March 21, 2014
Candide by Voltaire (Review)
First published: 1759
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I intended to read Candide together with this read-a-long, but instead I finished it the same evening I started it. I know I didn't understand as much of it as I would have if I had read is slowly, but I knew I didn't want to spend the whole month with this book.
As you probably already know, Candide is a satire of the philosophy of optimism, that is, the belief that everything is for the best, and this world is the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire drags his characters through A LOT of horrible life situations to prove otherwise, all this in a very hyperbolic manner.
I have nothing against satire, and I like it when it's well-done, but here it is probably over-done. The things happening to Candide and his co-sufferers are brutal, horrifying and disgusting, and only some of them are funny. Also, a lot of satire is really hard to understand because it's the product of its time. For example, different religious orders and movements are obviously being mocked, but I have no idea what for... But the bits which are funny saved this book a bit for me. I liked the Eldorado part, and I quite enjoyed the character of Martin, who is wonderfully cynical.
In my book:
The main appeal of this novel is that it's really short. If you are able to see some other appeal as well - well, you are probably very high-brow and really into French Enlightenment... I'm not and that's why I didn't really enjoy Candide.