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The Portable Voltaire

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  336 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
Satirist, novelist, poet, dramatist, historian, moralist, critic, courtier, and correspondent, champion of reason and fanatical adversary of fanaticism, a darling of kings with the unfortunate habit of turning them into enemies, François Arouet de Voltaire is one of the few writers to have imposed his name on an entire epoch. It is entirely appropriate that the French Enli ...more
Paperback, 569 pages
Published July 28th 1977 by Penguin Books (first published 1949)
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Jan 30, 2016 Paloma rated it really liked it
J'ai fini :)

I proudly wrote "I finished" because this books took me more than year and a half to finish. I found a copy of this edition at a very cool coffee shop in Mexico City and fell in love with the Penguin Edition. So I borrowed it. I must confess I was scared of reading the direct work of a philospher, as I am not really fond of philosphy and find it difficult to follow up. So this Portable Voltaire book was quite a nice surprise, not only as it was a careful selection of key works and mi
Feb 25, 2015 Jarir rated it really liked it
A genius for all time. Highly accessible and if you do not want to read the entire book it is easy to read by parts because this contains different works of his.

Some outstanding parts to me:
"The soul", he said, "is a pure spirit which has received in its mother's womb all metaphysical ideas and which, on leaving it, has to go to school to learn over again what it knew so well, and will never know again".p 433

One of the greatest benefits you can confer upon mankind is to trample under foot super
Jun 08, 2008 Christian rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I will be honest I have not read the whole dictionary or all the letters. The letters are just to pompous. Candide is a really great read. Voltaire is definately worth the time to read especiialy if you like Vonnegut, Dostoevsky, Sarte, or Camus.
Bob Nichols
Apr 01, 2010 Bob Nichols rated it liked it
In this selection of Voltaire's writings, three pieces in particular stand out. "Candide," the story of travels by a young man of that name, reads like a bad dream. Candide goes from one unfortunate situation to another in pursuit of his love. Each of his events is an opportunity for Voltaire to poke at the standard conventions of his day, particularly those espoused or manifested by religious leaders who are venal and corrupt, philosophers who are are thoughtless or foolish, and the powerful wh ...more
Jason Schwartzman
Sep 26, 2014 Jason Schwartzman rated it it was amazing
really good intro by famous rapper redman. there's lots of good stuff here, one of my favorite parts voltaire's poem about the lisbon earthquake that he wrote bc because he thinks such a tragedy needs to have some art dedicated to it rather than philo text walls but till can't help sticking in page long footnotes.
Anthony Zupancic
Oct 22, 2014 Anthony Zupancic rated it it was amazing
Voltaire is funny. That is enough for me. He also has a critical eye that exposes absurdity and societal problems. Like Ambrose Bierce's "The Devil's Dictionary," the passages from "Selections..." are amazing nuggets of satirical craft that are a delight to read.
Frances Margaret
Oct 22, 2014 Frances Margaret rated it it was amazing
I remember picking this up at the university library and I had to take it home with me. Good stuff. Was not able to finish the entire thing though as I had to return it to the library. I haven't found a copy of that book anywhere...
Jul 10, 2014 Rtweneboah rated it really liked it
Voltaire's 'Philosophical Dictionary' is one of my favorite reads and I personally enjoy 'Zadig' more than 'Candide', but it's nice to have many of his works in one book... So it's easy to refer to time and time again.
Adam Morris
Jun 13, 2015 Adam Morris rated it it was amazing
What can one say. The man was way ahead of his time. His insight, his humor, his lifestyle were all apart from what we think of as the society in which he lived. Also recommend the biography by Davidson.
Jan 14, 2014 Pablo rated it liked it
Great allegories, and short stories. I particularly like "Zadig" as a fictional character in one of Voltaire's allegories. I stopped at three stars solely because I rushed through the last quarter of the book do to a slight loss of interest, and interruption by another book I had on my list, and was a bit desperate to read, hehe.
Joe Petri
Feb 02, 2012 Joe Petri rated it it was amazing
Shelves: classic
I had pulled this off the shelf with the intent of just rereading Candide,and found pulled back in to this book. Voltaire's wit and relevancy stand the test of time, though for anyone unfamiliar with his work, I wouldn't recommend sitting down and writing this compilation of essays and non-fiction in hte order presented. Start with Candide and Zadig and then work your way back up front to
the philosophic essays or correspondence.
Jan 03, 2009 Casey rated it really liked it
I haven't read the entire works, simply the translation of Candide done by Richard Aldington. It proved to be an incredibly easy and accessible read. Not something I expected from such an old book. I must say I prefer the excitement and hilarity embodied in Leonard Bernstein's stage musical version of Candide, but the book has its moments.
Benjamin Davidson
Sep 12, 2011 Benjamin Davidson rated it really liked it
I recommend Candide in particular, the satirical story of a group of travelers fleeing war, and finding more and more senseless suffering as they go, accompanied by someone who seems to have pondered the problem of evil and come to the conclusion that this must be the best conceivable world as a result.
Nov 14, 2011 Liza rated it it was amazing
Wittiness at its best! Voltaire could be categorized as the king of quick thinking and come backs. I enjoyed reading this book but my favorite section is the Philosophical Dictionary, which shows how clever he was and why people enjoyed his company at the court of Versailles.

Mar 04, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a strange character--slipping in and out of theism, becoming Frederick's pet, whining about his poor health and imminent death for 40 years… and how did "Candide" ever become more famous than the far superior "Zadig"?
Mar 31, 2013 Dana rated it it was amazing
Ah Voltaire. I found this in my room the other day. The front and back are still relabeled with a different title. After encouragement from my college friends, I changed it to the much more appropriate "The Wandering Voltaire".
Jun 16, 2007 Steve rated it it was amazing
If you like Kurt Vonnegut, read Voltaire! He's amazing! The philosophical dictionary is as hilarious as it is informative. All his fiction is great, but probably his best works are the lesser known ones.
This book contains some of Voltaire's classic novellas and short stories, including Ingenu and Micromegas, which are two of my favorites (besides the always popular Candide).
Stephanie U.
Apr 18, 2010 Stephanie U. rated it really liked it
Candide and Zadig are two of my favorite stories. They are quick reads and very entertaining. Voltaire's philosophical dictionary is also worth reading.
Paul Squires
Oct 18, 2008 Paul Squires rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everybody.
Voltaire is beyond description. There will never be another writer anything like him. Reading his work is the pursuit of a lifetime.
Robert Corrao
Nov 27, 2013 Robert Corrao rated it really liked it
Great insights into one of the leaders of the Enlightement and a courageous critic of the religious aristocrats of the time.
Jan 24, 2009 Wendy is currently reading it
this is my "while eating dinner" book. he is light hearted, funny, and a great way to calm down my day.
James Spada
Sep 12, 2008 James Spada rated it really liked it
I love Voltaire but I don't think he would get no child left behind in its full magnitude.
Peter Holst
Dec 10, 2009 Peter Holst rated it liked it
Some amazing stuff and a lot of highly esoteric essays that I will likely never absorb.
Valerie Van Haltern
Apr 14, 2008 Valerie Van Haltern rated it it was amazing
all Voltaire is worth reading and also, his Dictionary
May 29, 2007 Lindsay rated it liked it
Feisty and funny. Not sure about the politics.
Oct 19, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
It was very good, I am glad I read it.
Sep 13, 2010 Danielle rated it really liked it
edited by ben ray redman in 1949, this is a very good collection of voltaire's work: shorts, essays, letters and his philosophical dictionary. i have a few other publications of voltaire's work that aren't viking penguin but have not yet compared the translations. i generally find, though, that viking penguin translations aren't that bad.
Alya Zain
Alya Zain rated it really liked it
Feb 10, 2016
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Complete works (1880) :
In 1694, Age of Enlightenment leader Francois-Marie Arouet, known as Voltaire, was born in Paris. Jesuit-educated, he began writing clever verses by the age of 12. He launched a lifelong, successful playwriting career in 1718, interrupted by imprisonment in the Bastille. Upon a second imprisonment, in which Francois adopted the pen na
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