“Optimism,” said Cacambo, “What is that?” “Alas!” replied Candide, “It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”
― Voltaire, Candide
Why I’m Reading this Book?
This book need no introduction. It’s a classic. But since it was written in French, I was biding my time to come to it. Finally one day I saw it in library, I thought it was about time I give it a go.
Story of an eternal optimist, who experiences horrible incidents one after other, but doesn’t want to discard what he has been taught that “all is for the best!!!”.
Story is of a young man named Candide who has been brought up in a German baron’s household. His tutor ‘Pangloss’ ingrained in him the belief that he is living in “the best of all possible worlds”. One day Candide was caught kissing his Baron’s daughter, and is thrown out of castle with great kicks on his backside.
From this point, his bizarre journey starts which took him around the world. On the way, he meets with many interesting people and creates a lot of interesting events. He joins (unwittingly) a bulgar army and almost gets killed for deserting, becomes beggar, gets flogged, finds his mistress Cunegonde again in dire situation. He rescues her and intends to marry her but he loses her again. He made finding her his life’s mission, and with help of his trusted valet, Cacambo, continues his journey. They come across ape loving girls, almost get eaten by Oreillons cannibals, find mythical Eldorado and meet their inhabitants, become richer than any king on earth and then loose it all.
He then meet another interesting character of story, a scholar named Martin, who has exact opposite ideology than Candide.He is thoroughly disgusted with mankind, doesn’t think human has a special role in cosmos and considers this world was created to make us mad. This duo travels to France, goes to the shore of England and then Venice , they meet kings, artists, beggars, prostitutes, nobleman and all the while Martin keeps proving his point that human beings are miserable in every situation while Candide desperately tries to hold on to his optimism.
From there they go to Constantinople and Candide gets united with his mistress, who is much changed but they all finally settle down with eternal question haunting them forever, “Why was man ever created?”
Though story is full of outrageous comical situation, author takes a serious stab at contemporary philosophy. He explains horrific incidents in a comic way, and somehow this way it makes them more horrible. He explains the futility and aftermaths of war, greed of man, depraved mentality, non-sensical customs prevalent in 18th century Europe. This is such a thought provoking book with rich acerbic humor. This immortal tale of Candide is a journey of a man trying to find himself.
My Rating — 4
On the scale of: (1- Hate , 2- Neither like nor dislike, 3- Like, 4- Love, 5- Gaga)
Why anyone else should read this Book?
Book is very small. 120 pages.
A Classic, a true classic. Points raised in the book are still relevant. It never cease to amaze me that a book written so long ago can still make so much sense.
An irony wrapped in a rich aroma of comedy. If this book was written in serious tone, it would be very dark and hard hitting. Humor makes it easy to read it without losing its meaning.
All characters of this story are so amazing that they deserve a chance to get acquainted with.
And finally never-ending optimism of Candide, it’s like a beacon in utter darkness. In spite of all ill-happenings, reader root for Candide’s positive attitude and relate in his hope for mankind. Because, without hope, what are all we?
Stay home, Stay Safe!!!
Have you read it? Are you planning to? What is your opinion? Share them here. Till next time, Happy Reading Folks!!!