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Oliver Goldsmith: The Eighteenth Century Triple Threat

 

Oliver Goldsmith is yet another Irish-born prodigy: the hick from the sticks that makes good in the big city of London.  He is a "tweener" in the sense that he is not known for his in-depth oeuvre in any one literary area but for his singular achievements in three disparate areas: the novel (The Vicar of Wakefield), the play (She Stoops to Conquer) and the poem (The Traveller and The Deserted Village).  I can think of several literary theories that excelled in two areas (Thomas Hardy and Shakespeare leap to mind) but I am hard pressed to think of another triple threat.  Unfortunately, this has also worked against Goldsmith's popularity since he does not fit neatly into any one category (even Dr. Johnson is thought of as predominantly an essayist even though he is more akin to a literary polymath).  Goldsmith, instead, is like a number of literary figures from the Eighteenth Century, toiling away in the literary vineyards with no concept that he was expected to stay in one field, let alone in one row.  Just imagine the freedom he didn't even know he had: to be great in areas that now are seen as very distinct and separate.  Since he didn't know, he was able to excel in them all.  That, makes him, one of my literary heroes.

If you want to know more about Oliver Goldsmith here's some links to check out:

The San Antonio College Oliver Goldsmith Page

A Short Biography of Oliver Goldsmith

Selected Poetry of Oliver Goldsmith

Searchable Complete Poems of Oliver Goldsmith

 

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