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Voltaire: Candide ou l'Optimisme (Focus Student Editions) (French Edition) [Paperback]

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Item Specifications...

Pages   225
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.5" Width: 5.5" Height: 8.5"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 24, 2007
Publisher   Focus Publishing/R. Pullins Co.
ISBN  1585102474  
EAN  9781585102471  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
The Focus Student Editions are appropriate as introductory texts for French language courses in literature and culture. These editions, prepared with non-native French speakers in mind, include an introduction (in French) to the author and the work, the complete novel with both linguistic and cultural notes (French-French), a current bibliography and questions in the AP* format to facilitate study.

Buy Voltaire: Candide ou l'Optimisme (Focus Student Editions) (French Edition) by Voltaire, Myrna Bell Rochester, Eileen M. Angelini, Bob Dowey, Richard Driehaus, Anthony Puca & Sylvia Yount from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9781585102471 & 1585102474

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More About Voltaire, Myrna Bell Rochester, Eileen M. Angelini, Bob Dowey, Richard Driehaus, Anthony Puca & Sylvia Yount

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Daniel Gordon (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and has also taught at Harvard University and Stanford University. He has served on the editorial staff of The Journal of the History of Ideas and Studies in Eighteenth-Century Culture. His publications, including Citizens without Sovereignty (1994), deal with the Enlightenment and the history of Enlightenment scholarship in the twentieth century.

Voltaire was born in 1694 and died in 1778.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Voltaire at his most sarcastic  Nov 3, 2008
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 for the 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 could taste 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.


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