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Goldsmith Oliver; The Vicar of Wakefield

SKU: Goldsmith Oliver AB0311-080 $39.95
The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith published by J.M. Dent & Co. London in 1904. With twenty-five coloured illustrations by C.E. Brock. Color frontispiece scene of: just at that moment a servant delivered him a cardby C.E. Brock. Color vignette on title page of Sophia and Olivia Primrose by C.E. Brock. Printed by Turnbull and Spears Edinburgh. Brown half leather with green cloth boards bordered in gilt. Front board is detached. Six compartment spine with raised bands. Title author illustrator and floral inner dentelles are in gilt. Gilt top edge. 5cm. crack to foot of back hinge. Binding is tight. Minor edge wear and corner bumps around. 242 off-white pages without any foxing spotting tear or loss. Small bookseller notation to top of front and back end page. No other interior marks or inscriptions. Small edge toning to outside edges of front and back end page. Volume measures: 12.5cm. x 19.7cm. (12mo.). The Vicar of Wakefield is a novel by Irish author Oliver Goldsmith. It was written in 1761 and 1762 and published in 1766 and was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians. The novel is mentioned in George Eliot's Middlemarch Jane Austen's Emma Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and David Copperfield Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Charlotte BrontA 's The Professor and Villette Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and in Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther as well as his Dichtung und Wahrheit. Publication Dr Samuel Johnson who was one of Goldsmith's closest friends told how The Vicar of Wakefield came to be sold for publication: 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 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 a bottle of Madeira and a glass before him. I put the cork into the bottle desired he would be calm and began to talk to him of the means by which he might be extricated. He then told me 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. The novel was The Vicar of Wakefield and Johnson had sold it to Francis Newbery a nephew of John. Newbery ''kept it by him for nearly two years unpublished''. Content Dr Primrose his wife Deborah and their six children live an idyllic life in a country parish. The vicar is well-off due to investing an inheritance he received from a deceased relative and the vicar donates the 34 that his job pays annually to local orphans and war veterans. On the evening of his son George's wedding to wealthy Arabella Wilmot the vicar loses all his money through the bankruptcy of his merchant investor who left town with his money. The wedding is called off by Arabella's father who is known for his prudence with money. George who was educated at Oxford and is old enough to be considered an adult is sent away to town. The rest of the family move to a new and more humble parish on the land of Squire Thornhill who is known to be a womanizer. On the way they hear about the dubious reputation of their new landlord. Also references are made to the squire's uncle Sir William Thornhill who is known throughout the country for his worthiness and generosity. A poor and eccentric friend Mr. Burchell whom they meet at an inn rescues Sophia from drowning. She is instantly attracted to him but her ambitious mother does not encourage her feelings. Then follows a period of happy family life interrupted only by regular visits of the dashing Squire Thornhill and Mr. Burchell. Olivia is captivated by Thornhill's hollow charm but he also encourages the social ambitions of Mrs. Primrose and her daughters to a ludicrous degree. Finally Olivia is reported to have fled. First Burchell is suspected but after a long pursuit Dr. Primrose finds his daughter who was in reality deceived by Squire Thornhill. He planned to marry her in a mock ceremony and leave her then shortly after as he had done with several women before. When Olivia and her father return home they find their house in flames. Although the family has lost almost all their belongings the evil Squire Thornhill insists on the payment of the rent. As the vicar cannot pay he is brought to gaol. Afterwards is a chain of dreadful occurrences. The vicar's daughter Olivia is reported dead Sophia is abducted and George too is brought to gaol in chains and covered with blood as he had challenged Thornhill to a duel when he had heard about his wickedness. But then Mr. Burchell arrives and solves all problems. He rescues Sophia Olivia is not dead and it emerges that Mr. Burchell is in reality the worthy Sir William Thornhill who travels through the country in disguise. In the end there is a double wedding: George marries Arabella as he originally intended and Sir William Thornhill marries Sophia. Squire Thornhill's servant turns out to have tricked him and thus the sham marriage of the Squire and Olivia is real. Finally even the wealth of the vicar is restored as the bankrupt merchant is reported to be found. Main characters Revd Dr Charles Primrose He is the vicar in the title and the narrator of the story. He presents one of the most harmlessly simple and unsophisticated yet also ironically complex figures ever to appear in English fiction. He has a mild forgiving temper as seen when he forgives his daughter Olivia with open arms. He is a loving husband and a father of six healthy blooming children. However though he usually has a sweet benevolent temper he can sometimes be a bit silly stubborn or vain. For instance he is obsessed with a particularly obscure and not very important matter of church doctrine. One of his ''favorite topics'' he declares is matrimony and explains that he is proud of being ''a strict monogamist.'' He tactlessly adheres to his ''principles'' in the face of a violent disagreement with the neighbor who was soon to become his son's father-in-law:he ''...was called out by one of my relations who with a face of concern advised me to give up the dispute at least till my son's wedding was over.'' However he angrily cries that he will not ''relinquish the cause of truth'' and hotly says''You might as well advise me to give up my fortune as my argument.'' This is ironic as he immediately finds out that his fortune is actually almost nothing. This makes Mr. Wilmot break off the intended marriage with Mr. Primrose's son George and Miss Arabella Wilmot and thus his son's happiness is almost shattered. He is sometimes proud of what he fancies is his ability at arguing and often misjudges his family's supposed friends and neighbors. However despite all his faults he is affectionate faithful loving patient and essentially good-natured. Deborah Primrose Dr Charles Primrose's wife. She is faithful if still rather independent-minded. She has some vanity of her own however: she has a ''passion'' for clothes and is seen making a ''wash'' (a sort of lotion) for her girls. She is also eager to see her daughters splendidly married and this ambition sometimes blinds her. Dr Charles Primrose refers to her wife as ''a good-natured notable woman: and as for breeding there were few country ladies who could shew (show) more. She could read any English book without much spelling but for pickling preserving and cookery none could excel her.'' She is even prouder of her children than her husband especially her handsome girls. Olivia and Sophia Primrose Their father originally wished to name each after their aunt Grissel but other considerations prevented him. They are affectionate generally dutiful daughters. Of his daughters the vicar claims''Olivia...had that luxuriancy of beauty with which painters generally draw Hebe: open sprightly and commanding. Sophia's features were not so striking at first: but often did more certain execution: for they were soft modest and alluring. The one vanquished by a single blow the other by efforts successfully repeated...Olivia wished for many lovers Sophia to secure one. Olivia was often affected from too great a desire to please. Sophia even represt (repressed) excellence from her fears to offend. The one entertained me with her vivacity when I was gay the other with her sense when I was serious''. They both alike reflect their father's nature of being good-hearted though prone to occasional fault: Olivia runs away with Mr. Thornhill in a rush of impetuous passion and even the more sensible Sophia joins in with making ''a wash'' for herself and dressing up in fancy clothes. Reception In literary history books the Vicar of Wakefield is often described as a sentimental novel which displays the belief in the innate goodness of human beings. But it can also be read as a satire on the sentimental novel and its values as the vicar's values are apparently not compatible with the real ''sinful'' world. It is only with Sir William Thornhill's help that he can get out of his calamities. Moreover an analogy can be drawn between Mr. Primrose's suffering and the Book of Job. This is particularly relevant to the question of why evil exists. Oliver Goldsmith (10 November 1730 4 April 1774) was an Anglo-Irish writer poet and physician known for his novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) his pastoral poem The Deserted Village (1770) (written in memory of his brother) and his plays The Good-Natur'd Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1771 first performed in 1773). He also wrote An History of the Earth and Animated Nature. He is thought to have written the classic children's tale The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes the source of the phrase ''goody two-shoes''. Biography Goldsmith's birth date and year are not known with certainty. According to the Library of Congress authority file he told a biographer that he was born on 29 November 1731 or perhaps in 1730. Other sources have indicated 10 November on any year from 1727 to 1731. 10 November 1730 is now the most commonly accepted birth date. Neither is the location of his birthplace certain. He was born either in the townland of Pallas near Ballymahon County Longford Ireland where his father was the Anglican curate of the parish of Forgney or at the residence of his maternal grandparents at the Smith Hill House in the diocese of Elphin County Roscommon where his grandfather Oliver Jones was a clergyman and master of the Elphin diocesan school. When he was two years old Goldsmith's father was appointed the rector of the parish of ''Kilkenny West'' in County Westmeath. The family moved to the parsonage at Lissoy between Athlone and Ballymahon and continued to live there until his father's death in 1747. In 1744 Goldsmith went up to Trinity College Dublin. His tutor was Theaker Wilder. Neglecting his studies in theology and law he fell to the bottom of his class. He was graduated in 1749 as a Bachelor of Arts but without the discipline or distinction that might have gained him entry to a profession in the church or the law: his education seemed to have given him mainly a taste for fine clothes playing cards singing Irish airs and playing the flute. He lived for a short time with his mother tried various professions without success studied medicine desultorily at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Leiden and set out on a walking tour of Flanders France Switzerland and Northern Italy living by his wits (busking with his flute). He settled in London in 1756 where he briefly held various jobs including an apothecary's assistant and an usher of a school. Perennially in debt and addicted to gambling Goldsmith produced a massive output as a hack writer for the publishers of London but his few painstaking works earned him the company of Samuel Johnson with whom he was a founding member of ''The Club''. The combination of his literary work and his dissolute lifestyle led Horace Walpole to give him the epithet inspired idiot. During this period he used the pseudonym ''James Willington'' (the name of a fellow student at Trinity) to publish his 1758 translation of the autobiography of the Huguenot Jean Marteilhe. Goldsmith was described by contemporaries as prone to envy a congenial but impetuous and disorganised personality who once planned to emigrate to America but failed because he missed his ship. His premature death in 1774 may have been partly due to his own misdiagnosis of his kidney infection. Goldsmith was buried in Temple Church. The inscription reads: ''HERE LIES/OLIVER GOLDSMITH''. There is a monument to him in the center of Ballymahon also in Westminster Abbey with an epitaph written by Samuel Johnson.