“The originality of Caleb Williams will be obvious to the student or general reader who encounters it in this exemplary addition to the Broadview [Editions] series. The editors provide a clear, thorough introduction that places the novel in its political, philosophical, and literary contexts, as well as a chronology and bibliography. Six appendices serve up generous helpings of the fruits of recent scholarship that illuminate the fiction’s relation to things as they were. Providing glimpses of Godwin at work, samples of ardent political discourse of the 1790s, and snippets of narrative by Holcroft, Wollstonecraft, Richardson, Defoe, and less well-known writers, the supplementary materials are fascinating in themselves.” Rachel M. Brownstein, The Graduate School and University Center, CUNY
Caleb Williamsby William Godwin
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William Godwin (1756-1836), the seventh of thirteen children, was raised by a dissenting minister, which accounts for his studies and work as a dissenting minister early in life. By 1782, Godwin had exposed himself to the optimism of Enlightenment philosophy through books and discussion, and so became more enthusiastic about the overthrow of all political, religious and social institutions. He turned to writing as a profession, and in the 1790s published his first of two novels: "Caleb Williams". The novel centers on two main characters, Caleb Williams, the naïve but courageous protagonist, and his employer, Ferdinando Falkland, a wealthy and respected landowner who is prone to distemper. Their story portrays what Godwin saw as a flawed society, where the rich elite held power over the poor and helpless. Historians have labeled the novel tragic, gothic romance, terror, sensation, or mystery, but regardless of its classification, this novel will invite readers to take a hard look at society and the human potential.
Meet the Author
Gary Handwerk is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Washington.
The late A.A. Markley was an Assistant Professor of English at Penn State University, Delaware County. Both have written extensively on Romantic literature, and have edited the Broadview edition of Godwin’s Fleetwood.
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