“Candide” is a philosophic novel by Voltaire published in 1759 in Geneva. Just a month after it was published the city council forbids it but soon the novel appeared in Paris and some other European cities.
The book was a great success and got popular amongst readers but it was attacked on several occasions. During Voltaire life the novel was published in 40 editions. Voltaire would respond to the critics by saying that he did not write that childish book.
The author didn’t dedicate much attention to the plot nor the psychological characterization. Voltaire actually didn’t want us to look at his characters as real people because then we would feel sorry for them and would not recognize the humor in the story line. The author used humor in linking the philosophic terms with some uncommon events and paradoxes. In spite of any life event Candide still believes that his life is perfect and that it is the best that it could be.
This novel is actually a response to Leibniz’s philosophy that we live the best life of all possible lives. That theory isn’t denied anywhere in the book but the author put the main character through so much suffering that the philosophy sound grotesque.
Voltaire criticized war, violence, human stupidity, religious intolerance and many other things.
In the end we can conclude that Voltaire didn’t stand up for pessimism. He just believed that if people already live in the best of all worlds that they should do something to make it even better.
Candide was a polite, nice and smart young man but a bit naïve. Candidus means naïve, pure on Latin. He lived in Westfall, Germany in a castle owned by the Baron Thunder-Ten-Trockh. In the castle also lived the baron’s wife, kids and Pangloss – the castle’s teacher.
Pangloss lived in harmony with Leibniz’s theory. He believed that everything was good in the best of all worlds. Candide agreed with this theory and did not object at all.
One day CAndide tried to kiss the baron’s daughter Cunegonde and because of that he was banished out of the castle. Then a new era began in his life. He went on to explore the world and he found out that stupidity, suffering and evil exist all around the world.
He was fooled into joining the army of Bulgaria and he barely came out of it alive. He was terrified by everything he saw in the war. He ran off to Netherlands where he encountered a beggar that turned out to be Pangloss. He told him that the Bulgarians tore down the castle and killed Cunegond but despite everything Pangloss still believed that everything was running smoothly in the best of all worlds.
After that Pangloss and CAndide went to Portugal and to Lisbon. They arrived right when a strong earthquake destroyed the town.
They gave out some statements that got them both arrested by the inquisition. Pangloss was hanged and Candide was whipped till he was bleeding everywhere. He was wounded and a woman took care of him. She took him to Cunegond and she told him her life story. She did managed to survive but now she was the lover of two men. One of them was a Jewish banker and the other one was a Great inquisitor. Candide killed them both and ran away with Cunegond to Buenos Aires. The Spanish governor fell in love with Cunegond and Candide was forced to run away to Paraguay. He was welcomed by a priest who turned out to be Cunegond’s brother.
Even though both of them were happy to see each other the happiness didn’t last long. Candide told his that he wants to marry his sister and he freaked out when he heard the news. They started a fight and Candide stabbed him with a sword.
He ran away, again, with his servant Cacambo to a land of cannibals. They barely managed to save themselves thanks to Cacambo’s resourcefulness. They arrived to Eldorado and that is a mythical land where everything is made out of gold. The people there were noble, wise and religious and they didn’t need a church, courthouse or a prison. The life standard is high and the state tried to develop art and science. Candide wasn’t able to stay there long because he couldn’t live without Cunegond. He gathered a lot of gold and diamonds and left Eldorado.
After that he send Cacambo to Buenos Aires to ask the governor to free Cunegond and he decides to go to Europe. An old scientist made him company and his thoughts about the world were nothing like the things Pangloss thought Candide. During the ride they talked about free will, vices, destiny, good, bad and virtues.
Candide arrived to Paris and after he met its lifestyle he headed to Venice. There he met Pococurante who couldn’t enjoy life despite his richness and he also met 6 kings who lost their throne. Candide was more and more convinced that nobody can run away from an unfortunate punishment and that the only people liberated from it live in Eldorado.
He keeps on traveling with the scientist and they encounter Cunegond, her brother, Pangloss Cacambo . Cunegond is old and ugly but Candide marries her. All of them live on a land that Candide bought with the diamonds and gold from Eldorado. Pangloss still stoob by his opinion about life but Candide doesn’t care about it anymore. The novel ends with Candide’s words that everyone should cultivate their own garden.
Charachters: Candide, Pangloss, Cunegonda and her brother, Cacambo, scientist
Candide – honest, sincere young man. Life was rough on him and he spent most of it wandering the world. He lived by the principle that he is in the best world of all worlds. In the end he decided that it wasn’t true and that everyone has to progress in his life. He was in love with Cunegond and he married her when she was old and ugly but he didn’t mind that at all.
About the author: Voltaire