chapter
28 Pages

Introduction

Goldsmith's critical heritage is neither fruitful nor sanguine. It has preoccupied itself so consistently with the author's personal weaknesses and so triflingly with his strictly literary attainments, that one wonders -especially an editor-whether the 'heritage' is worth compiling. Throughout my search for relevant materials I continued to hope that enough documents would present themselves to make the arduous road worth travelling. But as I compiled, it became painfully clear that Goldsmith-the-writer, as opposed to the 'other Goldsmiths' (the pauper, the unlucky Irishman, the down-trodden hack), had attracted a paucity of thinkers: Goethe, Johnson, Scott, Thackeray, Hunta handful of important names but not nearly enough to constitute a tradition, a school, and, much less, a genuine 'critical heritage.' The scarcity of important criticism was so overwhelming that I could not help believe, in advance as it were, that those reviewers who would savage me, would have good reason. Other volumes in this series had already experienced a sad fate at the hand of reviewers,! despite the fact that the critical heritage of their authors had been much more impressive than Goldsmith's.