Dedicated to classics and hits.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Review: the Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith: The Critical Heritage by G.S. Rousseau(GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH)
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, full text.(GOOGLE BOOK SEARCH)
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding, Book Review(.CAT DIRT SEZ)
Tale of a Tub by Jonathan Swift, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe, Book Review.(CAT DIRT SEZ)

Hey more 18th century English literature!

This book has one big advantage: It's super short- like 200 pages of regular text. It is so, so much easier to read then any of the other books I've read from this period. This is also the only book you will ever read by Oliver Goldsmith. Sorry- it's true. Goldsmith is a kind of Dickensian character- graduated last in his class at Trinity in Dublin, failed as a writer. Luckily he was buddies with Samuel Johnson- it was his intervention that got Vicar published after a two year delay. It was only 10 or so years before he died. He was just a miserable cat, but Vicar of Wakefield has endured, perhaps because of his kind of "celebrity"- an early Kurt Cobain type, but without the suicide.

The story is about a Vicar who loses all his money and has to move to the sticks, where his elder daughter is seduced by the rakish land lord. The Vicar defies the landlord's attempt to prostitute his daughter, and ends up in prison, only to be freed by the villainous landlord's noble Uncle- who had been pretending to be someone else for the whole novel! Typical 18th century plot twist- the appearance of characters in different roles. Can this not be linked to the practice of the theater, where cast members would re appear.

As I said, it reads fast- maybe three hours tops if you just sit down with it. It's a "minor classic."

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