Candide is a delightful story filled with boundless misadventure while tackling the great philosophical issues of the Enlightenment era. The story is about Candide, a young man who is the illegitimate nephew of a German baron with whom he resides. When it is discovered he is kissing the baron’s beautiful daughter he is thrown from the castle where he experiences the horrors of war, poverty, the maliciousness of man, and the hypocrisy of the church. Obviously, Voltaire is poking fun at Leibniz, Pope, and others who assail that the world created by God was the best possible of all worlds with perfect order and reason, as spoken through the greatest of all fictional philosophers, Candide’s tutor, Pangloss. As you listen to segments of Candide, take the time to research both the book and Voltaire to gain a richer understanding of the themes interlaced throughout the book.
Voltaire was a French writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma and the French institutions of his day. He was a prolific writer with more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken supporter of social reform, despite strict censorship laws with harsh penalties for those who broke them.
Metamorphosis, first published in 1915, is the story of Gregor Samsa, a young traveling salesman who lives with his family and financially supports his parents and younger sister. One morning he awakes to discover that during the night he has been transformed into a horrible bug. Although somewhat of a horror genre, the story is often very funny as Gregor, his family, and those around him deal with their own transformations as a result of this odd predicament.
Franz Kafka is a Czechoslovakian writer who lived from 1883-1924. Though virtually unknown during his lifetime, Kafka has come to be known as one of the most influential writers of his century. His writings have been recognized as symbolizing modern man’s anxiety-ridden and grotesque alienation in an unintelligible, hostile, or indifferent world.
Call of the Wild is the story of Buck, a magnificent dog who is stolen from his idyllic life and sold for use on a Yukon dogsled team. His travels are not only of a physical nature, as he learns hard discipline from men who must discipline their dog teams, but his own journey back to his primordial roots in the frozen tundra – the roots of wolf. This amazing story of transformation is beautifully written and provides a glimpse of the hard life in the Yukon Territory during the 1900s.
This American author was one of the first Americans to make a career as a nonfiction writer for commercial magazines. Due to his prominent and successful nature as a writer, his controversial political views, as well as his reputation as an outspoken socialist, his life, as well as his death, was surrounded with rumors, accusations and controversy.