I was waiting for my son to get out of his oboe lesson and needed something to read. I had just finished a fantasy and now wanted something in the classic vein. From somewhere in the vague recesses of my memory I pulled up the name Candide. I downloaded an e-copy on my phone and began a book for which I was totally unprepared. It ran over me like a freight train: sex, butchery, war, murder, rape, cannibalism—you name it, it is in the book. Ironically this book was written in 1759, long before the “good ‘ol days” of our grandparents.

Now that I’ve made the book sound horrible I must say that I found it a fascinating read. If it weren’t a satire with all the horrors listed above being rather flippantly discussed it may have been too much for me to take. However, Voltaire deals with all the horrors of the world in an untraumatizing way—it would be easier to be maimed in a bounce room. Most bestselling thriller of today are more offensive.

I have to admit that the better part of Candide went over my head. I sensed historical references, philosophical references, literary references whizzing by me like blaster shots from an imperial Stormtrooper. I definitely need a reference book or a good class to help me more fully appreciate the work. I’m glad I read it because I sense I have read something worth reading. I just haven’t yet given it enough study to figure out why.