Friday, February 12, 2010

Candide 250

Voltaire's Candide was published 250 years ago. There's a lot of genuinely funny stuff today that isn't as funny as that book.
“Well, my dear Pangloss,” said Candide to him, “when you were hanged, dissected, whipped, and tugging at the oar, did you continue to think that everything in this world happens for the best?” “I have always abided by my first opinion,” answered Pangloss; “for, after all, I am a philosopher, and it would not become me to retract my sentiments; especially as Leibnitz could not be in the wrong: and that pre-established harmony is the finest thing in the world, as well as a plenum and the materia subtilis.
New York Public Library has exhibits on line (including the 2 minute Candide) and in the Library. [I'd love to see that Fame and Fancy: or Voltaire Improved pseudonymously published in Boston, 1826.]

French-language etexts are available, as are multiple English ones, too. And Kindle. And paper books.

And don't forget Bernstein's charming operetta (with lyrics by a pretty imposing crowd: James Agee, Dorothy Parker, John Latouche, Richard Wilbur, and Lillian Hellman).

Of course, that Lisbon earthquake happened just so Voltaire could get a book out of it. All for the best.

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