Candide by Voltaire is an amusing satire regarding pretty much anything that had annoyed Voltaire up to the point of his writing. Reading through it, it is easy to see why it is still in print today. It reads well and pokes fun at many different areas of life that are either still relevant today or are notable from history. It is also full of interesting lessons (or at least the notes in the Barnes & Noble Classics edition was), such as the origin of the word bugger - derived from Bulgarian owing to the association of Bulgaria with the medieval sect the Bogomils, who were accused of sodomy - and that Catholics used to regard marriage with a godparent as incest and burn people at the stake accordingly. A good deal of material in Candide does actually concern the church, and as it is an easy topic that requires no additional explanation (as opposed to some of the other satirical targets) and the fact that I am feeling lazy, I will give two examples of the wit of Voltaire as reasons to read this book:

  • It having been decided by the University of Coimbra that burning a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremoney, is an infallible secret for preventing earthquakes.
  • "What!" says Cacambo, "you have no monks among you to dispute, to govern, to intrigue, and to burn people who are not of the same opinion as themselves?"


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