Friday, April 12, 2019

Candide by Voltaire (novel #124)

All is for the best


Candide is an 18th Century satire. The title character is a privileged, innocent young man, and illegitimate nephew of the Baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh. Also residing in the baron’s castle are the baron’s daughter Cunegonde, and tutor Pangloss who teaches…

That they live in the best of all possible worlds
That things cannot be otherwise than as they are
And that all is for the best

A philosophy Candide embraces without doubt or reservation.

Until his world begins to unravel. Candide is evicted when a fairly innocent kiss with Cunegonde is discovered. Alone and unprotected, he is conscripted into the army, beaten and carried away, later to learn of an attack against his uncle’s castle, the murder of the entire household, and the rape and murder of Cunegonde.  

And yet, Candide is merely confused – he loses no faith in Pangloss’ teachings, but merely wishes for his tutor to help him understand the apparent contradiction of his philosophy and the reality of life.

In time, Candide happily finds Pangloss and Cunegonde – not dead after all, but in severely humbled condition – nonetheless there is hope for reward of Candide’s innocence and faith.

But no. A series of events brings the characters together, and then separates them, and causes them by force or freewill to leave Europe for the Americas. Candide concludes…
We are going into another world, ….and surely it must be there that all is for the best.

But no. Back to Europe, and then the Mediterranean. And slowly, though narrated very quickly, Candide is disillusioned.

The satire is quite evidently Voltaire’s rebuttal of Optimism. Meh…OK. I get it. But I was unimpressed, and I didn’t find it very funny.

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This novel satisfies A Classic Comedy for the Back to the Classics 2019 challenge.

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2 comments:

  1. I'm not surprised that you lost patience with Candide. I didn't think it would be your cup of tea. Hope the next one is better!

    ReplyDelete

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