When Dr Primrose loses his fortune in a disastrous investment, his idyllic life in the country is shattered and he is forced to move with his wife and six children to an impoverished living on the estate of Squire Thornhill. Taking to the road in pursuit of his daughter, who has been seduced by the rakish Squire, the beleaguered Primrose becomes embroiled in a series of misadventures – encountering his long-lost son in a travelling theatre company and even spending time in a debtor’s prison. Yet Primrose, though hampered by his unworldliness and pride, is sustained by his unwavering religious faith. In The Vicar of Wakefield, Goldsmith gently mocks many of the literary conventions of his day – from pastoral and romance to the picaresque – infusing his story of a hapless clergyman with warm humour and amiable social satire.
In his introduction, Stephen Coote discusses Goldsmith’s eventful life, the literary devices used in the novel, and its central themes of Christianity, justice and the family. This edition also includes a bibliography and notes.