47. Candide, Voltaire (1759)

Candide is the earliest book on the list, and you really don’t need me to tell you how great it is. But I will tell you why I love it. I don’t suppose Voltaire invented the narrative device of the ‘innocent abroad’, but he certainly brought it to perfection. Candide, the sweet-natured hero, is the perfect medium through which Voltaire can satirise the wicked world in which he travels, and it’s a particular stroke of genius that made him sexually irresistible to all and sundry. I suppose it’s the forerunner of all the ‘satirical biographies’ that pepper this list (Little Me, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes etc), and there’s a vein of extremely cynical humour beneath the surface of goodness and innocence that I find particularly appealing. Weirdly, for a book by a philosopher, the overall message seems to be ‘just get on with it and make the most of things’, but I’m probably missing something.

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2 Comments

Filed under My top 100 novels

2 responses to “47. Candide, Voltaire (1759)

  1. You make all these books sound so good! I have added about 90 books to my “to read” list. It must be difficult reviewing and writing up a book you read years ago and you do it with such wit and charm and professionalism, as comes through in your books. Loving this list!

  2. Thanks Adam! I’m so glad you’re enjoying it. I must say I’ve had to drag my memory for some things (the rest I leave to Wikipedia, obviously). Rx

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