Fausta's blog

Faustam fortuna adiuvat
The official blog of Fausta's Blog Talk Radio show.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Re-reading Candide

Yesterday I was asking a friend, "Do you ever want to re-read a book you got rid of years ago?", and he replied, "Of course".

Two years ago casa de Fausta underwent a huge remodelling and renovation project. Houses need repainting, floors need refinishing, wiring needs updating, plumbing needs repairing and before you knew it we had added a living room, foyer, home office, one bathroom, a deck, and a brand-new kitchen that's twice the size of the original one. It was in the planning for five years. It was a grueling process which required putting into storage half of all the furniture and nearly all my books, which I missed frequently. After all the work in the house was completed I got rid of 150-200 books. Some of them made it to Iraq, some were sold, some were given to friends, some went to the local charity rummage sales.

The remodelling was the best of all worlds in that selling this house and buying a different house would have been equally expensive, plus we wouldn't have known what else the "new" house needed to have done. In that sense, it was the best of all possible worlds.

What brought my desire to reread a book I had read years ago was my post on Obama's okey-dokey, when I quoted from Voltaire's Candide, a book I read in school (and struggled through French class).

Candide is a funny book with a profound message, which explains its longevity. It's a picaresque novel that could be filmed as a slapstick comedy starring Owen Wilson (or whatever Hollywood-hot-property-du-jour); its circular plot continually reminds us that "things can not be otherwise; for as everything has been made for a purpose, everything is necessarily made for the best purpose" "nothing happens without sufficient reason", and "all is for the best". Back when I first read it it really made an impression, and suddenly, I had the urge to re-read it.

My friend suggested Hamilton Books and of course Amazon, but he really recommends Abe Books for the best value. He had recommended Abe Books in the past, and I've been able to find books in Spanish at unbeatable prices.

But I wanted to re-read Candide right away. It's a short novel, and this weekend I'm in a pensive mood and have the chance to ponder my goals for the next five years (at least I'm sure I don't want to be doing another huge remodelling project while residing at the construction site).

So I headed to Barnes and Noble, and looked for the dual-language edition, which they didn't have. Instead I bought the delightful Peter Constantine translation. At 119 pages, it went fast.

I still have much to ponder about what direction to go in the next five years, and whether "all events are linked in the best of all possible worlds". But, in the final words of the novel, "we must cultivate our garden", and that I shall.

And let's be grateful for the luxury of re-reading beautiful books, for friends who also enjoy them, and for friends who help you find them at good prices.

I can't access the WSJ Five-Best books page right now. If I do later in the day, I'll list them.

For now, here's a nice pair of shoes,


It's Sunday, so it's time for the Carnival of the Insanities


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At 1:54 PM, Blogger Pat Patterson said...

Candide in French? Christ Stopped At The Door To HS French Class, to borrow from the title of Carlo Levi's book. Or you could have fudged and got a copy of the Leonard Bernstein operetta of Candide with my favorite munchkin of all time, Kristin Chenoweth.

Besides, Voltaire's less than PC descriptions of the Turks(Muslims) would probably elicit riots in Pakistan or Copenhagen today.

At 2:13 PM, Blogger Fausta said...

Pat, if I memory serves me, WF Buckley's theme music for his show was the Candide operture.

The Muslims descriptions will be the subject of a future post.

At 3:54 PM, Blogger newton said...

I first read Candide on my Freshman year of college. Believe it or not, I enjoyed it a lot more than any other novels I had read before then - even those that I had to read during my College Spanish class in high school.

And yes, I have a copy of the Candide operetta suite on CD!

Hey, why don't you link to this rendition of "Glitter and Be Gay"? The Anchoress had it on her site a while ago.


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