Castle Rackrent
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Castle Rackrent

3.14 of 5 stars 3.14  ·  rating details  ·  1,138 ratings  ·  74 reviews
When a long-time servant of the Rackrent family decides to write about family members whom he has served, the result is a stylishly entertaining exploration of master/servant relationships. Edgeworth's brilliant satire of early-19th-century Anglo-Irish landlords pioneered the regional novel andchanged the focus of conflict in Ireland from religion to class....more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published March 24th 2005 by Dover Publications (first published 1800)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,405)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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
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
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
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
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
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...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.
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...more
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...more
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
This was chosen by my classics book club as our read for June 2014. It was interesting in a historical way if you are interested in the history of Ireland during the English period. I'm glad I read it, but it wouldn't be on my recommended list.
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
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
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
Thomas-lily Heaney
Read several times and enjoyed each reread. .
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 80 81 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle
  • The Monastery
  • Castle Richmond
  • Born in Exile
  • Marius the Epicurean
  • Albigenses
  • The Man of Feeling
  • Amelia
  • Camilla
  • A Sentimental Journey
  • Caleb Williams
  • The Real Charlotte
  • Röda rummet
  • A Tale of a Tub
  • The Female Quixote: or, the Adventures of Arabella
  • Virgin Soil
  • News from Nowhere
  • The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
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

Share This Book

“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
More quotes…