Voltaire and the World

“I wanted to kill myself a hundred times, but somehow I am still in love with life”

-Voltaire’s Candide

This quote set off my ever desired yearning to read this novel and I am beyond pleased to finally say I have.  The novel is actually more of a novella, my edition being only about 80 pages with negative a million size font.  Nevertheless the book was beyond it’s years and was at times, a laugh out loud satire, impossible to forget.  I first heard about the book in a class I was enrolled in and my professor couldn’t stop talking about all the connections it had to what we were discussing.  I later found the above quote and now I sit here to write you all a review that I can only say, must be read to understood.  The novella was published in 1759 and was an immediately criticized and banned due to it’s questioning of the church and the figures within it (hmm, can anyone say French Revolution?).  It is no secret Voltaire’s wit and subtle questioning came to the table in a big way when he was writing this.  It is a journey/coming of age/adventure story of a young Candide and the experiences he has in the world he lives in.  One of the most fascinating parts of the book for me was the sense of hope Candide had and never lost, even when it seemed impossible to go on.  It directly parallels to Voltaire’s own voice and power thirty years later during the French Revolution.  Without giving to much away, the sense of hope is shown again at the end of the novella which ends in very hopeful terms, Candide simply announcing the need to “cultivate our garden”.  The simple meaning behind this is for people to worry about and take care of themselves before taking further action on the lives of anyone else.  The novella is so crucial in representing ideas that were so long cemented into a culture and giving ideas to people that can and were used later on.  It is a quick-paced, simply fun adventure that makes you question yourself more than what is going on in the actual story.  I am looking forward to reading more of Voltaire’s works, especially his philosophical ones (this one being the start), and seeing where it takes me.

(More) Quotes of the Day:

“”Optimism” said Cacambo, “What is that?” “Alas!” replied Candide, “It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst””.  –Candide

“You’re a bitter man, said Candide.  That’s because I’ve lived, said Martin”. – Candide

 

 

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