• Samuel Johnson's 'Rasselas': The Duplicity of Choice and the Sense of an Ending

    Author(s):
    José Angel García Landa (see profile)
    Date:
    1990
    Group(s):
    Narrative theory and Narratology
    Subject(s):
    Samuel Johnson, 18th-century English literature, English literature, Narratology
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    English fiction, 18th-century fiction, Closure
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6TV9M
    Abstract:
    Samuel Johnson's philosophical novel 'The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia' deals with "the choice of life." This phrase, which is emphasized several times throughout the novel, is also its shortest conceivable summary. The issue of that choice, however, is not clear. In spite of Johnson's well-turned aphorisms, Rasselas' choice of life remains inconclusive. Worse still, a study of the response to the work throughout its life reveals that the readers of the book have interpreted this inconclusiveness, and the doctrine of the book as a whole, in widely different ways—the implied authorial attitude of the work has proved difficult to discern. These disagreements reveal some tensions in the thematic structure of the novel and in Johnson's system of morals. The status of Johnson's novel as a literary artifact seems to work against its purported moral content. A comprehensive interpretation of 'Rasselas' cannot see it as the seamless product of its author's intention.
    Notes:
    Written in 1989.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    6 months ago
    License:
    Attribution
    Share this:

    Downloads

    Item Name:pdf rasselas.pdf
     Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 32