Clif Hostetler's Reviews > Candide

Candide by Voltaire
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Nov 01, 2010

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Read from November 03 to 08, 2010

Voltaire addresses the problem of evil in a humorous and allegorical manner that satirizes the philosophers, theologians and politicians of his day (1759). It's difficult to think a group that isn't subjected to some ridicule in this book.

Voltaire goes out of his way to make it clear that he is assaulting the philosphy of Leibniz who held that our universe is the best possible one that God could have created. At one point that title character Candide comments, "I'm beginning to wonder about those other worlds that God could have created,"

There is a Dutch Anabaptist character that comes across as something of a good Samaritan. But I don't think Voltaire was trying to say anything complimentary. Rather, I think his point was to show that the kindness shown by the Anabaptist was foolish and in vain. To the best of my recollection, the Anabaptist is the only character in the book that demonstrates unconditional compassion to a stranger.

Voltaire's Candide contains numerous allusions and references to canonic authors and works. The Venetian nobleman Pococurante mocks authors like Homer and Milton when he gives Candide a tour of his library, while the hidden realm of El Dorado to which the title character flees bears a striking resemblance to the world in Sir Thomas More's Utopia.

As a matter of fact, Pococurante's description, quoted below, of The Iliad describes my own opinion of that work:

"... that continual repetition of battles, so extremely like one another; those gods that are always active without doing anything decisive; that Helen who is the cause of the war, and who yet scarcely appears in the piece; that Troy, so long besieged without being taken; all these together caused me great weariness."

For a short creative modern version of an interview with the character Candide, I recommend THIS REVIEW.

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