The Works of Voltaire: Volume 7

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Publisher
E.R. Du Mont
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Published on
Dec 31, 1901
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Pages
352
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Language
English
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This content is DRM free.
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'What can you say to a man who tells you he prefers obeying God rather than men, and that as a result he's certain he'll go to heaven if he cuts your throat?' Voltaire's Pocket Philosophical Dictionary, first published in 1764, is a major work of the European Enlightenment. It is also a highly entertaining book: this is no 'dictionary' in the ordinary sense, nor does it treat 'philosophy' in the modern meaning of the term. It consists of a sequence of short essays or articles, arranged in alphabetical order, and covering everything from Apocalypse and Atheism to Tolerance and Tyranny. The unifying thread of these articles is Voltaire's critique of established religion: ridicule of established dogma, attacks on superstition, and pleas for toleration. Witty and ironic, this is very much a work of combat, part of Voltaire's high-profile political struggle in the 1760s to defend the victims of religious and political intolerance. This new translation is based on the definitive French text, and reprints the edition that provoked widespread controversy and condemnation. In his Introduction Nicholas Cronk considers the work's continuing relevance to modern debates about religious intolerance and its consequences. ABOUT THE SERIES: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the widest range of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, helpful notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
Candide is a French satire by Voltaire, a philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment. It begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply Optimism) by his mentor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this lifestyle, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not rejecting optimism outright, advocating a deeply practical precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds".

Candide is characterized by its sarcastic tone, as well as by its erratic, fantastical and fast-moving plot. A picaresque novel it parodies many adventure and romance clichés, the struggles of which are caricatured in a tone that is mordantly matter-of-fact. Still, the events discussed are often based on historical happenings, such as the Seven Years' War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. As philosophers of Voltaire's day contended with the problem of evil, so too does Candide in this short novel, albeit more directly and humorously. Voltaire ridicules religion, theologians, governments, armies, philosophies, and philosophers through allegory; most conspicuously, he assaults Leibniz and his optimism.

As expected by Voltaire, Candide has enjoyed both great success and great scandal. Immediately after its secretive publication, the book was widely banned because it contained religious blasphemy, political sedition and intellectual hostility hidden under a thin veil of naïveté. However, with its sharp wit and insightful portrayal of the human condition, the novel has since inspired many later authors and artists to mimic and adapt it. Today, Candide is recognized as Voltaire's magnum opus and is often listed as part of the Western canon; it is arguably taught more than any other work of French literature. It was listed as one of The 100 Most Influential Books Ever Written.
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