Caleb Williams

Caleb Williams


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The reputation of WILLIAM GODWIN as a social philosopher, and the merits of his famous novel, "Caleb Williams," have been for more than a century the subject of extreme divergencies of judgment among critics. "The first systematic anarchist," as he is called by Professor Saintsbury, aroused bitter contention with his writings during his own lifetime, and his opponents have remained so prejudiced that even the staid bibliographer Allibone, in his "Dictionary of English Literature," a place where one would think the most flagitious author safe from animosity, speaks of Godwin's private life in terms that are little less than scurrilous. Over against this persistent acrimony may be put the fine eulogy of Mr. C. Kegan Paul, his biographer, to represent the favourable judgment of our own time, whilst I will venture to quote one remarkable passage that voices the opinions of many among Godwin's most eminent contemporaries.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780192553317
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/15/1970
Series: Oxford English Novels Ser.
Pages: 351

About the Author

William Godwin (1756–1836), radical philospher and novelist, was an important figure in the transition from Enlightenment thinking to Romanticism during the early nineteenth century. He married Mary Wollstonecraft, who died shortly after giving birth to their daughter, the novelist Mary Shelley.

Maurice Hindle edited Frankenstein and Dracula for Penguin Classics and teaches at the Open University.

Table of Contents

William Godwin: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text
Preface to the 1794 Edition

Caleb Williams

Appendix A: The Composition of the Novel

  1. The Original Manuscript Ending of the Novel
  2. Godwin’s Account of the Composition of the Novel from the Preface to the 1832 “Standard Novels” Edition of Fleetwood
  3. Godwin’s Account of the Novel’s Aims, from the British Critic (July 1795)
  4. Godwin’s Essay, “Of History and Romance” (1797)

Appendix B: The Foundations of the Novel: Godwin’s Political Philosophy and England in the 1790s

  1. Select British Responses to the French Revolution
    1. From Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790)
    2. From Thomas Paine, Rights of Man (1791)
  2. From William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1793)
  3. From William Godwin, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice (1796)
  4. From Godwin’s Correspondence

Appendix C: Criminal Lives and the State of the Prisons

  1. From the Account of Jack Sheppard, in The Malefactor’s Register; or the Newgate Calendar (1779)
  2. From John Howard, The State of the Prisons (1777)

Appendix D: Literary Influences: Crime and Pursuit Narratives and Scenes of Confrontation

  1. From Mateo Alemán, Guzmán de Alfarache (1599)
  2. From The History of Mile, de St. Phale (1691)
  3. From Daniel Defoe, Colonel Jack (1722)
  4. From Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1740-41)
  5. From Thomas Holcroft, Anna St. Ives (1792)

Appendix E: The Influence of Caleb Williams

  1. From George Colman, The Iron Chest (1796)
  2. From Mary Wollstonecraft, The Wrongs of Woman: or, Maria (1798)

Appendix F: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From the Critical Review (July 1794)
  2. From the British Critic (July 1794)
  3. From the British Critic (April 1795)
  4. From the Monthly Review (September 1794)
  5. From the Analytical Review (January 1795)
  6. From James Mackintosh, Review of Godwin’s “Lives of Edward and John Philips,” Edinburgh Review (October 1815)
  7. From William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age (1825)
  8. Review of the 1831 edition of Caleb Williams, New Monthly Magazine (May 1831)

Works Cited/Recommended Reading

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Caleb Williams 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
AlexTheHunn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Godwin depicts Caleb Williams as an unforunate who is bedeviled by a relentless monster of a man who will be conten with nothing less than total ruin. The narrative is in the first person. Only gradually does the reader come to realize how much Caleb William himself is the blame for his own troubles; moreover one begins to wonder if this is a portrait of madness. Is there truly a pursuer bent on his destruction. Whatever the outcome, Godwin's prose keeps the reader interested. Godwin was married to Mary Wolstonecraft and was the step-father (perhaps father) of Mary Shelly who wrote Frankenstein.