Candide by Voltaire: A book review

candide

If there are subjects back in school that I am very poor at, those are Geography, History and Physics. The common aspects of those three are vivid imagination and detailed orientation which I honestly find exhausting to practice especially when I’m trying to find peace and tranquility. Well, what else can I expect in reading another satire the second time in a row? I don’t know Voltaire and has never read anything he has written until now.

This book though is more philosophical than political but is equally controversial. The author resembles different ideals thru a variety of characters and incidents portrayed amongst scenarios that are fast-paced and unpredictable. The story circulates on the character of Candide, hence the title. He is in love with Cunégonde, marveled by her beauty and enchanted by her charm. He is an avid follower and listener of the great philosopher Pangloss who is actually aimed to portray the image of a true philosopher and that is Libidiz.

 

candide

 

 

At the beginning of the story, I felt a warm blush on my cheek while following how these two expressed their young love to each other. He would go places with her and ultimately tell her how he feels in the most adorable way a boy could do. In the mean time, Candide also listens attentively to his teacher and close friend Pangloss who purposefully embarks on the idea of how all things are meant to be and that they are supposedly the best of all possibilities so no one should ever question them, instead; just live with utter contentment. I took the liberty on skimming some short courses on Voltaire’s history and found out that when he was writing this book, he is more of an antagonist to the Catholic church which explains one chapter of the book ridiculing a priests prerogative on blessing and praising men who ate an Old Woman’s half butt.

pangloss

The plot is a series of misfortunes that every time each one occurs makes Candide doubt and question the lessons of his great teacher, Pangloss. Who would not? How could the pain and murder of many be the will of God? I remember the movie entitled “Devil’s Advocate” where at the end boiled down to man’s free will. Yes, freewill I personally think is the ultimate answer, the power to choose what to believe and when to believe these thoughts we have dangling in the middle of our everyday routine awaiting to be pulled down and spark a light bulb over our heads. Candide met and journeyed with different men, went to different kingdoms where he suffered, was delighted but in every second was with the spirits of Cunégonde and Pangloss metaphysically. There was a chapter where the two were separated by the need to get  away from people trying to chase them because of what Candide had done to the masters of his great love. After that, he encountered a series fluctuates in fortune and was at the latter was able to reunite with Cunégonde.

cunegonde

This is supposedly the happiest moment of his life however, him adoring Cunégonde for her beauty and youth didn’t expect that after they part ways,  she would lose her beauty and be someone he doesn’t desire as much. The story is full of irony and frustrations since after everything had seemingly been resolved, came the question of  a happy  and bountiful life together so he bought a farm and starting working on that farm but with dismay and discontent.

I somehow remember us Filipinos, we are more of the Pangloss nature of thinking. We try to be the ultimate optimists. We see hope and joy in the middle of chaos, it’s funny as well that most of us find ways on how to feel better when troubled and in despair. We always see something when most would just ask us what are we looking at. How it ends is not the most desirable of all, it’s not a fairy tale anyway but a philosophical satire.