the end of the narrative the end of their quest, their journey, and the end of their travails.This is where they wind up this is where they retreat.In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve do not have to work to have fruits of the garden; this garden requires work, and constant tending.In that I think the garden here represents much, more in a very different way than the biblical garden represents.An embrace of life, but an embrace of life of what?For all the horror, hardships, and nightmares that these characters experience throughout the entire course of the text, at the end, they embrace life; they take it they say yes.

The status of knowledge in Voltaire, what do we know?The garden is a final retreat from activism, or social engagement in the world.Finally, what Voltaire is saying is look go back to the basics.Do not try to change, analyze the world, or try to speculate about the nature of our existence.Retreat into your own sphere and do not mess with the world around you, because ultimately you are powerless, to do anything in this world.I think Voltaire is commenting on in a sense the Utopian impulse and imagination.Specifically as it influenced enlightenment philosophers of the period with respect to the notion of progress and advancement.

Recommended reading for anyone interested in history, psychology, philosophy, and literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars for lovers of Voltaire
As a lover of the french philosopher and his time i can only
recommand with passion his works and especially Candide together with the other stories issued by the so prestigious Oxford
world's Classics -its a genuine pleasure ... Read more

8. God and Human Beings
by Voltaire
Paperback: 183 Pages (2010-05-04)
list price: US$18.00 -- used & new: US$11.47
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Asin: 1616141786
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Translation by Michael Shreve

Introduction by S. T. Joshi

In this little-known work by Voltaire (1694-1778) --now available in English for the first time-- the famous French philosopher and satirist presents a wide-ranging and acerbic survey of religion throughout the world. Written toward the end of his life in 1769, the work was penned in the same decade as some of his more famous works --the Philosophical Dictionary, Questions on Miracles, and Lord Bolingbroke's Important Examination-- all of which questioned the basic tenets of Christianity. Voltaire called himself a deist and thus he professed belief in a supreme deity. But he was always sharply critical of institutional Christianity, especially its superstitions, the hypocrisy of its clergy, and its abuse of political power.

Both his deism and his critical attitude toward Christianity are manifest in God and Human Beings, which is, in effect, one of the first works of comparative religion. Comparing Christianity to the more ancient belief systems of the Jews, Hindus, Chinese, Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, and Arabs, he notes a common tendency to worship one supreme god, despite the host of subordinate deities in many of these religions. He also critiques the many superstitions and slavish rituals in religion generally, but he emphasizes that in this respect Christianity is no better than other faiths. Thus, the clergy's claim that Christianity is God's supreme revelation to humanity has no basis from an objective perspective.

This first English translation of a classic critique of religion includes an introduction by writer, scholar, and editor S. T. Joshi, who wrote the article on Voltaire in The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (edited by Tom Flynn). Anticipating many of the themes of the later Higher Criticism and rationalist critiques of religion, this incisive, witty treatise by the great French skeptic will be a welcome addition to the libraries of anyone with an interest in the philosophy of religion, intellectual history, or the Enlightenment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars God and Humans By Voltaire
A fantastic review of all religions that Voltaire knew about. However his critique of Christianity and its parent religion Judaism is SUBLIME.

This translation into English of the original French is superb.

The book was originally published under the pretence that an Englishman (forgot the name) wrote it. This makes it amusing to read some of the parts of the book.

EVERY paragraph, is full of amazing stuff. Voltaire is just wonderful and his sarcasm is hilarious.

Wonderful translation, wonderful content and EDUCATIONAL in every paragraph..... do yourself a favor that you will cherish for ever....READ this book.

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9. Voltaire's Calligrapher: A Novel
by Pablo De Santis
Paperback: 160 Pages (2010-10-01)
list price: US$14.99 -- used & new: US$3.65
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Asin: 0061479888
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Dalessius is twenty when he comes to work for one of the Enlightenment’s most famous minds, the author and philosopher Voltaire. As the great man’s calligrapher, Dalessius becomes witness to many wonders—and finds himself in the middle of a secret battle between the malevolent remnants of the all-but-dead Dark Ages and the progressive elements of the modern age. The calligrapher’s role in this shadowy conflict will carry him to many perilous places— through the gates of sinister castles and to the doors of a bizarre bordello; toward life-and death confrontations with inventive henchmen, ingenious mechanical execution devices, poisonous fish, and murderous automatons. As the conspiracy to halt the Enlightenment’s astonishing progress intensifies, young Dalessius’s courage—as well as Voltaire’s unique cunning and wit—are put to the ultimate test as they strive to ensure the survival of the future.

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Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars How to write speculative fiction while staying withing the bounds of historical possibility
France 1762, a land in conflict between the tides of the Enlightenment as embodied for example by Voltaire and his famous writings and the obscurantism of the reactionary wing of the Church led by various officials who peddle miracles that can turn sinister as the Calas affairwith which the novel starts - and which grounds it in the historical time-line - amply demonstrates. But it is also a time of inventions and technological advancement even if only on a cottage scale for now and "Voltaire's Calligrapher" brings all these strands together in the narration of Dalessius.

Trained as a calligrapher at the best schools and with a desire to be the "greatest such the world has known", Dalessius' hopes conflict with his uncle's wishes who runs a mortuary transport service from Paris and wants nothing to do with his free-spirited nephew's ideas. Our hero has to get shady jobs that land him into trouble when a lucky break sends Dalessius to Voltaire's refuge at Ferney where the "great man" alternates between hoping the king will let him go back to Paris and preparing to jump over the border into Switzerland to safety and away from the specter of the Bastille or worse .

Since the philosopher needs eyes and ears on the ground and Dalessius is young and resourceful, he is sent to "infiltrate" the Church and expose a plot against the Enlightenment. In the process, Dalessius makes friends with an executioner (retired) and works for various creepy guys, encountering lots of strange stuff that I will leave the reader to discover.

The first thing I noticed about the arc of "Voltaire's Calligrapher" is how physically thin it was. But the content is fully satisfying and offers a rich and complete reading experience. Each word counts and the visual description of the places Dallesius travels in or to - from the mortuary coach, to a "doomed" house, to places of execution, cemeteries, sinister dwellings, but also fairs, artists' workrooms and opulent churches and monasteries - are one of the main strength of the novel. Add to this, the exotic details about calligraphy, automatons and the search for an effective means of mechanical executions among other stuff the author explores which make reading the novel worth by themselves, though the story is quite interesting too with several twists and turns.

"Voltaire's Calligrapher" has also some memorable action sequences which I greatly enjoyed though its strength lie in its "exoticism in a familiar setting" and of course in the wonderful writing style of the author that is conveyed quite well even in translation. I would have liked the book to be longer since I would have enjoyed spending more time with Dalessius, but the novel does not feel rushed or short in any way. The one slight negative for me was that despite the title, Voltaire appears mostly behind the scenes so we really do not get to see him too much, but Dalesius and his friends and enemies make up for that.

"Voltaire's Calligrapher" (A+) shows how one can write a book that is exotic and familiar at the same time and that uses the innate "interestingness" of speculative fiction at its best, while staying within the bounds of historical possibility.

5-0 out of 5 stars Bridget's Review
When you have a couple of hours to yourself, you really should open up this book.It's a fast, fun read that will get your mind going.Voltaire's Calligrapher is an instant classic.It's smart, witty and engaging.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Our profession was so dead that we felt like archeologists of our own kind."

This ethereal novel melds Dark Ages and Enlightenment as calligrapher Dalessius travels to Paris on behalf of the philosopher Voltaire, banned from the city by Louis XV. Dalessius is drawn into intrigue, secret societies, dangerous associations and the machinations of those who would bridge the gap between humanity and automaton.As Voltaire's calligrapher, the scribe has escaped the steady enterprise of his uncle, Night Mail, the transporting of dead bodies in the dark of night like unwelcome letters to waiting families. While engaged in work, Dalessius falls in love with Clarissa Von Knepper, cleverly inserted into one of the coffins. (Each coffin has a small window to reveal the face of the deceased, a conceit that eliminates the embarrassment of error.)

Fraught with gothic accoutrements, dark castles, disappearing ink, the whispered threats of powerful prelates, Dalessius enters a murky world where political acumen exceeds religious conviction and a bishop's words are forged in secret. The author's love of language imbues this unexpected thriller with a haunting beauty as images rise from the pages, tactile, the sometimes rancid scent of inks, the sharpening of points on stone, the venom of suspicion, the ecstasy of love and the molding of marble into human form. There is the sinister rattling of keys that precludes danger, months spent in the cave-like seclusion of a candle-lit room, pen scratching the dark red of blood on parchment, a passing acquaintance with an executioner dabbling with the 16th century Halifax gibbet, the illusion of truth and the jab of a quill as an instrument of murder.

The aging Voltaire depends upon his scribe to carry out his business, the boy insinuating himself into the winding alleys of Paris in search of his love while evading those who would twist him to their own ends. The written word becomes the Holy Grail, a mark on paper as the printing press apes the stylized lines of human touch, a forgery of soul. Fascinating, menacing and poetic, the Dark Ages resists the illumination of the Enlightenment in this ancient battle of old and new, a young man's heart forfeit as ideas clash around him. Luan Gaines/2010.

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10. Voltaire: A Life
by Ian Davidson
Hardcover: 560 Pages (2010-10-15)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$17.98
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Asin: 1605981192
Average Customer Review: 1.0 out of 5 stars
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The definitive biography of Voltaire’s life—from his scandalous love affairsand political machinations to hisbrilliant philosophy.We think of Voltaire as the epitome of the enlightenment; in his owntime he was also the most famous and controversial figure in Europe. This dazzling new biography celebrates his extraordinary life.

Davidson tells the whole, rich story of Voltaire`s life (1694-1778): his early imprisonment in the Bastille; exile in Englandand his mastery of English; an obsession with money, of which hemade a huge amount; a scandalous love life; his infatuation withFrederick the Great; a long exile on the borders of Switzerland; hispassion for watch-making; his human rights campaigns and histriumphant return to Paris to die there as celebrity extraordinaire.Throughout all of this, Voltaire's life was always informed by twothings: a belief in the essential value of toleration in the face offanaticism; and in the right of every man to think and say what heliked. It is rare to have such a vivid portrait of a great man. 16 pages of color illustrations ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

1-0 out of 5 stars A Warning
I looked forward to reading "Voltaire" because I had enjoyed Ian Davidson's earlier effort "Voltaire in Exile." I gave this first book by Mr. Davidson a good review on Amazon back on April 9, 2005.

I read the first part of the new "Voltaire" and found it uninteresting. No real details or insightful comments about France as Voltaire grew up, or his education, or the impact of his early writings. Lots of details about his difficult relationship with Emilie, his mistress, and his constant moving around.

Why I really dislike this book is its second half. Here the language and information is more lively and relevant. But somehow familiar. I took down my copy of "Voltaire in Exile" and found that many paragraphs and pages were simply lifted by the same author from the 2005 book and placed neatly inside this, the 2010 book.

While it may not be plagiarism to quote yourself, here the author does not even mention in the foreword or endnotes his use of prior writings on the same subject.

Isn't this a mild form of fraud on a book buyer?
... Read more

11. Socrates: A Play in Three Acts
by Voltaire
Paperback: 94 Pages (2009-10-28)
list price: US$12.99 -- used & new: US$11.54
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Asin: 1434457400
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Voltaire, the pen name of François-Marie Arouet (1694-1778), uses the great philosopher Socrates's crusty persona, trial, and death as a forum to criticize his enemies and restate his Deism. A drama that deserves a modern re-staging. ... Read more

12. Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom
by Roger Pearson
Hardcover: 384 Pages (2005-11-07)
list price: US$35.00 -- used & new: US$6.99
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Asin: 1582346305
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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With its tales ofillegitimacy, prison, stardom, exile, love affairs, and tireless battles against his critics, priests and king, Roger Pearson’s Voltaire Almighty brings the father of Enlightenment to vivid life.

Voltaire Almighty provides a lively look at the life and thought of one of the major forces behind European Enlightenment. A rebel from start to finish (1694-1778), Voltaire was an ailing and unwanted bastard child who refused to die; and when he did consent to expire some eighty-four years later, he secured a Christian burial despite a bishop’s ban.

During much of his life Voltaire was the toast of society for his plays and verse, but his barbed wit and commitment to human reason got him into trouble. Jailed twice and eventually banished by the king, he was an outspoken critic of religious intolerance and persecution. His personal life was as colorful as his intellectual life. Of independent means and mind, Voltaire never married, but he had long-term affairs with two women: Emilie, who died after giving birth to the child of another lover, and his niece, Marie-Louise, with whom he spent the last twenty-five years of his life. The consummate outsider; a dissenter who craved acceptance while flamboyantly disdaining it; author of countless stories, poems, books, plays, treatises, and tracts as well as some twenty thousand letters to his friends: Voltaire lived a long, active life that makes for engaging and entertaining reading.
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Customer Reviews (7)

4-0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition is sloppy
The Kindle edition of this book was not properly proof read. It contains innumerable spelling and typographical errors. For instance, the title "duc", which, in the nature of things occurs often in the text, is consistently rendered as "due". Voltaire's name is sometimes misspelt as "Vortaire". French expressions are often treated very cavalierly. This is a great pity since the content of the book is, in my view, excellent.

3-0 out of 5 stars Light and Disappointing
Pearson's book is "accessible."It does cover all of Voltaire's life.There are some nice photographs.It is also, however, chatty and superficial.I had expected at least some exploration of the ideas and the art that gave rise to Voltaire's vast reputation.I am no pedant - a mere college undergraduate type of treatment probably would have been adequate.Alas, in Pearson's book Voltaire seems almost a dilettante, pampered and frivolous.I hope such fluff is not what one has to put up with in order to obtain an "accessible" biography of a great man.I actually got a much better notion of who Voltaire was from reading the introduction to The Portable Voltaire.This was simply unsatisfying.I am now looking to read something more substantial.

5-0 out of 5 stars Meet the Man
I was once asked the question, "If you could have lunch with one famous person, living or dead, who would it be?"

My answer: Voltaire.

Francois Marie Arouet, (1694-1778) who took the pen name "Voltaire" for reasons still unclear, (the author lists some guesses but doesn't choose one) was the 18th century itself, distilled into a frame so thin that it appeared as though a good stiff breeze could blow him away. But not only did he live to the age of 84, he also wrestled one of the most powerful institutions in history, the Catholic Church in France, virtually to a standstill. One of the most prolific writers of all time, he is said to have churned out a million words during his life: plays, essays, letters, poetry, satire. He never wrote a novel; novels were considered trashy entertainment in his day and he never cared to write one. He isn't read much anymore, not even in France, and he is remembered today not so much as a philosopher in his own right, but as a brilliant, witty popularizer of other people's ideas. But his razor-sharp French prose style was the envy of the young Rousseau, who ultimately went on to have an even greater and more profound impact on the world.

What inflamed Voltaire's passion inflamed his need to write, and nothing did the trick more quickly than intolerance and injustice. Imprisoned more than once himself, Voltaire repeatedly put himself in jeopardy defending in print the victims of injustice and religious bigotry, a particular plague of his age, and launching one spirited attack after another on their tormentors, those in political and ecclesiastical power, which in 18th century France were pretty much two sides of the same coin.

Small wonder I wanted to have lunch with him. And small wonder that Roger Pearson has given this delightful biography the subtitle "A Life In Pursuit Of Freedom."Each chapter has a title and a descriptive summary, in the style of an 18th century novel. In lively and witty prose, Pearson takes the reader from Voltaire's inauspicious beginnings (he was an illegimate child who was expected to die) to his first clashes with the authorities, (he spent close to a year in the Bastille when still only 23) his liaisons with one woman after another, the business dealings that made him wealthy, his sojourn in England, (where he found the relatively tolerant atmosphere refreshing enough to publish a series of "English Letters") his rocky relationship with Frederick the Great, and the whole cavalcade of one of history's most colorful and brilliant lives, leading right up to his retaking by storm, in the last days of his life, the very Paris from which he had been so often banned.

As the decades running up to the French Revolution, which Voltaire helped start but didn't live to see, roll by, Pearson traces every parry-and-thrust of the life of a writer in an age and a society in which writers were closely watched and frequently harassed by the government, their works censored and sometimes burned, their personal freedom never completely secure. Observing his dartings around Europe, hopping over a border here, leaping into a midnight carriage there, in order to stay ahead of those who would imprison him again, one wonders how Voltaire ever got anything written. But write he did, compulsively, exhaustively, and on an array of subjects that would fill a dictionary. (One of his best-known works is, in fact, a "Philosophical Dictionary.") By the time of his death, while the war against intolerance and bigotry was far from won -- most likely it never will be, entirely -- nevertheless the ideals of the French Enlightenment had already borne fruit on this side of the pond, the American Revolution being in full swing in 1778, and it was possible for writers in France and elsewhere in Europe to express their ideas with much less fear of the authorities than ever would have been possible in Voltaire's youth.

Will Durant wrote in 1965, "When we cease to honor Voltaire we shall be unworthy of Freedom." Read this book. Meet the man.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well Done Biography of an Interesting Character
One of the more interesting and amusing characters in history, Voltaire is surprisingly little knownin today's world. During his time he seems to have had the ability to annoy everyone. Jailed, exiled, he kept turning up and continued tosatarize the upper classes from whom he seemed to crave acceptance.

This new biography is written with somewhat the same attitude of irreverance. It's light and amusing while at the same time conveying both the story and the tone of Voltaire's writing, philosophy and life.

Particularly interesting is the political interplay of the times when the leaders of various countries and empires are dealing with each other to see who is going to rule. This was a time just before the American Revolution (Voltaire associated with Benjamin Franklin during his stay in France). It was a time when the seeds were being sown for the French Revolution when the world of Voltaire was turned upside down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Learning to think
Voltaire has been part of my life for nearly a quarter of a century, ever since I picked up a copy of The Portable Voltaire at a used bookshop near my high school for one dollar. I made the purchase at the suggestion of a pretty girl who I never did convince to go out with me. I guess that's not really relevant to anyone but me, except that Voltaire does write about how heartbreak (which is what that frustration seemed to be at the time) can be a stone on the path to enlightenment.

Whether that disappointment and the many that followed inched me closer to real enlightenment over the years, I can't say. But one of the first times I ever remember feeling more enlightened than many of my peers was as it dawned on me that my familiarity with the 18th-century philosopher and writer was all but unheard of among South Floridians in their late teens (and even among most of their teachers).

I must admit I've always been puzzled by Voltaire. Despite my long exposure to his work, I cannot identify a single component of his beliefs that I have adopted as part of my core philosophies. Only a couple of his lines have stuck in my memory over the years, and even upon re-reading it as an adult I found Voltaire's seminal work Candide a bit of a slog. Yet I continue to think of him as one of the most important factors in my intellectual formation, for reasons I assumed too vague or subtle to pinpoint.

With an eye toward discovering why that is, I picked up a copy of Roger Pearson's new biography, Voltaire Almighty: A Life in Pursuit of Freedom. Previous biographies I've seen were too academic or too technical to hold my attention for long. But after leafing through it, I had high hopes for Mr. Pearson's effort.

I was not left unrewarded, even though I consider the biography only a mixed success. Mr. Pearson, I think, tries too hard to overcome the weakness of most academic biographers who produce informative but utterly boring works. He does this through the use of humor that is at first refreshing but quickly becomes irritating. I don't think this biography covers any significant new ground in Voltaire's life, but many of the stories I had read or heard in the past are retold here in a mostly readable way (at least when Mr. Pearson does not try to be witty).

What is new is the way Mr. Pearson relates some of these anecdotes to what we know of Voltaire's iconoclastic beliefs. Take the fact that he refused to cover up that his birth in 1694 was the result of an illicit affair between his mother and an intellectual and songwriter called Rochebrune. While most people of his generation would seek to obscure such ignoble circumstances, Voltaire instead venerated his mother for preferring Rochebrune's "wit and intelligence" to the company of her attorney husband, who, Voltaire said, was "a very mediocre man."

Similarly, his selection of the pen name Voltaire -- he was born François-Marie Arouet -- was his unusual way of escaping the wrath of French censors. He denied authorship of works that were clearly his, and he lived most of his life in exile outside his native France.

Mr. Pearson calls attention to the fact that while Voltaire was best known as a playwright during his lifetime, and he first came into the public eye as a writer of satiric verse that his lasting value comes from his historic work. A historian, not in the sense of a chronicler of battles and kingdoms, but in his discussions about the zeitgeist of his age: art, literature, philosophy, and economics. The presentation of these aspects and his biographical details may be flawed, but they can hardly fail to entertain and inspire.

Which leads me to the conclusion Mr. Pearson's work helped me to come to regarding the personal importance of Voltaire in my own life. More than any agent of information about the Enlightenment, Voltaire's value I think comes from his ability to inspire, to stimulate readers to think for themselves -- something I think he did (and still does) for me. Not a bad endorsement, I'd say. ... Read more

13. A Philosophical Dictionary (Volume 1 (1824))
by Voltaire
Paperback: 262 Pages (2010-10-14)
list price: US$10.93 -- used & new: US$10.93
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Asin: 1443268712
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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This is an OCR edition without illustrations or index. It may have numerous typos or missing text. However, purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original rare book from GeneralBooksClub.com. You can also preview excerpts from the book there. Purchasers are also entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Volume: 1 (1824); Original Published by: Printed for J. and H.L. Hunt in 1824 in 455 pages; Subjects: Philosophy; Literary Criticism / European / French; Philosophy / General; Philosophy / History & Surveys / General; Philosophy / History & Surveys / Modern; Philosophy / Reference; ... Read more

Customer Reviews (15)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Truth
This "dictionary" reveals the truth about religion not just in Voltaire's time but in our own time and before his. The term anti-semitism didn't even exist during Voltaire's time, and ironically he would have defended any Jew if he had to, because that was who he was. The point is truth. The truth hurts sometimes and this one is no different. Read the Epic of Gilgamesh, which Voltaire was unaware of, because it wasn't discovered until the middle 1800's. If Voltaire knew about DNA and the Epic of Gilgamesh and other Mesopotamian Stories he may have reconsidered even being a Deist himself. Don't let me tell you. Read, read, read, read. Forget the news, forget TV, they teach you nothing. Read ancient pre-christian and pre-judaic sources and find a new world.

1-0 out of 5 stars A Terrible Translation
This is a terrible translation and a bad reproduction of a wonderful work. I will discontinue being a customer of Amazon.com because of it...this is a ripoff..

4-0 out of 5 stars Quite Nice
I enjoyed Voltaire all throughout college and vowed to read more of his works after I graduated college and could once again read materials that I wanted to read.

I was almost turned off and put the book away after reading so much anti-semitic writings.Then, I took it with a grain of salt, understood that Voltaire was no different from his fellow man on the matter (in the 1700s) so I just kept reading.

I am glad that I did for his attacks rolled away from the Jews to many more subjects.A delightful read with a tinge of missogyny, deism, anti-semitism and of course a few old and outdated ideas like these.

What is more important is that Voltaire's writings influenced the Jacobin revolution that swept Europe after it devoured France.Kudos Voltaire!

1-0 out of 5 stars Nothing new
If you're looking for a tongue-in-cheek take on the Judeo-Christian ethic, with a healthy dose of not-so-tongue-in-cheek anti-semitism, from the perspective of Voltaire, then this is the book for you. If, like me, you were looking for a tongue-in-cheek take on philosophic discourse through the ages, then this is not the book for you.

4-0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed his reflections over religion ...
I purchased this book because I wanted to know more about this great writer of the 18th century. This book is full of history, you learn lots of stuff about religion and the origin of some words and, of course, you always find his particular humor.

I really enjoyed his reflections over religion and undoubtedly, this is a good book to read and grow in knowledge.

... Read more

14. Memoirs of Casanova - Volume 15: with Voltaire
by Giacomo Casanova
Paperback: 62 Pages (2010-07-06)
list price: US$9.99 -- used & new: US$9.99
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Asin: B003YJF6XA
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Memoirs of Casanova - Volume 15: with Voltaire is presented here in a high quality paperback edition. This popular classic work by Giacomo Casanova is in the English language. If you enjoy the works of Giacomo Casanova then we highly recommend this publication for your book collection. ... Read more

15. Voltaire: Political Writings (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought)
by Voltaire, Raymond Geuss, Quentin Skinner
Paperback: 348 Pages (1994-06-24)
list price: US$36.99 -- used & new: US$30.82
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Asin: 052143727X
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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This edition of Voltaire's political writings presents a varied selection of his most interesting and controversial texts, many of which have not previously been translated into English. Their themes include the nature and legitimacy of political power, law and the social order, and the growing disorder in the French economy, and in addition they touch on specific issues such as the Seven Years' War and relations with Frederick II, and the sensational trials of Jean Calas, Sirver and the Chevalier De La Barre. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars In the nick of time
This was a gift and I haven't read it, however I never expected to get it in time for the occasion I was going to give it on. Yet, it arrived that morning, despite the Christmas holiday, just in time for me to wrap it and give to my nephew. ... Read more

16. Candide: Or Optimism (Penguin Classics)
by Francois Voltaire
Paperback: 208 Pages (2009-02-24)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$5.15
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Asin: 0140455108
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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One of Penguin Classics's most popular translations- now also in our elegant black spine dress ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

4-0 out of 5 stars Candide or Optimism is Voltaire's sceptically acerbic look at a world of woes and travails
Candide is one of the world's greatest philosophical novels. Its author is Voltaire (1694-1178) whose pen was warmed up in hell with sceptical inquiry into the vagaries of human existence. In this brief book of 100 pages he assails the theory of philsopher Baron von Leibnitz that this planet is "the best of all possible worlds."
Voltaire chooses as his lead character the fatuous Candide a young Westphalian who is naive of the ways of the wicked world. The callow and love sick swain is booted out of the Castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh for his amorous infatuation with the fetching Cunegonde. This young lady is the daughter of the baron. No matter what terrible things occur in Candide's life he remains a cock-eyed optimist!
One adventures follows another. We see Candide serving in the the Bulgarian army where he is almost beaten to death. His friend Dr Pangloss is supposedly hanged in an auto de fa though we later learn he is alive. Cunegonde is fetched away by pirates. Candide and Dr. Pangloss suffer through the famous Lisbon Earthquake which killed thousands in 1755.
Candide kills a Jew and an agent of the Spanish inquisition fleeing to Spain and safety with the Jesuits. This order involves our hero in a bitter war between Spain and Portugal.Candide supposedlykills the general of the Jesuits learning that this was a brother of Cunegonde. Candide then escapes to the fabulously wealthy land of Eldorado. He is bilked of his fortune as he travels to England, France, Venice and Turkey on a series of improbable stops on his unrealistic odyssey through life.
Candide is reunited with Dr Pangloss and his faithful servant Cacambo in Constantinople, He also learns that his love's brother is yet alive. The whole group decide to retire to a small farm and cultivate their garden. This means that work is a powerful deterrent against ennui and despair at the condition of a cruel world of wars, poverty, natural disasters, disease and death. Candide has learned and matured during the course of his many adventures. He and his wife are as happy as it is possible to be.
Voltaire was a brilliant wit and keen witness to man's inhumanity to man. While he did not live to see the terrors of the French Revolution and the horrors of our own century his perceptive little novel is a gem of understanding of the human condition. An essential book in Western Civilization.

5-0 out of 5 stars Black and White
This Edition of Candide leaves the Dover Thrift, Barnes and Noble, Bantam, Oxford World editions in the dust, and, although Norton likes to think they are oh..so great, their editions don't come close to Penguin's Deluxe of Voltaire's remarkable and insightful tale. Theo Cuffe does great things with the translation and Michael Wood gives a meaningful introduction that sets the reader up with the complete madness of Optimism - a counsel of Despair, Cruel philosophy with a consoling name.
The cover is splashed with vivid colors and gold dust, the pages are of high stock, there's even a map of Candide's world in the inside flap. But what makes this book great is the amount of information in the footnotes that help readers focus on the historical context and time period the story took place in.

3-0 out of 5 stars :)
I enjoyed this book, but it was irritating looking up the footnotes. They made it especially amusing and odd, but it definitely isn't my favorite.

5-0 out of 5 stars Entertaining
Candide is certainly humorous for those that understand medieval to early modern European history.This satire is cynical much like Erasmus' "Praise of Folly". Voltaire attacks many of the issues of European society. You do not need to be a historian to appreciate this work, or have a great knowledge of European history to understand it.
Buy it and enjoy.

5-0 out of 5 stars "O che sciagura d'essere senza coglioni!"
If you thought 18th century satire is irrelevant today, you might want to know the meaning of that Italian phrase, uttered by a eunuch at the sight of an abandoned and beautiful young lady in the story: "Oh, what a misfortune to be without balls!"

If you've made the decision to read Candide already, then this is the version you want to buy. Theo Cuffe's translation is more recent and much better than any other ones out there. I was thinking of purchasing the Oxford World Classics edition - after all, it's a few dollars cheaper and has a few more stories - but after contrasting paragraphs from Candide in either version, I decided Cuffe's superior translation warrants the extra money. This edition is also bound beautifully; it's a paperback but the cover is much firmer than a regular paperback and is adorned with eye-catching comic strips and a useful list (with pictures) of the main characters on the inside flap of the cover. This edition also has very thorough footnotes at the end; if you're like me and have little acquaintance with the 18th century and life through the era of Enlightenment, the handy footnotes will graciously guide your way. Aside from the footnotes, this edition also has additional pertinent writings from Voltaire including a poem he wrote on the disaster of the Lisbon earthquake and some excerpts from his Philosophic Dictionary.

Now, if you haven't made up your mind as to whether you'd like to read this, I strongly urge that you do. It's a rather short story but a very profound one. It's extremely witty, clever, and yet masterfully laconic. The story itself is an assault on the philosophic concept of "Optimism" as championed by Leibniz, Alexander Pope, and various other contemporaries of Voltaire who believed that all that happens in the world is for the best, and that we live in the best of all possible worlds. As Pope himself said famously, "whatever IS, is good." Candide, the young, naive and charming protagonist of our story is very much swayed in the direction of believing in Optimism because of the teachings of his philosopher teacher Pangloss. But as Candide inadvertently travels the world, matures, and learns from the sight of reality beyond the corridors of his residence at Westphalia, his perceptions begin to change, and we begin to develop nothing short of a sense for everything that is meaningful and meaningless in life. As Gustave Flaubert once said, the prose of Voltaire is mesmerizing and yet ingeniously succinct. You'll know the feeling once you travel the land of Eldorado, where people are indifferent to diamonds and gold lying in their streets and where everything is in perfect harmony, with non-other than the worthy Candide.

... Read more

17. Philosophical Letters: Or, Letters Regarding the English Nation
by Voltaire
Paperback: 158 Pages (2007-03)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$8.15
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Asin: 0872208818
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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In his Philosophical Letters, Voltaire provides a pungent and often satirical assessment of the religion, politics, science, and arts of the England he observed during his nearly three-year exile.In addition to the Letters, this edition provides a translation of Voltaire's "Proposal for a Letter about the English," a general Introduction, chronology, notes, and bibliography. ... Read more

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5-0 out of 5 stars Very Amusing Comment on Britain by Voltaire.
This very short group of essays is profound, amusing, and a definite page turner. Voltaire reminds me of an 18th century French version of our early 20th century HL Mencken. He is obviously a twinkling eyed commentator, often tongue in cheek, but always right on the mark. The pieces on Quakerism and English religion are entertaining and thoughtful, as it is obvious that Voltaire was not easily duped by anyone or anything. He appreciates the English method of innoculation against smallpox, and wishes his fellow Frenchmen would follow this course. And his appreciation for the philosophers/ scientists Locke and Newton is unbounded. So if you run across this short piece, take an evening to read it through! ... Read more

18. Zadig; L'Ingenu (Penguin Classics)
by Francois Voltaire
Paperback: 192 Pages (1978-11-30)
list price: US$11.00 -- used & new: US$5.68
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Asin: 0140441263
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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One of Voltaire's earliest tales, "Zadig" is set in the exotic East and is told in the comic spirit of Candide; L'Ingenu, written after Candide, is a darker tale in which an American Indian records his impressions of France. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Hello Voltaire.Hello old friend
These are two of Voltaire's more beloved short stories. Those who have read his more the more famous Candide (Dover Thrift Editions) will find many of the same traits in these stories;an efervescent cynicism, characters constantly caught in notorious Catch-22 scenarios, love stories gone awry and (most importantly) Voltaire's timeless wit.

Zadig takes place in the middle east.The title character is a well-meaning chap (in many ways he is much like Candide himself). He encounters a great many perilous situations which make his demeanor more and more melancholy. In a sort of Deus ex machina (which I'm sure was a deliberate satire in & of itself on Voltaire's behalf) he experiences a reversal-of-fortune. Voltaire singles out those who believe in astrology / fate / divine plans in gently revealing how silly those belief systems are.

L'Ingenu is an interesting story about a Huron Indian who ends up (in of all places!) France.The Huron has learned to speak French, but he struggles mightily in trying to understand French customs as well as the way the French think. L'Ingenu is called the "child of nature" as he is so oblivious to the supposed "superior" and more civilized French.Voltaire subtly points out the flaws of French society by juxtaposing the Huron who ends up being unjustly jailed by an oppressive and unjust government.

For fans of the French Enlightenment, reading Voltaire is a must.And, for that matter, most Americans SHOULD be fans of Enlightenment thinking as it helped to inspire the American revolution which threw off the yoke of British oppression. The seeds of those revolutionary ideas can be found in the writings of Voltaire.That alone should compel you to read his works (I hope?).One is bound to find Voltaire to be like a historical old friend to us all.

2-0 out of 5 stars A LITTLE BELOW PAR
One of the current fads in fiction is to take a painting by some Dutch master of some nameless woman and write a book about that woman's relationship with the artist. For example, The Girl with the Pearl Earring. That was successful, so then you see dozens of the same ilk. In the late 18th century and early 19th centuries, with the publication of the Arabian Nights in translation, writers became involved in the new fad of setting their tales in the Arab world. Voltaire was not immune to it, as is evidenced with Zadig.

Much as science fiction writers sometimes mask the satire of our world in technological allegory, so Voltaire uses the setting of ancient Babylon to critique French society and beyond that, the customs of all of Europe. Zadig is young noblemanwho falls into all kinds of troubles as he tries to make his way through life. He's a nice guy that doesn't deserve such troubles. For example, when his fiance is being kidnapped, he is struck by an arrow and the doctor says he won't live. When Zadig does survive, the doctor is angry at him because he survived! Then his fiance dumps him. Zadig will have to fight against treacherous kings, mages, women, thieves, actually just about everyone in the world turns against him.

The second work contained in this volume is L'Ingenu (The Child of Nature). In Volataire's time, and even in our time, Native Americans are romanticized as being closer to Nature. They didn't litter, they didnt destroy environments, etc. They were at one with the land. A lot of that is hokey. But in L'Ingenu we encounter this stereotype in the form of The Child of Nature, supposedly an Huron Indian visiting the high society of France. He ends up being the long lost nephew of the very French Abbe he is visiting. Of course, as soon as the Abbe learns this he tries to convert him to Christianity. What ensues is similar to Zadig. The Child of Nature most overcome all the lies and deceptions of the modern world in order to find his happiness.

I have to say that after reading 3 works by Voltaire, I'm not that impressed. To me, Candide was no big whoop. These two works bookend that famous work and inform it to some extent. Zadig seems to have been a warmup pitch for Candide and is equal in art to that work. In fact I would say they were interchangeable. If you've read one, you don't have to read the other. L'Ingenu on the other hand seems to go a little deeper. It criticizes the Church quite violently and actually dispenses with the comedy by its end. I've read many comedies funnier than this and tragedies more poignant. Don't come to this book expecting greatness.

3-0 out of 5 stars Zadig:
Voltaire chooses an oriental tale as setting for an analysis of human traits and the influence of good and evil on human destiny. The essentialy good Zadig suffers setback after setback on his quest to reunite with histrue love and after having almost lost all hope of finding happiness hesuceeds in overcoming the evil and jealous medlings of the people aroundhim and is able to lead a content and prosperous life. In essence the storyshows how human destiny is undisputable and that the road to a fullfilledlife is long and hard. "Zadig" is a nice example of 18th centuryFrench Enlightment, questioning old traditions and social structures incombination with showing new views on humanity and ideals. ... Read more

19. Voltaire in Love
by Nancy Mitford
Paperback: 288 Pages (1999-08-01)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$38.89
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786706414
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1733, the lovely, intelligent, and married Marquise du Chtelet commenced her romance with one Franois-Marie Arouet, a philosophe who had made a name for himself as "Voltaire." Mitford deftly and engagingly recounts their exemplary affair, whether in studious exile in the country, on the run from the censor, or in the "thoughtless circles of high society." Her portrayals of the "scamp" philosopher, his mistress who was "excessive in everything," and their "irregular century" are delightful portraits in themselves and as a group, a fascinating fresco of the French Enlightenment. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars Story Detailing the Love of Voltaire's Life
"Voltaire was a consistent pacifist. Warring Princes to him were, 'hateful spiders, tearing each other to pieces instead of spinning silk.' Ever since Frederick [King of Prussia] had invaded Silesia he had been scolding him for breaking the peace of Europe. 'I am so afraid that you will come to despise human beings.' 'I only put my foot on the banks of the Styx, but I was grieved, Sire, at the number of poor wretches I saw passing by.' 'Will you and your fellow Kings never stop ravaging this earth to which you say you want to bring Happiness?' Frederick took all this quite good naturedly: 'It's the fashion now [1742] to make war, and presumably it will last a good long while.'"
~ Nancy Mitford

This is an in-depth chronicle of a love story between Voltaire and the love of his life, Emilie, the Marquise du Chatelet. Emilie was married, had children, and had one of the most brilliant scientific minds in France -- she was a mathematician and physicist. She enchanted Voltaire, and he stayed with her, with her husband's consent, until she died.

Theirs is a fascinating story -- won't spoil it. Voltaire was one of the eminent French writers, thinkers, and wits of his day. Emilie was a strong, bright, compelling woman, at least to Voltaire. He called their meeting the turning point of his life, and began his "Memoires" with their meeting. That Emilie's husband graciously accepted Voltaire in their life for more than 20 years made this story even more compelling.

Having just finished Candide and developed a strong admiration for Voltaire and a curiosity about this love story, it was a delight to find a book which dealt with only that. This work is highly recommended for anyone who wants to investigate the great Voltaire.

5-0 out of 5 stars Voltaire, his brilliant mistress, and the rest of the Enlightenment
Nancy Mitford's Voltaire in Love is an entertaining book, full of historic characters, revealing both their best and worst attributes in politics, society, the arts, and the bedroom.

The book is primarily about the long affair between Voltaire and his mistress, Mme. Emilie du Chatelet, which was certainly a meeting of two exceptionally brilliant minds of the Enlightenment. Yet the book really covers the early adult years of Voltaire and does not cover his later successes and fame.

Voltaire, a graduate of Louise-le-Grand Jesuit School, was a brilliant but sarcastic student, who became popular with his witty poems and plays. Yet his satire often went to far which on more than one occassion resulted in imprisonment in the Bastile. Like Moliere, Voltaire wrote witty comedy that appealed to the sophisticated upperclasses. Yet early in his career he is forced into exile to London where he wrote plays for Queen Caroline and King George. Gradually his star rose in the French court of Louis XV.Queen Marie Leczinska found him charming and gave him a pension. Louis XV also gave him a pension but was less comfortable with Voltaire than was his wife and his father in law, Stanislas Leczinska, ex-king of Poland. The king's famous mistress, Mme. Jeanne-Antoinette de Pompadour, was an admirer of Voltaire also and there is some evidence that she came to his rescue when he ran afoul of the censors of Louis XV. Thus much of the book is about the highest levels of French society and their impact on the arts, sciences, and humanities.

As is the case with many bright and opinionated thinkers, rivalry and jealousy and ambition create the conditions for long lasting enemies. This is the case between Voltaire and Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, a philosopher whom Voltaire seemed to disdain. However Voltaire's primary rivalry was with Abbe Desfontaines. Abbe Desfontaines was found molesting male adolescent chimney sweeps and was sentenced to burn at the stake for sodomy. Voltaire was one of his only allies and Desfontaine was saved. Yet, amazingly, Desfontaine became extremely critical and bitter and vindictive toward Voltaire leading the reader to recognize that no good deed goes unpunished.

The attempts of Frederick II of Prussia to lure Voltaire into his court was amazing underhanded strategy. Frederick II, creating a completely male homosexual court, seemed to be obsessed with Voltaire and secretly tried to undermine him in France so that offers to come to Prussia would be more appealing.

The book however is primarily about the affair of Voltaire and Emilie du Chatelet. They were quite a pair, both studious and brilliant, who allowed each other ample space to think and create. Voltaire and Emilie both popularized the works of Sir Issac Newton and advanced the fields of science and mathematics. French scholarly society prefered to continue to support Descarte's theories, primarily because he was French, a loyalty that Voltaire saw as standing in the way of rational thought. The book takes us through the many journeys of Voltaire and Emily outside of their remote mansion in the countryside. We see Emilie struggle in a game of strategy with King Frederick II for the loyalty of Voltaire. We see Voltaire trying to be supportive during Emilie's outrageous gambling addition. Her son, Florent-Francois is virtually raised in a home with two fathers. Eventually Emilie falls into lust for the handsome bright Saint-Lambert and wishes to continue her 3 man life with a rich lenient legal husband, her older more mature lover who has become her best friend, and her younger sex toy boyfriend. Unfortunately she becomes pregnant with Saint-Lambert and at age 43 dies 2 days after giving birth.

Well written, well documented, engaging, entertaining, and full of witty satiric details, this is an accomplishment that you will enjoy.

1-0 out of 5 stars full-on boring
I admit I'm fascinated by the Mitford sisters and thought I was in for a treat when I finally got around to this.

Alas!It's stuffy, densely written, and fails to convey any sense of the magic and wonder of love -- or even of Voltaire's personality!

Could also have used some footnotes for those of us who aren't history PhDs.

1-0 out of 5 stars dissapointing
it is NOT a biography. It is a bounch of events glued together. At times I felt lost because she jumps from one topic to another and makes the reader confused when she throws a few strange sounding names without explaining who they were. As for the research of the subject I can't comment on the french part, however, on the polish side, the author didn't do a whole lot research because she couldn't even spell the name of an ex-King of Poland correctly! It's Stanis³aw Leszczyñski, not Stanislas Leczinski!!! She also undermines the linguistic abilities of the readers, thinking maybe that no-one but the French can really figure out the french language. I would not recommend this book if you really want to learn something about Voltaire and his love life, because there was no love life in that book!!

5-0 out of 5 stars The book that inspired "A Visit From Voltaire"
The hilarious modern comedy featuring the Ghost of Voltaire returning to the 21st century, "A Visit From Voltaire" Visit from Voltaire, Acites this book as one of the main sources for the period spanning the love affair of Madame de Chatelet and the King of the Englightenment, Voltaire. Another book that updates this information is Passionate Minds by David Boganis,Passionate Minds: The Great Love Affair of the Enlightenment, Featuring the Scientist Emilie du Chatelet, the Poet Voltaire, Sword Fights, Book Burnings, Assorted Kings, but this is the book that hooked me first.And it remains one of the best books to date, despite a few little hitches in her facts, for readability, entertainment and capturing the spirit of Voltaire's middle years. Anybody who reads it will finish with a wonderful understanding of the man's energy, resilience and courage. A must. ... Read more

20. A Treatise on Toleration and Other Essays (Great Minds)
by Voltaire, Joseph McCabe
Paperback: 223 Pages (1994-05)
list price: US$15.98 -- used & new: US$5.75
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0879758813
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Product Description
Voltaire (1694-1778), novelist, dramatist, poet, philosopher, historian, and satirist, was one of the most renowned figures of the Age of Enlightenment. In this collection of anti-clerical works from the last twenty-five years of Voltaire's life, he roundly attacks the philosophical optimism of the deists, the so-called inspiration of the Bible, the papacy, and vulgar superstition. These great works reveal Voltaire not only as a polemicist but also as a profound humanitarian. The selections include "Poem on the Lisbon Disaster", "We Must Take Sides", "The Questions of Zapate" and "The Sermon of the Fifty," homilies on superstition and the interpretation of the Old and New Testaments, and his famous "Treatise on Toleration". ... Read more

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