V is for Voltaire. Voltaire’s masterpiece belongs in the hands of every reader pondering our assumptions about human behavior and our place in the world. Voltaire tells of the ludicrous adventures and reversals of fortune of the naïve Candide, who doggedly believes that “all is for the best” even when faced with injustice, suffering, and despair. A satirical challenge to the empty optimism prevalent in Voltaire’s eighteenth-century society is both controversial and entertaining, but also vitally relevant today in our world pervaded by—as Candide would say—“the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well.”
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