PR candide

Candide, a novel by Voltaire, 1759. This is a story about Candide, a young man who is the main character, who goes on a journey almost all around the world, in order to understand, are we actually living in the best of all possible worlds? This is the main theme of the novel, the concept of the idea of “the best of all possible worlds.” The best part is that there is no simple answer, it’s not only a journey of Candide, but also a journey for the reader, to find our own meaning and create responses to all the questions that appear.

Other themes that I came across were: justice and piety. People being treated horribly, poverty with the contrast of rich and wealthy, for example, when we come across chapter 18 in when Candide and Cacambo arrive at El Dorado, sage. They have a conversation with the king, and while Cacambo doesn’t act much surprised by what he hears, Candide can’t seem to wrap his head around the ways of their life. They worship one God, which they thank daily for everything he gave them, and everyone gets along, this place seems too peaceful to be real. It took them a month to realize they did not want to stay there, not unless Cunegonde was there with Candide.

As I was getting towards the end of the book, I couldn’t help but think about the rich man,  Senator Pococurante, a Venetian nobleman who was not only extremely wealthy, but wise. He has everything any man could ever wish for, beautiful gardens, rare paintings, women, musicians, books… Yet, he is terribly bored and unhappy. Nothing seems like, will ever satisfy him. So, I wonder, what if Pococurante sells everything, gives it away, leaves himself with nothing expensive, simply nothing, will he find peace and happiness? Or is he too wise, and will forever stay miserable?

I enjoyed this book. I can’t say that I would pick it out to read in my own free time, but it was definitely one of those novels that had me thinking about the different approaches people have in life, and how we are, quite literally, the creators of our own “ best of all possible worlds.”


Candide Reflection

On the first day of class, Mr. Macknight handed every student a copy of the course syllabus, which comprised of every text we would read throughout the Diploma Programme. Upon glancing over this extensive list, I noticed the name “Voltaire”. I googled his name, and came to the conclusion that this would be the driest, the most mind numbing, and the most drawn-out text of the entire two-year course. However, after reading Candide, I can say with certainty my mind has been changed.

The aspect of the book I thought I would detest the most, turned out to be my favorite feature of the entire book. This of course being that the book is a philosophical argument. I loved this component of the text because of the unique way in which it is presented. The argument was presented in the two characters of Martin and Pangloss, which is accompanied by the plot. Martin, who is more pessimistic and argues that everyone everywhere is miserable, speaks for Voltaire. Whereas Pangloss speaks for Leibniz, Voltaire’s vocal opponent. The plot also has an effect on this debate. Throughout Candide, shocking yet honest depictions of human suffering are common. The debate between Voltaire and Leibniz is placed on display in this way. The contrasting reactions of Martin and Pangloss are allegories of the philosophical argument being made. An example of this is on page 74, where Pangloss’ pupil, Candide, and Martin debate the nature of man,

“Do you believe that hawks have every eaten pigeons wherever they had found them?” Martin asked.

“Yes, definitely” Candide replied.

“Very well,” Martin said. “If hawks have always had the same character, why would you expect men to change theirs?”

“Oh but there is quite a difference,” Candide said, “for, after all, free will…”(pg. 74)

Martin, the pessimist, argues that man is incapable of changing his nature. Whereas Candide, the optimist, argues for man’s ability to adapt and grow. The key element of this dialogue is Candide’s argument of men possessing free will, and thus have the ability to change their nature. This quotation raises a pair of interesting questions, which are; if man has the ability to change his nature, why doesn’t he? And, to what extent do have have control over our own lives, and what role does fate play?

An additional example of Pangloss’ allegory worldview presents itself on page 112,

“I am still of my former opinion,” Pangloss replied, “for I am a philosopher, after all, and it would be improper for me to recant, as Leibnitz cannot be wrong. Preestablished harmony is the most beautiful thing in the world, as are the plenum and subtle matter.”(pg. 112)

This quotation works as a critique of Leibniz. Voltaire’s critique presents itself through Pangloss’ inability recant or re-evaluate Leibniz’s philosophy. Further, the quotation suggests that Leibniz’s beliefs are outdated. Moreover, the unwillingness to evaluate Leibniz’s philosophy inhibits change or growth of the idea of optimism.

Lastly, I especially love the quotation, “we must cultivate our garden”(pg. 119). The quotation emphasizes free will and personal responsibility. This final critique of Leibniz is my favorite. The ideas of preestablished harmony and fate are debated throughout the novel. In my interpretation, this quotation symbolizes Candide’s abandonment of Pangloss’ optimism. Candide leaves behind fate and embraces free will. Candide’s recognition that he cannot control or prevent greater suffering, but instead can determine his own suffering. Candide and his companions can determine their own suffering through the cultivation of their garden.

Candide Reflection

When I first started Candide, I was expecting it to be a lighthearted tale. However, it managed to captivate me and made me genuinely laugh –with its witty satirical comments– and think deeply with countless philosophical themes simultaneously.  The main piece of the story that lead to giving me this impression were the characters and how they all viewed the world differently. It seemed that although many people were introduced, they each had very specific and contrasting beliefs.

Just from looking at the main characters we of course have the two philosophers Martin and Pangloss, Martin having no expectations on the world as he does not believe anything good will come of it and then Pangloss, believing that our world is the “best of all worlds”. There is also Turkish philosopher who believes neither and instead says it is fruitless to think of why we deserve what happens to us because we are insignificant. The Baron deviates from philosophy and more so represents being naïve and self riotous. this can be seen at its peak with his attitude towards Candide and Cunégonde’s relationship. We have characters like the pirates or the Bulgarians, who have no respect or humanity for women as they use them for their sexual desires, and we have the cannibal people of the Americas who turned out to be not all that bad as long as you didn’t oppose them.

Each of these characters poses a question as stories and characters in stories naturally do. From how should I treat another human? to to what extent are we  significant in this world? and if you hadn’t have started thinking about any of these themes by the second page, Candide had for you. It is clear to me why Candide is the protagonist.  He takes the noise from all of these characters shouting their different ideas and making the whole thing a mess and after many attempts to try to understand it all, realizes it is a much better use of time to sit back and, well, Cultivate his garden. In a way, throwing the whole thing away and leaving me with the lighthearted tale I expected.


Reflecting on Voltaire’s Candide

Voltaire’s Candide makes a strong argument against optimism and this being the best of all possible worlds. I enjoyed how he presented his idea by telling Candide’s adventures and each chapter behaving as a body paragraph in his crusade to disprove optimism. I like this structuring format because it negated one of the significant problems with essays that can be dry to read. Voltaire does not run into this problem, though, as we are kept entertained by the bumbling idiocy of Candide mixed in with all sorts of jokes and political commentary. Nevertheless, we still get the overarching points and ideas through a less-than-direct way and give a human character to the argument, a blend of political satire and storytelling. This structure was my favorite part of the piece of writing.

About halfway through the book, the arguments started to get a bit old as Voltaire had made his points and given plenty of evidence. At this point, I had been convinced by Voltaire that he was right, and these other adventures Candide felt like overkill. So I looked for other questions raised by the book and whether he had given his answer to them. Questions like what the best of all possible worlds looks like? He answers this question with the need to cultivate a garden and live like those of El-dorado, which is an underwhelming answer. Personally, I would rather live in an imperfect world and be able to find the secrets of this world and improve and solve problems than live in a perfect world and garden like the people of El-dorado and have little to do as all is fine the way it is. This book was good at arguing against optimism but did not provide any further answers to the questions it raises.


Candide – Personal Response

Something I’m beginning to learn in English Literature is how simple language can be just as, or even more effective than complex language. As I started to understand this and try to work on fixing the clarity of my expressions, Candide by Voltaire was assigned for our class to read. The shift from reading The Odyssey by Homer to Candide was jarring. Despite Candide being written in much easier vocabulary, both texts provided me with a thoughtful and insightful message to digest.

Candide‘s language is simple, but that does not take away from the lessons it teaches. One of the first instances that clearly showed this to me was when the old lady was telling her story,

A hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but I was still in love with life. This ridiculous weakness is perhaps one of our most sinister tendencies. For is there anything more foolish than to insist on carrying a burden that one can drop at any moment? To live in constant fear, and yet still hold on to life? To caress the serpent that is devouring you until it has eaten your heart (pg. 38).

This passage is so beautiful and almost feels indescribable. It’s presenting this image of being engulfed by something horrid, the serpent, but loving it endlessly as it does so. To me, this comparison fits my current outlook on life. Even though I hate myself sometimes, and just wish I could just die, there is something wonderful about the serpent devouring me. Another incredible line from Voltaire happens to be the last, “That is well said’ Candide replied, “but we must cultivate our garden'” (pg. 119). Candide realizes that it does not matter whether they are in the best of all possible worlds, or even if they are in the worst of all possible worlds, what matters is that they live life. Martin puts it quite well, “‘ Let us work without reasoning, it is the only way to make life bearable'” (pg. 119).

I find too many people trying to find meaning of life, and they search and search for any reason that life is worth living except for looking at themselves, and what they want to do, what they wish to achieve. Voltaire tells us that we must cultivate our garden, metaphorically, to work on something we enjoy. Gardening may be it but what if writing is your garden, or singing, or reading. No matter what your garden is, it needs cultivating, and you need to be there to tend to it. A beautiful message from Voltaire that did not need any exhaustive decrepit language that is practically incomprehensible to modern audiences. I hope to learn how to emulate Voltaire’s simplicity someday.

Personal Response Candide

In 1759, Voltaire’s sarcastic novel Candide was first published. Candide, a young man who is kicked out of a utopian society, is the focus of the plot. The story follows his development as he overcomes real-life challenges and eventually gives up on the idea that “all is for the best.” The book is a commentary on human nature and a sharp critique of Voltaire’s political and religious systems. My interest was piqued by the book’s sharp satire, optimistic criticism, religious dogma, and cruelties of fate. Free will and the possibility of human suffering and evil are the book’s most important themes for me.

One of the main themes of the book is freedom and how it relates to the possibility of “the best of every conceivable world.” It would appear that Voltaire was implying that the notion that good can come from nothing and that everything is predestined can be used to justify any kind of injustice or suffering. Candide and his friends go through a lot of pain throughout the book, but Pangloss insists that everything is for the best. Voltaire makes fun of Pangloss’s upbeat outlook by using them. Nobody is happy, everything is bad, and everything always goes wrong, especially the main character, Candide. His assertion that our world is not “the best of all possible worlds” is supported by this.

The concept of human suffering and the problem of evil is another theme. Candide and his companions go through a lot of suffering and injustice throughout the book, including war, poverty, and discrimination. It would appear that Voltaire is suggesting that these things are the result of human ferocity and cruelty rather than of a kind world.

Candide and his companions ultimately reject Pangloss’s philosophy and adopt a more practical lifestyle at the book’s conclusion. Candide believed that the best way to live was to “cultivate our garden” and make the most of our circumstances. This is interpreted as a metaphor for rejecting the idea that everything will work out for the best, taking charge of our own lives, and seizing opportunities as they present themselves.

In general, Candide is a book that mocks hope and the idea that everyone benefits from everything. Voltaire encourages readers to take responsibility for their own happiness and well-being and argues for a more pragmatic and realistic approach to life through the experiences of Candide and his companions. The inquiry, “Was Voltaire’s time optimistic?” emerges subsequently. And do all authors write to share their unique worldviews? What stands in the way of a happy ending and the “best of every conceivable world” in the final scene of Candide?

Voltaire’s Candide Personal Response

Candide written by Voltaire was an amusing read for me. This satire book is about a  man who believes everything that happens will be for the good of man, even though he is faced with incredible suffering. Personally, Candide was a page turner, the main characters face disaster after disaster, drama after drama and one indignity after another. The language in this book represented with dark humor was pure entertainment. This book shows us the other side of peoples lives and their problems. Voltaire does this by showing us different characters pain and struggles in their lives.

The plot of Candide is simple to follow. Young and naïve Candide stumbles from one misadventure to the next, including fighting in wars, being arrested, being nearly burned at the stake, finding El Dorado and leaving it. The way it’s written is repetitive as it continues from a different setting each time.

Furthermore, Voltaire’s beliefs and the philosophies created deep connections within me. Candide learns the principles of optimism from his mentor, Pangloss, and one of the philosophies that stuck out for me was “since everything was made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose.” (pg.89) I really like this because I can find myself having the same belief. Having the attitude of this can only make the mind stronger. Pangloss’s philosophy encourages a passive attitude toward all that is wrong in the world. If this world is the best one possible, there is no reason to make effort to change things perceived as wrong or evil.

Voltaire’s Candide

Candide written by Voltaire was written in a very unique way and raised many philosophical questions.  This satirical book revolves around Voltaire’s philosophical beliefs and is primarily him taking stabs at different groups of people. How he writes this however, is through an innocent story following a character and his ridiculous life full of misfortunes. As well as presenting his own philosophical beliefs in this story Voltaire also raises many philosophical questions that resonated with me and had me questioning my own life. 

The plot of Candide is presented through bite size adventures in which Voltaire has an opportunity to showcase his philosophical argument. In each chapter Candide and his friends experience new places that  progress the plot. Voltaire does this by using Candide as a pawn, strategically placing him in situations to his advantage. A prominent example of this is how Voltaire criticises religion in the story. In chapter eight the reader is informed that the grand inquisitor (an important person of the catholic church) is using Cunegonde for sexual desires which is usually frowned upon in the christian religion. Similarly, in chapter twenty-eight Pangloss enters a mosque where an imam has

“ a very pretty young worshipper saying her paternosters. Her bosom was completely uncovered”(p.111). 

Both these examples are Voltaire slipping in insulting remarks of religion and how the preachers of religions are hypocrites. Another one of Voltaire’s arguments that Candide presents is that money cannot buy happiness. Candide acquires many riches in El Dorado but this only brings corruption into his life. For example in Paris he is cheated out of his money by many people including doctors and the Marchioness of Paroglinac. In Venice Candide gives money to Paquette  in hopes that “ they will be happy”( p.93) but later Paquette returns broke and unhappy, proving Voltaire’s point. Voltaire even goes as far as to endlessly revive characters from the dead just to use them to prove a point. Pangloss, Cunegonde and Paquette all previously mentioned were thought to be dead but came back and helped further Voltaire’s argument.  Yet I still found myself enjoying the book and wondering what Candide’s next adventure was going to be. This tactic of using what seems to be innocent adventures is a clever way to write about heavy, philosophical issues and write a persuasive argument in a way that is light and enjoyable for the reader. Because the plot was written like this a question that came about was how would the book end?  

Although the plot was everything but the kitchen sink the conclusion brought everything to a close while posing many philosophical questions. The conclusion was my favourite part because it had me thinking about many intriguing ideas. The first quote that had  me rereading was a question posed by the old women,

“ I would like to know what is worse; being violated a hundred times by pirates, having a buttock cut off, running the gauntlet in the bulgar army, being whipped and hanged in an auto-da-fé, being dissected, rowing in a galley, suffering all the miseries we have been through or simply sitting around here without doing anything?”(p.115).

Here, I believe her to be questioning whether adventures filled with misery or boredom is worse. I don’t know the answer to this difficult question but it gives light to a new perspective on tragic situations. For example when in an undesirable situation I will ponder the philosophical thought on whether it would be worse to be bored or suffer.  Secondly,  when the group encounters the Young Turk he states

“I only have twenty five acres, I cultivate it with my children. Work keeps the three great evils at bay; boredom, vice and want”  (p. 118). 

This quote resonated with Candide as well as myself. The deeper meaning behind these words is questionable but the way I interpreted this quote is that to live a happy life free of boredom, crime, and poverty one needs to work hard and stop searching for the meaning of life. After hearing this quote Candide decides to stop debating philosophy with his scholars but instead he decides

“we must cultivate our garden” (p.119).

The literal meaning of this is to plant a garden with lots of luscious crops. Beyond the literal meaning there is a figurative meaning which I simply think is too indulge in life full of work. I too want to cultivate my garden.

Candide PR

My impression of philosophers used to be tedious because they talk about random theories that are not intriguing, therefore, when I first heard that we were reading a book written by a philosopher named Voltaire, I expected the book to be monotonous. However, after reading Candide, I am amazed by the way Voltaire criticizes ideas that he disagrees with by using sarcasm. Pangloss, the “greatest” philosopher in the book, advocates “everything happens for the best”. Voltaire refutes this idea sarcastically by creating adversity scenes for Pangloss and Candide throughout the story. He makes Candide more interesting to read with an engaging plot, and also makes the readers understand his ideas and agree with him. I agree with Voltaire that everything does not happen for the best. I admire that Pangloss and his students have such an optimistic mindset, but in real life, bad things do happen all the time, and sometimes, good things do not happen after encountering adversity. The worst thing that could happen to humans is dying. If a person died, how could good things happen? Thus, I think Pangloss’s theory is absurd.

“But we must cultivate our garden.” (page 119) This quote has attracted my curiosity. What does Voltaire mean by cultivating our garden? What do “cultivate” and “garden” signify in this metaphor? “Cultivate” means taking steps and putting effort into growing something or improving its growth. “Garden” is a symbol of soul and happiness. My interpretation of this quote is that we must put effort into creating a meaningful and fruitful life. We must learn and grow from what we encountered in order to have a good life. To me, learning is not only a thing that you do in school or when you are in school. It is a thing that you do throughout your life. We must keep learning to improve ourselves and be better people.  There is an idiom in Chinese saying that “living till old age, learn till old age.” It basically means that people learn till their lives end. There is always a purpose to learn and something that you can learn. It reminds me to be a lifelong learner and stay curious.

Compare to Oedipus the King, Candide is way easier to read since the translation is in new English, despite there being an enormous amount of words that I have never seen. I spent a lot of time translating when I was reading. Overall, I think Candide is amusing enough to read and I would recommend other people to read this masterpiece.


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.

Candide lives!

From Candide, Chapter XXIII:

Talking thus they arrived at Portsmouth. The coast was lined with crowds of people, whose eyes were fixed on a fine man kneeling, with his eyes bandaged, on board one of the men of war in the harbour. Four soldiers stood opposite to this man; each of them fired three balls at his head, with all the calmness in the world; and the whole assembly went away very well satisfied.

“What is all this?” said Candide; “and what demon is it that exercises his empire in this country?”

He then asked who was that fine man who had been killed with so much ceremony. They answered, he was an Admiral.

“And why kill this Admiral?”

“It is because he did not kill a sufficient number of men himself. He gave battle to a French Admiral; and it has been proved that he was not near enough to him.”

“But,” replied Candide, “the French Admiral was as far from the English Admiral.”

“There is no doubt of it; but in this country it is found good, from time to time, to kill one Admiral to encourage the others.”

Today, we merely fire such people, usually:

SAN DIEGO — The captain of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier battling an outbreak of COVID-19 on his ship was fired as commanding officer Thursday, days after his letter decrying conditions on his ship became public.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced the firing during a Pentagon news conference.

“At my direction, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by a carrier strike group commander, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker,” Modly said.

Capt. Brett Crozier wrote a letter late Sunday asking the Navy to remove 90% of the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt to halt the “ongoing and accelerating” spread of COVID-19 on board. That letter was published Tuesday by The San Francisco Chronicle and generated headlines nationwide.

On Wednesday, the Navy announced it was moving almost 3,000 sailors off the ship and working to find space on Guam for more.

Modly said he wasn’t sure whether Crozier leaked the letter personally, but he said Crozier didn’t do enough to ensure the letter didn’t get out, saying it was copied to many people outside the captain’s chain of command.

“It was copied to 20 or 30 other people,” Modly said. “That’s just not acceptable. He sent it out pretty broadly and in sending it out pretty broadly he did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked.”

That, Modly said, demonstrated “extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

HL “Candide” Posts: General Feedback

Most of you made only a minimal effort on this assignment: a short paragraph or two with some general remarks about the story.

In a good personal response, you need to include quotations and page citations. You need to discuss more than just one or two incidents from the story. You need to dig deeper into the philosophical questions raised by the story. You need to analyze the *way* the story is written, and how that connects with the story’s content. And you need to edit and proofread your writing.

Only one of you met that standard, and I urge all of you to read that post and learn from it.