What people are saying - Write a review
This is a very pedestrian translation compared with John Butt's excellent version published by Penguin Classics. I cannot tell from this site's offering who is the perpetrator of this American 1918 edition, but the satire is quite lost in translation -- even worse than Ira O. Wade's translation which is bad enough.
To gain the utmost from Voltaire's cutting wit you need to think about his and his contemporary's lifestyle: Jansenism and religious factions, nouveau riche pretending to nobility, new age charlatans even then, and of the idiocy of laws and traditions which supposedly upstanding people schemed to get around. Much like today!
Why mention a door and several windows in the baron's house? A door is obviously sarcastic, since one can hardly boast of one, unless it is also the tradesman's entrance, but did you know there was a window tax in England where Voltaire lived for a time? The setting for Candide is Westphalia, a former province of Prussia, predominantly a coal and mineral mining area where one might be able to afford tapestries that were not just to keep out the damp. A baronial hall there would be an object of some amusement, certainly to the Barry Humphries of his day. And don't miss the point of the word 'whip' with its implications of unpaid political office against the expense of stables and a kennel of hunting hounds. Supposed power needing the ability to engender loyalty is implicit in both.
Why dye sheep red? Possibly because importing blue dye from the East was punishable by death in the 16th century, and dying the wool at source seems a good idea, especially if you could import blue sheep. Anabaptists believed in total baptism, so naturally James has to be drowned. There's a jibe at someone or something behind every sentence. Give yourselves a good laugh and Voltaire his due by reading translations that don't miss the satirical point.