Candide: Or, Optimism
"Candide" is the story of a gentle man who, though pummeled and slapped in every direction by fate, clings desperately to the belief that he lives in "the best of all possible worlds." On the surface a witty, bantering tale, this eighteenth-century classic is actually a savage, satiric thrust at the philosophical optimism that proclaims that all disaster and human suffering is part of a benevolent cosmic plan. Fast, funny, often outrageous, the French philosopher's immortal narrative takes Candide around the world to discover that -- contrary to the teachings of his distringuished tutor Dr. Pangloss -- all is not always for the best. Alive with wit, brilliance, and graceful storytelling, "Candide" has become Voltaire's most celebrated work.
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Comical and philosophical.
Follows Candide from a castle in Germany (where he is kicked out for kissing the beautiful Cunegonde), to Bulgaria where he is enlisted forcefully in the army against Germany, to South America where he again loses Cunegonde (but meets Cacambo - his page), go to the wonderful city of ElDorado (but leave heaven in search of further happiness), become millionaires a hundred times over with the dirt and rocks of that fair city, lose most of it when their sheep's die, goes back to Europe with Martin (hired because he was the most sorry person who Candide met), meets Cunegonde's brother again and Pangloss, his philosopher from Germany, and rescues the now ugly Cunegonde and the old woman who saved him from the Inquisition in Spain. They move to a little farm and "cultivate their garden."
This was a very short, very quick read. Voltaire used simple language (or at least the translation did) and simple sentences to get his point across. I'm sure some of his genius was from his mastery of storytelling in easy to read, simple language. Candide was an eternal optimist because he had been taught optimism from Pangloss early in his life in Germany. Pangloss told him that everything was right and therefore perfect. Martin was the only Pessimist in the story and he was the happiest. He was also the safest. He had a tough time in his old town in South America, but it was nothing compared to what any of the other characters encountered. The men were beaten, "killed", stolen from, and made slaves. The women were mutilated, raped, killed, and abused. Voltaire wrote his Optimism with a pessimistic pen. I'm sure it was sarcastic, as I say and act in similar fashions as this story was unfolded.
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