Simply written, funny, and compulsively readable, this fine little book has been heralded as one of the finest examples of English prose and offers a compelling glimpse of Samuel Johnson’s moral views. Dashed out over the course of a single week to pay for his mother’s funeral, Johnson’s only novel was the outcome of a lifetime’s thoughts and experiences.
A philosophical romance tracing the pilgrimage of an African prince and his companions to Egypt, Rasselas
ponders a number of subjects — romantic love, flights of imagination, the great discoveries of science, and speculations about the meaning of happiness — all of which, Johnson implies, encourage man with false hopes and unrealistic estimates of what life has to offer.
Directed specifically against eighteenth-century optimism and, more generally, against all simple formulas for achieving happiness, Rasselas
has often been compared with Voltaire’s Candide
— which was published only a few weeks before Johnson’s work. Both novels have deservedly attained the status of classics.
Reprint of The Prince of Abissinia, Second Edition, R. and J. Dodsley and W. Johnson, London, 1759.
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|Dimensions||5 1/2 x 8 1/2|