Patrick Tull’s lively performance of The Vicar of Wakefield shows contemporary listeners why Oliver Goldsmith’s novel was one of the most popular works of the 18th century.
The 1766 novel’s title character, Dr. Primrose, is the kind and generous man of the cloth whose prosperous and happy family life is upended when his money manager leaves town with his savings. As a result, the wedding of the vicar’s son is cancelled and the family is forced to relocate to a poorer parish owned by caddish Squire Thornhill, who takes an interest in the vicar’s daughter.
Tull’s briskly paced performance animates this gentle story of human decency triumphing over treachery.
The simple village vicar, Mr. Primrose, is living with his wife and six children in complete tranquility until unexpected calamities force them to weather one hilarious adventure after another. Goldsmith plays out this classic comedy of manners with a light, ironic touch that is irresistibly charming.
(P)2007 Recorded Books
Patrick Tull had a glorious romping time performing this story. One can imagine him gesturing and contorting his face wildly as he put his whole self into it. College dinner theatre comes to mind; melodramatic overdrawn evil Snidely Whiplash villain; greasy hair and black mustache; and some sweet, hapless, naive to say nothing of extremely pretty heroine. There is totally excellent kidnapping and ravishing of maidens and other sporting activities. The author lands some mighty comic and satirical punches on the contemporary legal system. His ideas about justice and punishment seem very modern. In fact, an occasional act of summary justice might be good for our system.
This is a pre-modern novel, before Miss Jane Austen who in the company of others transformed fiction into today's form i.e. before "Sense and Sensibility". Goldsmith's characters and plot devices feel a bit strange to us. Just go along with him. If you are fan of Trollope, Hardy, Austen, the Brontes, etc., you'll find the trip worthwhile. He is not for everyone, but if you like your Scotch whiskey straight and your literature uncorrupted then try him: a little sip here, a tiny taste there. Heck, I have even learned to like Mrs. Ann Radcliffe's "Mysteries of Udolpho". Austen's "Northanger Abbey" is to blame. A guy gets tired of wondering what the heck Catherine Morland keeps going on about.
Goldsmith presents the most compelling arguments for monarchy I have ever heard...The general idea is that it is a good thing to have a ruling tyrant in a far off capital city busy chopping off the heads of other would be tyrants and as result having no time for messing with ordinary mortals. This is said with the tongue almost firmly planted in the cheek. With the growing tyranny of the American judiciary, bureaucracies and victimnoids it may be time to dust off Goldsmith and let the heads roll!
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
in the way of Trollope and Austin, a delightful romance full of intrigue and gentle assurance that all will work out in the end for this good little family. Goldsmith is at his clever best in his portrayal of the blustering but good-hearted Reverend and the rogues and heroes that come and go in his life.
I usually don't care one way or the other about the narrators, but this one has such a good time with Vicar that one can't help but add that he adds a richer flavor to an already delicious bit of classic fiction.
Still a good yarn, some 250 years after it was written. The energetic narrator is wonderful as the good-natured Dr. Primrose, but I was a bit discomfited to find that all the characters, even 17 year-old-girls, have basically the same bluff and hearty voice. The story sags a bit in the middle, when the eldest son is relating his adventures, but he's also a mouthpiece for Goldsmith's observations on life, so it's all worthwhile. Some of the 18th-century ideas about women's honor are mind-bending--um, we're supposed to be glad to learn that this girl is married to a loathsome cad?--but it wasn't too long ago that a good marriage was still considered a woman's ticket to a good life; there's some food for thought here.
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