Oliver Goldsmith : Literary Contribution

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      Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) was an important literary figure of the second half of the eighteenth century. Born at Pallas, a small village in country Longford, in Ireland of a poor family he proceeded to Trinity College, Dublin. He tried various careers-law, medicine, and playing the flute at various places. He graduated as a doctor from Padua. He, however, could not settle down to a career. He made desperate attempts at making a living. In succession, he was apothecary's assistant, printer's reader, usher in a school, and finally publisher's hack and a denizen of Grub street. His writings drew the attention of famous persons like Dr. Johnson. Then his fortune and fame began to rise.

Goldsmith's first poem, The Traveller (1764) deals with his wanderings through Europe. The poem, about four hundred lines in length is written in the heroic and is a series of descriptions and criticisms of the places and peoples of which he had experience.
Oliver Goldsmith

      Goldsmith's first poem, The Traveller (1764) deals with his wanderings through Europe. The poem, about four hundred lines in length is written in the heroic and is a series of descriptions and criticisms of the places and peoples of which he had experience. His only other poem The Deserted Viulage (770) deals with the memories of his youth. His natural description have the charm and genuine feeling. His father who was the curate of the village is idealised in the poem. Goldsmith may be called a transition poet because his poems have emotions - they combine humour with pathos. The ballad called The Hermit is done in a sentimental fashion. He wrote witty Elegy on the Death of a mad Dog. ln his broad humanity of outlook and in the simplicity and humour and pathos he anticipates the coming age.

      Oliver Goldsmith wrote two prose comedies, both of which rank high among their class. The Good-Natured Man (1768) and She Stoops to Conquer (1773) made a reaction to sentimental drama that dominated the literary scene of the eighteenth century. He revived the Comedy of Manners minus the grossness of the Restoration Comedy The Good-Natured Man was not successful on the stage, but She Stoops to Conquer has an immense popularity because of its hilarious laughter and romantic appeal

      Goldsmith has prose works of astonishing range and variety. The Citizen of the World (1759) is a series of imaginary letters from a Chinaman whose comments on English society are both simple and shrewd. These series was contributed to The Public Ledger, a popular magazine. He wrote many other essays in the manner of Addison, and his prose style is lucid and easy. His novel, The Vicar of Wakefield (1766) an important work of fiction. The plot is simple, though sometimes complicated and inconsistent, the characters are human and attractive; the Vicar's character is depicted with pathos and humour. He also wrote The History of England and An History of Earth and Animated Nature, a kind of text book on natural history. These books are not important by themselves but they show the range and volume of his works.

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