Monday, November 16, 2009

Candide by Voltaire

This is the first book in Penguin's deluxe classics line, an ongoing series of classic novels featuring covers drawn by contemporary comic book artists, and it is also one of my favorite deluxe editions. Chris Ware's geometric drawing style somehow seems tailor made for this purpose (I'd like to see an entire book of summaries of classic books drawn by Ware, wouldn't you?), and the witty synopsis of the book in comic form perfectly complements this bitingly satiric novel. The gold embossing is pretty nice too.

There are so many wonderful details on the flaps, especially this rundown of major characters.

The "Dr. Pangloss Activity Corner" is a nice touch.

And the back cover copy for this edition is kind of amazing:

"With Candide, Voltaire bumptiously skewered the fashionable misinterpretation of the doctrine of philosophical optimism, unerringly offending kings, scientists, fanaticals, publishers, journalists, and even priests; composed in a mere three days, Voltaire's capacity to amuse, disgust, and surprise endures today, roughly ninety-thousand days later. Theo Cuffe's new translation is invaluable for those English-speaking readers who cannot understand French, and the Introduction by Michael Wood should prove indispensable to all schoolchildren who haven't read the book and are cramming in homeroom before the test."

If that doesn't make you want to go back and read it again, I don't know what will. I also need to find a way to use the word "bumptious" in a sentence, stat.

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