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The Vicar of Wakefield

3.46  ·  Rating Details ·  7,158 Ratings  ·  356 Reviews
Oliver Goldsmith's hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of ...more
Paperback, 197 pages
Published June 15th 2006 by Oxford University Press (first published 1766)
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Julia Absolutely clean and demonstrating patience, forgiveness, and kindness under adversity.

Community Reviews

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Jason Koivu
Feb 24, 2012 Jason Koivu rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
It's "father knows best" 18th Century style!

A relatively well-off parson's family in mid 1700s England is forced into reduced circumstances and then really falls on hard times.

A contemporary and friend of lexicographer Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith too was a lover of language. He was a teller of tales and The Vicar of Wakefield is essentially just that, a collection of stories tailored to fit linearly into this one novel. As such, there are occasional moments when the book veers from the mai
...more
Bettie☯
Description: Oliver Goldsmith's hugely successful novel of 1766 remained for generations one of the most highly regarded and beloved works of eighteenth-century fiction. It depicts the fall and rise of the Primrose family, presided over by the benevolent vicar, the narrator of a fairy-tale plot of impersonation and deception, the abduction of a beautiful heroine and the machinations of an aristocratic villain. By turns comic and sentimental, the novel's popularity owes much to its recognizable d ...more
Kj
You can't get very far into Victorian literature without tripping over references to The Vicar of Wakefield. Either the novel's heroine is reading the book, making fun of the book or trying to teach her French pupils how to translate the book. Oliver Goldsmith's 1766 novel is sort of the Moby Dick of the 19th century, in that it was the book that everyone read, or was supposed to read, and thus, the default title to name drop. I'm not comparing the literary merit of Moby Dick and Vicar of Wakefi ...more
Clif Hostetler
Sep 16, 2016 Clif Hostetler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sherwood Smith
One of those books that changes over the decades. It was especially interesting to read now given how many mentions of it show up in novels over the past two hundred years, and how many well-respected writers talk fondly about its light-heartedness, its mildness, its being the quintessential English domestic novel.

On this (very spoilery!) reading, I picked up how very tongue in cheek Goldsmith wrote, satirizing class and social climbing and the real meaning of posh manners as well as town/countr
...more
Gretchen Ingram
Jun 26, 2012 Gretchen Ingram rated it it was ok
I know that this is a classic. I had it recommended to me at a very early age by Louisa May Alcott via Jo March and with that august endorsement did not ever think that it could be anything less than utterly charming.

In spite of that, it has taken 45 years for me to get around to reading it and I wish I had waited 45 more.

Perhaps it is me but I found nothing of worth in the book. The characters are undeveloped, the plot, such as it is, was antiquated before it was written and has been done to de
...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

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There are an hundred faults in this Thing, and an hundred things might be said to prove them beauties. But it is needless. A book may be amusing with numerous errors, or it may be very dull without a single absurdity. The hero of this piece unites in himself the three greatest characters upon earth; he is a priest, an husbandman, and the father of a family. He is drawn as ready to teach, and ready to obey, as simple in affluence, and maje
...more
K.D. Absolutely
Feb 05, 2010 K.D. Absolutely rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: All fathers who love "real" classic novels
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books and 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die
Shelves: classics, 1001-core, 501
West Yorkshire, England, 1761 and 1762. Oliver Goldsmith wrote The Vicar of Wakefield, his one and only novel. Part of the introduction of this book says that Mr. Goldsmith was asked by his landlady to leave his apartment due to unpaid rent. Mr. Goldsmith asked his friend, Mr. Boswell, to sell the manuscript of this novel for him to have money.

According to Wikipedia, this novel was one of the most popular and widely read 18th century novels among 19th century Victorians. The novel is mentioned i
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Gill
Jan 07, 2015 Gill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read The Vicar of Wakefield in connection with a group read of The Novel: A Biography. I read the section in Schmidt first, followed by the novel, and then re-read the section in Schmidt. I also read the notes and analysis on www.gradesaver.com after finishing the novel.

The book was first published in 1766, so as I read it I was trying to consider it from the point of view of its readers on first publication, as well as how I found it now.

I can see why it was a very popular novel. It's an easy
...more
Bruce
Jun 22, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel was published in 1766 and has a first person narrator. The novel is somewhat picaresque and reminds me of the works of Fielding. The plot involves our hero, having lost his fortune, leaving with his family on a journey to a new and much reduced clerical position. The loss of their fortune is the initial destabilizing event. Dangers are abundant: various possibly unscrupulous people are met, and the vicar’s family is too credulous. The family is also too ready to have aspirations to hi ...more
Cindy Newton
This is a literary classic from whence sprang many other literary classics. This book is mentioned fondly by the likes of Dickens, Austen, Shelley, Eliot, Bronte, and Goethe. Goldsmith helped pave the way for these other literary giants with his tale of a large, loving family brought to ruin (they lived in an outhouse for awhile!) and then back again. There are overtones of Job here--the devout minister, his faith tested by the onslaught of a rain of misfortune, each event more devastating than ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
A novel swimming with wise sayings, ancient maxims, aphorisms--those distilled wisdom of the old past. No wonder, since this was written about 250 years ago in a Christian setting. It has things to say about good and evil, fortune and misfortune, love and hate, sin and forgiveness, and even about books:

"...I armed her against the censures of the world, shewed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at leas
...more
Sandy
All's well that ends well - so the saying goes. It appears that, after all the calamities and shenanigans, all is well with the Primrose family. Such an exciting life they led - abductions, a house-fire, the homecoming of the prodigal son (twice), secrets, lies, and deception - mixed in with a healthy dose of humour, humility, and forgiveness - and (of course) some "preachy" passages. With the exception of a few chapters which dragged a bit, the Librivox recording by Martin Clifton provided abou ...more
Renee M
May 17, 2014 Renee M rated it really liked it
I found this delightful. Funny, sappy, thrilling, and sweet. Filled with beautiful innocent young women, separated lovers, a despicable villain, a kindly long suffering vicar father, goodness rewarded, evil punished, secret identities, and an overall appreciation for the charms of a simple life. This created the perfect balance to some of the heavier reading I've been doing lately.

I definitely recommended Librivox Version 2 for audiobook. The reader (Tadhg) has a lovely Irish accent and a genui
...more
Leslie
I found this satire of mid-eighteenth century English society quite amusing. However, it wasn't as good as Goldsmith's famous play, She Stoops to Conquer.

For this Librivox recording (version 2), I would give 4*. Tadhg's Irish accent was perfect for this classic.
...more
Stephen
Looking for one more summary of the plot of The Vicar of Wakefield? Why would we do that again here?

Rather than waste time in that way, I wish to propose this theory. Those who most enjoy reading The Vicar of Wakefield, are those who, without realizing it on a conscious level, share many of Dr. Primrose's more problematic traits. His inability even to consider taking responsibility for his own destiny or the destiny of his family. His blindness as to the true nature of what goes on about him. Hi
...more
Faith
Jun 23, 2016 Faith rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
What I thought was going to be a sweet, charming chronicle of the life of a vicar and his family took a definite maudlin turn which I was not expecting. Then it turned into an absolute glut of marriages. It was all very "of-the-period" and I guess I should have been on notice (or read some of the reviews). I was amused by parts of it and I enjoyed the narration of the audiobook, but this book was just OK for me.
Starry
May 24, 2013 Starry rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, classic
This classic from the 1700s was once beloved and now scarcely known among American readers. It has a Dickens-ish feel -- a sort of meandering tale of the rise and fall of a family's fortunes, with plenty of commentary on society and morality. Parts had a Pickwickian humor and other parts a David Copperfield-ish pathos. And good and bad characters alike keep reappearing like a good Dickens novel -- though here they are all eventually redeemed or offered redemption, no matter how badly they behave ...more
·Karen·
Mar 19, 2010 ·Karen· rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 18th-century, brits
The nice thing about novels written mid-eighteenth century is that they are so different, to each other as well as to what we have come to expect from the realistic novels of the nineteenth. The sentimental story requires virtue assailed by calamity, but Goldsmith avoids the lachrymose by the sustained cheerful resilience of the Vicar, without him ever becoming annoying. Calamity succeeds disaster, and towards the end there's little left that hasn't yet occurred, but the calm light tone prevents ...more
Matthew
While the various vignettes that comprise the novel are mildly entertaining in their own right, the "Vicar of Wakefield" as a whole is simplistic and uninteresting. At its core, this story is the Book of Job transposed into 18th-century England. The overzealous vicar, who is well off in the beginning, experiences a number of setbacks, but in the end all is restored to him. All the while, his faith in God is never shaken.

However, Goldsmith's vicar is an undynamic, one-dimensional character. Despi
...more
Margaret
I'd wanted to read The Vicar of Wakefield ever since encountering it in the pages of Little Women, when Aunt March catches Jo chuckling over it and demands that Jo read it to her (Jo later catches Aunt March reading it by herself). It's the tale of the Primrose family -- "all equally generous, credulous, simple, and inoffensive" -- headed by their father, the eponymous vicar, and their trials and tribulations.

It was a little tough to get into, due to a highly digressive and coincidental plot, b
...more
Kate S
Mar 09, 2011 Kate S rated it really liked it
While this is a short book, it took a little longer than I expected to read it. I enjoyed the optimistic attitude of the narrator even in the face of every imaginable hardship. Some of the observations regarding human nature were so astute and amazing to think about how little people have changed in 250 years. There were moments of laugh out loud hilarity, some preachy-ness, and a lot of looking on the bright side. I enjoyed this short tale.
Pamela
Mar 13, 2011 Pamela rated it it was ok
Shelves: bizarre, british
A curious book. I honestly didn't know what to expect. However, as I read the outrageous twists and turns of fate of Doctor Primrose (the titular vicar) and his family, I couldn't help but think that everything was meant satirically, and not as a true sentimental novel, with heaving bosoms, last-minute pardons, etc., etc. (although those do make appearances!). Everything is so absolutely over-the-top, and the vicar himself so very out of touch with the world and, at times, with rationality, that ...more
Justin Evans
Dec 24, 2009 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What's going on here? According to the introduction and notes, it's satire on literary convention. But satire seems too harsh- more like loving parody. I have very little to say, except that if i had to read one eighteenth century novel, this would be it: it's short, it's not repetitive, the prose is lean and clean, it's funny, and it's full of good cheer. And the characters have persuasive arguments for the importance of neo-classical ideals in literature, of which recent authors of bloated mon ...more
Larissa
Mar 11, 2010 Larissa rated it really liked it
The Vicar of Wakefield is a charmingly ramshackle book. Published to relieve Goldsmith's debts, for which his landlady tried to arrest him, it has the loose organization and abrupt tonal shifts of a work written in haste. The various digressions work in its favor, though, as around the middle of the novel Goldsmith starts to give his wit free reign. The somewhat placid story of a pious vicar becomes a madcap picaresque, and builds to a deliberately preposterous conclusion in which all of the cha ...more
Ronan Doyle
Jul 14, 2015 Ronan Doyle rated it really liked it
"I armed her against the censures of the world; showed her that books were sweet, unreproaching companions to the miserable, and if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it."
I needn't have had the benefit of over a book a day read that week to almost burst into tears at the beauty of this line, which so perfectly speaks to why I can't stop buying books. What an extraordinary one this is, with its amusingly-enacted tale shot through with that stark sense of
...more
Manny
Jun 25, 2009 Manny added it

You know that Monty Python sketch, where the guy introduces himself as "Mr. Smoketoomuch"?

"Well, you'd better cut down a little!" says Mr. Bounder.

"I'm sorry?"

"You'd better cut down a little then."

"Oh, I see! Smoke too much so I'd better cut down a little then!"

"Yes. Ooh, it's going to get people making jokes about your name all the time, eh?"

"No, actually, it never struck me before. Smoketoomuch..."

We had a Northern English au pair once, whose father actually was the Vicar of Wakefield. She'd b
...more
Tim Patrick
Jun 21, 2011 Tim Patrick rated it really liked it
Oliver Goldsmith's riches-to-rags story examines the life of a family plagued with one bad thing after another. Some troubles are caused by their own inept actions, while others are inflicted on them. Through it all, the patriarch--the Vicar of Wakefield--never loses his calm demeanor. The story has a happy ending, but when reading, you are forced to ask if lifelong contentment is truly possible, even when the world is against you.
Barksdale Penick
Jan 26, 2017 Barksdale Penick rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Brigitte
Dec 24, 2012 Brigitte rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield was the final novel that I read for my 18th century novel class and was, by a wide margin, the shortest, weighing in at 160 pages. Published in 1766 it enjoyed wild popularity and was mentioned in such now-classics as Frankenstein, Emma, and A Tale of Two Cities. How I’ve read so many novels which mention this one without having actually read it, I’m not sure, but I blame my professors.

It's a comedic sentimental novel which follows the fall and rise of t
...more
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The Anglo-Irish poet, dramatist, novelist, and essayist Oliver Goldsmith wrote, translated, or compiled more than 40 volumes. The works for which he is remembered are marked by good sense, moderation, balance, order, and intellectual honesty.
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“I love everything that is old; old friends, old times, old manners, old books, old wines.” 210 likes
“I armed her against the censure of the world, showed her that books were sweet unreproaching companions to the miserable, and that if they could not bring us to enjoy life, they would at least teach us to endure it.” 16 likes
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