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Old 05-27-2018, 04:25 PM   #16
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!!! Now that I did not expect. I am an adoring fan of Austen and did not know this.
That is interesting, as Bookworm_Girl and bfisher have both already noted. Of the Austen I've read, I suppose I can see the influence even though I wouldn't have thought of it myself. Her perceptions and humour can be sharp and subtle compared to the broader and the fantastic in The Vicar of Wakefield, but still both focus on societal expectations and circumstances (perhaps that's too wide a way to put it but I couldn't think of a better, narrower term to describe what I'm thinking of).
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Old 05-28-2018, 08:35 AM   #17
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The second half of this novel reminded me very much of Candide, and losing satirical edge.
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Old 05-28-2018, 08:59 AM   #18
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Could the story of The Vicar of Wakefield fairly be described as man-in-a-hole?
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Old 06-01-2018, 01:08 PM   #19
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Could the story of The Vicar of Wakefield fairly be described as man-in-a-hole?
Perhaps it could be a Cinderella plot because of a few good turns in the beginning including George's engagement to Arabella, but overall I think you're right that Man in a Hole is probably more correct. It seems I suppose similar to Pride and Prejudice from the article in that it could be either. The difference is the fall comes later in the Austen so if push comes to shove I'd say Pride and Prejudice is a Cinderella plot and The Vicar a Man in a Hole.

The interesting thing about The Vicar of Wakefield and these plots is how long the fall and how quick the rise. I'm imagining what the similar graph it would have compared to the others in that article and the fall would look precipitous and turn sharply and steeply upwards at the end.

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The second half of this novel reminded me very much of Candide, and losing satirical edge.
The humour and satire took a back seat the second half. It was almost like an entirely different genre of book since the humour was almost completely replaced by seriousness and sentimentality. I wonder if the humour had been maintained similarly all the way through if it would have held up even more famously through the centuries.

One piece of humour I did like near the end was the wife's unhappiness at not being able to sit in a particular position at the table to carve the meat for everyone. Perhaps I appreciated it the more for the dearth of humour the last half of the book compared to the first, but I just found it funny how easily Goldsmith creates humour from short sentences of small annoyances.
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Old 06-04-2018, 10:09 PM   #20
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One thing I found interesting in the late stage of the novel was the subtle humour in Sir William's vacillations on his nephew's conduct.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:03 PM   #21
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There's one thing still sticking in my mind. After it's discovered that the daughter was deceived by the squire into a 'fake' marriage, the vicar thinks his daughter should be redeemed by the marriage being made to be real. However, what of the women before his daughter? It just seems he's content to not worry about any of their marriages to the squire being real and let them go to the devil. I understand the practicality of it since he'd be most worried about his own daughter, but from a righteous and religious perspective it seems very iffy to me.
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Old 06-11-2018, 01:32 PM   #22
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There's one thing still sticking in my mind. After it's discovered that the daughter was deceived by the squire into a 'fake' marriage, the vicar thinks his daughter should be redeemed by the marriage being made to be real. However, what of the women before his daughter? It just seems he's content to not worry about any of their marriages to the squire being real and let them go to the devil. I understand the practicality of it since he'd be most worried about his own daughter, but from a righteous and religious perspective it seems very iffy to me.
Any more iffy than his trying to force her to marry "for real" the scoundrel squire? I realize that she would be damaged goods for most upstanding men by that point, but really, dad? Send her off to be married to the rake anyway to make it legal?
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Old 06-12-2018, 04:12 PM   #23
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It was a shame that all the family had their perfectly happily ever after endings except her, and her best ending was to be the 'legitimate' wife to the villain. I found this page on historical divorce and it seems her only ground for divorce would've been adultery and it would've been a long process that might not work:

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In 1670, English law allowed a spouse to bring an action for "criminal conversation" to establish adultery, then obtain a divorce a mensa et thoro (from bed and board) from the church and then finally to petition the House of Lords to grant the divorce.
However with his history and her position after marriage, it's possible she might've been one of the lucky ones that prevailed in divorce if she'd wanted it.

With our modern first world sensibilities her best ending being the wife of the villain is unjust, and it's sad to think there's still many places in the world where women have even less freedom than she. Going back to my post, what struck me about the vicar (and apparently the readers) not caring about the other women the squire had 'ruined' or even that they may have had more claim to be his legal wife (especially the first one whomever that may have been) is that that trope is in a general sense still alive and well today - the trope of an important character being more, well, important while sometimes much larger collateral damage to others is ignored. Many action and thriller stories and movies are still based on that exact premise - someone is in danger and must be rescued while many unnamed innocent people are killed along the way because of the main character(s) trying to rescue the important person.
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Old 06-27-2018, 04:52 PM   #24
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Angry

I decided to use the Oxford edition which has an introduction and notes by Robert L Mack whom we met in our discussions about The Arabian Nights.

I am so glad I did!

His explanatory notes are excellent and are a considerable help,in establishing the social context of the novel as well as highlighting very interesting items of a lexicographical nature.

But it is the scholarly, lucid and wide-ranging introduction that I found fascinating. I gave the novel four stars on Goodreads but it was before I read Mack’s analysis; now I’m not sure but that Thr Vicar of Wakefield doesn’t deserve the full five stars.

Exactly what is Goldsmith writing? It seems to be an amalgam of a “generic hybrid” of a great many things—among them the “picaresque novel” the essay, “domestic conduct books” the fable, the sermon, political pamphlets, and street ballads. Further, Mack feels that the book:

“reaches towards—and at its most successful moments comes very near to articulating—The defining qualities normally to be found only in the most venerated od secular scriptures. Goldsmith’s otherwise modest novel was a little book that had managed somehow to capture some very big ideas indeed.”

Mack proceeds to discuss the significance of the narrative approach. Just how are we to evaluate the function of Primrose as the narrative focus? One possibility is that Primrose is a “Job” who must confront a series of catastrophes which seem to invalidate the idea of a caring loving God.

This is followed by a discussion of “Charm, Autobiography and Sentiment.” The “charm” which Henry James (and others) saw in the book are largely in the pastoral opening section. I personally feel that an approach which reduces the book to a pre-romantic nostalgia unfairly devalues the novel.
There are certainly some autobiographical elements in the book. It would seem that the adventures of George do reflect the wanderings of Goldsmith himself. I am not certain that Chapter Twenty, which deals with the Vicar’s son is entirely successful. I found that it became rather tedious. Sentiment, Mack points out, was a dominant feature of the novel of the time. But is the work of Goldsmith at all similar to the “sentiment” and “melancholia” found in the works of novelists like Richardson?

The final section of the Intrduction is “Sentiment versus Satire”. The critical position that assserts that The Vicar of Wakefield is essentially satiric is a dominant modern approach. Mack discusses the views of Robert Hopkins who maintains that Goldsmith consciously manipulates and undercuts the narrative voice of Primrose so as to dramatise “a deeply flawed humanity”. Mack has reservations about this point of view but presents it fairly.

As I said at the outset, I read the introduction last. It has given me a great deal to think about.

Last edited by fantasyfan; 06-27-2018 at 04:55 PM.
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