All for the Best In the Best of All Possible Worlds

12 03 2010

Voltaire wrote Candide (or All For the Best or Optimism) in 1759.  The novella is a satire about Candide, a naive young man, and his many adventures and mishaps.  Candide has grown up not having to think about anything and being taught by Pangloss, who believes that everything that happens is for the best. 

Through the story Voltaire parodies many different situations and hardships for Candide to experience.  Through various mishaps, conscription into the army, and losing both money and his love, Candide keeps a positive outlook and keeps to Pangloss’s ideals. 

I found myself reading the book quickly, yet feeling like it would never end.  Naive Candide made me want to strangle him and beat some sense into his head.  Many of the other characters also lacked redeeming qualities.  The whole story could be summed up in: Naive whiner loves someone above his station and is run off.  Said whiner trusts others without question and is thus conscripted into the army.  Once getting out of the army he goes from mishap to mishap, finds and loses people from his past again and again, and makes bad choices.  In the end everything sucks, but he still thinks it’s the best that it can be. 

I don’t think I’ll bother re-reading it.  I know it had some great historical significance as  “Leibnizian optimism”, the Seven-Years War, and the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake all occurred in Voltaire’s time.  To me, it seemed a bit clichéd and without any contemporary purpose.

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One response

28 03 2010
areaderobsessed

That reminds me of when we read Candide in class at UofE. I wanted to beat his head in, too, along with every character. ^_^

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