Category: Voltaire

book of books – Candide


Voltaire is one of those names that conjures up all sorts of images. A favourite of Catherine the Great and seen as a philosopher that was so independently minded that he was brave enough to upset monarchs across Europe you come to his work with some trepidation.

But Candide could not be further from what you expected. Literature can throw up some real surprises and this matched Homer’s Odyssey in terms of being more enjoyable than expected. Maybe I’m not reading it in the right way and it should be a lot harder and no doubt students of literature pore over every word but for the casual reader this is easily digestible and has a point that is fairly easy to grasp.

Plot summary
Candide is a young man that has been influenced by his mentor Pangloss who is a philosopher that believes in optimism. Voltaire’s definition of which is explained by Candide to a fellow traveller: “’What is optimism?’ asked Cacambo.
‘It’s the passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong with us,’ replied Candide.” Things certainly go wrong for Candide who starts working for a Baron and ends up getting his first piece of bad fortune after being sacked for falling in love with the Baron’s daughter Cunegonde. Candide stays faithful to the idea that they will be together but has to go through a series of escapades including being forced into a war, tortured by the inquisition, having the wealth given to him by the King of Eldorado stolen and then finally when he does meet Cunegonde she is ugly and has a temperament that he is not too keen on. But he remains optimistic throughout even after picking up a counterbalance to Pangloss in the form of the pessimist Martin.

Is it well written?
At the time of its publication it presumably had them rolling in the aisles slightly more than it does today because the style does seem dated. There is also a strong feeling that Voltaire is making numerous political points at the nobility and religious structures of various countries, which again without further study are lost on the modern reader. But in terms of the style it has a lively pace, moves the narrative on and has a limited cast that makes it fairly easy to navigate through what is a constantly changing background.

Should it be read?
One consequence of reading it is that you get an insight into a different style of writing, something not just satirical but provocative. Is Candide someone to be admired for remaining optimistic and positive in the face of such bad fortune or is he a fool? Likewise is Pangloss right or is Martin’s view the one you subscribe to? It is because of the pertinence of those questions to the modern reader that it deserves to be read. Most of the time I see the glass half empty so Martin’s cynical view of the world is closer to my own but just seeing an alternative does make you think about being more like Candide and Pangloss.

Summary
Remaining optimistic in the face of numerous twists off bad fortune Candide does end up with the love of his life even though she is ugly and he is broke

Version read – Penguin paperback

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book of books – Candide


Voltaire is one of those names that conjures up all sorts of images. A favourite of Catherine the Great and seen as a philosopher that was so independently minded that he was brave enough to upset monarchs across Europe you come to his work with some trepidation.

But Candide could not be further from what you expected. Literature can throw up some real surprises and this matched Homer’s Odyssey in terms of being more enjoyable than expected. Maybe I’m not reading it in the right way and it should be a lot harder and no doubt students of literature pore over every word but for the casual reader this is easily digestible and has a point that is fairly easy to grasp.

Plot summary
Candide is a young man that has been influenced by his mentor Pangloss who is a philosopher that believes in optimism. Voltaire’s definition of which is explained by Candide to a fellow traveller: “’What is optimism?’ asked Cacambo.
‘It’s the passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong with us,’ replied Candide.” Things certainly go wrong for Candide who starts working for a Baron and ends up getting his first piece of bad fortune after being sacked for falling in love with the Baron’s daughter Cunegonde. Candide stays faithful to the idea that they will be together but has to go through a series of escapades including being forced into a war, tortured by the inquisition, having the wealth given to him by the King of Eldorado stolen and then finally when he does meet Cunegonde she is ugly and has a temperament that he is not too keen on. But he remains optimistic throughout even after picking up a counterbalance to Pangloss in the form of the pessimist Martin.

Is it well written?
At the time of its publication it presumably had them rolling in the aisles slightly more than it does today because the style does seem dated. There is also a strong feeling that Voltaire is making numerous political points at the nobility and religious structures of various countries, which again without further study are lost on the modern reader. But in terms of the style it has a lively pace, moves the narrative on and has a limited cast that makes it fairly easy to navigate through what is a constantly changing background.

Should it be read?
One consequence of reading it is that you get an insight into a different style of writing, something not just satirical but provocative. Is Candide someone to be admired for remaining optimistic and positive in the face of such bad fortune or is he a fool? Likewise is Pangloss right or is Martin’s view the one you subscribe to? It is because of the pertinence of those questions to the modern reader that it deserves to be read. Most of the time I see the glass half empty so Martin’s cynical view of the world is closer to my own but just seeing an alternative does make you think about being more like Candide and Pangloss.

Summary
Remaining optimistic in the face of numerous twists off bad fortune Candide does end up with the love of his life even though she is ugly and he is broke

Version read – Penguin paperback

book of books – Candide


Voltaire is one of those names that conjures up all sorts of images. A favourite of Catherine the Great and seen as a philosopher that was so independently minded that he was brave enough to upset monarchs across Europe you come to his work with some trepidation.

But Candide could not be further from what you expected. Literature can throw up some real surprises and this matched Homer’s Odyssey in terms of being more enjoyable than expected. Maybe I’m not reading it in the right way and it should be a lot harder and no doubt students of literature pore over every word but for the casual reader this is easily digestible and has a point that is fairly easy to grasp.

Plot summary
Candide is a young man that has been influenced by his mentor Pangloss who is a philosopher that believes in optimism. Voltaire’s definition of which is explained by Candide to a fellow traveller: “’What is optimism?’ asked Cacambo.
‘It’s the passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong with us,’ replied Candide.” Things certainly go wrong for Candide who starts working for a Baron and ends up getting his first piece of bad fortune after being sacked for falling in love with the Baron’s daughter Cunegonde. Candide stays faithful to the idea that they will be together but has to go through a series of escapades including being forced into a war, tortured by the inquisition, having the wealth given to him by the King of Eldorado stolen and then finally when he does meet Cunegonde she is ugly and has a temperament that he is not too keen on. But he remains optimistic throughout even after picking up a counterbalance to Pangloss in the form of the pessimist Martin.

Is it well written?
At the time of its publication it presumably had them rolling in the aisles slightly more than it does today because the style does seem dated. There is also a strong feeling that Voltaire is making numerous political points at the nobility and religious structures of various countries, which again without further study are lost on the modern reader. But in terms of the style it has a lively pace, moves the narrative on and has a limited cast that makes it fairly easy to navigate through what is a constantly changing background.

Should it be read?
One consequence of reading it is that you get an insight into a different style of writing, something not just satirical but provocative. Is Candide someone to be admired for remaining optimistic and positive in the face of such bad fortune or is he a fool? Likewise is Pangloss right or is Martin’s view the one you subscribe to? It is because of the pertinence of those questions to the modern reader that it deserves to be read. Most of the time I see the glass half empty so Martin’s cynical view of the world is closer to my own but just seeing an alternative does make you think about being more like Candide and Pangloss.

Summary
Remaining optimistic in the face of numerous twists off bad fortune Candide does end up with the love of his life even though she is ugly and he is broke

Version read – Penguin paperback

Lunchtime read: Candide

The book comes to an end with plenty of lessons for those who are searching for a definition of optimism. It would not be too difficult to update this with a modern version with more humour and a slightly more detailed exploration into the human condition with its varied displays of greed and deceit.

I’ll make a few more comments on that in a review that will follow in a couple of days.

Highlights from chapters

* While Candide and his companion Martin sit in Venice and wait for news he has a meal with six former kings and is reunited with his servant from the Eldorado expedition who tells him that his love is in Constantinople

* Candide heads for the Turkish city with Martin and his servant, who he has paid out of slavery, but is worried that Cunegonde has become very ugly because of her labours washing dishes down by the sea

* On the slave ship they are being rowed across Constantinople in Candide is amazed to come across Pangloss and Cunegonde’s brother both of which he thought were dead but both were brought back to help by kind medical helpers

* Once Candide meets Cunegonde sure enough she is ugly and he wishes in a way he could escape marriage but he sticks to his word and has to send her brother packing back to the slave ship to stop his objections

* In the end the little groups of philosophers and friends of Candide settle on a farm and only become happy when they all share the work in the gardens – an ending that ends more on a socialism note than you might have expected

A review will follow soon…

Lunchtime read: Candide

The book comes to an end with plenty of lessons for those who are searching for a definition of optimism. It would not be too difficult to update this with a modern version with more humour and a slightly more detailed exploration into the human condition with its varied displays of greed and deceit.

I’ll make a few more comments on that in a review that will follow in a couple of days.

Highlights from chapters

* While Candide and his companion Martin sit in Venice and wait for news he has a meal with six former kings and is reunited with his servant from the Eldorado expedition who tells him that his love is in Constantinople

* Candide heads for the Turkish city with Martin and his servant, who he has paid out of slavery, but is worried that Cunegonde has become very ugly because of her labours washing dishes down by the sea

* On the slave ship they are being rowed across Constantinople in Candide is amazed to come across Pangloss and Cunegonde’s brother both of which he thought were dead but both were brought back to help by kind medical helpers

* Once Candide meets Cunegonde sure enough she is ugly and he wishes in a way he could escape marriage but he sticks to his word and has to send her brother packing back to the slave ship to stop his objections

* In the end the little groups of philosophers and friends of Candide settle on a farm and only become happy when they all share the work in the gardens – an ending that ends more on a socialism note than you might have expected

A review will follow soon…

Lunchtime read: Candide

The search for his love is restarted as Candide escapes from France, which he believes is full of barbarians but next stop is England and it is no surprise that he finds the people there even worse.

Highlights from chapters XXIII to XXV

* Landing in England Candide is witness to an execution of an admiral who is shot for failing to kill enough of his men in a battle against the French enemy and he starts to plan his escape asking a Dutch captain to take him to Venice

* Once in Venice he looks for his old servant and the love of his life but the weeks pass by and he fails to find either and starts to depair and as result talks more to his companion Martin about happiness

* Candide bets that a woman and a monk arm in arm are happy but when they get them back to his house for a dinner it turns out they are both deeply unhappy and have tragic lives

* Next Candide is invited to go and see someone who believes themselves to be so superior to everything that he takes a peverse pleasure in disliking everythinng including great literature

The final chunk comes tomorrow…

Lunchtime read: Candide

The search for his love is restarted as Candide escapes from France, which he believes is full of barbarians but next stop is England and it is no surprise that he finds the people there even worse.

Highlights from chapters XXIII to XXV

* Landing in England Candide is witness to an execution of an admiral who is shot for failing to kill enough of his men in a battle against the French enemy and he starts to plan his escape asking a Dutch captain to take him to Venice

* Once in Venice he looks for his old servant and the love of his life but the weeks pass by and he fails to find either and starts to depair and as result talks more to his companion Martin about happiness

* Candide bets that a woman and a monk arm in arm are happy but when they get them back to his house for a dinner it turns out they are both deeply unhappy and have tragic lives

* Next Candide is invited to go and see someone who believes themselves to be so superior to everything that he takes a peverse pleasure in disliking everythinng including great literature

The final chunk comes tomorrow…