Oliver Goldsmith: The Traveller: A Prospect of Society

(855 words)
  • Paul Baines (University of Liverpool)

From February 1755 to February 1756 Goldsmith was on the Continent, performing a somewhat impecunious version of the Grand Tour. At some point on these travels he began composition of a major poem combining landscape description with musings on the characteristics of different nations. Goldsmith admired Addison's verse Letter from Italy (1703), which probably formed one of his models, alongside well-known “prospect” poems such as Sir John Denham's Cooper's Hill (1642) and Pope's Windsor-Forest (1713). But the poem also participates in a busy European debate on national characters inaugurated by Montesquieu's L'Esprit des Lois (1748). After returning to England, Goldsmith painstakingly revised and …

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Baines, Paul. "The Traveller: A Prospect of Society". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 11 July 2003
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=7969, accessed 28 November 2015.]