Candide by Voltaire (1759)

“Candide” is a satirical novel written by Voltaire in 1759. The book is a critique of the optimistic philosophy of Leibniz and the religious and political institutions of Voltaire’s time. The novel tells the story of the young Candide, who is taught by his mentor, Pangloss, that this is the best of all possible worlds. However, Candide’s experiences in the world soon challenge this philosophy, as he encounters war, natural disasters, and human suffering.

Here are 20 key points from the book:

  1. The book satirizes the philosophy of Leibniz, who believed that this is the best of all possible worlds.
  2. Candide is a naive and optimistic young man who believes in the teachings of his mentor, Pangloss.
  3. Candide is expelled from his home and begins a series of adventures that expose him to the cruelty and injustice of the world.
  4. Candide is forced to flee from one disaster to another, including a war, an earthquake, and a shipwreck.
  5. Candide encounters many different characters throughout his journey, including a wealthy merchant, a slave, and a prostitute.
  6. The book criticizes religious institutions, including the Catholic Church and Protestantism.
  7. Candide travels to many different countries, including Portugal, Spain, and South America.
  8. Candide falls in love with a woman named Cunegonde, whom he believes to be his true love.
  9. The book criticizes the practice of slavery and the slave trade.
  10. Candide meets a wealthy man named Martin, who challenges his optimistic philosophy.
  11. The book criticizes the nobility and the idea of inherited privilege.
  12. Candide is reunited with his mentor, Pangloss, who has suffered many misfortunes.
  13. The book criticizes the practice of war and the military.
  14. Candide and his companions encounter a group of Eldorado, an ideal society where everyone is happy and prosperous.
  15. The book criticizes the idea of absolute monarchy and the power of kings and queens.
  16. Candide and his companions are betrayed and cheated by many people they encounter.
  17. The book criticizes the greed and materialism of the wealthy.
  18. Candide eventually learns that his true love, Cunegonde, has suffered many misfortunes and is no longer the woman he remembers.
  19. The book ends with Candide and his companions working in a garden, embracing a simple life and rejecting the pursuit of wealth and power.
  20. The book concludes with the famous line: “We must cultivate our garden.”

Overall, “Candide” is a scathing critique of the philosophical and religious ideas of Voltaire’s time. The book uses humor and satire to expose the cruelty, greed, and injustice of the world. Despite its controversial nature, “Candide” remains an important work of literature and has influenced many writers and thinkers throughout history.