Personal Response – Candide

The first thing I noticed about Candide by Voltaire was the short chapters ranging from 2-15 pages. In accordance of the short chapters, the book itself is short with only about 120 pages, where we follow the protagonist, Candide, in his adventures of “misfortunes” as he try to hold on his belief of, “this is the best of all possible worlds.” The format of the book really confused me at first, but eventually learned the reason behind it

Our first reading adjective was to read up to chapter six or page 19 of Candide. Although the language used was not necessarily difficult, I found myself having troubles following the plot. It was not until somewhere around chapter ten when I came to understand the unique structure of Candide. Unlike most books I had read, where their is a clear progressive plot, or a clear transition, the progression of Candide is very different. In Candide, a new “adventure” begins each chapter. In each new chapter, we can range from the party walking in a city to eating at a pub to being on the other side of earth.

The unique structure allowed Voltaire to express his criticism against “optimism” in a unique way. By bringing new adventures in each chapter, Voltaire is able to efficiently convey his evidence. Although the book was made to be a serious confrontation towards optimism, I found myself enjoying the book very much in a matter I had not experienced. There was no shortage of hilarious misfortunes and irony that fell upon Candide and his comrades.