Tag Archives: Candide readalong

Candide Readalong Pt. 3 – Three Days late

Can’t decide what to think about this book any longer.  In the beginning I ignored the fact that Candide is a dope because he wasn’t instructed in the ways of the world, but the damn fool never learns a thing.   Okay, you want to leave El Dorado to find Cunegonde, not smart, but I can sympathize with being foolish for love.   Wanting to be richer than everyone and unsatisfied with everyone being rich (in El Dorado) stupid, but human.   But the idea that somehow they would manage to hold on to 12 sheep worth of treasure and get it back to Europe without being robbed of it — well, they haven’t learned a thing since being kicked out of the castle in chapter 1.   No street smarts.   No protection for the wealth.   Flashes it around makes it obvious.   At this point, Candide, you deserve what you get.  

And at this point I have trouble understanding what Voltaire is getting at.   He’s made his point that this world is full of people and events that seem to be non-optimal.   Did people still believe in El Dorado or places like that when Voltaire was writing?  Is the point that humans aren’t even satisfied with paradise?    That could be true, although presumably the El Doradans are human, too.   I did like when he was reunited with his sheep.   

Candide Readalong c. 9-16

I think I’m getting more into the spirit of the thing, but how this can be viewed as philosophically applicable in real life, I’m not sure. Candide and crew go from one absurdly horrific situation to another with moments of absurdly great situations thrown in.   No question Voltaire is wryly pointing out the wealth of the church vs. the suffering of the poor they’re supposed to be helping, etc., but there’s absolutely no benefit to being good or punishment for doing harm.   People are indiscriminately rewarded and punished for things beyond their control constantly.   There is no apparent justice anywhere.   And while that does bear some resemblance to life, it’s not quite so bad as that.   In Candide’s world, there’s absolutely no reason to try to behave well, as you’ll just as likely be hanged in an auto-da-fé or pushed off a boat as to suddenly get rich and live in a palace.   But 16 chapters in I just feel – okay, what’s next?