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.”