[KINDLE] ❆ The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia By Samuel Johnson – Horse-zine.co.uk



10 thoughts on “The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

  1. says:

    Written in one week to defray the cost of his mother s funeral, Johnson s moral tale is a superior example of the prose of its era, and its era the Age of Enlightenment is renowned for the quality of its prose It is true that Candide written in 1759, the same year as Rasselas excels Johnson s work in both wit and humor, but then Voltaire s task was much easier He merely wished to demolish another man s philosophy, whereas Johnson wished to persuade his readers how to be happy.Being happy wasn t easy for Johnson He suffered from poor eyesight, facial scarring from scrofula, intense irritability, OCD, Tourette s, and thoughts of suicide He also was afflicted with severe depression in his youth, so profoundly that as he once told a friend he was sometimes so languid and inefficient that he could not distinguish the hour upon the town clock How did he withstand such obstacles By keeping his fancies and wishes private, applying himself assiduously to the task at hand, and enjoying whatever happiness arose from his labors.It should be no surprise that Johnson s personal method is similar to the moral of his tale When Rasselas of Abyssinia becomes discontented with The Happy Valley, where his every whim is catered to, he departs, with his sister, her companion, and his tutor to explore the condition of the world The four of them have many adventures, experiencing much pleasure and pain, but nothing offers them real satisfaction except for the enduring promise of heaven After discoursing on various philosophical topics, they conclude that the greatest wisdom would be to return from where they came, embracing their destiny in The Happy Valley.As a sample of Johnson s measured, deliberate prose, I offer the following excerpt from a discourse on the relative merits of the monastic and secular life Those men, answered Imlac, are less wretched in their silent convent than the Abissinian princes in their prison of pleasure Whatever is done by the monks is incited by an adequate and reasonable motive Their labour supplies them with necessaries it therefore cannot be omitted, and is certainly rewarded Their devotion prepares them for another state, and reminds them of its approach, while it fits them for it Their time is regularly distributed one duty succeeds another, so that they are not left open to the distraction of unguided choice, nor lost in the shades of listless inactivity, There is a certain task to be performed at an appropriated hour and their toils are cheerful, because they consider them as acts of piety, by which they are always advancing towards endless felicity Do you think, said Nekayah, that the monastick rule is a holy and less imperfect state than any other May not he equally hope for future happiness who converses openly with mankind, who succours the distressed by his charity, instructs the ignorant by his learning, and contributes by his industry to the general system of life even though he should omit some of the mortifications which are practised in the cloister, and allow himself such harmless delights as his condition may place within his reach This, said Imlac, is a question which has long divided the wise, and perplexed the good I am afraid to decide on either part He that lives well in the world is better than he that lives well in a monastery But, perhaps, every one is not able to stem the temptations of publick life and, if he cannot conquer, he may properly retreat Some have little power to do good, and have likewise little strength to resist evil Many weary of their conflicts with adversity, and are willing to eject those passions which have long busied them in vain And many are dismissed by age and diseases from the laborious duties of society In monasteries the weak and timorous may be happily sheltered, the weary may repose, and the penitent may meditate Those retreats of prayer and contemplation have something so congenial to the mind of man that, perhaps, there is scarcely one that does not purpose to close his life in pious abstraction with a few associates serious as himself


  2. says:

    Dr Johnson s foray into fiction is an oddity The themes are similar to Candide and they were written at pretty much the same time For different reasons.Johnson famously said No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money His only novel was no exception In January 1759 his mother became ill and Johnson needed money to support her and pay her medical bills He wrote Rasselas in a week, in the evenings He received one hundred pounds for it and it ended up paying for his mother s funeral as well Like Candide it was meant to be a critique of the philosophy in vogue at the time the general optimism that everything works out well It is set in North Africa Abyssinia and Egypt Rasselas is a prince of Abyssinia his father the emperor has an infallible means of stopping rivalry for the throne by making sure all who challenge him live together in an enclosed valley They live in absolute luxury and want for nothing The catch is they cannot leave Rasselas becomes inquisitive about the outside world and speaks to those who have lived out there He spends time with a man of science all needs are catered for who speculates that they might be able to build something that will enable they to fly out This enables Johnson to be prophetic about humanity conquering flight saying that it would be a disaster because of the implications of being able to move armies and arms around too quickly got that one right Dr J The flight idea is a flop and eventually it is a philosopher called Imlac who works out a way of escape geeks win again Rasselas and Imlac are accompanied by his sister Nekayah and her attendant Pekuah They wander around Egypt and explore the monastic life, life devoted to learning, wisdom and science, the pastoral life, poverty, power and rulers There is a good deal of rather irritating philosophising and debate and some repetition even for a short novel Inevitably they find all ways of life have their drawbacks and everyone wishes they had picked a different track and everyone wishes they could be young again They go round in circles for a bit and get absolutely nowhere and head back to their valley However there is a little off the wall conclusion as part of the last chapter Each of them decide on an ideal course if they were able to do what they wanted Imlac, the philosopher wanted to drift around the world examining all these different ways of life Rasselas wanted a small kingdom where he could have enough control to ensure everything was justly run and his subjects happy Pekuah wanted to join a convent and be a nun Rasselas s sister Nekayah wanted to found a college of learned women where women could learn sciences and the wisdom of the world didn t see that one coming I must admit All in all a mixed bag Johnson isn t exactly fluent and you can tell it was written in a rush However it was redeemed by some interesting ideas and speculations and Dr Johnson suggesting a university for women would be a good idea in 1759.


  3. says:

    If you think this is too ,too old hat for you then perhaps the fact that Jane Austen was a BIG fan may break down your prejudices And pride She loved and inherited Johnson s neoclassical balance of style exemplified in such of his sentences as Remarriage is the triumph of hope over experience and Marriage has many pains but celibacy has no pleasures See where Jane tapped into that conciseness, wit and wisdom now And both of these sentences are to be found in the enchanting philosophical fable of Rasselas, the Prince, who with his friends escapes from the perfection of his life in the Happy Valley to discover the miseries of the outside world so that he may truly understand and appreciate happiness and in what it really consists If you think your endurance low, never fear Like a fable it is all bite sized, consisting of little than one hundred pages divided into forty nine chapters And when it is all charming, clever, wise and witty and written in a style and vocabulary both direct, simple yet original and a little antiquated you can get some of the flavour of another time and another place Like me, you may find yourself keen to return to this world of honest, gentle wisdom which pulls no punches,but soothes one s soul Crumbs, I m beginning to sound like Johnson And you may become curious about its author and venture into the many available biographies especially the famous one by his friend James Boswell.And read your Jane Austen with a new appreciation.Aren t books wonderful


  4. says:

    An intriguing, contemporary take on Samuel Johnson s classic tale of an African prince in search of happiness.A star cast is led by Ashley Zhangazha as Rasselas, Jeff Rawle as Samuel Johnson and Lucian Msamati the RSC s first black Iago as the poet Imlac Singer and actor Cynthia Erivo makes her BBC radio drama debut as Princess Nekayah.Recorded on location at Dr Johnson s House, 17 Gough Square, in the City of London the very place where over 260 years ago, Johnson compiled his famous dictionary and then in January 1759, wrote his instant bestseller Rasselas in a week, to pay for his mother s funeral.Acclaimed 18th century philosophy fuels a contemporary desert road trip in this inventive and playful adaptation by Jonathan Holloway Period and modern collide in a satirical fantasy as Rasselas and his companions follow their quest for happiness and purpose to Cairo, where they encounter Arab Spring revolutionaries.Jonathan Holloway s drama also incorporates a compelling glimpse of Johnson himself the lonely, 50 year old celebrity and writer, in debt, in poor health, and missing his young Jamaican manservant, Francis Barber, who had run away to sea Born a slave, Barber was freed at Johnson s insistence and treated kindly by him.Johnson had struggled through many years of poverty before moving to Gough Square and becoming a highly respected writer Rasselas , his singular, progressive rumination on human happiness, is his only novel and his most popular work.Samuel Johnson Jeff RawleArthur Murphy Kevin TrainorPrincess Nekayah Cynthia ErivoPrince Rasselas Ashley Zhangazha


  5. says:

    A bored rich prince gets tired of his boring rich life, and decides to escape the so called Happy Valley where he lives is imprisoned to learn about real life and what it means to be happy Along for the ride are a poet who s lived outside the Happy Valley before, the prince s sister, and her maid The group travels around for a while and meets a lot of different people, none of whom are really happy This is all an excuse for Johnson to ramble philosophically and repeat the same points over and over again All in all, kind of forgettable and not very exciting But the reading experience improves a lot if you imagine that Prince Rasselas looks like this.Read for Colonial Imagination


  6. says:

    I m giving this five stars, because it s right up my alley style wise the Eastern pilgrimage tale , and I can t stop thinking about some clever points made even early on It s sort of Gibran s The Prophet meets Candide, but with a plausible outcome than either I cannot find anything to complain about it in this novel.A few of my favorites At the tail of Chapter 13, Imlac warns Rasselas about belief in omens, Do not disturb your mind with other hopes and fears than reason may suggest If you are pleased with prognostics of good, you will be terrified likewise with tokens of evil, and your whole life will be a prey to superstition In Chapter 18, Imlac says Be not too hasty to trust or to admire the teachers of morality They discourse like angels, but they live like men In chapter 44, Imlac tells of an astronomer of great renown and genius, who confesses to him that he believes himself to be in control of the weather, and worries that he might destroy the world if he doesn t pay close attention The characters discuss at length the prevalence of bouts of madness among superior intellects, and the problem is resolved through their intervention the astronomer becomes part of their retinue, and eventually confesses the delusion I was amazed that such a complex and psychological character could emerge from an 18th century satire All power of fancy over reason is a degree of insanity It is not pronounced madness but when it becomes ungovernable I wonder how much eccentricity could be forgiven under this formula Probably the best quote is from the tail of chapter 11, and sums up most of the concept I believe Johnson wished to convey Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed This may seem dark to some, but I think it s a pretty balanced and wise statement about expectation.


  7. says:

    Free download available at Project Gutenberg From BBC Radio 4 Drama An intriguing, contemporary take on Samuel Johnson s classic tale of an African prince in search of happiness.A star cast is led by Ashley Zhangazha as Rasselas, Jeff Rawle as Samuel Johnson and Lucian Msamati the RSC s first black Iago as the poet Imlac Singer and actor Cynthia Erivo makes her BBC radio drama debut as Princess Nekayah.Recorded on location at Dr Johnson s House, 17 Gough Square, in the City of London the very place where over 260 years ago, Johnson compiled his famous dictionary and then in January 1759, wrote his instant bestseller Rasselas in a week, to pay for his mother s funeral.Acclaimed 18th century philosophy fuels a contemporary desert road trip in this inventive and playful adaptation by Jonathan Holloway Period and modern collide in a satirical fantasy as Rasselas and his companions follow their quest for happiness and purpose to Cairo, where they encounter Arab Spring revolutionaries.Jonathan Holloway s drama also incorporates a compelling glimpse of Johnson himself the lonely, 50 year old celebrity and writer, in debt, in poor health, and missing his young Jamaican manservant, Francis Barber, who had run away to sea Born a slave, Barber was freed at Johnson s insistence and treated kindly by him.Johnson had struggled through many years of poverty before moving to Gough Square and becoming a highly respected writer Rasselas , his singular, progressive rumination on human happiness, is his only novel and his most popular work.Sound design David ChiltonProduced and directed by Amber Barnfather.


  8. says:

    This was recommended by a reading friend on one of the forums that I frequent Agree with other reviewers of the novella that it is a little gem of a book This review is for the kindle version.Rasselas is a Prince who has all his needs and wants catered for but he is dissatisfied with his life He sets out on a journey with his sister and his mentor Imlac to discover the choice of life , the meaning of happiness Was pleasantly surprised with this, how readable and found myself stopping frequently to savour ideas and truths


  9. says:

    Nobody reads Johnson any except english majors Which is a shame since while Johnson is disdained for his lack of political correctness in his conservative particulars, his wisdom in generalization is unassailable Much can be gleaned from his philosophy and general opinions about life and our condition on this mortal coil.Hence, The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia a moral tale if there ever was one One of the things one has to keep in mind when reading Rasselas is that Johnson is an adherent to the 18th century pre Romantic notion that writing should be elevating, morality wise Therefore, this is a tale of moral opposites in order to not only entertain but teach us something, make us better persons, along the way Forget this and you are in for a dull and confusing journey.Prince Rasselas lives in the Happy Valley, a veritable Garden of Eden, but he is bored by the prospect of unmitigated happiness and yearns to partake of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, so to speak The prince wants to see life He feels that happiness is not valued unless the opposite can be obtained and studied The entire narrative revolves around Rasselas escaping from the Valley along with his sister, the princess, her entourage, and a wise man named Imlac Along the way various adventures and lessons are learned It is a no brainer to see that after years of a taste of life on the outside of their gilded cage they all return to the valley.Many conceive Rasselas as a children s moral tale but children today would neither understand the language nor have the emotional maturity to understand the philosophy and lessons involved at one point Johnson takes on the philosopher David Hume The story does have a 1,001 Nights feel to it At other times it is like Poor Richard s First Almanac.If you are into 18th english literature or history, or Johnson in general, you owe it to yourself to read Wrastle Ass.


  10. says:

    3.5 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 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


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The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia download The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia , read online The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia , kindle ebook The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia , The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia 3fb394a03aae Rasselas Regarded As Johnson S Most Creative Work Presents The Story Of The Journey Of Rasselas And His Companions In Search Of The Choice Of Life Its Charm Lies Not In Its Plot, But Rather In Its Wise And Humane Look At Man S Constant Search For Happiness The Text Is Based On The Second Edition As Samuel Johnson Revised It