Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Candide by Voltaire

Original Post - February 2.2007
>>>>This book is considered Voltaire's masterpiece and Voltaire was considered by many to be the greatest mind of his era. I believe if I were more familiar with the mid 1700's, I might have understand what Volatire was trying to say about his society and enjoyed the story more. He is scathingly sarcastic and there were numerous place that had me chuckling. However, overall, I found the book very silly. Candide is an easily swayed young man who first follows the tenets of his teacher, Dr. Pangloss, who believes he lives in the best possible world and all things happen for the best. Later, in his many travels, Candide meets Martin, an extreme pessimist, who thinks that man "is born to live either in the convulsions of distress or the lethargy of boredom." Candide struggles to reconcile the two philosophies. The book moves at a breakneck pace, hopping from one country to the next with characters supposedly dying along the way. He falls in love immediately with the beautiful Lady Cunegonde, but can't match her 72 generations of nobility and is banished. Never fear, they reunite several times over the course of this 113-page novel. While Voltaire plays lightly with the love scenes, the illustrations in this particular edition leave nothing to the imagination. I was a little shocked because I bought this book from a LDS book store. Voltaire is equally irreverent about Muslims, Christians, the concept of God the Creator, the nobility, the Spanish Inquisition, innocence, riches, and human suffering.
The last paragraphs of the book are as follows: "Pangloss often said to Candide, 'All events are interconnected in this best of all possible worlds, for if you hadn't been driven from a beautiful castle with hard kicks in the behind because of your love for Lady Cunegonde, if you hadn't been seized by the Inquisition, if you hadn't wandered over America on foot, if you hadn't thrust your sword through the baron, and if you hadn't lost all your sheep from the land of Eldorado, you wouldn't be here eating candied citrons and pistachio nuts.'
Well said,' replied Candide, 'but we must cultivate our garden.' "
In the appreciation written at the beginning of the book by Andre' Maurois, he interprets that last statement to mean: "The world is mad and cruel; the earth trembles and the sky hurls thunderbolts; kings fight and Churches rend each other. Let us limit our activity and try to do as well as we can the small task that seems to be within our powers."
I think it means that we can't control every aspect of our lives, but we can control our attitudes and work to make our lives the best we can.
Rating: 3.5
Posted by Framed at 6:46 PM

booklogged said...
Wow, what a great review! I like the meaning you came up with after reading this book. Being that it's a short book, maybe I'll consider it the next time I decide to tackle a classic.
8:37 PM
jenclair said...
I still want to read Candide, but I'm glad I recently read a biography of Voltaire because his satire is topical. Not that I would recognize all of it anyway...!
9:51 PM
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
An excellent review. It is a very silly book isn't it? That was what I liked best.
3:45 PM

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