The young Candide lives in the German principality of Thunder Ten Tronck and studies with his tutor, Doctor Pangloss, an incurable optimist and theorist of optimism. The equally optimistic Candide travels the world and encounters every kind of misfortune imaginable, from narrowly surviving an earthquake in Portugal, to being chased out of Argentina by the Inquisition, to being enslaved by the Turks, to being imprisoned as a galley slave on a French sailing ship.
Through all of the disasters, disease, robberies, murders, and executions he's endured, Candide nevertheless remains wholly optimistic. "All is for the best," he says, "in this best of all possible worlds."
At the end of his journey and as the culmination of his many adventures, Candide settles down on a little farm near Constantinople.
"All that is very well," answered Candide, "but let us cultivate our garden."
From the time Voltaire wrote Candide in 1759, scholars have debated what these words mean. Some scholars argue that the garden...
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