Archive: July 7

Voltaire's parable recounts one tale after another of rape, torture, slavery, and bertayal. The source of these disasters is Dr. Pangloss, a literary stand-in for the philosopher G. W. Leibniz, serving as a caricature of the man of reason who has no truck with mere mess. But Pangloss, like his real-life counterpart, is brilliant; he is a mechanist-celebrant of perfection whose explanations of why "all is for best in the best of all possible worlds" are impeccable. The young Candide, an Odysseus in breeches and a wig, is dull-witted. Still, he eventually recognizes that the nostrums of his teacher are too dangerous. He finally, famously concludes, "Il faut cultiver notre jardin" - simple work is good medicine for those battered by life.

(Last edited Jul 7, 2020)