IDYLLIC SATIRE, continued ( 1607 to 1778)
CANDIDE by Voltaire:
Voltaire’s words attacked the Church and the State with equal fervor, landing him in prison on more than one occasion. He was also appalled by the specters of injustice and inexplicable disasters that he saw around him. These events influenced his composition of Candide. It was also the age of Enlightenment which promoted a naive perception of optimism, which Voltaire dispatched with his character, Pangloss (The Instructor to Candide) and his mantra that “This is the best of all possible worlds”, right before all goes askew.
Candide is the illegitimate nephew of a German Baron; Thunder Ten Trunk, where he grows up in the Baron’s castle under the tutelage of the scholar, Pangloss. He falls in love with the Baron’s beautiful daughter, Cunegonde. When the Baron catches the two kissing, he expels Candide from his home. Out on his own, Candide becomes the object of a cruel fate where he is soon conscripted into the Army of the Bulgars. He wanders away from camp for a brief walk one evening and is later flogged as a deserter. Then, after witnessing a horrific battle, he escapes to Holland.
While in Holland, he meets a kindly Anabaptist who takes him in. He runs into a deformed beggar who turns out to be Pangloss. The Scholar tells him that he has contracted syphilis and that Cunegonde’s family has all been brutally murdered by the Bulgars. Nonetheless, Pangloss maintains his positive outlook. The three travel to Lisbon together where their ship is sunk in a storm, killing the Anabaptist. The two have arrived there during the Inquisition. It is here where Pangloss is hanged as a heretic for his optimism.
Candide is flogged for his approval of Pangloss philosophy and his wounds are then dressed by an old woman who eventually takes him to Cunegonde. She survived to escape the Bulgars but was sold as a sex slave to the Grand Inquisitor. Candide kills the Grand Inquisitor when he comes to rape Cunegonde and the two must now escape from Lisbon with the old lady to South America where the Portugese authorities are in hot pursuit.
They arrive in a place called Eldorado where the streets are littered with gold and jewels. This utopian country has advanced scientific knowledge, no religious conflicts, no courts and no perception upon the value of its riches, a smug assault on his own time. However, through a long hilarious but brutal series of untoward accidents, Candide loses Cunegonde again for a while, only to find her later, deformed and ugly, along with Pangloss, the old lady and his Uncle who have all escaped brutal death several times.
They all wind up in prison until Candide is able to spare them by purchasing their freedom. At the end, they purchase a farm and settle down, taking to cultivating a garden in earnest. When Pangloss begins to pontificate about how this is now the best of all possible worlds, Candide dismisses him with, “Perhaps, but we must tend our garden”.
It is a rejection of Pangloss’s philosophies for an ethic of hard practical work. And, it is one of the most glaring indictments of Pangloss’s optimism in that it is based on abstract philosophical argument rather than real-world experience. (This was also the theme of Don Quixote in his quest for chivalrous glory.) Thus, with no time or leisure for idle speculation, the characters find the happiness that has eluded them throughout the novel. This is classic Voltaire. He dismisses the whole of the Enlightenment and its optimism for a little pragmatism with BITE…or what we might call…cynicism.
Resident Philosopher Doug Taylor
Professors from the university will visit the library during the semester to share with the community. Talks will range over a wide variety of topics and will be held in the Topping Room.
Wednesday, April 24, 6 - 7pm “Evolution of Surfing and the Culture Surrounding It” with Professor Jack Reilly, CSUCI
Wednesday, May 22, 6 - 7pm “Tearing the Fabric: Exploring and Predicting Elevated Vertebrate Road Kill from Ventura County to Louisiana to the Middle East” with Dr. Sean Anderson, CSUCI
CSU Channel Islands and Foster library are proud to present a new lecture series. Professors from the university will visit the library during the semester to share with the community. Talks will range over a wide variety of topics and will be held in the Topping Room.
The events are as follows:
On November 21, 1999, after a major renovation, the E. P. Foster Library reopened to the public. The showpiece of the opening was the glass art installation in the front entrance entitled "Matrix", by artist Sally Weber. The piece was commissioned by the City of San Buenaventura Public Art Program. This unique piece is constructed of digital images laminated within glass panels. Embedded within the panels are lines of poetry and quotations along with visual patterns reflecting the evolution of written language. In a sense, digital art and coding has as much in common with pictographs as any other form of communication. Much like stained glass windows in churches, the colors of Matrix are enhanced by solar illumination. There are times when the light shining through Foster's front entrance is reminiscent of sacred spaces, reminding us that this is truly a place where one can enhance the intellect through education or entertainment.
If you are inspired by Matrix, Foster Library has books available on glass painting and stained glass art.
While perusing the many graphic novels available in our children’s collection, I happened upon a nice surprise. Called Explorer: The Mystery Boxes, it is a collection of seven short stories all centered around the theme of a box and the various mysteries that lie therein. Some boxes contain mysterious dolls of wax, some can take you into outer space, and some can lead you to those you’ve loved and lost. Each is told and drawn by a different author, ranging from funny and cute to serious and even sad. The drawing styles are as different as the stories they convey, but all made for a good read.
My particular favorite was Whatzit, written by Johane Matte, a contributor to the Flight series as well as a storyboard artist for the Dreamworks studio. Whatzit tells the tale of a young fellow responsible for shipping a replica of our solar system to a special exhibition. There’s a box for every item in the universe, right down to every creature on every planet. However, there’s one box with a question mark. Now, curiosity being the rule rather than the exception, you can guess something’s going to go wrong, and it has something to do with that box. It’s a funny little story, the best of the bunch I would say.
The book itself is small by graphic novel standards, less than 130 pages, so the stories have to really jump in to get the ball rolling. I easily finished it in one sitting, but the stories contained here could easily be expanded into full length graphic novels on their own. That would be worth reading. In the meantime, enjoy this delightful little read.
We are delighted to announce the availability of Axis 360 digital media library. This collection is available now to all cardholders through the Ventura County eLibrary.
Axis 360 provides a state-of-the-art system for circulating ebooks and Blio, their ereading software.
Our Director, Jackie Griffin, states, "Adding the Axis 360 platform will enhance our current ebook offering of OverDrive and EBSCOhost. This additional partnership will give us a wider range of selection for our patrons who are clearly sending the message that more downloadable content is desirable."
Enjoy the dynamic presentation of titles on the Axis 360 Magic Wall as well as their book reviews and recommendations for further reading. Cloud-based delivery greatly simplifies the process of downloading onto your preferred device, including iOS, Android and Windows tablets and smartphones.
On Saturday, March 16:
11:30a - 1:30p is Open House at Foster Library
And, on Sunday, March 17: