I originally put this book on my Classics Club list because I heard it was short and funny, and then it worked out perfectly because I was assigned to read it for my World Literature class this semester.*
I'll be honest; I didn't think Candide was all that funny. Well, it was sort of funny in a really sarcastic way, but it was also atrocious, which made it a lot less funny to me. The introduction in my book made it sound like Voltaire was such a master of humor that he could make the worst injustices seem rip-roaringly hilarious, but I was never quite on board with that. Not that it pulled at my heartstrings, really; Voltaire didn't seem to have much sympathy for his characters. I wasn't sad; I was repulsed. Yeah, I get that he was making fun of people who think "everything is for the best." That doesn't make it any more amusing to read about rape, prostitution, deliberate disfigurement, torture, and all the other lovely events related throughout Candide. Don't get me wrong, I can see how someone might think it's funny, but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
That said, the ending sort of made up for the rest of the book. I was expecting the ending to tack on one last sarcastic point, something like, "And Candide and his friends lived miserably ever after," capping off the idea that everyone is always miserable. (Maybe they would all get so poor and miserable that they would cannibalize! ...Wow, I think this book has had an effect on me.) But in the end, there seemed to be a somewhat softer, sweeter idea that happiness is possible. It may not exist as the kind of delirious joy that Candide was searching for, but as long as we keep a balance in our lives and stop constantly running after something "more," we can find contentment in this life. That's what I got out of it, anyway.
Other than that, I don't have much to say about Candide. It was a short, quick, interesting read, but I don't have any desire to read it again.
*Last semester, a few people were interested in seeing my reading lists for my classes. Would anyone care to have the lists for this semester? I'm taking the second half of World Lit (Renaissance to the present) and American Literature 1900-1950. (I'm taking other classes too, but they don't have interesting reading lists. :) )