The History of Rasselas

The History of Rasselas : Prince of Abissinia

3.44 (4,639 ratings by Goodreads)
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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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 99 pages
  • 134.6 x 210.8 x 7.6mm | 90.72g
  • Dover Publications Inc.
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0
  • 048644094X
  • 9780486440941
  • 294,203

Rating details

4,639 ratings
3.44 out of 5 stars
5 21% (991)
4 27% (1,252)
3 31% (1,448)
2 15% (709)
1 5% (239)
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