Vicar of Wakefield

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Stock, 1885 - Facsimiles
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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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Page ix - I was dressed and found that his landlady had arrested him for his rent, at which he was in a violent passion. I perceived that he had already changed my guinea, and had got a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him.
Page 76 - Till, quite dejected with my scorn, He left me to my pride, And sought a solitude forlorn, In secret, where he died. " But mine the sorrow, mine the fault, And well my life shall pay ; I'll seek the solitude he sought, And stretch me where he lay.
Page 70 - TURN, gentle Hermit of the dale, And guide my lonely way To where yon taper cheers the vale With hospitable ray. " For here forlorn and lost I tread, With fainting steps and slow; Where wilds, immeasurably spread, Seem lengthening as I go." " Forbear, my son," the Hermit cries, " To tempt the dangerous gloom ; For yonder faithless phantom flies To lure thee to thy doom.
Page 175 - Whene'er he went to pray. A kind and gentle heart he had, To comfort friends and foes ; The naked every day he clad, When he put on his clothes. And in that town a dog was found, As many dogs there be, Both mongrel, puppy, whelp, and hound, And curs of low degree.
Page 71 - No flocks that range the valley free, To slaughter I condemn: Taught by that Power that pities me, I learn to pity them : "But from the mountain's grassy side A guiltless feast I bring; A scrip with herbs and fruits supplied, And water from the spring. "Then, pilgrim, turn, thy cares forego ; All earth-born cares are wrong; Man wants but little here below, Nor wants that little long.
Page 73 - The crackling faggot flies. But nothing could a charm impart To soothe the stranger's woe; For grief was heavy at his heart, And tears began to flow. His rising cares the Hermit spied, With answering care opprest : " And whence, unhappy youth," he cried, " The sorrows of thy breast ? " From better habitations spurn'd, Reluctant dost thou rove?
Page 75 - But let a maid thy pity share, Whom love has taught to stray ; Who seeks for rest, but finds despair Companion of her way.
Page ix - ... by which he might be extricated. He then told me that he had a novel ready for the press, which he produced to me. I looked into it, and saw its merit ; told the landlady I should soon return, and having gone to a bookseller, sold it for sixty pounds. I brought Goldsmith the money, and he discharged his rent, not without rating his landlady in a high tone for having used him so ill.
Page 118 - Well done, my good boy," returned she; "I knew you would touch them off. Between ourselves, three pounds, five shillings and twopence is no bad day's work. Come, let us have it then." "I have brought back no money," cried Moses again. "I have laid it all out in a bargain, and here it is...
Page ix - I received one morning a message from poor Goldsmith that he was in great distress, and, as it was not in his power to come to me, begging that I would come to him as soon as possible. I sent him a guinea, and promised to come to him directly. I accordingly went as soon as I was...

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