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The Citizen of the World by Oliver Goldsmith


The Citizen of the World by Oliver GoldsmithEighteenth century, two highly cultured Chinese are measured correspondence – mostly about life in London. In the middle of the book in correspondence wedged the letter of the son of one of the Chinese – he reports to the father that was sold in Persia in slavery and met there, in the harem of a cruel Sultan, a beautiful slave Zelide, fell in love, ran with it, lost it, etc.

This gallant story is somewhat enlivens the narrative, but… There is one caveat – the author has never been to China, and the Chinese from time to time does no longer resemble the Chinese and starting to look like the enlightened British, but a little strange. The second important point – the author has long earned that wrote essays on any topic. Quite any. He criticized historical treatises, poems, novels, medical treatises on diseases of cattle in England and the treatment of hemorrhoids and other. Books were published much. And in fact, in my head he had the present a lot of facts about everything and sometimes absolutely wild.

So when he writes about life in England, writes not only about English customs, but also about France, Persia, Russia, Japan, India… Here, for example, a stunning story about Koryak. Like the Koryak aristocracy buys Russian merchants special kind of mushrooms and then arranges mushroom feasts where all drink of the intoxicating mushroom broth, having a great time. Just as the Koryaks, who can’t afford to get drunk Russian mushrooms are waiting outside “of the longed-for hour when the ladies and gentlemen felt the need to relieve myself, go out on the air. Then they set up a wooden bucket and caught in the delicious moisture, which, almost unchanged from a similar filter continues to retain its intoxicating properties. With great pleasure and they drink it, be drunk, just having fun, as their noble people”.

Ethen, of course, describes the case as a metaphor of social relations, but people with a rich imagination is a long time to get rid of this wooden tub (by the way, Yes, it’s true). And the third thing that makes itself felt – because of the distance of the person from the twenty-first century cultural context, and also because the author does not always share the opinion of his fellow Chinese, it is sometimes very difficult to understand where the author is joking, and where said seriously.

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