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The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Написано Samuel Johnson

Озвучено Steven Crossley


The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Написано Samuel Johnson

Озвучено Steven Crossley

оценки:
3/5 (218 оценки)
Длина:
4 часа
Издатель:
Издано:
14 окт. 2016 г.
ISBN:
9781501929434
Формат:

Описание

Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the "happy valley" in order to make their "choice of life." By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness, and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment.

Johnson's adaptation of the popular oriental tale displays his usual wit and perceptiveness; skeptical and probing, his tale nevertheless suggests that wisdom and self-knowledge need not be entirely beyond reach.

Издатель:
Издано:
14 окт. 2016 г.
ISBN:
9781501929434
Формат:

Об авторе

Samuel Johnson (1709 – 1784) was an English writer – a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer. His works include the biography The Life of Richard Savage, an influential annotated edition of Shakespeare's plays, and the widely read tale Rasselas, the massive and influential Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets, and most notably, A Dictionary of the English Language, the definitive British dictionary of its time.


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  • (4/5)
    I found many interesting ideas in this classic but overall felt it was an uneasy mixture of philosophy and satire. Rasselas is bored in the Happy Valley in which all the offspring of Abyssinian royalty were confined (along with their servants & others required for their comfort and amusement) because, as he says himself, " 'That I want nothing,' said the Prince, 'or that I know not what I want, is the cause of my complaint: if I had any known want, I should have a certain wish; that wish would excite endeavour, and I should not then repine to see the sun move so slowly towards the western mountains, or to lament when the day breaks, and sleep will no longer hide me from myself.' " One of his advisors chides him saying that he didn't know what miseries the outer world contained & the Prince decides that "I shall long to see the miseries of the world, since the sight of them is necessary to happiness." For a while, he is happy while contemplating how he will escape the valley as that gives him an interest in life & he eventually meets a poet, Imlac, who had lived outside the boundaries of the valley & in fact had travelled widely before settling there. In telling Rasselas his story, they discuss what makes for happiness. Imlac declares that "Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured and little to be enjoyed." but the Prince is unwilling to accept this verdict. He invites Imlac to help him escape the valley & become his companion and guide. At the last minute, they are joined by Rasselas's favorite sister Princess Nekayah & her favorite attendant Pekuah.With Imlac's assistance, Rasselas & Nekayah gradually adjust to life outside the Happy Valley and begin to investigate what kind of life is best. They meet many different types of people -- city society (in Cairo), a wise guru, a hermit, an astronomer, an Arab bandit, etc. They debate the nature of marriage & whether married life is required for true happiness. Somewhat surprisingly to me, Nekayah is the one who thinks marriage does not contribute to happiness but rather causes unhappiness, which she backs up with examples of married couples she has come to know.During all this, Rasselas is trying to find the correct "choice of life" for himself. Johnson keeps returning to the question of whether solitude or society is better. As the hermit remarks: "In solitude, if I escape the example of bad men, I want likewise the counsel and conversation of the good."
  • (4/5)
    I find it hard to believe that a book this good could be written in a week, but the evidence is before me and I have read it. A strange mix of fairy tale, light philosophy and speculum regis. Smooth, unobtrusive writing. He has a way of turning a thought into a phrase that really speaks to you. Don't come to this looking for plot and characterisation.I read the OUP edition. The notes are geared towards the international market with many definitions of words. If English is your first language you won't need them.
  • (4/5)
    Though presented as "The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia", this is not a factual history but a tale of adventure and self discovery, centered around the eponymous prince, his sister, her maid, and their wise companion Imlac. It begins with his growing up in the "Happy Valley", which is isolated from the rest of the world by mountains and a large gate, and arranged by the king to provide every entertainment and pleasure he could wish for his children and their large entourage. However as Rasselas grows up he becomes disenchanted with the shallow existence, and wants to see the outside world and experience unhappiness and worldly strife first hand. So begins his adventure to find more meaning to life.Along the way, they meet people from various walks of life, including sages, hermits, ordinary families, mercenaries, monks, and an astronomer. They discuss the various ways of living that they come accross, with the main recurring theme throughout the book being what is the best "choice of life". They discuss their various viewpoints, with arguments for and against each mode of existence. Each time they think they have found the ideal state of being, they come to realise that the situation is more complex than first thought, and thus the search for happiness continues. As such this is quite a philosophical tale and has many moments of deep reflection. There are some good quotable sections in here too, but what lets it down somewhat is that the setting is not further elaborated - ie there is little of the exotic flavour that one might expect from a story mostly set in and around Cairo. Because the quest for a happy, fulfilling, and moral life is of at least some concern to most people, this story is still of wide appeal.
  • (4/5)
    "That greatest of philosophical tales," as Warren Fleischauer calls The History of Rasselas Prince of Abyssinia in his introduction to the edition I read -- one of 112 listed at this site! -- will disappoint anyone prepared for something else, a novel, a story, an adventure. The adventure here is all in ideas, expressed by fairy-tale characters such as Prince, Princess, her Favorite (companion), and Poet, and the ideas are about How To Live, How to Be Happy. As old as these issues are, and as much discussed, somehow their embodiment in this charming tale makes them all fresh, and the inconclusive ending is a surprising touch that lends a note of modernity in its awareness of its own artificiality. Hillaire Belloc advocated reading it annually, and while I may not do quite that, I will revisit it, perhaps in a different, more attractive edition: the Barron's was simply at hand, and the next time around, notes would be nice. But for the first read-through, just following the ideas and enjoying the incomparable writing was good.
  • (2/5)
    I read this book so I could check it off my '1001 books' list. Did I find it enlightening or life changing? Well... no. Samuel Johnson is probably best known for his English Dictionary as well as being the creator of many famous and wise sayings. Rasselas is filled with many pithy sayings, that are loosely tied together in a story about Rasselas, the Prince of Abissinia, who leaves his comfortable life as a member of the ruling family in search of wisdom and meaning. I found it hard to focus on the plot because of the many rambling discourses about a wide variety of topics, ranging from relationships between men and women to flying machines.
  • (4/5)
    Samuel Johnson's fine book rather reminded me of Voltaire's 'Candide', except there isn't quite as much travelling, and the variety of philosophical ideas expounded upon is much greater. The book was remarkably readable for one quite so old, and as an English Teacher I found it fascinating to see how usage has changed in the intervening period; we use commas differently, and we no longer write musick or rustick.Johnson is also eminently quotable. This piece really stuck in my mind: "All skill ought to be exerted for universal good; every man has owed much to others, and ought to repay the kindness he has received." For me, this is the perfect way of looking at the Internet as a whole, and explains the logic behind all those wonderful writers scribbling away and posting their thoughts online for the world to see.
  • (3/5)
    It was nice enough I suppose. - the writing and the idea But it's kind of pointless. Which is kind of the point.
  • (5/5)
    Rasselas is a brief but comprehensive introduction to some of the recurring questions of political and practical philosophy. What is the best way to live out a human life? Where is real fulfillment to be found? Of what does happiness consist?Samuel Johnson embodies these questions in the tale of Rasselas, an Ethiopian prince who has been cloistered from the cares of the world in a remote mountain fastness. But Rasselas is not satisfied with his days of leisure and amusement, so he seeks to venture forth . . . .The great Dr Johnson's style here is elegant; his questions searching; his wisdom never simplistic, but always simple. This is a perfect introduction to much broader reading in philosophy.
  • (5/5)
    Rasselas is Samuel Johnson's vision of the world as a place where things do not always work out well. Johnson shows life at best as something to be endured. The situations encountered by Johnson's hero seems almost the opposite of those encountered by Voltaire's Candide. Time after time, things seem to be promising, even ideal. However, inevitably reality sets in and tiny, then major, chinks in the facade appear. All is not perfect. Perfection is shown as ultimately unattainable yet still desirable, leading to guaranteed dissatisfaction. All written in fine style by a superb master of the language.