Recommended by Graeme Humphries – Deputy Director (Administration & Marketing)

CANDIDE by Voltaire (1759)

I was given this novel as a Christmas present and haven’t quite finished it yet but I absolutely love it. At the start of the story the hero, Candide, having been schooled in the optimistic philosophy of the enlightenment by his tutor Pangloss who claims that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds,” is ejected from the magnificent castle where he has been raised.

The rest of the novel details the multiple disasters and hardships that Candide and his companions meet in his travels including (from what I have read so far) war, rape, theft, hanging, shipwreck, earthquake, cannibalism and slavery – and each new disaster is delivered just as Candide believes he is finally safe. At the end of the novel (I haven’t got there yet but I checked so I could tell you), having survived these experiences he and his companions retire to a simple life on a small farm and discover that the secret of happiness is to: “cultivate one’s garden.”