See if this sparks any thoughts.
AN INTRODUCTION (Of Sorts) TO Candide
[This is basically how I kick
1. The book is a journey, from the quasi-
2. Let's start, for entirely sensible reasons, with
Conloqui et conridere et vicissim benevole obsequi, simul leger libros dulciloquos, simul nugari et simul honestari.
or for the non-classicists among us:
Conversations and jokes together, mutual rendering of good services, the reading together of sweetly phras
- isn't this what 'Humanities Reads' (and university) is/is suppos
[apologies for my vaguely 19th-Century taste for italics]
- and in this, we differ from the vast majority of the Anglo-Saxon world, which has a [perhaps healthy? - discuss, writing on only one side of the answer paper] pretty strong disdain for the 'pointy-head
To the man-in-the-street, who, I'm sorry to say,
Is a keen observer of life,
The word 'Intellectual' suggests straight away
A man who's untrue to his wife.
- As Sterne says, 'They order [...] this matter better in
3. France is the country which has really maintain
For years we've been letting that book get by. There were so many different
'Filth', however, isn't really the reason why it stirs up so much opprobrium; the main reason is surely that it's one of the great works exemplifying the Enlightenment's antiestablishment, antiauthoritarian and freethinking beliefs.
4. This is a philosophical book about the dangers of philosophy, or rather, about the dangers of believing that any one belief system can possibly have all the answers. This is where PANGLOSS comes in, with his one-size-fits-all school of 'metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-nigology'. More than that, the book is also laying in to the doctrine of optimism [hence the subtitle], as expound
- The book really slams Leibniz's ideas, and arguably presents him as little more than a philosophical Pollyanna - this is unfair (but isn't this always true of satire?); readers who want to see another side of the story, and in particular to learn something about his importance to the history of science, should turn to Neal Stephenson's brilliant Baroque Trilogy, and in particular the final volume, The System of The World, which dramatises the protract
5. Back to optimism - it's not so much the idea that 'everything is perfect', but that, if the universe is creat
6. And this is where Voltaire goes for the jugular. In their journey round the globe, his characters are shown a vision of the world as cruel, bloody, and ultimately senseless. The innocent suffer, whether it be death, rape, disease and/or war, and there is no sign of a cosmic plan. Above all, how can a just and loving God allow the
7. How do we make sense of it all? Can we? These are the key questions of the book, and lead to the enigma of the ending. What does it mean, to 'look after our garden'? A call for isolationism? (as with
8. This is what Candide brings up in my mind; your opinions will be very different. For a short text, it raises so many issues; it's a picaresque tale, a very dark Bildüngsroman, a social critique - and, as well, a com