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Noon Edition

A Certain "Je Ne Sais Quoi"

In this operetta, the principal characters try everything to find happiness, only to finally resolve that the only real solution is to “tend your own garden” by living simply, productively, and hoping for the best. Up to this point, however, endless misfortunes result from the naïve philosopher who teaches that the worst possible disaster must be a blessing, given the essential goodness of God. Voltaire’s 1759 novel “Candide” was subtitled “Optimism,” and was intended as a savage parody of philosophical optimism of Voltaire’s time, particularly that of his contemporary Gottfried Leibniz. Even in the twentieth century, however, the story manages to retain its satirical edge. Perhaps this is because its targets (such as persecution, war-mongering, and shallow utopianism) have never really gone out of style.

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