Travel, Tourism, and Being Abroad:Voltaire's travelers, Candide, Cunegonde, and Doctor Pangloss, often act as readers' surrogate observers in distant, unfamiliar places. In effect, they are tourists on a very unconventional trip. As they view what they perceive to be strange and wondrous or terrible novelties in Lisbon or Peru, they also often are observed, themselves, by the local inhabitants to whom the travelers themselves seem strange, wondrous, or terrible. How does Voltaire manipulate readers' sympathies for the observers and the observed, the "tourists" and the "natives"? What are the consequences of voyaging as an outsider rather than entering into the cultural flow of places we visit? What obstacles stand in the way of our attempts to be a part of any culture other than the one we are born into, and how can education help us to overcome them?
Nothing is safe from the scathing commentary Voltaire delivers in this novel—not power, wealth, love, philosophy, religion, education, or, most significantly, optimism. But this isn't a dull treatise or an angry screed. Instead, it's an adventure story that follows the (totally insane) antics of Candide, a wide-eyed, innocent boy who's totally besotted by
When much of Poland’s leadership died in an air crash while preparing to commemorate the 1940 Katyn massacre, my thoughts turned automatically to Andrzej Panufnik. Poland’s foremost composer until his flight west in 1954, Panufnik spoke for a culture that was distorted and suppressed under Communism.