Because I Just Really Want To Hammer This Home About Vance

Voltaire’s Candide:

“Love you not deeply?”
“Oh yes,” answered he; “I deeply love Miss Cunegonde.”
“No,” said one of the gentlemen, “we ask you if you do not deeply love the King of the Bulgars?”
“Not at all,” said he; “for I have never seen him.”
“What! he is the best of kings, and we must drink his health.”
“Oh! very willingly, gentlemen,” and he drank.
“That is enough,” they tell him. “Now you are the help, the support, the defender, the hero of the Bulgars. Your fortune is made, and your glory is assured.”
Instantly they fettered him, and carried him away to the regiment. There he was made to wheel about to the right, and to the left, to draw his rammer, to return his rammer, to present, to fire, to march, and they gave him thirty blows with a cudgel. The next day he did his exercise a little less badly, and he received but twenty blows. The day following they gave him only ten, and he was regarded by his comrades as a prodigy.


“My friend,” said the orator to him, “do you believe the Pope to be Anti-Christ?”
“I have not heard it,” answered Candide; “but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread.”
“Thou dost not deserve to eat,” said the other. “Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again.”
The orator’s wife, putting her head out of the window, and spying a man that doubted whether the Pope was Anti-Christ, poured over him a full…. Oh, heavens! to what excess does religious zeal carry the ladies.

Vance’s Cugel’s Saga:

“…may I inquire your opinion of Cuirnif? What reception may I expect? Are the folk notably eccentric?”
“To some extent,” replied Erwig. “They use no whitewash in their hair; and they are slack in their religious observances, making obeisance to Divine Wiulio with the right hand on the abdomen, instead of upon the left buttock, which we here consider a slipshod practice. What is your opinion?”
“The rite should be conducted as you describe,” said Cugel. “No other method caries weight.”
Erwig refilled Cugel’s glass. “I consider this an important endorsement of our views, coming as it does from you, an expert traveler!”

In all of his adventures, Cugel strikes as someone who has either actually read Candide and determined he would learn from the kid’s mistakes OR in his younger years Cugel more or less WAS Candide.


3 responses to “Because I Just Really Want To Hammer This Home About Vance

  1. So I read that first bit, and I’m sitting here wracking my brain trying to remember where Cugel goes through that. Took me a minute to notice the header and that it’s actually Candide. Hilarious!

    You know, now that you mention it, my favorite author, a cat named Ring Lardner, does the exact same thing. His stuff is slice of life Americana from the 1920s and 1930s, and it’s got that same understated dry humor running all through it. I’ll have to see if I can find a few passages that would fit Cugel.

  2. This blew me away, thanks. I left Voltaire in the classroom many years ago and would have never thought there were any similarities. It’s a treat you pointed this out. It is possible Vance hadn’t read any Voltaire, unlikely, but still possible. But it’s still neat.

  3. I just found a collection of Vance short stories on one of our bookshelves that used to belong to my mom. With all these favorable reviews that I keep seeing, it’s skipping up a few spots on the queue. =)

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