Voltaire. (1759). Candide.

The advantages of reading with Kindle are many. I am now able to read constantly (classics especially, through Project Gutenberg) and in great detail, for one rarely skips pages with Kindle. I proceed line by line, page by page. The “villainy of mankind” is so very true still, and El Dorado still so far away from the real world though three hundred years have passed, that it makes me rather gloomy. However, I found many sentences to be moving, even some passing ones such as “they chatted, they communicated ideas, they consoled each other.” There is no happily ever after, if we do not cultivate our garden.

“It is demonstrable,” said he, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed for stockings—and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and to construct castles—therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were made to be eaten—therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should have said all is for the best.”

A hundred times I was upon the point of killing myself; but still I loved life. This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down? to detest existence and yet to cling to one’s existence? in brief, to caress the serpent which devours us, till he has eaten our very heart?

Indeed, the law of nature teaches us to kill our neighbour, and such is the practice all over the world.

“Oh, Pangloss!” cried Candide, “thou hadst not guessed at this abomination; it is the end. I must at last renounce thy optimism.” “What is this optimism?” said Cacambo. “Alas!” said Candide, “it is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it is wrong.”

“You must have a vast and magnificent estate,” said Candide to the Turk. “I have only twenty acres,” replied the old man; “I and my children cultivate them; our labour preserves us from three great evils—weariness, vice, and want.”

Pangloss sometimes said to Candide: “There is a concatenation of events in this best of all possible worlds: for if you had not been kicked out of a magnificent castle for love of Miss Cunegonde: if you had not been put into the Inquisition: if you had not walked over America: if you had not stabbed the Baron: if you had not lost all your sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts.”

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”

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