Sunday, December 30, 2007

Candide - Wendy's Book Review

Master Pangloss taught the metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology. He could prove admirably that there is no effect without a cause, and in this best of all possible worlds the baron's castle was the most magnificent of all castles, and my lady the best of all possible baronesses. -From Candide, page 12-

Voltaire published Candide - a classic satire which skewers politics, religious fanaticism, war, and colonialism - in 1759 to almost immediate success, despite being quickly condemned by French and Swiss authorities and banned by the Catholic church. The book sold phenomenally well "underground" and is considered one of the greatest satires of all time.

Voltaire created the naive, young Candide as a way to poke fun at religion and politics, while at the same time questioning the philosophy of Leibniz who was the eternal optimist, believing that all happened for the best and we lived in the best of all worlds. Faced with cataclysmic events (such as the 1755 earthquake of Lisbon which killed thousands), Voltaire questions the idea of a benevolent God who could allow such tragedy.

In the novel, Candide faces ludicrous and horrible situations...including floggings, beatings, betrayal, imprisonment, and separation from his beloved Cunegonde. Throughout his travels, Candide meets officials, Jesuits, and philosophers...and discovers a Utopian community...which all gives Voltaire ample opportunity to to attack corruption and hypocrisy in religion, government, philosophy and science. One of my favorite moments in the book was when Candide questions the leader of the Country of El Dorado (Utopia). The scene that follows puts Voltaire's cutting humor on display:

Candide was interesting in seeing some of their priests and had Cacambo ask the old man where they were; at which he, smiling, said: "My friends, we are all priests. The king and all the heads of the families sing solemn hymns of thanksgiving every morning, accompanied by five or six thousand musicians." What!" says Cacambo, "you have no monks among you to dispute, to govern, to intrigue, and to burn people who are not of the same opinion as themselves?" -From Candide, page 71-

Voltaire's classic is as relevant today as it was nearly 250 years ago. Truly a book which will stimulate important discussion, this one is highly recommended; rated 4.5/5.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Candide from Kimmie

Candide by Voltaire

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It's a small book and very easy reading. But the thinking may take up a little more time. It does give you a lot to chew over. I have a bit more on my blog.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Kimmie's List

I've finally gotten my list together. It wasn't easy to pick just three countries and get a decent list together while trying to coridinate whith my BoGB goal but I did it.

1.) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert France
2.) Les Misérables by Victor Hugo France
3.) The Hunchback of Notre-Dame by Victor Hugo France
4.) Justine by the Marquis de Sade France
5.) Candide by Voltaire France
6.) The Prince by Niccolὸ AMachiavelli Italy
7.) The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene England
8.) Paradise Lost by Milton England
9.) Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift Ireland

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Stephanie's Intro and List of books!

Hi everyone!! Sorry for the delay in posting! After joining up with this challenge, I went on vacation. Then experienced technical difficulties with my modem. But now that I'm up and running, I wanted to say HI!! I read such a variety of books anyway. From cozies to classics, vampire books to non-fiction. Fantasty and historical fiction. Science fiction and award winners. I figured this challenge would be a chance to learn something new....and read some classics I've wanted to for a very long time!!

That being said, here is the list of books that I have chosen for this challenge:

  • Candide by Voltaire
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (re-read)
  • Nana (or The Ladies' Paradise) by Emile Zola
  • Paradise Lost by John Milton
  • Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
  • Indiana by George Sand
  • The Black Tulip by Alexandre Dumas
  • The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
  • History of My Life by Giacomo Casanova
  • The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli
  • Justine by Marquis de Sade

I stuck with mainly fiction, since that's the genre I'm most interested in. 12 books for 12 months, but who knows if I'll be able to make through all of them!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eloise's reading list

I have been looking through the lists of banned authors on various sites and getting very excited. I will start off gently and have picked six authors who will meet the rules and that I know I have or am reasonably certain I can get hold of. I am certain to increase the number of banned authors I own over the next year, so this list may be a work in progress. I am a little peeved, though, that I have just waded my way through Emmanuel Swedenborg's The Universal Human and Soul-Body Interaction, when if I had left it a month I could have included it as part of the challenge!

Here we go, England, Ireland and France:

Francis Bacon: Essays
John Stuart Mill: On Liberty
Laurence Sterne: Journal to Eliza
Jonathan Swift: A Tale of a Tub
Alexandre Dumas: The Count of Monte Cristo
Victor Hugo: Les Miserables

I may also re-read Machiavelli's The Prince.

The book I really, really want from the list is Defoe's The History of the Devil, so if I manage to get a copy I'll also include this.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Musings on a reading list

As I've blogged on my own site before, if there's anything I am it is curious. For a curious reader, the incidental stumble upon the brief mention of the Vatican's Prohibited Books list, in this book, was like finding a "X" mark over buried treasure. (Buried it is, or at least partly. I have the resources of three university library collections at my finger tips and not one has a complete bibliography in English.) The Roman Catholic censors had varied and enviable taste (if misguided intentions) and over the centuries compiled an overwhelming list of intellectual marvels. Here was an opportunity to tackle some of the fiction and philosophy I always meant to, and to be introduced to authors I knew little or nothing about. From internet resources alone I've been able to make good ground -- as far as making a list goes, anyway.

I made the challenge a year long because I plan to read both fiction and philosophy, and I take absolutely forever with non-fiction reads that aren't assigned. I also expect to be back in school come January, which is sure to curtail what time I have for leisure reads. Finally, I'm a huge proponent for the slackest sort of rules when it comes to reading challenges. I was rather horrified at myself for a few seconds after I made the three countries quota because I realised that it forced participants to choose at least three books, contradicting my free-wheeling stance. Still, it is a year long challenge, and it serves the higher purpose of diversity and exposure, so I try not to feel too bad about that.

Here is my rough preliminary list. Choices will be restricted by availability, reported quality of translations and whether they pass the middle-of-the-book test. I also plan to go to the library to take a look at its copy of the Index. The plan is for me to complement the largely incomplete or unusable internet resources by providing more specific information as to which particular works were banned (though the church made it easy for many by simply banning authors' entire output) and mentioning less familiar but potentially interesting writers. I imagine it will be an ongoing project.

1. John Milton (England) -- Paradise Lost
2. Voltaire (France) -- Candide
3. Simone de Beauvoir (France)
4. Auguste Comte (France)
5. Anatole France/ Jacques A F Thibault (France)
6. Victor Hugo (France) - The Hunchback of Notre Dame
7. Nikos Kazantzakis (Greece) - Alexander; Christ Recrucified; The Last Temptation of Christ
8. Maurice Maeterlinck (Belgium) - Pelléas et Mélisande; The Blue bird; Treasure of the Humble
9. Spinoza (Netherlands, Portugal)
10. George Sand (France)
11. Gerard Walschap (Belgium) - Adelaide
12. Marquis de Sade (France)
13. Gustave Flaubert (France)
14. Honore de Balzac (France)
15. Alberto Moravia (Italy)
16. Giovanni Boccaccio (Italy) - Decameron
17. Nicolaus Copernicus (Poland) - On the Revolution of the Heavenly Spheres

The predominance of France on my list is part of what's driving me to see if any other countries match its shocking overflow of immorality. It may just be my instinctive attraction to their literature: most of the authors were ones I considered or intended to read before I came upon the Vatican's list. That's probably why I was so impressed with it: why, the popes of the past were just like me!

Rachel D. has her list ready as well:

1. Stendhal (France) - The Red and the Black
2. Edward Gibbon (England) - The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Vol. I
3. Giovanni Boccaccio (Italy) - Decameron
4. Alexandre Dumas (France) - The Count of Monte Cristo

Friday, August 10, 2007

Creating Our Lists - Sites Worth Perusing

I am very happy to be here and am looking forward to this challenge! I spent some time on Google today and came up with a couple of interesting sites which list famous authors who have appeared in the Index of banned and censored books.

Wikipedia's Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Wapedia's Index Librorum Prohibitorum

Thursday, August 9, 2007

The best part: challenge buttons

Here are two different sizes for the challenge button.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The orignal size image is here and you can use it to resize the image to suit your needs.

Welcome to the ILL

Hello and welcome to the homepage of the Index Librorum Liberorum. For a year, working with the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (List of Prohibited Books) officially catalogued and promulgated by the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of Pope Paul IV in 1559, participants are encouraged to select books or the oeuvre of authors to read, mull over and share with like-minded individuals at this site. The only requirement is that each participant chooses authors from at least three different countries. The Beacon for Freedom of Expression has a database that allows sorting by country. (Awkward database but the best I could find so far.)

This index is notable because of the many illustrious fiction writers, poets and philosophers that have been honoured with a place on the list. Here's a very small sample:

Albert Moravia
George Sand
Laurence Stern
Victor Hugo
Francis Bacon
Blaise Pascal
Daniel Defoe
John Milton
Radclyffe Hall

I was so impressed that I thought to myself, My, wouldn't this make a good challenge? A wide range of authors including obscure religious works, philosophy, fiction, poetry...the possibilities and possible combination of choices seem endless.

Any reviews or relevant challenge related posts should be submitted here and, of course, may be cross-posted at your personal blog, if you have one. For organizational purposes please take care to add "fiction", "poetry", "philosophy", "non-fiction", "general" and similar label/tags to your post to make browsing easier. The challenge starts on September 1st 2007 and ends on August 31st 2008. The long period allows us to give, to a small extent, the attention such a list deserves.

Because of the incomplete nature of the list readers are allowed to choose any works by the authors on the list rather than being limited to specific works. You may sign up to the challenge at any time and choose as many or as few books as you like: the only requirement is that at least three countries are represented.

You can sign up by submitting a comment with your contact information and URL (if this info is not in your blogger profile) to any of the posts. I'll contact you with a blogger invitation so that you can post and I'll add your name to the sidebar. If you wish to be a silent participant, that's ok too!

Suggestions, tips and feedback are welcome. I hope that we all have a lot of fun with this. Many thanks to the dwarvish but learnéd Sylvia for providing the corrected title change.