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Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia by Samuel Johnson
By: (1709-1784)

Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia is a philosophical novel that follows the journey of the title character, Rasselas, as he searches for the true meaning of happiness. Written by Samuel Johnson, this thought-provoking and engaging tale explores themes of human nature, fate, and the pursuit of fulfillment.

The novel is set in the fictional kingdom of Abyssinia, where Rasselas lives a sheltered and luxurious life within the walls of the Happy Valley. However, despite his privileged upbringing, Rasselas is restless and yearns for a deeper understanding of the world beyond his gilded confines. Along with his companions, Rasselas embarks on a series of adventures and encounters various individuals who hold differing perspectives on the nature of happiness.

Johnson's narrative is vivid and descriptive, drawing the reader into the exotic and mysterious world of Abyssinia. The characters are well-developed and multi-faceted, offering insightful commentary on the complexities of human desires and aspirations. Through Rasselas's journey, Johnson raises important questions about the nature of contentment, the pursuit of knowledge, and the role of fate in shaping our destinies.

Overall, Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia is a captivating and thought-provoking novel that will appeal to readers who enjoy philosophical exploration and moral reflection. Johnson's writing is eloquent and engaging, making this a timeless classic that continues to resonate with audiences today.

Book Description:

In this enchanting fable (subtitled The Choice of Life), Rasselas and his retinue burrow their way out of the totalitarian paradise of the Happy Valley in search of that triad of eighteenth-century aspiration – life, liberty and happiness.
According to that quirky authority, James Boswell, Johnson penned his only work of prose fiction in a handful of days to cover the cost of his mother’s funeral. The stylistic elegance of the book and its wide-ranging philosophical concerns give no hint of haste or superficiality.
Among other still burning issues Johnson’s characters pursue questions of education, colonialism, the nature of the soul and even climate alteration.
Johnson’s profoundest concern, however, is with the alternating attractions of solitude and social participation, seen not only as the ultimate life-choice but as the arena in which are played out the deepest fears of the individual: “Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of Reason.”

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