Book Reviews

Candide by Voltaire

I’ve always been fascinated by philosophy and more so by philosophers, and their ‘thoughts’. I had come across the name of Voltaire, a French Philosopher, among the greats and the unique philosophers of all time. I just had to know what this guy was all about! So I downloaded this eBook on my phone, and managed to finish it in about 3 weeks, reading mostly while travelling in the office bus or waiting at the dentist’s. Here’s a review of what the book is about, and what I feel about it.

Written in Mid-Eighteenth century by French Satirist and philosopher Voltaire, ‘Candide’ is an ingenious work of literature. It was written in three days only, but still lives on in the hearts of those who have read it.

In the book, Voltaire challenged the doctrine, that, “Everything in the world is for the best and there could be nothing better than it already is”. He does so by attacking it with satire and humor. The characters start high, almost perfect pictures of happiness and prosperity, and then end up low, as low as one could possibly imagine, in the depths of grief and misery. The story is incredibly fast paced and does not bore the reader at any point. It shocks, rather, it’s more of a parody or a mockery of the time he lived in.

Candide, the Optimist, is the main protagonist and a lot of other characters, most important of which were his beloved Miss Cunegond; his mentor and philosopher, Dr. Pangloss, whose doctrine of ‘everything for the best’, is constantly challenged with the innumerable twists and turns of the plot; his loyal friend and companion, Cacambo, who shares the most amazing adventures with Candide, where they travel half the globe, witnessing murder, rape, pillage and shocks of every kind in all the world, but heavenly prosperity and happiness in the city of El Dorado; another companion Martin, with whom too he had adventures and debates; the old lady who had borne the most gruesome acts of violation against a woman even though she was the daughter of a pope (get the satire here??); and many others who had such unbelievable fates, moreover, describing which as roller coaster rides would be a mere understatement.

For those who have not read this book, let them be known, that it is a satire, a mockery, a parody on optimism, that is so very relevant even today. I would like to read this book many times over, and I’m sure the fun would not go stale so soon in this masterpiece by the great Voltaire.

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