This is a truly hilarious satire which starts with poor Candide being kicked out of the castle where he was born and brought up, after he falls in love with the baron’s daughter, Cunegonde. Then his troubles begin, and he ends up travelling all around the world looking for his beloved.
Candide experiences trial after trial, each one as bad and as far-fetched as the last. However, the way in which these trials were described did not make one feel too sorry for him; the story had more of the feel of a tragicomedy, especially with the speed of events and the gross exaggerations.
Candide’s mentor, the philosopher, Pangloss, was such an infuriating yet funny character. He maintains that “…everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds” and stubbornly sticks by this maxim. This book is a bildungsroman of sorts because we see what Candide makes of that supposition throughout his trials.
Voltaire spares nobody in his attack on society. “Figure to yourself all the contradictions, and all the absurdities possible, and you will find them in the church, in the government, in the tribunals, and in the theatres of this droll nation.”
I can only imagine what an uproar this book must have created when it was first published. All in all, a very funny book.