0353 | The Vicar of Wakefield | Oliver Goldsmith

0353 | The Vicar of Wakefield | Oliver Goldsmith

Context: Listened to this on a 14-hour hike from hell through some of the steepest mountains I’ve yet seen in Papua New Guinea.

REVIEW

If you’re looking for a sentimental feel-good tale where everything that goes wrong in the first half of the book is resolved to everyone’s delight in the second half, this is the book for you. I wasn’t.

Like many books I find laborious to wade through on the 1001 list, I’m not allowed to give this as low a rating as I would have done before I changed to my new rating system. Why? Because although I didn’t enjoy the book for itself, I have to acknowledge its influence as one of the first of its type.

Embedded in Vicar are all the elements that would influence Austen, Eliot, the Brontes and Dickens. I’ll be the first to admit that they did it better than Goldsmith but he gets the credit due him for coming up with so many of the ideas they would later develop.

The novel is the story of a guy who calls himself a vicar but obviously cares more about his place is society than his place in heaven. His family go through various crises which, from this vantage point in literary history, are all too predictable. And, just as predictably if you’re into Austen or Disney, everything turns out fine in the end.

I didn’t enjoy it, but I’m glad I read it. Now at least I know who to blame.

OPENING LINE

I was ever of opinion, that the honest man who was married and brought up a large family, did more service than he who continued single and only talked of population.

99TH PAGE QUOTE

“Sir,” cried I, “the family which you now condescend to favour with your company has been bred with as nice a sense of honour as you. Any attempts to injure that may be attended with very dangerous consequences. Honour, sir, is our only possession at present, and of that last treasure we must be particularly careful.” I was soon sorry for the warmth in which I had spoken this, when the young gentleman, grasping my hand, swore he commended my spirit, though he disapproved my suspicions.

“As to your present hint,” continued he, “I protest nothing was farther from my heart than such a thought. No, by all that’s tempting, the virtue that will stand a regular siege was never to my taste; for all my amours are carried by a coup de main.

CLOSING LINE

It now only remained that my gratitude in good fortune should exceed my former submission in adversity.

RATING

0353 | The Vicar of Wakefield | Goldsmith | 62% | Good

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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