Castle Rackrent
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Castle Rackrent

3.13 of 5 stars 3.13  ·  rating details  ·  1,071 ratings  ·  69 reviews
The story of the Edgeworth Family, if it were properly told, should be as long as the ARABIAN NIGHTS themselves; the thousand and one cheerful intelligent members of the circle, the amusing friends and relations, the charming surroundings, the cheerful hospitable home, all go to make up an almost unique history of a county family of great parts and no little character. The...more
Paperback, 87 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Hackett Publishing Company (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...more
Jan-Maat
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...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
Sunny in Wonderland
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...more
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
Bruce
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
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Review is pending…
Christy
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...more
Spencer
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.
K.
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...more
Craig
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.
Kim
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.
Wendy
Hilarious. The names in this shorty are very interesting... it's sometimes hard to tell at points where the satire begins and ends.
Julia
Really more of a 2.5. I liked the writing, the satire made me laugh, but I kept expecting something to actually happen.
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...more
Patrick
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...more
Kathy
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...more
Zulu
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....more
Zan
This small novel is kind of remarkable for its density. It packs in satire, politics, culture, language issues and syntax, and history all in one entertaining wallop. Fair play to you, Edgeworth, fair play.

On a side-note, I came across a brief essay recently that linked Jane Austen't MANSFIELD PARK with CASTLE RACKRENT from an "absentee landlord" and postcolonial perspective. I think there's merit in that assessment, but also think there may be further connections as well. Notice Sir Condy's wif...more
Laura
What is it with introductions that take up a quarter of the book? A QUARTER! I will admit, it was an interesting introduction, which talked a little about the author and her family. But I truly do not believe that it was as necessary to the understanding of the novel as the introduction to Rob Roy or the glossary at the end of this novel.

The story itself was sublime...It reminded me of Gogol's Dead Souls, except it was a satire about the Irish landed gentry instead of the Russians. Same tongue...more
Elizabeth
Seventeenth-century author Maria Edgeworth was ahead of her time in many ways. Her satire of Irish lords is amusing, but what particularly struck me as I read was the way that her use of a glossary keyed to the text is like a paper version of hypertext. This was even more the case, as my edition had notes on both the text and the glossary by the modern editor, meaning that I was flipping back and forth between Edgeworth's fictional exaggerations of Irish customs (and the degenerate nature of Ang...more
Maryann
At just under 100 pages, this book is a little jaunt through the history of an Irish town and it's succession of landlords, as told by one of the servants of the household. Apparently, this novel is significant because of the time of it was published and because it brought attention to the conflict between the classes in Ireland, a different perspective from the religious conflict. Easily readable, this book is more interesting historically than as remarkable literature.

Food: a pint of ale in a...more
Karen
This was originally published in 1800 and is recommended as an example of Irish National literature. It was short--89--pages. It is a satire about the landowning class in Ireland, told from the perspective of a servant and is clever and funny. I think the footnotes equalled or exceded the text of the book itself however--there were the author's original footnotes, footnotes ABOUT her footnotes, and the editor of this editions own footnotes. All in all, it gave a good perspective of Irish history...more
Cindy
Sep 08, 2007 Cindy rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: English majors
Shelves: fiction, 18th-century
"The first regional novel in English."

I'm not sure what that quote means, but this is an interesting story of a family of Irish landowners and the differing ways they ruin their lives and their estate. It's told by Thady Quirk, a sort of butler or estate manager, who has been with the Rackrent family through several changes. I was never crazy about any of the characters. Thady himself is the most likeable. He is honest and loyal. But he's too naive and gullible to be really sympathetic. The sett...more
Alisea
Il Castello Rackrent (Il Castello 'arraffa-affitti') è un lungo monologo in cui Thady Quirk, fittavolo di una antica famiglia anglo-irlandese, che, pur continuando a riaffermare la sua medievale fedeltà ai Rackrent, narra in tono ironico e disincantato la progressiva decadenza dei suoi aristocratici padroni. Il racconto di Thady, privo di toni polemici o predicatori, ci mostra però una condizione morale ed economica lontana da una piena coscienza di sé e la progressiva rovina del castello altro...more
Catherine Letendre
Reading this book I started asking myself if I understood English or if my memory was bad and my second language wasn't actually Spanish. Irony is everywhere in this book but its purpose, as well as the storyline, was left unknown to me. My guess is that the use (or non-use) of the dot is probably at the root of the problem. The sentences are one page long, which makes it hard to remember the beginning when reaching the end. Memory problems again. This book made me realized that I either have al...more
Katie Grainger
Castle Rackrent is a short novella which tells the tale of four of Castle Rackrent’s owners. Set in Ireland in the 1800’s it gives the reader an insight into the period as well as the often eccentric owners of the castle. Told from the point of view of one of the servants Thady Quirk, it takes the reader through four of the owners, by the end of the novel the mismanagement of the castle has led to benefits for Thady’s son. A short read which gives an interesting insight to Anglo-Irish relations...more
Siria
Castle Rackrent is probably only of interest to students of Irish history; as bitterly funny and infuriating as I found it, the layers of meaning, the references, and certainly the dialect used must be quite inaccessible to anyone not familiar with the circumstances in which Edgeworth was writing. If you are interested in the time period, though, it's a very interesting read. Though god, the colonialism and imperialism—there's no way of avoiding the fact that Edgeworth was part of the Ascendanc...more
Rosemary
This is quite a short book, but even so I found it rather too long for the simple content - aristocrat has no idea how to manage his money, gets into huge amounts of debt, the same thing happens to his successor, etc. It's a reasonably interesting premise but needs the characters' personalities to be fleshed out more in order to be sustained throughout a whole novel - or else other plot devices need to be added. The Absentee is much better in terms of plot and characterisation.
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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 Harrington

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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!” 1 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?” 0 likes
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