The classic book Candide by Voltaire was originally written in French and published in Paris, Geneva and Amsterdam 1759. That same year, it was translated into English and hopped across the pond and into the hands of the English. Having your book translated and published into English that fast was unheard of during the time period. Normally you had to wait until your death for your book to get translated, and you never even saw your western success. But Voltaire was different. Due to how widely popular this book had become, it show cased Voltaire as one of Europe’s most intellectual writer to the westerners. And thus, he became increasingly popular and was able to see his books published all over the globe and see his success.
Classic Satire Themes
Candide is a satire on religion and optimism. The main point of the book is to criticize the enlightenment movement, while showing you a bit of Voltaire himself. It shows you he has a bit of an issue with Christian rulers and the general attitude the nobility had towards anyone who wasn’t noble. Voltaire had a bit of criticism about helpless optimism and that believing in rational thoughts can keep evil away from you was flawed view of the world. While its good to stay positive, having just that positive attitude will not fix your problems. You need more than that. And everyone is in search of that ‘thing’ that makes everything worth living for. Is it optimism that your life will get better? Is it even a state of mind at all?
While each of these topics are heavy and not something you want to read for a light hearted reading session; Voltaire wrote his book as a satire for a reason. And you will find that it is indeed a great light hearted read. His main character goes through life questioning if believing in optimism is the best option, while being able to have an amazing outcome for all his tight spots he gets himself into. Horrible things happen to him, yet he manages to get the best out of everything. With this view point coupled with the other characters stories, you really feel the mood Voltaire went for. He takes such heavy topics and writes about it in a way that is fun to read about. And you start to get a sense of the satire and how each character perceives the world they live in.
When you start reading Candide by Voltaire, you are introduced to the main character. He is a young, innocent, average young man who resides in a comfy lifestyle in a castle. He believes the philosophy of the time, “everything in the world is for the best.” He then goes to see the worst of the world from politics, to religion, to man kind himself. He begins his life adventure that is fanatical and fantastic. Throughout this adventure you will find that negativity, hatred, and the worst of mankind is a common theme.
My Final Thoughts On This Classic
Overall this book was an easy, funny, and enjoyable read. I dove into this book not really knowing anything about it, just that it was a classic I had not yet read. I was throughly surprised to realize I finished it within two days and enjoyed it. I was expecting a stuffy classic full of outdated ideas; but really this book still reflects ideas that are present to this day. While it is written in a way that clearly shows it is not a modern book, you can still draw parallels from Voltaire’s thoughts and attitudes about what was happening in his society to what is happening in ours currently.