Chapter 10 – In What Distress Candide, Cunegonde, and the Old Woman Arrived at Cadiz; and of Their Embarkation

1 “Who was it that robbed me of my money and jewels?” said Cunegonde, all bathed in tears. “How shall we live? What shall we do? Where find Inquisitors or Jews who will give me more?”
2 “Alas!” said the old woman, “I have a shrewd suspicion of a reverend Grey Friar, who stayed last night in the same inn with us at Badajos. God preserve me from judging rashly, but he came into our room twice, and he set out upon his journey long before us.”
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“Alas!” said Candide, “dear Pangloss has often demonstrated to me that the goods of this world are common to all men, and that each has an equal right to them. But according to these principles the Grey Friar ought to have left us enough to carry us through our journey. Have you nothing at all left, my dear Cunegonde?”

“Not a farthing,” said she.

“What then must we do?” said Candide.

4 “Sell one of the horses,” replied the old woman. “I will ride behind Miss Cunegonde, though I can hold myself only on one buttock, and we shall reach Cadiz.”
5 In the same inn there was a Benedictine prior who bought the horse for a cheap price. Candide, Cunegonde, and the old woman, having passed through Lucena, Chillas, and Lebrixa, arrived at length at Cadiz. A fleet was there getting ready, and troops assembling to bring to reason the reverend Jesuit Fathers of Paraguay, accused of having made one of the native tribes in the neighborhood of San Sacrament revolt against the Kings of Spain and Portugal. Candide having been in the Bulgar service, performed the military exercise before the general of this little army with so graceful an address, with so intrepid an air, and with such agility and expedition, that he was given the command of a company of foot. Now, he was a captain! He set sail with Miss Cunegonde, the old woman, two valets, and the two Andalusian horses, which had belonged to the grand Inquisitor of Portugal.
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During their voyage they reasoned a good deal on the philosophy of poor Pangloss.

“We are going into another world,” said Candide; “and surely it must be there that all is for the best. For I must confess there is reason to complain a little of what passeth in our world in regard to both natural and moral philosophy.”

“I love you with all my heart,” said Cunegonde; “but my soul is still full of fright at that which I have seen and experienced.”

“All will be well,” replied Candide; “the sea of this new world is already better than our European sea; it is calmer, the winds more regular. It is certainly the New World which is the best of all possible worlds.”

“God grant it,” said Cunegonde; “but I have been so horribly unhappy there that my heart is almost closed to hope.”


“You complain,” said the old woman; “alas! you have not known such misfortunes as mine.”

Cunegonde almost broke out laughing, finding the good woman very amusing, for pretending to have been as unfortunate as she.

8 “Alas!” said Cunegonde, “my good mother, unless you have been ravished by two Bulgars, have received two deep wounds in your belly, have had two castles demolished, have had two mothers cut to pieces before your eyes, and two of your lovers whipped at an auto-da-fé, I do not conceive how you could be more unfortunate than I. Add that I was born a baroness of seventy-two quarterings—and have been a cook!”
9 “Miss,” replied the old woman, “you do not know my birth; and were I to show you my backside, you would not talk in that manner, but would suspend your judgment.”
10 2 This speech having raised extreme curiosity in the minds of Cunegonde and Candide, the old woman spoke to them as follows.

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9 Responses to “Chapter 10 – In What Distress Candide, Cunegonde, and the Old Woman Arrived at Cadiz; and of Their Embarkation”

On to the next story! Italo Calvino noted this automatic storytelling in his essay “Candide: An Essay in Velocity,” the introduction to a 1974 Italian edition featuring reprints of Paul Klee’s 1920 drawings (the essay was reprinted in Calvino’s <a href=”|Rb10994772|”>The Uses of Literature [1987, translated by Patrick Creagh]). Calvino delights in how Klee’s “wiry figures, animated by an eel-like mobility, flex and writhe in a dance of whiplash nimbleness” and compares the drawings to music and film as a signal of how the story cannot be contained in just one medium. Voltaire’s characters take on a life of their own through some propulsive plot-seeking, not psychological depth. Calvino writes,

“In Candide today it is not the ‘philosophical tale’ that most enchants us, or the satire, or the emergence of amoral or a vision of the world: it is the sheer pace of the thing. With lightness and rapidity a whole series of disasters, tortures, and massacres scampers across the page, bounds from chapter to chapter, is ramified and multiplied, without afflicting the reader’s emotions with any effect but that of an exhilarating and primordial vitality. … Voltaire’s great discovery as a humorist was destined to become one of the sure-fire effects of comic films—-the high-speed accumulation of disasters. And there is no lack of sudden accelerations of pace that carry the sense of the absurd to the point of paroxysm, as when the series of disasters already told so swiftly ‘in full’ is repeated in résumé at breakneck speed. What Voltaire predicts with his lightning ‘shots’ is a great world-embracing movie, Around the World in Eighty Pages…

Calvino’s description of multiplication and ramification seems exactly right, given the old woman’s multiplication of her wounds in the previous paragraph. If this pacing is cinematic, why don’t we see more attempts to film it? Bernstein’s operetta was called a spectacle in its positive and negative reviews when it premiered in 1956/7: how does this velocity work on the stage, with a relatively limited set for such breakneck movement?

Of course doubling the suffering is the only way one follow Cunegonde’s story. Nicole Horejsi pointed out in chapter 8 that the women of Candide will all have stories of violence to tell and I wonder how this element of competition (is it comic, tragic, or both?) changes the way we think about how the women’s stories work. Cunegonde’s suffering has already been doubled as she has been shared between two men. When she introduces the possibility of exaggeration, or at the very least some level of narrative un-reality to having two mothers cut to pieces before one’s very eyes, she takes the story toward something that’s more like a testimony of group suffering. In drawing attention to how no single woman could endure all these hardships, she presents the possibility of speaking for a whole group–in the form of a highly personal story of one’s origins. We have gone from a “non-narratable” kind of story about rape to one that can be crafted and retold–and compared. This is not a sentimental mode (although there will be such stories later in the book), so what do we make of the comparison?

‘Embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed.’ Calvino’s celebration of Klee’s work is a lovely example of a mixed media conversation among writers: the author Voltaire, the artist Klee, and the critic Calvino seem to be discussing how characters work in the story, how action propels the plot forward at frantic pace, how the narrative works. In the academic study Paul Klee’s Pictorial Writing, K. Porter Aichele reads Klee’s illustrations of the story as a broadening of Klee’s artistic sensibilities, a way of testing ideas about media and modernism:

“Klee’s sustained engagement with narrative over his lifetime would seem to be at odds with a professed commitment to the modernist agenda. The legacy of modernism’s bias against story telling was summed up by Walter Benjamin when he observed that ‘there is embarrassment all around when the wish to hear a story is expressed.’ … In public statements such as “Creative Credo,” Klee declared his allegiance to modernism even as he was perpetuating the stubbornly persistent narrative tradition in his visual practice. That he was neither embarrassed nor apologetic about this apparent paradox could indicate a pragmatic decision to ignore it—-or, more likely, a considered effort to rethink the role of narrative in contemporary art.”

As the old woman’s teaser about her wounds has aroused the curiosity of her listeners, how does her willingness (her lack of embarrassment) propel the story forward? How does it compare to how Nicole Horejsi has described how Cunegonde is able to “relate a story that would otherwise be nonnarratable, and enables her to live her life without the stigma of violation”?

As these spaces for digital marginalia allow others to extend the critical conversation, it’s fascinating to compare how others have interacted with the text. Aichele’s notes on Klee’s own Candide marginalia show a multicolored system:

“There is documentary as well as visual evidence that Klee’s illustrations were the result of calculated effort rather than uninhibited inspiration. A heavily underlined and richly annotated copy of Candide in Klee’s personal library offers valuable insights into his working method. To keep track of his responses over the course of several readings, he marked the text with no fewer than four different graphic instruments (a graphite and a soft blue pencil, as well as two pens, one with a sharp point and black ink, the other with a broad nib and violet ink. In every instance marked those sections he chose to illustrate with an X in the margins, carefully underlining the passages he quoted as the working titles of his drawings, which were subsequently published without titles. Marginal notations in French and German indicate that Klee was attentive to varying both the number of figures and the props that specify settings.”

These details about archival materials are always interesting to me because they suggest a couple of other narratives: about a reader’s marks on a book, about a researcher’s excitement at finding such notes and interpreting them, about a preservation office’s work to keep them legible for future readers… So what do these digital marginalia provide that’s different from these archives of personal, private notation systems? One answer may be in the opportunity for conversation, a way to make those markings public and interactive… In this way we make a loop back to Candide’s and Cunegonde’s interaction with the old woman as she tells her story.

Travis Lo says:

While Cunegonde’s character is by no means a philosopher, she is able to realize the difference between good and bad in the world. Being able to trust an optimist such as Candide can be hard when bad experiences come from it. “God grant it,” said Cunegonde; “but I have been so horribly unhappy there that my heart is almost closed to hope.” Candide’s constant optimism is put on trial because it is not based on any substantial reason (The Sea being calmer). This kind of optimism shows a more naive sense of optimism rather than a sophisticated approach of when something will work. The idea that random chance and unforeseen luck will happen at every turn in life is improbable. Had Candide refined his theory of optimism he could found more opportunity to be truly hopeful when a situation arose that had potential to be optimistic.

Trisha Amin says:

Voltaire’s choice to include the statements of the old woman about the reverend’s character illustrates yet another one of Voltaire’s social commentaries on religion during the era in which he lived. The old woman claims that the Reverend Grey Friar stole the money and jewels. The fact that Voltaire chooses a reverend to be the thief demonstrates Voltaire’s view of religious leaders as not being the most pure and honest of men.

Voltaire’s position on religion and opinion on the ranking of religious figures in society are clearly established in Voltaire’s earlier example between the Baptist and Anabaptist (Chapter 3). The Anabaptist proves to be much more humane and generous man than the Baptist who had mistreated Candid over a simple remark. Through both examples, Reverend Grey Friar and the Baptist are displayed in similar terms. They both symbolize the greed and ignorance of men in society which is ironic because these religious figures are supposed to be pure. However, the inclusion of Reverend Grey Friar as another immoral character further establishes Voltaire’s negative vision on religion during this period in time and how, in his opinion, men of high rankings are not always reliable figures.

This is a rare moment for Candide because he is starting to doubt and question Pangloss’s philosophy. At this point in his journey, Candide is thinking that this is not the best of all worlds because of all the troublesome situations that he has experienced thus far. I think that he is confused at this point because he is going in and out of Pangloss’s philosophy and trying to find the good in everything but with the unfortunate events he is unsure. While listening to Cunegonde he keeps the optimistic attitude to reassure her but she is full of fright and her hope is fading.

Raj Shah says:

Voltaire satirizes the morals of monks in this chapter. Although monks should praise the world and seek only diving things, we meet a thieving monk. Also, the monk enters Cunegonde’s room twice for an inexplicable reason. Perhaps he wanted more than just jewels?

Matt Pharris says:

I think that sometimes the character Candide is presented so comically that he loses much of his realistic humanity. In this passage, Voltaire seems to compensate for this. Candide shows a degree of weakness to Cunegonde, but he seems hesitant to do so when he says, “there is reason to complain a little.” This contributes to making Candide seem more realistic, which is important because Voltaire wants to emphasize that it is possible for individuals to abandon their excessive optimism in real life. To Voltaire, if real people can remove the blindfold of optimism, then they will be more motivated to respond to social flaws.

This passage highlights Candide’s attempt to be the good and faiful student of Pangloss. Having lost the comforts of the castle, he and his companions wander in pursuit of a new haven. Candide is the voice of optimism and encouragement and draws in the cooperation of nature’s elements, (water and wind)that he believes are leaning him toward their goal of finding that place where “all is for the best.”