Dinarbas; by KNIGHT, Ellis Cornelia (1757-1837).

KNIGHT, Ellis Cornelia (1757-1837).

Dinarbas; A Tale: being a continuation of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia. The Fourth Edition. London, Cadell, 1800.

Fourth Edition. 12mo (169 x 105 mm), pp. xii, 309, [1], [1] advertisements, in contemporary calf, rather worn, both joints weakened, chipped at extremities, spine gilt in compartments, black morocco label lettered in gilt.

Fourth edition of Cornelia Ellis Knight's famous continuation of Johnson's Rasselas where the happy ending wanting in the original work is contrived. In the introduction, after a brief resumé of Johnson's novel, Knight cites Hawkins' Life of Johnson as her inspiration, where Hawkins states that Johnson 'had an intention of marrying his hero, and placing him in a state of permanent felicity'. What results, though it is well-construced, with a neat plot and convincing characterisation, is precisely the kind of romantic tale that Dr. Johnson disliked.

'It is no slight undertaking to pursue the steps of Johnson, and to endeavour to complete what he has left unfinished. A writer, greatly superior to the common rank, engaging in such a task, under so many disadvantages, could scarcely expect to succeed: it is no little credit to our author, that he has succeeded so well... It is a continuation which Johnson could not have disapproved, and which he probably would not have been ashamed to own' (Critical Review, n.s. 3: 116 (September 1791), quoted in Raven & Forster).

Sent to a school run by a Swiss pastor, Knight early received an excellent education in continental languages and literature. Through her mother, who was a close friend of Sir Joshua Reynolds, she became acquainted with Samuel Johnson and his circle. On her father's death, she and her mother moved to Italy, where they became intimate with Sir William and Lady Hamilton. It was there that Knight's verses on Nelson's victories earned her the nickname of 'Nelson's laureate'.

ESTC t66940; see Courtney & Nichol Smith p 94; Raven & Forster 1790: 51.

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