This is the first installment of the three part Oracle Book Review for the 2015 holiday season, the goal of which is to recommend interesting, engaging reading for the upcoming break: to students, by students.
Vacation is always a great time to read, given the ample free time and generally relaxed environment. Whether you will be sitting by the beach in the Caribbean, passing the time on a thirteen hour flight, or simply curling up on the couch at home, a classic to consider indulging in is Voltaire’s 1759 political satire Candide.
The book follows a young German on a tumultuous journey of both bad and good fortune, love and loss, and the search for the meaning in life. Beginning in a German castle, a love story unfolds that is unlike any in the way it tears Candide and his love apart again and again, only to reunite them in misfortune. Voltaire satirizes numerous aspects of the society at the time, including the horrors of war, the Inquisition, lust for gold, being a galley slave, and chiefly, Candide’s undying optimism. This unflappable positive outlook on fortune and the way of life is the defining characteristic of Voltaire’s title character and his trusted mentor and teacher, Dr. Pangloss.
The novel, while brief (I read it in a matter of hours), explores many complex concepts. As a cornerstone of satirical literature, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat this holiday season as you spend a comfortable afternoon by the fireside. I read Candide this Thanksgiving and found it to be both quite a page turner and deeply inquisitive of the purpose of human existence. If you’re not already convinced, Candide is available for free on Amazon’s Kindle e-reader here: http://goo.gl/W4x4cO.
(Copyright 2015 Tys Sweeney)