I first read Candide in high school. I simply had to. And I read it again and again. Foraging each time a new idea or enjoying a new perspective. A tale combining depth and irony. Narrative and style. Voltaire is one of the writers I wish I could have dinner with 😉
As the lockdown comes to to an end and fear seems diminishing I can’t prevent myself from turning these pages once more. Pausing regularly. The Lisbon earthquake was not a curse or a punishment. Neither is the virus. War is more than often simply an “heroic butchery”.
Can’t as well forget his striking denunciation of slavery.
Or the “all is for the best” ironic leitmotiv.
How to discuss teleworking and the future of work without considering that “our labour preserves us from three great evils: weariness, vice and want”?
And what about the never ending debate that continues to divide the readers of Candide as well as the ones endlessly arguing about the “after”: optimism or pessimism ?
I am not sure Voltaire ever chose his camp in Candide and I love the idea he might not have. However I can’t read the enigmatic conclusion “we have to cultivate our garden” as a disillusioned and selfish statement. It’s a call to action. Let’s roll up our sleeves and cultivate our planet.