Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Voltaire's Candide: soon, I shall cultivate a garden

Voltaire's novel, Candide, was surprisingly an easy read. I loved the fantastic plot and the humor I get in every chapter. Since my computer is not conspiring with my impulse to write, I'm gonna give a quick overview of the book. 

Basically, it's a battle between optimism and pessimism as a world view. Dr. Pangloss embodied optimism through his philosophy that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds" -- that is, everything that happens in the world, even mankind's suffering, is part of God's "grand" plan.

But with the events witnessed by Candide -- rape, murder, disease, earthquake, betrayal -- he came to conclude that optimism is simply "a mania for insisting that everything is right when everything is going wrong." 

On the other hand, pessimism is characterized in the person of Martin, an extremely cynical scholar who accompanied Candide is his travels. Martin believes that God has abandoned the world in his view that "man was born to live in either the convulsions of distress, or in the lethargy of idleness".

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