The Vicar of Wakefield

The Vicar of Wakefield Oliver Goldsmith s hugely successful novel of remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth century fiction It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose

  • Title: The Vicar of Wakefield
  • Author: Oliver Goldsmith Arthur Friedman Robert L. Mack
  • ISBN: 9780199537549
  • Page: 163
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Vicar of Wakefield

    Oliver Goldsmith s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth century fiction It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations ofOliver Goldsmith s hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth century fiction It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain By turns comic and sentimental, the novel s popularity owes much to its recognizable depiction of domestic life and loving family relationships.New to this edition is an introduction by Robert L Mack that examines the reasons for the novels enduring popularity, as well as the critical debates over whether it is a straightforward novel of sentiment or a satire on the social and economic inequalities of the period and the very literary conventions and morality it seems to embody This edition also includes a new, up to date bibliography and expanded notes, and contains reprints of Arthur Friedman s authoritative Oxford English Novels text of the corrected first edition of 1766.About the Series For over 100 years Oxford World s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe Each affordable volume reflects Oxford s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up to date bibliographies for further study, and much .

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    One thought on “The Vicar of Wakefield

    1. Jason Koivu

      It's "father knows best" 18th Century style!A relatively well-off parson's family in mid 1700s England is forced into reduced circumstances and then really falls on hard times. A contemporary and friend of lexicographer Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith too was a lover of language. He was a teller of tales and The Vicar of Wakefield is essentially just that, a collection of stories tailored to fit linearly into this one novel. As such, there are occasional moments when the book veers from the mai [...]

    2. Kj

      You can't get very far into Victorian literature without tripping over references to The Vicar of Wakefield. Either the novel's heroine is reading the book, making fun of the book or trying to teach her French pupils how to translate the book. Oliver Goldsmith's 1766 novel is sort of the Moby Dick of the 19th century, in that it was the book that everyone read, or was supposed to read, and thus, the default title to name drop. I'm not comparing the literary merit of Moby Dick and Vicar of Wakefi [...]

    3. Bettie☯

      Description: Oliver Goldsmith's hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel's popularity owes much to its recognizable d [...]

    4. Gretchen Ingram

      I know that this is a classic. I had it recommended to me at a very early age by Louisa May Alcott via Jo March and with that august endorsement did not ever think that it could be anything less than utterly charming.In spite of that, it has taken 45 years for me to get around to reading it and I wish I had waited 45 more.Perhaps it is me but I found nothing of worth in the book. The characters are undeveloped, the plot, such as it is, was antiquated before it was written and has been done to de [...]

    5. Sherwood Smith

      One of those books that changes over the decades. It was especially interesting to read now given how many mentions of it show up in novels over the past two hundred years, and how many well-respected writers talk fondly about its light-heartedness, its mildness, its being the quintessential English domestic novel.On this (very spoilery!) reading, I picked up how very tongue in cheek Goldsmith wrote, satirizing class and social climbing and the real meaning of posh manners as well as town/countr [...]

    6. Clif Hostetler

      Much like the Biblical story of Job but in a nineteenth century English setting, this tale of extreme misfortune suffered by an English vicar—followed in the end by the restoration of his former life—is a model for living through such extremes with exemplary alacrity. The vicar is described as a natural born preacher who takes every opportunity to pontificate—first to his family and later to his fellow debtor's prison inmates—on the virtues of faithful patience when dealing with the cala [...]

    7. Laura

      Free download available at Project GutenbergVERTISEMENTThere are an hundred faults in this Thing, and an hundred things might be said to prove them beauties. But it is needless. A book may be amusing with numerous errors, or it may be very dull without a single absurdity. The hero of this piece unites in himself the three greatest characters upon earth; he is a priest, an husbandman, and the father of a family. He is drawn as ready to teach, and ready to obey, as simple in affluence, and majesti [...]

    8. K.D. Absolutely

      West Yorkshire, England, 1761 and 1762. Oliver Goldsmith wrote The Vicar of Wakefield, his one and only novel. Part of the introduction of this book says that Mr. Goldsmith was asked by his landlady to leave his apartment due to unpaid rent. Mr. Goldsmith asked his friend, Mr. Boswell, to sell the manuscript of this novel for him to have money.According to , this novel was one of the most popular and widely read 18th century novels among 19th century Victorians. The novel is mentioned in George [...]

    9. Bruce

      This novel was published in 1766 and has a first person narrator. The novel is somewhat picaresque and reminds me of the works of Fielding. The plot involves our hero, having lost his fortune, leaving with his family on a journey to a new and much reduced clerical position. The loss of their fortune is the initial destabilizing event. Dangers are abundant: various possibly unscrupulous people are met, and the vicar’s family is too credulous. The family is also too ready to have aspirations to [...]

    10. Gill

      I read The Vicar of Wakefield in connection with a group read of The Novel: A Biography. I read the section in Schmidt first, followed by the novel, and then re-read the section in Schmidt. I also read the notes and analysis on gradesaver after finishing the novel.The book was first published in 1766, so as I read it I was trying to consider it from the point of view of its readers on first publication, as well as how I found it now.I can see why it was a very popular novel. It's an easy read, w [...]

    11. Renee M

      I found this delightful. Funny, sappy, thrilling, and sweet. Filled with beautiful innocent young women, separated lovers, a despicable villain, a kindly long suffering vicar father, goodness rewarded, evil punished, secret identities, and an overall appreciation for the charms of a simple life. This created the perfect balance to some of the heavier reading I've been doing lately. I definitely recommended Librivox Version 2 for audiobook. The reader (Tadhg) has a lovely Irish accent and a genui [...]

    12. Cindy Newton

      This is a literary classic from whence sprang many other literary classics. This book is mentioned fondly by the likes of Dickens, Austen, Shelley, Eliot, Bronte, and Goethe. Goldsmith helped pave the way for these other literary giants with his tale of a large, loving family brought to ruin (they lived in an outhouse for awhile!) and then back again. There are overtones of Job here--the devout minister, his faith tested by the onslaught of a rain of misfortune, each event more devastating than [...]

    13. Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly

      A novel swimming with wise sayings, ancient maxims, aphorisms--those distilled wisdom of the old past. No wonder, since this was written about 250 years ago in a Christian setting. It has things to say about good and evil, fortune and misfortune, love and hate, sin and forgiveness, and even about books:"I armed her against the censures of the world, shewed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least t [...]

    14. Sandy (CA)

      All's well that ends well - so the saying goes. It appears that, after all the calamities and shenanigans, all is well with the Primrose family. Such an exciting life they led - abductions, a house-fire, the homecoming of the prodigal son (twice), secrets, lies, and deception - mixed in with a healthy dose of humour, humility, and forgiveness - and (of course) some "preachy" passages. With the exception of a few chapters which dragged a bit, the Librivox recording by Martin Clifton provided abou [...]

    15. Leslie

      I found this satire of mid-eighteenth century English society quite amusing. However, it wasn't as good as Goldsmith's famous play, She Stoops to Conquer. For this Librivox recording (version 2), I would give 4½*. Tadhg's Irish accent was perfect for this classic.

    16. Stephen

      Looking for one more summary of the plot of The Vicar of Wakefield? Why would we do that again here?Rather than waste time in that way, I wish to propose this theory. Those who most enjoy reading The Vicar of Wakefield, are those who, without realizing it on a conscious level, share many of Dr. Primrose's more problematic traits. His inability even to consider taking responsibility for his own destiny or the destiny of his family. His blindness as to the true nature of what goes on about him. Hi [...]

    17. Manny

      You know that Monty Python sketch, where the guy introduces himself as "Mr. Smoketoomuch"?"Well, you'd better cut down a little!" says Mr. Bounder."I'm sorry?""You'd better cut down a little then.""Oh, I see! Smoke too much so I'd better cut down a little then!""Yes. Ooh, it's going to get people making jokes about your name all the time, eh?""No, actually, it never struck me before. Smoketoomuch"We had a Northern English au pair once, whose father actually was the Vicar of Wakefield. She'd been [...]

    18. Faith

      What I thought was going to be a sweet, charming chronicle of the life of a vicar and his family took a definite maudlin turn which I was not expecting. Then it turned into an absolute glut of marriages. It was all very "of-the-period" and I guess I should have been on notice (or read some of the reviews). I was amused by parts of it and I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook, but this book was just OK for me.

    19. Starry

      This classic from the 1700s was once beloved and now scarcely known among American readers. It has a Dickens-ish feel -- a sort of meandering tale of the rise and fall of a family's fortunes, with plenty of commentary on society and morality. Parts had a Pickwickian humor and other parts a David Copperfield-ish pathos. And good and bad characters alike keep reappearing like a good Dickens novel -- though here they are all eventually redeemed or offered redemption, no matter how badly they behave [...]

    20. ·Karen·

      The nice thing about novels written mid-eighteenth century is that they are so different, to each other as well as to what we have come to expect from the realistic novels of the nineteenth. The sentimental story requires virtue assailed by calamity, but Goldsmith avoids the lachrymose by the sustained cheerful resilience of the Vicar, without him ever becoming annoying. Calamity succeeds disaster, and towards the end there's little left that hasn't yet occurred, but the calm light tone prevents [...]

    21. Matthew

      While the various vignettes that comprise the novel are mildly entertaining in their own right, the "Vicar of Wakefield" as a whole is simplistic and uninteresting. At its core, this story is the Book of Job transposed into 18th-century England. The overzealous vicar, who is well off in the beginning, experiences a number of setbacks, but in the end all is restored to him. All the while, his faith in God is never shaken.However, Goldsmith's vicar is an undynamic, one-dimensional character. Despi [...]

    22. Margaret

      I'd wanted to read The Vicar of Wakefield ever since encountering it in the pages of Little Women, when Aunt March catches Jo chuckling over it and demands that Jo read it to her (Jo later catches Aunt March reading it by herself). It's the tale of the Primrose family -- "all equally generous, credulous, simple, and inoffensive" -- headed by their father, the eponymous vicar, and their trials and tribulations. It was a little tough to get into, due to a highly digressive and coincidental plot, b [...]

    23. Kate S

      While this is a short book, it took a little longer than I expected to read it. I enjoyed the optimistic attitude of the narrator even in the face of every imaginable hardship. Some of the observations regarding human nature were so astute and amazing to think about how little people have changed in 250 years. There were moments of laugh out loud hilarity, some preachy-ness, and a lot of looking on the bright side. I enjoyed this short tale.

    24. Alex

      Oliver Goldsmith's blockbuster hit of 1766 was a big influence on Austen and Dickens*, but has been more or less forgotten now, which is probably because it's not that great. For its time it's good, but that's faint praise since the 18th century was like the worst one ever for books. I didn't dislike reading it, but I can't say you're going to be totally psyched you read it; its main interest at this point is for its historical value.The story is of a Poloniusesque** vicar who has some shit luck [...]

    25. Pamela

      A curious book. I honestly didn't know what to expect. However, as I read the outrageous twists and turns of fate of Doctor Primrose (the titular vicar) and his family, I couldn't help but think that everything was meant satirically, and not as a true sentimental novel, with heaving bosoms, last-minute pardons, etc etc. (although those do make appearances!). Everything is so absolutely over-the-top, and the vicar himself so very out of touch with the world and, at times, with rationality, that I [...]

    26. Justin Evans

      What's going on here? According to the introduction and notes, it's satire on literary convention. But satire seems too harsh- more like loving parody. I have very little to say, except that if i had to read one eighteenth century novel, this would be it: it's short, it's not repetitive, the prose is lean and clean, it's funny, and it's full of good cheer. And the characters have persuasive arguments for the importance of neo-classical ideals in literature, of which recent authors of bloated mon [...]

    27. Larissa

      The Vicar of Wakefield is a charmingly ramshackle book. Published to relieve Goldsmith's debts, for which his landlady tried to arrest him, it has the loose organization and abrupt tonal shifts of a work written in haste. The various digressions work in its favor, though, as around the middle of the novel Goldsmith starts to give his wit free reign. The somewhat placid story of a pious vicar becomes a madcap picaresque, and builds to a deliberately preposterous conclusion in which all of the cha [...]

    28. Ronan Doyle

      "I armed her against the censures of the world; showed her that books were sweet, unreproaching companions to the miserable, and if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it."I needn't have had the benefit of over a book a day read that week to almost burst into tears at the beauty of this line, which so perfectly speaks to why I can't stop buying books. What an extraordinary one this is, with its amusingly-enacted tale shot through with that stark sense of [...]

    29. Tim Patrick

      Oliver Goldsmith's riches-to-rags story examines the life of a family plagued with one bad thing after another. Some troubles are caused by their own inept actions, while others are inflicted on them. Through it all, the patriarch--the Vicar of Wakefield--never loses his calm demeanor. The story has a happy ending, but when reading, you are forced to ask if lifelong contentment is truly possible, even when the world is against you.

    30. Brigitte

      Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield was the final novel that I read for my 18th century novel class and was, by a wide margin, the shortest, weighing in at 160 pages. Published in 1766 it enjoyed wild popularity and was mentioned in such now-classics as Frankenstein, Emma, and A Tale of Two Cities. How I’ve read so many novels which mention this one without having actually read it, I’m not sure, but I blame my professors.It's a comedic sentimental novel which follows the fall and ris [...]

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