By Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet)
Read How You Want, (2010)
EasyRead 16-Point Large Print Edition
Reviewed by Israel Drazin - October 8, 2010
Comparing Shaw's Candida and Voltaire's Candide adds a dimension of understanding to both. Voltaire's Candide focuses on the enlightenment of a very naïve young boy who is influenced by his teacher, the philosopher Pangloss, who teaches him that this is "the best of all possible worlds" and therefore everything in it and everything that happens is not only good but the best that could possibly be. Voltaire was pocking fun at the philosopher Leibniz who taught this notion. Leibniz argued that God is good and all that he creates must of necessity be good. Voltaire shows that this is a ridiculous notion – according to this view, why save a man who is drowning since his death is "obviously" the best thing there is. The boy comes to understand that philosophy/thinking is not good; one should instead live life to the fullest.
Shaw's Candida focuses on a woman and what women want from men. However, the comedy in three acts also contains a very naïve young boy and it too enlightens men who have a wrong concept. The eighteen-year-old boy falls in love with the wife of an approximately forty-year-old pastor. She fifteen years older than the boy. Both the pastor and the boy argue about who Candida should live with. Both want to give her the best of all possible worlds. Both ask Candida to decide between them. But, as in the Voltaire's tale, Candida is not interested in the best of all possible worlds. She makes her choice based on an entirely different desire.
Dr. Israel Drazin is the author of fifteen books, including a series of five volumes on the Aramaic translation of the Hebrew Bible, which he co-authors with Rabbi Dr. Stanley M. Wagner, and a series of four books on the twelfth century philosopher Moses Maimonides, the latest being Maimonides: Reason Above All, published by Gefen Publishing House, www.gefenpublishing.com. The Orthodox Union (OU) publishes daily samples of the Targum books on www.ouradio.org.