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Oliver Goldsmith (1730–1774)

Author of The Vicar of Wakefield

267+ Works 6,654 Members 95 Reviews 3 Favorited
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About the Author

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, show more 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. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
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Works by Oliver Goldsmith

The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) — Author — 2,755 copies
She Stoops to Conquer (1771) 1,499 copies
Treasury of Aesop's Fables (1973) 174 copies
The Deserted Village (1770) 125 copies
The Citizen of the World (1969) 76 copies
Oliver Goldsmith (1777) 23 copies
Poems, plays and essays (1900) 22 copies
The Traveller: A Poem (1892) 18 copies
The Mad Dog (1766) 18 copies
The Roman History (1805) 17 copies
Grecian History (2009) 11 copies
History of Rome (1817) 10 copies
Beau Nash 9 copies
Essays (1928) 8 copies
Selected essays (1912) 6 copies
Goldsmith's Poems (1884) 5 copies
Goldsmith: Selected Works (1967) 5 copies
New essays (1969) 3 copies
Selected works 3 copies
Goldsmith's Comedies — Author — 2 copies
Essays on Goldsmith (1935) 1 copy
She Stoops To Conquer (1932) 1 copy
The Bee 1 copy

Associated Works

The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (2000) — Contributor — 1,228 copies
English Poetry, Volume II: From Collins to Fitzgerald (1910) — Contributor — 480 copies
75 Short Masterpieces: Stories from the World's Literature (1961) — Contributor — 289 copies
A Book of English Essays (1942) — Contributor — 236 copies
The Penguin Book of Irish Verse (1981) — Contributor — 190 copies
Eighteenth-Century English Literature (1969) — Author — 184 copies
The Penguin Book of Irish Fiction (1999) — Contributor — 150 copies
The Standard Book of British and American Verse (1932) — Contributor — 110 copies
British Dramatists from Dryden to Sheridan (1939) — Contributor, some editions — 90 copies
The Everyman Anthology of Poetry for Children (1994) — Contributor — 71 copies
The Bedside Book of Famous British Stories (1940) — Contributor — 66 copies
Ride a-Cock-Horse and Other Rhymes and Stories (8-in-1) (1995) — some editions — 43 copies
Charlotte Temple [Norton Critical Edition] (2010) — Contributor — 42 copies
Elegy written in a country churchyard and other poems (2009) — Contributor — 41 copies
Six Eighteenth-Century Plays (1963) — Contributor — 36 copies
The Genius of the Later English Theater (1962) — Contributor — 36 copies
Masters of British Literature, Volume A (2007) — Contributor — 20 copies
Great English Short Stories (1930) — Contributor — 20 copies
AQA Anthology (2002) — Author, some editions — 19 copies
Ellery Queen's Poetic Justice (1967) — Contributor, some editions — 18 copies
Law in Action: An Anthology of the Law in Literature (1947) — Contributor — 13 copies
Graphic Classics: Canine/Feline Classics (2014) — Contributor — 12 copies
Englische Essays aus drei Jahrhunderten (1980) — Contributor — 10 copies
The Works of Voltaire, Volume I. Introduction. Candide. (2012) — Contributor — 7 copies
Famous stories of five centuries (1934) — Contributor — 4 copies
Selected Stories of Great Authors — Contributor — 3 copies
Tales of Two Countries (1955) — Contributor — 2 copies


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Common Knowledge




2020 reread - just what I needed today!
2016 reread:
I still think that this play needs to be seen to fully appreciate it but I liked this audiobook recording of a live performance. It was easier to listen to this time (I have had more practice!) and thus I found it even funnier than when I heard it a few years ago.
May 2014 review
4.5 stars. This full cast audiobook was a fun way to revisit one of my favorite Restoration comedies. However, I did find that some of the humor was a bit harder to visualize listening rather than reading.… (more)
leslie.98 | 20 other reviews | Jun 27, 2023 |
rbee | Nov 9, 2022 |
FB: (Vintage Paperback and Pulp Forum). Another late '60s book from high school. "She Stoops To Conquer" was originally published in 1773. The comedic plot, a young lady poses as a serving girl to win the heart of a young gentleman too shy to court ladies of his own class, could be of a movie coming out this year, or anytime in the past 100 years.
capewood | 20 other reviews | Sep 7, 2022 |
I was a bit surprised to learn that there was a debate over whether or not this 1766 Goldsmith novel is a satire. I think if it is read as anything other than a satire, its import is lost. The humor hidden just beneath the surface is the only thing I can imagine would have garnered it its popularity or held its recognition over the years. It was very popular in the 19th Century and has reportedly influenced many writers.

The Vicar is a sanguine character, who grabs the silver lining from cloud after cloud. He’d tell you that glass is half full and then say it was more than one body needed and give part of it away to his fellow man. He seems a little naive with today’s vision, but he cares far more about honor and integrity than money or position, and we could use a few more of his ilk, I think.

Goldsmith made me laugh more than once with his dry humor, i.e.

However, when any one of our relations was found to be a person of very bad character, a troublesome guest, or one we desired to get rid of, upon his leaving my house, I ever took care to lend him a riding coat, or a pair of boots, or sometimes a horse of small value, and I always had the satisfaction of finding he never came back to return them.

Or, in a longer passage, one of the characters embarks to Holland where he means to earn his living by teaching English to the Dutch. I addressed myself therefore to two or three of those I met whose appearance seemed most promising but it was impossible to make ourselves mutually understood. It was not till this very moment I recollected, that in order to teach Dutchmen English, it was necessary that they should first teach me Dutch. How I came to overlook so obvious an objection, is to me amazing; but certain it is I overlooked it.

Tell me you didn’t nod a little and smile.

The plot is thin and full of cliches. In a modern writer, I would toss it out the window, but somehow its date and language make it very palatable. There is some sermonizing (what would you expect from a book written in the 1700s?), but again, I didn’t find it objectionable and actually thought many of his ideas well ahead of his time. He pressed for reform efforts instead of punishment for minor crimes and decried a system in which two crimes, dissimilar in nature, such as murder and theft, often received the same punishment, death by hanging.

But a contract that is false between two men, is equally so between an hundred, or an hundred thousand; for as ten millions of circles can never make a square, so the united voice of myriads cannot lend the smallest foundation to falsehood.

I was struck by the wisdom of that statement and how it applies, perhaps even more, to us in this day of mass media. The truth can be buried beneath so many lies that it seems to disappear, but the lies will never be the truth, no matter how many times they are repeated.

I found this book easy to read and mostly fun to watch unfold. It was pretty predictable, but that is because subsequent authors have used the same intrigues since. I caught glimpses of Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, and had to remind myself that Goldsmith predated them all.
… (more)
mattorsara | 6 other reviews | Aug 11, 2022 |



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