Friday, March 8, 2024

Review of Candide by Voltaire

This book review was written by Eugene Kernes   

Book can be found in: 
Book Club Event = Book List (07/20/2024)
Intriguing Connections = 1) Want a Laugh?, 2) To Cooperate Or To Defect?

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“He was about to continue when he felt himself struck speechless at seeing the two girls embracing the dead bodies of the monkeys in the tenderest manner, weeping over their bodies, and filling the air with the most doleful lamentations.  “Really,” he said to Cacambo, “I didn’t expect to see so much generosity of spirit.”  “Master,” replied the knowing valet, “you have made a precious piece of work of it: you have killed the lovers of these two ladies.”  “Their lovers, Cacambo!  You must be joking; it cannot be; I can never believe it.”  “Dear sir,” replied Cacambo, “you are surprised by everything; why do you think it so strange that in some countries monkeys obtain the good graces of ladies?  They are one-quarter human, just as I am one-quarter Spanish.”” – Voltaire, Chapter XVI: What happened to our two Travellers with two Girls, two Monkeys, and the savages called Oreillons, Page 84

“”You are about to do a rash and silly thing,” said the king.  “I know that my kingdom is an insignificant spot; but when people are tolerably at ease in a place, I’d think it would be to their interest to remain there.  Most assuredly I have no right to detain you or any strangers against your wills: that sort of tyranny is repugnant to our manners and our laws: all men are by nature free; you have therefore the liberty to depart whenever you please, but you will encounter many great difficulties in crossing the frontiers.”” – Voltaire, Chapter XVIII: What they saw in the Country of El Dorado, Page 96

“Candide, however, had one advantage over Martin; he still hoped to see Miss Cunégonde once more, whereas the poor philosopher had nothing to hope for; besides, Candide had money and jewels, and though he had lost a hundred red sheep laden with the greatest treasure on earth, and though he still had in his heart the memory of the Dutch skipper’s villainy, yet when he considered what he had still left, and repeated the name of Cunégonde, especially after meal times, he leaned toward Pangoss’s doctrine.” – Voltaire, Chapter, Page 105


Is This An Overview?

A looming fortune is within reach, only to be taken away by tragic events.  Tragic events can seem hopeless, only to stumble into a new fortune.  This book follows the oscillating fortune and misfortune of primarily Candide, and many other characters.  Many who had everything, became those with nothing.  While those who appear to have nothing, have a fortune.  Not just fortune that has reversals, but also social values.  Written as a critique on society, on how social perception of groups does not mean that the members behave in the manner they are expected to.  Those who are supposed to represent the civilized behave in a barbarous manner, while those who are supposed to be barbarian behave in a civilized manner. 



This is a fast-paced adventure.  Each chapter is short, without many details given.  Lack of details, but filled with meaning.

Transitions have mixed qualities.  There are antediluvian references, which would be better understood by those who know the various historic aspects of the era. 

Questions to Consider while Reading the Book

•What is the raison d’etre of the book?  For what purpose did the author write the book?  Why do people read this book?
•What are some limitations of the book?
•To whom would you suggest this book?
•Who was Voltaire?
•Who is Candide? 
•Who is Cunégonde?
•Why did Cunégonde study philosophy? 
•Who is Pangloss? 
•What is Pangloss’s philosophy? 
•How did Candide join the Bulgarians?
•What happened to Candide in camp with the Bulgarians? 
•In Holland, who was not charitable? 
•Who is James?
•What happened in Lisbon after the earthquake? 
•Who is the old woman?
•Who is the Baron?
•What did the Baron think of Candide idea for Candide and Cunégonde?
•What happened to the monkeys?
•Who is Cacambo?
•What happened with the Oreillons?
•What happened in El Dorado?
•What are the laws of El Dorado?
•What did the Candide take from El Dorado? 
•Who is Martin?
•How to explain the red sheep? 
•Who are the six dethroned kings? 
•What happened in Constantinople? 

Book Details
Author Full Name:  François-Marie Arouet
Alternative Title:    Candide, or Optimism
Introduction and Notes Author:   Gita May
Translator:              Henry Morley
Translator, Revisor: Lauren Walsh
Original Language: French
Translated Into:       English
Publisher:               Barnes & Noble Classics
Edition ISBN:         9781411431898
Pages to read:          154
Publication:             2003
1st Edition:              1759
Format:                    eBook 

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          3
Overall          3