Saturday, October 6, 2007

Book Review: Candide by Voltaire

Whilst anything by a French philosopher, published in the 18th century may sound like an intimidating read, this is actually a very easy-to-read and highly amusing story and one of my favourite books.

The story follows the wanderings of Candide, a somewhat naive individual who has been taught to believe that "all is for the best, in this, the best of all worlds". The hilarious adventures and misfortunes that Candide encounters come so quickly that within the first few pages he is kicked out of his home, press-ganged into the army, beaten with sticks and forced into battle, whilst at all times remaining convinced that all is for the best. Indeed, Candide remains true to this philosophy even when faced with absurd examples of suffering, injustice and cruelty towards himself, his friends and other passers by.

Although this novel was written nearly 250 years ago it is easy to see that the same philosophy is applied to life today to keep the "have-nots" in their place by the "haves", making it a thought provoking story as well as an hilarious piece of comedy. At times, the series of injustices and the ridiculousness of the situations becomes farcical and it is very refreshing to read philosophy tackled in such an enjoyable fashion.

Candide remains one of my all time favourite novels and I have recommended it to a variety of people who have all enjoyed it. A superb, easy-to-read and surprisingly short book that can be enjoyed on a number of levels by many different readers.

Score: 10/10

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