Vicar of Wakefield

ISBN-10: 0486434109

ISBN-13: 9780486434100

Edition: 2004

Authors: Oliver Goldsmith

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Rich with wisdom and gentle irony, Goldsmith’s only novel tells of an unworldly and generous vicar who lives contentedly with his large family until disaster strikes. But bankruptcy, his daughter’s abduction, and the vicar’s imprisonment fail to dampen his spirit. Considered the author’s finest work, this book—a delightful lampoon of 18th-century literary conventions—has remained a classic since it was first published in 1766.
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Book details

List price: $4.00
Copyright year: 2004
Publisher: Dover Publications, Incorporated
Publication date: 5/17/2004
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 144
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.25" long x 0.25" tall
Weight: 0.242
Language: English

As Samuel Johnson said in his famous epitaph on his Irish-born and educated friend, Goldsmith ornamented whatever he touched with his pen. A professional writer who died in his prime, Goldsmith wrote the best comedy of his day, She Stoops to Conquer (1773). Amongst a plethora of other fine works, he also wrote The Vicar of Wakefield (1766), which, despite major plot inconsistencies and the intrusion of poems, essays, tales, and lectures apparently foreign to its central concerns, remains one of the most engaging fictional works in English. One reason for its appeal is the character of the narrator, Dr. Primrose, who is at once a slightly absurd pedant, an impatient traditional father of teenagers, a Job-like figure heroically facing life's blows, and an alertly curious, helpful, loving person. Another reason is Goldsmith's own mixture of delight and amused condescension (analogous to, though not identical with, Laurence Sterne's in Tristram Shandy and Johnson's in Rasselas, both contemporaneous) as he looks at the vicar and his domestic group, fit representatives of a ludicrous but workable world. Never married and always facing financial problems, he died in London and was buried in Temple Churchyard.

The description of the family of Wakefield; in which a kindred likeness prevails as well of minds as of persons
Family misfortunes. The loss of fortune only serves to encrease the pride of the worthy
A migration. The fortunate circumstances of our lives are generally found at last to be of our own procuring
A proof that even the humblest fortune may grant happiness, which depends not on circumstance, but constitution
A new and great acquaintance introduced. What we place most hopes upon generally proves most fatal
The happiness of a country fire-side
A town wit described. The dullest fellows may learn to be comical for a night or two
An amour, which promises little good fortune, yet may be productive of much
Two ladies of great distinction introduced. Superior finery ever seems to confer superior breeding
The family endeavours to cope with their betters. The miseries of the poor when they attempt to appear above their circumstances
The family still resolve to hold up their heads
Fortune seems resolved to humble the family of Wakefield. Mortifications are often more painful than real calamities
Mr. Burchell is found to be an enemy; for he has the confidence to give disagreeable advice
Fresh mortifications, or a demonstration that seeming calamities may be real blessings
All Mr. Burchell's villainy at once detected. The folly of being over-wise
The family use art, which is opposed with still greater
Scarce any virtue found to resist the power of long and pleasing temptation
The pursuit of a father to reclaim a lost child to virtue
The description of a person discontented with the present government, and apprehensive of the loss of our liberties
The history of a philosophic vagabond, pursuing novelty, but losing content
The short continuance of friendship amongst the vicious, which is coeval only with mutual satisfaction
Offences are easily pardoned where there is love at bottom
None but the guilty can be long and completely miserable
Fresh calamities
No situation, however wretched it seems, but has some sort of comfort attending it
A reformation in the gaol. To make laws complete, they should reward as well as punish
The same subject continued
Happiness and misery rather the result of prudence than of virtue in this life. Temporal evils or felicities being regarded by heaven as things merely in themselves trifling and unworthy its care in the distribution
The equal dealings of providence demonstrated with regard to the happy and the miserable here below. That from the nature of pleasure and pain, the wretched must be repaid the balance of their sufferings in the life hereafter
Happier prospects begin to appear. Let us be inflexible, and fortune will at last change in our favour
Former benevolence now repaid with unexpected interest
The Conclusion
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