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. :) )
Next month I am reading Candide, so right now I have no idea what this book is about. It sounds like a sarcastic read. We'll see.ReplyDelete
I'd be interested in seeing your reading list, esp. b/c you are doing Renaissance + and an American Lit class of the early 1900s.
Are you doing the readalong? I would have done it if I hadn't already read the book for my class; it looked fun. I might have liked the book better if I hadn't been expecting it to be funny.Delete
I'm thinking I'll do the readalong, since I have to read Candide this year anyhow. Your description doesn't really make me excited about it, though. It sounds like horrible people doing horrible things. :(Delete
At least it's short! I hope you like it more than I did.Delete
Yes - I'm doing the read-along; it may be good to read this along with others.
That's such a shame that you didn't like the book. Did your professor do a good job of explaining what he/she thought you should get out of it?ReplyDelete
I'm participating in the read-along too! I know that Voltaire's poking fun at people who are optimistic and take life as they find it. If I remember correctly from my French Lit grade 12 course, he is linked to existentialism so I really am not expecting much from this novel. However, I was hoping that he would be like Camus, if not enlightening or uplifting, at least interesting. Now I'm starting to wonder.
I'd be interested in your reading list too! Thanks for offering it! :-)
My professor did a good job, I thought. Since it was for a survey class (not focusing on analyzing the literature), he mostly used it as a representation of the Enlightenment. I could see the intelligence of it in simultaneously applauding and critiquing Enlightenment thinking, so I do think there's merit to it. I think it was more a matter of personal distaste; I thought the philosophy of it was interesting, I just didn't like the method. I hope you like it. (I'm starting to feel kind of bad about writing a negative review right before everyone's going to do a readalong...how's that for motivation... :P )Delete
Don't worry at all about giving a negative review. I really appreciate you being honest about your reaction to it. I don't think it influences me negatively, it just gives me something more to think about. So, thanks! :-)Delete
Ow, you make me scared of the book... There is a read-a-long next month, and I'm considering my participation there, but now I'm not so sure. But on the other hand, I intend to read it anyway, and if it's not good, it's better to have a read-a-long to push me :)ReplyDelete
About those lists... Could you please send me all of them (last semester, this semester, all of the semesters :) )? Or put them all to one place? :) I'm very interested!
I hope you read it anyway! It really wasn't that awful, I just wasn't expecting it. And it's short so it's over quickly. I might just be a little over-sensitive to those sorts of things. I hope you like it. Lists are coming!Delete
Oh, it's short! Short is good! :) Yay for the lists :) Thanks!Delete
Lists! More lists! Please!ReplyDelete
I actually had no idea what Candide is about, but the mention of it always makes me grin. Why? Because in some ep of the Sharpe movies that star Sean Bean, one of his buddies cracks a French code that uses pages out of Candide. He has to find a copy, which he does, but then he almost loses it to someone who thinks he's looting something valuable and asks him what on earth he wanted this French book for. And Sharpe's buddy deadpans, "I wanted it to wipe my bum with, Sir." So... Candide makes me laugh.
Haha! Well, I hope reading the book makes you laugh, too, if you decide to read it!Delete
Maybe some day! Not on my short list right now, hee.Delete