Candide As A Book For Our Own Time:

Actually the Black Death would have been a good example why people from the late Middle Ages would NEVER visit London and perhaps for a while after that. Sanitation conditions were such that it was better NOT to visit at all. Ditto with the Great Plague, although I am not sure what it was. The same with the Great Fire. Cities were not set up for fire prevention in the old days. It was better NOT to be there. Obviously it would have been crazy to visit London during the Blitz. These are all conditions that mankind has to learn to prevent over time. You are giving ammunition to my argument. If you compare Salisbury with the Black Death, the town ought to be evacuated until such time as mankind comes to understand chemical weapons better and can control them and the conditions they cause. And right now, Gary reports, donations to Salisbury Cathedral are down 40%.

“Fear and hysteria” have nothing to do with it. It is more like being smart. It is called commonsense. You stay away from something that is obviously dangerous. You didn’t comment on what I said about the shore excursions. But Cunard is showing no common sense in having tourists visit places like Guatemala and El Salvador. The US State Department even agrees with me. They could actually be sued.

Taken to its philosophic height this sort of logic culminates in Voltaire’s character, Candide. The young man wanders around Europe witnessing this disaster and that including the Lisbon Earthquake. At the end he concludes that the sane man does not venture outside his own well-cultivated garden. It is not safe. Have you ever heard of Candide? Would you say that there were so many fears and anxieties In Candide‘s life and in Voltaire’s that you could not imagine how they coped?

I have found an intriguing version of Candide on Amazon called the Norton Critical Edition. I will be getting it myself to reacquaint myself with the work which I have not read in its entirety since I was in high school. You should read it too. Candide is after all the great optimist who was taught by his tutor named Pangloss that this is the “best of all possible worlds”. But adventure after adventure sadly proves otherwise. In the end Candide must remind Pangloss that the sum of wisdom is to stay in your own garden and cultivate that.

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