The agreeable eye

an eudæmonistarchives


There are some who object to the use of novels for the proliferation of philosophical principles, but I cannot say that I am usually one of them. Reading this unhappy cross between Vathek and Candide almost alters my opinion, though. Inasmuch as Vathek is more entertaining, and Candide is more vicious (or vice versa), I cannot recommend Rasselas as anything other than a benignant uncle of a novellas, mumbling truisms such as:

If the eye of hostility could learn reverence or pity, excellence like yours had been exempt from injury. But the angels of affliction spread their toils alike for the virtuous and the wicked, for the mighty and the mean. Do not be disconsolate… (ch. 38)

Most readers, though, are likely to concur with the opinion of one literary heroine:

…a brief examination convinced me that the contents were less taking than the title: ‘Rasselas’ looked dull to my trifling taste; I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety seemed spread over the closely-printed pages. I returned it to her; she received it quietly…

Jane Eyre, Ch. 5.


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