18th century summer reading?

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18th century summer reading?

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Jun 21, 2008, 4:36pm

For some reason, I think if TRISTRAM SHANDY and Boswell's biography (for example) as good Winter books, but I think of TOM JONES as a good one for summer. Any recommendations for 18th century summer reading--fiction, poetry, or nonfiction?

Jun 21, 2008, 6:02pm

I don't know. I was thinking of finally tackling Clarissa this summer. Moll Flanders and Roxana have a certain beach-book affinity, however much preferable, though I think I read them in winter. Rasselas might not be a bad summer book. It takes place in warm climes, is episodic, and shows surprising humor despite a fundamental seriousness.

Sorry to be hitting on the obvious, but my mind isn't up for much more than that, at the moment. In plays, I'm drawing blank.

Seasonal poetry recommendations would be much appreciated.

Jun 21, 2008, 6:04pm

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Jun 21, 2008, 6:05pm

Ingenious Pursuits: Building the Scientific Revolution also strikes me, somehow, as suitable for the summer. Perhaps the sparkle of thought and the great variety of flora and fauna, travel and discovery, make it so. Each chapter focuses on a different area of investigation, which lightens the feel, somewhat.

Edited to add: It's been too long since I read non-fiction with an 18th century focus. Here, too, I would appreciate any recommendations, written at the time, or since.

Jun 30, 2008, 9:43pm

It's hard to go wrong with Johnson's Essays from the Rambler--so pithy. Addison and Steele, too--there used to be a great collection from Rinehart. The Age of Exuberance by Donald Greene is a brisk, short book about the 18th century.

Jun 30, 2008, 9:55pm

I might try WIlliam Blake, the 18th/19th century artist. His poetry is quite good for a summer read. I agree with #2 on Moll Flanders, and you could try The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker by Tobias Smollet.

Jul 1, 2008, 1:52pm

Ostrom, such nice choices. I do love the essayists and have some unfinished collections. Perfect for summer moments, of taking up and laying down, leisurely, warmed. You've also reminded me to finish The Age of Exuberance, which I characteristically laid down, but was enjoying. The title seemed to me so apt, the moment I saw it, in someone's catalogue, I began looking for it.

Frogbelly, Lennox is another on my mental list. If I do not give Clarissa due time, I'll try to turn to her.

Jul 24, 2008, 11:42pm

I've been reading Johnson's Preface to Shakespeare--most enjoyable, much easier going than I had remembered it. I even read part of it while on an exercise-cycle. I dare not imagine what Johnson would have said to Boswell about "working out."

Jul 25, 2008, 9:25am

Clarissa has been on my shelf waiting for me for some time. Wonder if it would make a good beach read?

Jul 25, 2008, 11:28pm

Clarissa may be a bit long, dense, and intense for beach--but that's only one opinion! Pamela might work better.

Jul 31, 2008, 1:08pm

I would go for:
The Memoirs of Miss Sydney Bidulph by Frances Chamberlain Sheridan
The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless by Eliza Haywood
Either Emmeline or The Old Manor House by Charlotte Smith
Any of Smollett's novels.
I've read Richardson, but it was a hard slog every time. He was indeed "a poor pruner".

Aug 1, 2008, 4:26am

Smollett is good for a rollicking quick read, and I read Pamela with utter absorption, all the way through. My own interest in Clarissa has made progress, around other books, but fairly minimal compared with what I'd like. It's more a matter of competition and an etext losing out to printed pages than slogging, though.... so far. I've been enjoying it.

Aug 5, 2008, 9:44pm

Smollett's a great choice!