Ed. Henry M. Wallace
Short stories, as this anthology demonstrates, can help just as much, if not more, than novels and poems, to get a sense of the 18th century. They feature the same adventures of the body, the mind, or the soul that one finds in Robinson Crusoe, Pamela, or Tristram Shandy. The rake, the prostitute, and the bastard were the pitiful trinity of the social imaginary of the century. Most authors of the time were interested in all aspects of the task of “enlightening” and one has to understand their social and moral involvement in light of the disturbing realities of the era: slavery, gallows, deportation for the vagrant homeless, workhouses, highwaymen, pirates, and tens of thousands of prostitutes in London alone. Short stories of the 18th century thrived on chaos and on the freedom to experiment, which should make them quite appealing to today’s readers.
47 stories, some of them never before anthologized. Authors include: Ned Ward, Daniel Defoe, Richard Steele, Delarivier Manley, Joseph Addison, Thomas Gordon, Jonathan Swift, Eliza Haywood, Matthew Concanen, Erasmus Philips, Elizabeth Singer Rowe, Henry Fielding, Samuel Johnson, Christopher Smart, John Hawkesworth, Edward Moore, John Boyle, George Colman the Elder, Bonnell Thornton, Thomas Warton, Oliver Goldsmith, Alexander Kellet, Isaac Bickerstaff, Thomas Chatterton, John Aikin, Elizabeth Griffith, Henry Mackenzie, Leonard McNally, Horace Walpole, Alexander Fraser Tytler, Nathan Drake, Robert Burns, Mary Hays, Maria Edgeworth, Hannah More.