I could not have been happier to come across this book, bringing to life a favorite story of mine with pictures by a favorite artist.
Candide is a kind of gullible bumpkin of illegitimate origin who grows up in a castle of a petty Germanic baron. He falls in love with the baron's daughter Cunegonde, earning him the disfavor of the baron and causing him to be ousted from his homeland, which is shortly afterward invaded and razed.
Candide spends the rest of the story traveling the entire globe in search of Cunegonde, often accompanied by his mentor, the insipidly optimistic philosopher Dr. Pangloss. Candide's predisposition to believe the "best" in everyone and everything sets him up for every imaginable trick, con, misfortune and horror the world has to offer. Although eternally innocent, he has a natural skill for swordplay and manages to kill a number of characters here and there, albeit typically in self defense and he always feels terrible about it afterward.
CANDIDE is a satire, often describing unpleasant and even awful situations (including pillage, cannibalism and the Spanish Inquisition) with exaggeratedly mild euphemism. A number of characters are mutilated, molested and killed, although several manage to survive all three fates.
There's a bit of sex here and there, but again it is euphemistically and sometimes obliquely described for comic effect. Given the reputation for raciness paperbacks had back in the 1950's, no doubt the editors wanted to play this up a good bit in the illustrations.
Candide and Cunegonde are re-united several times in the book, but some new course of action invariably separates them and Candide's travels continue. By the time they eventually wed, both are tired and jaded. By then they have collected a little ensemble of characters from their travels, including a scullery maid from their lost homeland, now the companion of a fairly liberal man of the cloth (above). After all their searching (in vain) to find "true love" and the "meaning of life," a very ordinary farmer offers the group some highly practical common sense advice and they all settle down on a modest farm. Everyone winds up older, sadder and while not exactly wiser, more resigned to the the less than ideal nature of humankind.