Next up in the classics: Oliver Goldsmith

classicsclub3The Classics Club Spin gave me book number two from the list of twenty I created which means I am to read The Vicar of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.

This is one of the oldest books on my list though not as ancient as Medea by Euripides or The Canterbury Tales.  Published in 1766 it was one of the most popular and widely read 18th-century novels among Victorians

It’s about, surprise surprise, a Vicar and his family of six children who live an idyllic life in a country parish. Dr Primrose is wealthy at the start of the book as a result of his investment of an inheritance. He denotes his annual salary from his job to local orphans and old soldiers.  On the evening of his son’s wedding, the Vicar loses all his money through the bankruptcy of his merchant investor who has left town abruptly. The family are compelled to move to a new and more humble parish on the land of a squire who is known to be a womanizer. What ensues is a series of set backs and calamities including fire, abduction and imprisonment before order is once more restored.

The style moves from the comic to the melodramatic using poems, histories or sermons, which give the reader a broader perspective than that of the Vicar who acts as the narrator.

The Vicar of Wakefield has been on my reading shelf for ten years and more. I bought it at a time when I realised my knowledge of Victorian fiction was rather narrowly confined to the big names (Dickens, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot for example). But I never got around to opening it – every time I picked it up, the description of this as a comic novel was a turn off. I’m hoping my fears are not going to be realised.

About BookerTalk

What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

Posted on April 22, 2015, in Classics Club, Irish authors, Sunday Salon and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Jus thought I might mention that Oliver Goldsmith was a best friend of Dr. Johnson and many well know charachters of that era, I’m inclined to suggest more Georgian than Victorian but set me straight.

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  2. I’ve never heard of Oliver Goldsmith, sadly like you once were I only really know the obvious Victorian authors. I hope you enjoy this as it does sound interesting.

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    • Some of the early novels have been a bit of a hit and miss experience for me so I put this book on my classics list with a bit of trepidation. hope it doesn’t prove to be a mistake

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  3. You are afraid it is a comic novel? It is a comic novel.

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