The History of Rasselas: Prince of Abissinia


The plot is simple in the extreme. Rasselas, son of the King of Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia), is shut up in a beautiful valley, "till the order of succession should call him to the throne".[3] He grows weary of the factitious entertainments of the place, and after much brooding escapes with his sister Nekayah, her attendant Pekuah and his poet-friend Imlac. They are to see the world and search for happiness, but after some sojourn in Egypt, where they encounter various classes of society and undergo a few mild adventures, they perceive the futility of their search and abruptly return to Abyssinia.[4]

Local color is almost nonexistent and episodic elements, e.g. the story of Imlac and that of the mad astronomer, abound. There is little of incident, no love-making, with few endeavours to charm the fancy, and with but slight recognition of the claims of sentiment.[4]

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