Saturday, January 10, 2015

Candide and Notes from the Underground comparison

A certain quote from Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground reminds me of an overarching theme in Voltaire's Candide. In Candide, The Turkish farmer states, "I have only twenty acres, replied the Turk: I cultivate them with my children, and the work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty" (245). His advice caused Candide and his crew to settle, in order to "cultivate their garden" and stray from life's evils. Similarly, in Notes from the Underground, the Underground Man says, But sometimes, he [man] may want to swerve aside precisely because he's compelled to build these roads, and perhaps also because, no matter how stupid the spontaneous man of action may generally be, nevertheless it sometimes occurs to him that the road, as it turns out, almost leads somewhere or other, and that the main thing isn't so much where it goes, but the fact that it does, and that the well-behaved child, disregarding the art of engineering, shouldn't yield to pernicious idleness which, as is well known, constitutes the mother of all vices" (558). The Underground Man states that as long as man creates roads, preoccupies himself, and generally keeps moving, it doesn't even matter where it's going. As long as humans are moving, it'll conquer lifelong boredom. This correlates directly to the Turkish farmers quote, because despite his lack of possessions, his preoccupations are enough to keep him moving and out of boredom. Voltaire and Candide accentuate the point that achieving something, despite the lack of planning, will conquer life's evils of boredom, vice and poverty.

No comments: