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Candide : optimism demolished

Author: Haydn Trevor Mason
Publisher: New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1992.
Series: Twayne's masterwork studies, no. 104.
Edition/Format:   Book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Database:WorldCat
Summary:
Candide came into being largely because of Voltaire's great dissatisfaction with the explanation for the problem of evil and human suffering provided by the philosophers of his day. Published in 1759 when Voltaire was 65, Candide was a direct attack on the school of optimism championed by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and English poet Alexander Pope and popularized in the adventure and romance novels of the
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Additional Physical Format: Online version:
Mason, Haydn Trevor.
Candide.
New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1992
(OCoLC)556336551
Online version:
Mason, Haydn Trevor.
Candide.
New York : Twayne Publishers ; Toronto : Maxwell Macmillan Canada ; New York : Maxwell Macmillan International, ©1992
(OCoLC)610219579
Named Person: Voltaire
Material Type: Internet resource
Document Type: Book, Internet Resource
All Authors / Contributors: Haydn Trevor Mason
ISBN: 0805780858 9780805780857 0805785590 9780805785593
OCLC Number: 26547673
Description: xvi, 124 pages ; 23 cm.
Contents: chronology: Voltaire's life and works --
Literary and Historical Context. 1. The Context. 2. The Importance of Candide. 3. Critical Reception --
A Reading. 4. History. 5. Philosophy and Meaning. 6. Personal and Interpersonal. 7. Structure and Form.
Series Title: Twayne's masterwork studies, no. 104.
Responsibility: Haydn Mason.

Abstract:

Candide came into being largely because of Voltaire's great dissatisfaction with the explanation for the problem of evil and human suffering provided by the philosophers of his day. Published in 1759 when Voltaire was 65, Candide was a direct attack on the school of optimism championed by German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz and English poet Alexander Pope and popularized in the adventure and romance novels of the period. Optimism, Voltaire's young hero, Candide, asserts, is "the mania for asserting that all is well when one is not." The danger of optimism, Voltaire believed, lies in its essentially passive response to life. If God has given human beings "the best of all possible worlds," as Leibniz claimed, and if everything that happens is somehow for the best, then to what point is human choice and action?

In this well-balanced study, Mason relates the events in Voltaire's personal life and in the world around him that contributed to his revolt: the death of his closest companion; his exile from Paris; the catastrophic Lisbon earthquake of 1755; the eruption and often ruthless conduct of the Seven Years' War. The real-life hardships of psychological pain, natural disaster, and war, Voltaire found, could not be rationalized away by philosophy.

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