Title: The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia
Author: Samuel Johnson
Publisher: Printed Under the Inspection of the Literary Association, London. 1796
Condition: Leather spine with boards. Noticeable wear to spine and boards. Binding tight, text clean except for stain on page 61, text still legible. Inscription on title page, no other markings. Minor foxing/tanning to endpapers. Good for its age.
Rasselas and his companions escape the pleasures of the “happy valley” in order to make their “choice of life.” By witnessing the misfortunes and miseries of others they come to understand the nature of happiness, and value it more highly. Their travels and enquiries raise important practical and philosophical questions concerning many aspects of the human condition, including the business of a poet, the stability of reason, the immortality of the soul, and how to find contentment.
Johnson’s adaptation of the popular oriental tale displays his usual wit and perceptiveness; skeptical and probing, his tale nevertheless suggests that wisdom and self-knowledge need not be entirely beyond reach.