As I follow the adventures (mishaps) of our wide-eyed hero, I am thinking to myself, "what a dumbass!" (I mean, how could you lose eighty treasure-laden sheep, carrying the wealth of El Dorado, to a lying Dutchman?!?)
Yet at the same time, I feel like I'm reading about myself. Of course I'm talking more in the naive sort of way. I wouldn't have lost the sheep. But I definitely relate to the sincere and unjaded nature of Candide's personality.
Por hemplay, in one scene Candide is visiting the Italian senator Pococurante's palace and admiring his impressive collection of literary classics. Candide reads off the titles with enthusiasm--he was taught all about them by his dear professor--and asks what the senator thinks of each book.
About Homer, the senator has this to say:
" '...the continual repetition of battles, which are all alike--those gods, who are always busy achieving nothing--that Helen, who is the cause of war yet scarcely plays a part in the whole performance--that interminable and ineffectual siege--I have found them all insufferably tedious...' "Regarding Virgil:
" '..nothing could be more flat and disagreeable..' "
" '...I was disgusted...' "
" '...I concluded that I know as much as he...' "
" 'Who? Oh, that barbarian...that slovenly imitator of the Greeks?...' "
And so on and so forth.
He dryly sums it up:
" 'Fools have a habit of believing that everything written by a famous author is admirable.' "
"Candide, who had been brought up never to form an opinion on his own, was astonished at all this."
At the current time, I am not unlike our young optimist. I'm supposed to revere these Books and Men of verbal veneration. I guess that's what I'm doing with this very blog, huh Voltaire?
But what I'm hoping is that as I read more of these esteemed tomes, I, too, will think some of them suck.
Until then, Ciao!