Chapter 25 – 26
Pococurante received them politely but he is strangely unenthusiastic. Candide attempts to engage him on a number of subjects but he is always very blasé about each and finds something negative in every topic presented. Claiming that in Italy, they only write what they don’t believe, he abuses Milton and then pronounces that he always says what he thinks whether people agree with him or not. Flabbergasted at his continual judgements, when they leave Candide claims that Pococurante must be a happy man because he is above everything around him. Martin, however, sets him straight, claiming, au contraire, that the senator is digested with everything. When Candide inquires if there is not pleasure in being critical, Martin restates his question asking if there is pleasure in no pleasure. Claiming that he’ll be a happy man if he can see Cunégonde again, Candide, with Martin, continues on his way. While Candide and Martin prepare to have a meal with six other foreigners, Cacambo appears and reveals that Cunégonde is in Constantinople, while he is a slave. He then whispers in his master’s ear that he must leave the table and four other slaves do the same to their masters, while the sixth says to his master that they have no more credit and will be put in jail. Amazed, Candide asks them if they are kings and they introduce themselves as six dethroned kings, Ahmed III, a great Sultan; Ivan, emperor of Russia; Charles Edward, King of England; a King of Poland; another King of Poland; and Theodore, elected king of Corsica, who is penniless; the others assist him with money, and Candide gives him a diamond. Four Serene Highnesses who have also been dethroned arrive but Candide is too busy trying to figure out how he is going to reach Cunégonde.
Pococurante is similar to Martin, but different. He is arrogant and condescending and even Martin does not admire his lifestyle. The kings are all real kings, and I assume their narrative is to demonstrate the capriciousness of good fortune ……… you can be a king one day; exiled and a pauper the next.
|Charles Edward “Bonnie Prince Charlie”
John Petite (1898)
Chapter 27 – 28
Candide convinces Cacambo’s master to take them to Constantinople, overjoyed at the thought of seeing Cunégonde and professing Pangloss’ philosophy with glee. Candide remarks over their curious adventure with the dethroned kings, but Martin is not surprised by their fate. Cacambo confesses to Candide that Cunégonde has lost her beauty but Candide is not dismayed and states that it is his duty to love her. After arriving at the Bosphorus, Candide buys Cacambo’s freedom and they set off in a galley. Candide notices two galley slaves who resemble Pangloss and the Jesuit baron, Cunégonde’s brother, and they are revealed as such. They are all introduced and Candide buys the freedom of his friends. In response to Candide’s apology for his attack on him, the baron describes how he survived and how he arrived at his present circumstance. Pangloss then gives his explanation of how they did not hang him properly, and how he revived in the middle of being dissected. When he tried to put a bouquet back into a woman’s decolletage in a mosque, he was arrested and sold into slavery. When Candide asks him if he still believes his philosophy, he replies that he must, along with other obscure references.
|“Candide …. reeled back three steps in horror,
and then, for politeness sake, advanced”
(Ilustration 1787 edition)
Chapter 29 – 30
As they land on the shore of the Sea of Marmora, they are still discussing “adventures, reasoning about the contingent or non-contingent events of this universe, and arguing about cause and effect, moral and physical evil, freedom and necessity and the consolations that one can find as a slave ….” The first person they see is Cunégonde, and they are all startled at her altered appearance. The Baron recoils but recovers and embraces her. Candide buys the old woman’s freedom (she is there too), and then they find an old farm nearby which Candide purchases. When he tells the Baron that he is going to marry his sister, the Baron refuses and the old quarrel springs up with threats of murder. Really, Cunégonde’s ugliness made him wish that he did not have to marry her, but because she was pressing and because of her brother’s arrogance, he is determined. Instead of killing the Baron, he sells him back as a galley slave. Now Candide has spent so much money and was cheated and robbed so many times, he now only has his farm left. Cunégonde grows uglier every day, Cacambo is exhausted by work, and Pangloss is depressed that he is exiled from intellectual society. They have many discussions and arguments about metaphysics, morals, etc. Martin concludes that man is either bored or afflicted; Candide does not agree; and Pangloss sticks to his philosophy, although he does not believe it. The arrival of the Venetian monk, Brother Gironde with tales of his tragedies shake Candide’s faith, but then they encounter the dervish of the neighbourhood who tells him not to question, to mind one’s own business and to keep quiet, before slamming the door in their faces. Next, they meet an old-man who tells them that he cultivates his land and that his work keeps him free from the three great evils: boredom, vice and poverty. Pangloss says, “man was not born to be idle”; Martin replies, “let’s work without theorizing,” whereupon each “began to exercise his own talents” and “made himself useful”. One day Pangloss mentions that if all the tragedies and adventures hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t be here now, but Candide only replies: “Well said, but we must cultivate our garden.”
The last chapter is somewhat telling. Instead of being hit by calamity after calamity, our characters are now simply bored, and the old woman believes this may be worse. Both the encounter with the dervish and the old man appear significant. The dervish, while giving them no wisdom on the course they should take, is very insistent on what they should stop doing: questioning. The old man, on the other hand, gives them wisdom that appears to turn their lives in a different direction: work. Candide now appears to have control of his thoughts and, in the end, it is he that forestalls Pangloss’ speech and tells them what they must do.
|Illustration by Fernand Siméon from ‘Candide ou L’optimisme’ by Voltaire.
Paris: Jules Meynial, 1922. NYPL, General Research Division.