Sunday, April 14, 2013

Book Review: Candide by Voltaire (translated by John Butt)

At just 50p I couldn't resist buying a second hand copy of Voltaire's Candide, even though I had already read a version of the work several years back. It is amongst my favourites and was due a revisit. Plus, it's a quite a slight volume at just 144 pages, and that includes the introduction by another author which shouldn't be read until you finish the book as it gives everything away. This version, a Penguin Classic translation by John Butt isn't quite as joyful to read as the translation by Theo Coffe that I read earlier, but it is still fantastic, unique, insightful and hilarious, and much more besides.


A few additional quotes (follow the above link for more):

Martin: "I remember being ill myself during my first visit to Paris. I was very poor. But then I had no friends, no kind ladies, and no doctors, so I soon recovered."

Martin: "I have seen so many extraordinary things, that nothing is extraordinary any more"

"... He first took Candide and Martin to La Comedie, where they played a new tragedy. Candide happened to be seated near some of the fashionable wits. This did not prevent his shedding tears at the well-acted scenes. One of these critics at his side said to him between the acts: "Your tears are misplaced; that is a shocking actress; the actor who plays with her is yet worse; and the play is still worse than the actors. The author does not know a word of Arabic, yet the scene is in Arabia; moreover he is a man that does not believe in innate ideas; and I will bring you, tomorrow, twenty pamphlets written against him."

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