The Miscellaneous Works of Oliver Goldsmith

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Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009 - 384 páginas
This historic book may have numerous typos, missing text or index. Purchasers can download a free scanned copy of the original book (without typos) from the publisher. 1854. Not illustrated. Excerpt: ... A FAMILIAR INTRODUCTION, &o. &e. PREFACE. Of all the studies which have employed the industrious or amused the idle, perhaps natural history deserves the preference. Other sciences generally determine in doubt, or rest in bare speculation; but here every step is marked with certainty; and, while a description of the objects around us teaches to supply our wants, it satisfies our curiosity. The multitude of nature's productions, however, seems at first to bewilder the inquirer, rather than excite his attention; the various wonders of the animal, vegetable, or mineral world, seem to exceed all power of computation, and the science appears barren from its amazing fertility. But a nearer acquaintance with this study, by giving method to our researches, points out a similitude in many objects which at first appeared different; the mind by degrees rises to consider the things before it in general lights, till at length it finds nature, in almost every instance, acting with her usual simplicity. Among the number of philosophers who, undaunted by their supposed variety, have attempted to give a description of the productions of nature, Aristotle deserves the first place. This great philosopher was furnished, by his pupil Alexander, with all that the then known world could produce to complete his design. By such parts of his work as have escaped the wreck of time, it appears that he understood nature more clearly, and in a more comprehensive manner, than even the present age, enlightened as it is with so many later discoveries, can boast. His design appears vast, and his knowledge extensive; he only considers things in general lights, and leaves every subject when it becomes too minute or remote to be useful. In his History of Animals, he first describes man, and makes h...

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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, 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.

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