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Voltaire was a popular and prolific writer whose output would fill 100 volumes, but for the modern reader his short satirical novella, Candide, is by far the most widely read of his works. It is available in many different editions, but we would recommend a version that supplements the bare text with additional material providing some of the historical and cultural context for his biting humor. Two good choices are Candide (Enriched Classics Series) (Mass Market Paperback) by Voltaire (Author) or Candide (A Norton Critical Edition) (Paperback) by Voltaire (Author), Robert M. Adams (Editor, Translator). For those who prefer listening to their literature, Candide is also available as an audio book: Candide (Unabridged Classics) [AUDIOBOOK] [CD] (Audio CD) by Voltaire (Author), Tom Whitworth (Narrator). If you would like a broader sampling of Voltaire’s work, try The Portable Voltaire (The Viking Portable Library) (Paperback).
The Extended Bibliography below lists many excellent books on the broader topic of the French and European Enlightenment, but it is not easy to find a short, readable overview aimed at the general reader. A good starting point is The Enlightenment (Studies in European History) (Paperback) by Roy Porter, a 70-page summary that provides historical context as well as a review of how attitudes and perspectives about the Enlightenment have changed over the years. The book also includes an extensive annotated bibliography. A short overview, Age of Enlightenment (Great Ages of Man), Time-Life Books, 1966) by leading Enlightenment scholar, Peter Gay, was part of a popular Time-Life series, and may still be found.