Brenda Cregor's Reviews > Candide

Candide by Voltaire
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Jul 26, 2012

it was ok

CANDIDE and other writings of Voltaire have been alluded to in so many classic novels and writings, previously read, I HAD to take some time to "see what all the talk was about".
When reading classics with a modern eye, I truly attempt to put myself in the time period, trying to see the words and thoughts of the author as they would have been received, given the entire political, social, and psychological scope of the time period in which the words were initially launched.
If I were rating this story based entirely on how Voltaire encapsulated the true HORRORS which existed during his time, this story would get five stars. Because, if I had been fortunate enough to be born into a family which offered women the opportunity to become literate thinkers (which would not have been the case, given my pedigree), and I had been given this book ( it's only 183 pages), it would have stirred me...angered me.
In short, I would have risen up.
But, goodreads is not about transporting yourself through time to rate a book's merits during its time.
As a reader of this community, I am supposed to give my opinion as a modern human being about whether or not it was a "good read".
Two stars=It was okay.
It was okay.
Could I make an analysis of the "truths" which might still apply to the world, today, and rate the story on this? Yes. But, I am not going to.
I had to force myself to open the cover and trudge on.
First, to make his points regarding the flaws and hypocrisies, which plague the entire human race, Voltaire had to introduce EVERY single sin which one human being might perpetrate upon another.
Within the tale, there were several stories of travail and woe which, quite frankly, nauseated me.
There was no entertainment value in it.
It was like watching the 10 o'clock news or hard-hitting journalism shows in the time period this story was set.
And it got worse and worse.
True, Voltaire's cutting, truth-magnifying wit is ever present, but it was not enough to compensate for the omni-present wretchedness of the tale.
Andre' Maurois wrote the "appreciation" for this edition of CANDIDE.
In it he stated: "...[T]he eminent journalist, Charles Maurras, re-reads CANDIDE once a year, and as he closes it, says to himself, "The road is clear"--that is to say, that Voltaire sweeps earthly illusions boldly, aside, drives away the clouds and all that is interposed between reality and understanding."
Poor Maurras.
Though the book concludes with the idea that we must "cultivate our garden" without theorizing, in order to make life bearable, a good maxim, Voltaire failed to offer, as a solution to many of the evil, anti-social, barbaric practices of those who caused harm to the protagonist, Candide, the practices and philosophies of those who inhabited Eldorado, which brought the citizens of this paradisiacal place (and their guests)...peace:
*They separated themselves from a world which did not choose to live by their laws.
* They worshipped a God continually.
*They did not ask anything of God, because of their gratitude. Instead, they constantly thanked Him, in song and in word and deed.
*Everyone had enough. They shared. There was not even need for that heavenly attribute of charity, because there were no "rich" or "poor". Everyone had what they needed.
* All of the King's friends were priest's, whose main practice of leadership was to be in a constant state of thanksgiving.
*The religious leaders [monks] all agreed in their beliefs/doctrine and so did not fight or plot or harm people.
*They were affectionate. ( The king was greeted with an embrace and a kiss on both cheeks.)
*Even the most powerful among them, the king, was gracious and courteous.
*There was NOT a necessity for a court system because there were no lawsuits.
*There were NO prisons because there were no crimes.
*The study of math and sciences was established and promoted.
* Art was evident.
*The people were productive. They worked.
*The inhabitants served one another.
Consequently, Eldorado was a heaven on Earth.
But, Candide, and even Voltaire missed this.
I am under NO ILLUSIONS.
This Earth IS hell.
It is the truth.
If Voltaire had known this, he would have known why it is so difficult for men to behave.
The ONLY solution to this state-of-Hades is TRUTH.
Not static TRUTH.
Truth put into practice, as the people of Eldorado did!
It is GREAT to know the practice of TRUTH is happening, today, on Earth, by people like you and I, in high and low places!
This is cause for true CANDIDE or OPTIMISM!
Will we completely avoid physical, fiscal, or emotional harm as we try to live right and put universal truths, which lead to personal peace, into practice?
Here is another truth Voltaire missed: We are here for a reason.
The reason is to be tried and tested.
Tough job, but...we chose it.
Voltaire may have believed this as an individual, but he did not manifest this belief in this tale, which had characters with few answers, except STUPID ones, for why mankind has negative experiences, and why a loving God would allow it.
Sadly, in many lives in all cities and nations, the tale of CANDIDE will be replayed again and again upon this fallen planet, until the much awaited Millennial Age, when, like Eldorado, all will live in peace and love because they will have chosen, through their free will, to live the laws of heaven, and NOT the laws of Hell.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Doug (new)

Doug Bradshaw Well, don't think I'll be reading this one soon. I almost think you gave it one star.

Brenda Cregor Because I really do LOVE so many of Voltaire's witticisms, I could not give him just A star. He is one of those people I want to meet after I die, and I just know he would snub me if I gave him A star. :0)

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