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Candide | Chapter 26 | Summary

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Summary

Candide is astonished to meet Cacambo at their Venetian inn. Now a slave Cacambo has been separated from Cunégonde, who is in Turkey. He tells Candide to prepare to leave after dinner.

Candide and Martin dine with six other guests at the inn, all in Venice to celebrate Carnival. It turns out that the guests are all deposed kings. Their stories are sad, but none is as depressing as that of Théodore, king of Corsica, who no longer has a penny to his name. Each of the other ex-rulers gives him 20 Venetian coins; Candide gives him a diamond worth 100 times that. They all marvel at the "mere commoner who is in the position to give a hundred times as much"—and actually gives it.

As they leave the table, four deposed queens arrive, but Candide takes no notice. He is thinking only of Cunégonde.

Analysis

The six deposed kings are Achmed III of Turkey, Ivan VI of Russia, Charles Edward of England, Augustus III of Poland and Saxony, Stanislaus I of Poland, and Théodore of Corsica. With the exception of Achmed III, it would have actually been possible for these kings to have gathered in one place after they had lost their thrones. They were forced out of office for various reasons and in different ways—as an infant, Ivan IV was deposed by his aunt—but their futures all turned out the same: bleak. Voltaire's fictitious roundtable illustrates the tumultuousness of world politics in the 18th century. It also serves as a parable, or story with a moral, about how far and how fast a man—even a monarch—can fall.

The former kings can't believe that a commoner with money would be generous enough to share so much of it without a second thought. However Candide's action reflects Voltaire's own reality. He was quite wealthy by the time he wrote Candide, thanks to his exploitation of flaws in the French lottery system, and he financed three minor rulers: the duc de Wurtenberg, the Elector Palatine, and the duc de Saxe-Gotha.

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