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Doctor Knows Best
If Doctor Pangloss, the esteemed mentor to the young Candide, were alive today he would be a best selling author of self-help books and a fixture on the talk show circuit. How could it be otherwise? He taught that this is the best of all possible worlds and therefore anything that happens here must of necessity happen for the best. Why were noses created? Why, to prop up our eye glasses of course!
We meet the good doctor in Voltaire's novella Candide during the course of which the hero of our title meets war, treachery, the great Lisbon earthquake, and the inquisition, and this is all before he even leaves Europe. It's a delightful read by the Enlightenment's most brilliant and witty philosopher (in this case "witty philosopher" is not an oxymoron). This book inspired Leonard Bernstein to write a Candide opera overture to which is one of my favorite pieces of music.
If you would like to have an electronic copy of Candide one is available from the Open Library. In one format or another give it a try. It's all for the best!
Joe Toschik is a Public Services Librarian at Half Moon Bay Library.