The New Student's Reference Work/Vicar of Wakefield, The

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Vi′car of Wakefield, The, an idylic novel written by Oliver Goldsmith (1766). Goethe called it one of the best novels ever written. The chief character is Dr. Primrose, a worthy but simple-minded country clergyman whose poverty and unworldliness lay him open to petty swindles and misfortunes, which are ultimately righted. Throughout the story the reader is kept in a pure and healthy atmosphere. Though the novel can scarcely be said to have a plot, it gained immediate popularity because it so perfectly expressed the homely English sentiment. Its feeling for nature showed the approach of the romantic movement. It was translated into several continental languages. Its excellence is found in its simplicity, naturalness, truth, sweetness, purity of atmosphere, kindly humor and charming delineation of character, while the moral struggle depicted lacks in strenuousness.