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Castle Rackrent

3.2 of 5 stars 3.20  ·  rating details  ·  1,624 ratings  ·  94 reviews
Set in Ireland prior to its achieving legislative independence from Britain in 1782, Castle Rackrent tells the story of three generations of an estate--owning family as seen through the eyes—and as told in the voice—of their longtime servant, Thady Quirk, recorded and commented on by an anonymous Editor. This edition of Maria Edgeworth's first novel is based on the 1832 ed ...more
Paperback, 87 pages
Published March 15th 2007 by Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (first published 1800)
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Bill  Kerwin

This enjoyable one volume novel--brief as a medium-sized novella--was published in 1800, but is set in the years from the middle of the 18th century to the establishment of the Irish constitution of 1782. It gives us a satirical view of four generations of the Rackrent family, each an example of the irresponsible Irish gentry. Parsimonious or profligate in his habits, amiable or arrogant in his demeanor, each Lord of Rackrent herein described impoverishes his peasants and abuses his wealth, lead
This is a little novel that deserves to be well known.

It is the every day story of the decline and fall of a noble Irish house into poverty through drinking, extravagant living and a wild passion for loosing cases at law as told from the point of view of a loyal old retainer. A man so loyal that he interprets all that behaviour as demonstrating the admirable grandeur of the family.

Best of all it is based on events that actually occurred, including locking up wives until they handed over their va
Dec 01, 2014 David rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Irish stewards, profligate heirs, English landowners less dashing than Darcy
Cited as an early satirical work and one of the first English historical novels, Castle Rackrent is the story of the Rackrents, formerly the O'Shaughlins, a family of land-holding Anglo-Irish aristocrats who sink into dissolution and ruin over the course of four generations. The narrator, "Old Thady" or "Honest Thady," is the Rackrents' steward. Offering occasionally obsequious, occasionally wry commentary, never directly insulting the family he's served for his entire life but making it pretty ...more
MJ Nicholls
Edgeworth’s satire inspired the oeuvre of Walter Scott—this unappealing fact aside, it is an excellent lampoon in the Swiftian tradition and something of a progenitor to the popular technique of frametales, found books ‘edited’ by the authors, and unreliable narrators. The rambling narrator Thady Quirk tells of the Rackrent clan and their various adventures in the age of Irish revolt over landlordism. More impressively, this book boasts three levels of foot- and endnotes, making the book read mo ...more
Travelling Sunny
Not exactly a page-turner, but I understand why this made it onto THE LIST.

So, to sum up the novel’s story, there’s this working-class servant type guy in Ireland named Thady Quirk; he’s about eighty years old and is telling the history of the owners of the Rackrent property. The first third or so of the novel is a quick breezing through the stories of three owners, but then what seems to be the ‘good part’ of the story is in the last two-thirds with the story of Sir Condy Rackrent. Each of thes
J.G. Keely
An unexpectedly delightful book, one of the first I've read that really captures what I've come to think of as quintessentially British humor, the sort later typified by Wilde and Wodehouse. The pointlessly loyal teller of this tale is one of the best examples of the 'Unreliable Narrator' that I've seen in fiction, and seems to be a prototype for a similarly humorous servant in Collins' 'The Moonstone'. Add in the political and social satire concerning Anglo-Irish relations and you've got quite ...more
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Review is pending…
Maria Edgeworth’s father owned an estate in Ireland, and it was through observing the lives and fortunes of Anglo-Irish landowners that she derived the material from which she wrote this novel, published in 1800. It is considered one of the first Irish novels and seems certainly to be the first to use the narrative devise of an unreliable narrator, in this case Thady Quirk, the steward of the Rackrent family during four generations. The novel traces the mismanagement of the sequential heirs to t ...more
Castle Rackrent, by Maria Edgeworth, published in 1800.

Who is Maria Edgeworth you may ask, well, she was an English/Irish writer during late 18th century and early 19th century. She was a contemporary of Jane Austen, Ann Radcliffe, and Sir Walter Scott, among others. I mention these three because they acknowledge being influenced by Edgeworth's writing. She wrote several novels and many works that were politically and socially motivated by Irish politics and social class inequality.

Castle Rackre
Maria Edgeworth, a tiny English woman at only 4 feet 7 inches tall, published Castle Rackrent when she was 33. Her writing career was encouraged by her father, who moved the family to Ireland when Maria was fifteen. Her resulting acquaintance the Irish people is displayed in Castle Rackrent.

In this very brief novel (about 85 pages total), an old Irish peasant by the name of Thady Quirk narrates the “Memoirs of the Rackrent Family” – a tale that encompasses several generations of Rackrents whose
Through happy circumstances, my research on early female novelists led to Edgeworth and I thought I'd start with her first novel, since Nick Carraway alludes to it in _Gatsby_. What a solid, funny, painful novel! Thady and his devotion to a place and and idea is heart-warming and heart-breaking, and watching those heirs run such privilege into the ground was painful. A wonderful comparison of characters and their faults and strengths, though mostly their faults. Condy's last words -- " Ae, Sir C ...more
Very readable, amusing, charming, and short. What more could you ask for if you're considering trying out some 18th century lit? The narrator is instantly lovable and the footnotes by an "English Editor" allow Edgeworth some playfulness in developing her social satire (and they're all worth reading, however long). Most of the characters are one-dimensional and there isn't a strong central plot, but the themes of class and greed and family remain remarkably applicable.
Definitely different. Had a totally wrong impression of the book based on it's name, thinking some sort of "Money Pit" story...totally opposite...Irish landowners, named Rackrent...yeah, they bleed their tenants dry. But in a way that makes them beloved. So weird, and perhaps a scoff at how the lowly hold up the high to be so special even when they're obviously not. Silly humor. Style of writing seems worlds apart from that of Edgeworth's "Helen" which I've just begun.

This edition (kindle) did
Michael Meeuwis
I almost wonder if we'd like this novel more--I mean, it's tremendous--if we didn't do what the course sequence I supervise does, which is stick it solidly into the History of the Novel. I mean, it's not not a novel--but it approaches those traditional bits of what novels are interested in (interior psychology, social life) so obliquely that I think people sometimes get disappointed by its failure to be "Pride and Prejudice." Whereas what it sort of is is Pride and Prejudice if a. the good peopl ...more
Some books are definitely for certain times, people, contexts, etc. (or various combinations of said variables). This was not for me or my time at this reading. Edgeworth provided a brief yet scattered work in my eyes. Some insights about the relationship between Ireland and England and land ownership, but not much else this time around.
Alia S
There are actually really funny things buried in here, but it's a lot of work to tease them out of the dialect and period details. Basically I need someone to make this into a movie with lots of attractive Irish men and then I could probably enjoy it more.
Elizabeth Moffat
Didn't really enjoy it, the character of thady was good but it didn't flow as much as I would have liked. I understand it was difficult to write about religion in those times but I would have liked the story more if it had centred around this.
I'm going to be honest. I read this book because I had too. I'm glad it was short because it was tremendously boring. The old Irish expressions make it difficult for a contemporary reader to understand.
Hilarious. The names in this shorty are very interesting... it's sometimes hard to tell at points where the satire begins and ends.
Really more of a 2.5. I liked the writing, the satire made me laugh, but I kept expecting something to actually happen.
Perry Whitford
'Castle Rackrent' is a lively and entertaining history about the fall of a landed Irish family over four generations, told with great partiality by an old, admiring servant named Thady Quirk, further supported by an amusing and exhaustive glossary by the 'editor'.
A slight though seminal novel published in 1800 and, unusually for the time, written by a young woman, it's a juicy narration, deftly capturing the culture and workings of feudal Ireland through the eyes of the slavish, all-forgiving Th
Originally posted at Majoring in Literature.

Oh, dear. I fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew these past few weeks, first with A Sentimental Journey and now with Castle Rackrent. Eighteenth-century literature has certainly done an excellent job of kicking my butt with these two short novels.

I originally wanted to read Castle Rackrent because I studied another of Edgeworth's novels, Patronage, a few years ago. I enjoyed it immensely, and figured Castle Rackrent would be more of the same
Jesse Field
We are surely justified, in this eager desire, to collect the most minute facts relative to the domestic lives, not only of the great and good, but even of the worthless and insignificant, since it is only by a comparison of their actual happiness or misery in the privacy of domestic life that we can form a just estimate of the real reward of virtue, or the real punishment of vice.
This is a short little book detailing the downfall of an old Irish land-holding gentry family brilliantly told from
The historical timeframe of the material is vital to understanding the novel. It is interesting that an English author would criticize the landowners, who were all Englsih. Underneath the lampooning of tropes on both sides of the issue, the novel presents different aspects of the social structure for consideration. Political corruption is a large part of the Sir Conolley section. The abuse of the law to enable a land grab is central to the entire reason for the Enlglish being in Ireland.

The cle
Maria Edgeworth's first novel (just a novella, really), billed as 'the first regional novel in English', this is the story of a dissolute Irish family whose successive generations squander their resources on drink and gambling. Meanwhile, the son of the narrator (who is a loyal old family retainer) is taking advantage of their debts gradually to acquire all their property!

The humour of this book is chiefly based on the contrast between the narrator's ostensibly excessive loyalty to the old famil
This is one of those books that wasn't a great read, but it's so Significant and Canonical that I really should work on appreciating it more than I do.

From my perspective, it was a chronicle of events; there wasn't a plot as such. Parts of it aspired towards satire, and some bits were funny, but for the most part I was just waiting for it to be over. Thady Quirk is the narrator and the steward of Castle Rackrent, and he's telling the history of the noble family who lives (and dissipates) there.
I was really enjoying this book while I thought it was going somewhere ... but then it finished having done about nothing at all. Edgeworth's idea of censoring stories so that proper and elegant women didn't get wild ideas of romance and so forth just drove this story into the ground. It makes me loathe the idea of reading Ennui; I'm afraid the title can be taken entirely literally.
Clancy Coonradt
Good book for identifying what the Big House lifestyle was like in Ireland around the end of the 19th century. The possibility for Honest Thady to be telling a slave narrative is very appealing although there are clear differences in some of the claims that it fits neatly in this category. Recommended read for anyone curious about Irish history.
I found this enjoyable but without much substance. An old retainer tells the story of how the owners of an Irish estate came to ruin through the mistakes and profligacy of several successors, and finally lost the estate to an upstart. It was amusing in places and showed class mobility to an extent that must have only just been imaginable.
Odile Stuart
Very ingenious Russian doll assemblage: A fictitious editor, the main protagonist telling the story but no author or story teller in this book is ever in power or holding the rein of the story for long. Footnotes, comments. Perpetual mise en abyme. Short, delightful. A satire of the Big House novel. Maria Edgeworth inspired Walter Scott.
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Edgeworth was an Anglo-Irish gentry-woman, born in Oxfordshire and later resettling in County Longford. She eventually took over the management of her father's estate in Ireland and dedicated herself to writing novels that encouraged the kind treatment of Irish tenants and the poor by their landlords.
More about Maria Edgeworth...
Belinda The Absentee Castle Rackrent and Ennui Ormond Helen

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“The prevailing taste of the public for anecdote has been censured and ridiculed by critics, who aspire to the character of superior wisdom: but if we consider it in a proper point of view, this taste is an incontestible proof of the good sense and profoundly philosophic temper of the present times. Of the numbers who study, or at least who read history, how few derive any advantage from their labors!” 2 likes
“When a man's over head and shoulders in debt, he may live the faster for it, and the better if he goes the right way about it, or else how is it so many live so well, as we see every day after they are ruined?” 1 likes
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