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O che sciagὺra d'essere scenza coglioni!
Candide is the story of Candide, the (possible) bastard nephew of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, and his attempts to marry Cunégonde, the baron's daughter. After attempting to "explore cause and effect" with her, the Baron kicks Candide out of his castle. What follows could only be explained by the fact that Voltaire had an interesting sense of humor and a rather strong philosophical disagreement with one Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz.
After being drafted into the Bulgar army based solely on his height, Candide meets his philosophy professor Dr. Pangloss, who has been stricken with syphilis that he got from a woman working for the Baron , is shipwrecked at Lisbon, kills two priests and a Jew, meets a woman who is missing half a buttock due to cannibalism, goes to the legendary city El Dorado where gold is the same as dirt, meets someone who assures Candide that the chief occupations of every city, in order of importance, are "love-making, malicious gossip and talking nonsense," goes to Constantinople, and gardens. Along the way he meets many other figures from his previous life, including Cunégonde, who have all gotten into increasingly ridiculous predicaments and escaped them anyway, to join forces with him later.
For those who don't speak Italian, the above quote means "Oh, what a misfortune to be without testicles!" And yes, it is in the book, though the last word may or may not be censored into a single 'C' and ellipsis.
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: An operetta by Leonard Bernstein. It's Lighter and Softer.
- Answering Echo: In the Bernstein operetta, the Inquisition delivers its judgments this way.
Three Inquisitors: Are our methods legal or illegal?
Three Inquisitors: Are we judges of the law, or laymen?
Three Inquisitors: Shall we hang them or forget them?
Basses: Get them!
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted hard with Cunegonde and the Old Woman.
- Black Comedy/Kafka Komedy
- Bury Your Gays: The Baron's son is heavily implied to be gay, and he's the only one of the recurring characters who at the end is shipped off to be a galley slave.
- Call to Agriculture: In the end, Candide and his friends retire to sustenance living; the moral of the book is basically Candide's last line, "We must cultivate our garden". The operetta ends with the gorgeous choral number "Make Our Garden Grow".
- City of Gold: El Dorado.
- Contrived Coincidence: Parodied; characters frequently run into people they've met before in other parts of the world.
- Crapsack World: Though the story's point is, "It's not the best of all possible worlds, but at least it's not the worst."
- The Ditz: Candide himself.
- Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: The Old Woman is only referred as such.
- Five-Man Band
- Dumb Is Good: Candide is a generally good person, if a bit naive.
- Gallows Humor: Pangloss gets syphilis. It's Played for Laughs. In Bernstein's operetta he gets a whole song about it.
- Hidden Elf Village: El Dorado
- It Got Worse: Gee, you think? Once again, almost without exception Played for Laughs.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The Old Woman.
- Living MacGuffin: Cunegonde.
- Opposed Mentors: A classic example in which the title character falls under the influence of Pangloss and Martin, who are at opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- The Man They Couldn't Hang: Pangloss.
- The Philosopher: Pangloss and Martin.
- Pinball Protagonist: Candide
- The Pollyanna: Candide is perhaps the early prototype. In spite of constant tragedy, he does his best to maintain Pangloss' philosophy of "the best of all possible worlds". He does find himself wavering to maintain this over time, and in the end abandons it completely. "Pangloss" is actually a synonym for "Pollyanna" in most thesauruses.
- Refuge in Audacity: To put it simply, Voltaire probably wrote one of the most epic Crack Fics even before the name was coined!
- Rousseau Was Right: Deconstructed with extreme prejudice.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Despite what Pangloss says, this story abides in Cynicism. Martin happily occupies the cynicism end. The Musical, slightly less so.
- Straw Critic: The politician who is so well-read that he is incapable of enjoying anything.
- Strawman Political: Pangloss, duh.
- Take That: Pangloss is an obvious parody of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (yes, that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz). The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" is lifted directly from his work.
- By chronological proximity it is also aimed at Leibniz's student Christian Wolff, who was massively popular in Europe for a long time for writing books on The Theme Park Version of Leibniz's rather abstract philosophy.
- The whole work is a massive Take That to Rousseau himself, with whom Voltaire was on bad terms with at the time.
- There are several petty shots at Voltaire's personal enemies throughout the book.
- Unexplained Recovery: Occurs frequently to major characters, Played for Laughs.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Cunegonde's brother still refuses to let Candide marry his sister after being freed by him from slavery. The Bury Your Gays example above is well deserved.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: The central theme.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The children of El Dorado play with gemstones; they're common there and have no other use. A classic example.