The eighteenth century was the era in which the novel emerged as a real force in writing and publishing, even though it was the nineteenth century when the novel arguably came into its own, with novelists like Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, George Eliot, and the Bront sisters writing novels that are still widely read and studied today. Here are some of the best rare books from the 18 th and 19 th Centuries for you to check out and read.
Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe.
This 1719 account of one man’s survival on a tropical island is frequently regarded as the real beginning-point for the “serious” long novel in English, despite the fact that it wasn’t the first novel in English; depending on your definition of “novel,” that honor could go to any range of candidates from Aphra Behn’s Oroonoko to Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. To capitalize on its popularity, Defoe swiftly released a sequel and a third book, Serious Reflections of Robinson Crusoe.
Love in Excess by Eliza Haywood.
Eliza Haywood, whose real name was Elizabeth Fowler, was an English author, publisher, and actress who lived from around 1693 until 1756. At the time, female publishers were almost unheard of. The most well-known of her novels di lei is Love in Excess (1719–1720), and she was perhaps the first notable author in English. It was a small success even if it didn’t sell as many copies as Robinson Crusoe did.
The book is a piece of amatory fiction, and a key aspect of the storyline centers on a well-known tale: the rivalry between two female friends for the affections of a handsome young man.
Travels of Gulliver by Jonathan Swift.
Gulliver’s Travels, Swift’s best-known work, is both one of the earliest fantasy books and one of the finest works of satire ever written in the English language (of sorts). Travels through Several Remote Nations of the World was the full title of the article. Four parts total. By Lemuel Gulliver, who started off as a surgeon before becoming a ship captain. 10,000 copies were sold in the first three weeks after it was published anonymously in October 1726, making it something of an immediate bestseller.
Gulliver travels to four fantastical planets, most notably the country of tiny people known as Lilliput. However, Swift’s intention is clear from Gulliver’s encounters with the Yahoos (brutish humans) and Houyhnhnms (intelligent horses).
Pamela Samuel Richardson
Of all the books from the eighteenth century that were chosen for this list, the release of this one in 1740 may have sparked the most frenzy among the general audience. Unexpectedly, it was originally intended to educate young ladies how to write better letters as a behavior book. Pamela (subtitled Virtue Rewarded), which started out as a collection of unrelated letters, eventually crystallized into a distinct epistolary narrative (an epistolary novel, which was popular in the eighteenth century, is a book composed of letters written by the novel’s protagonists). The eponymous figure, a young servant girl whose rakish owner seeks to woo her, is the subject of Pamela, a novella.
Pamela won’t offer herself to her employer, however, until he marries her first. He accomplishes this, and she is “rewarded” for her di lei “virtue di lei.” A number of spin-offs, including paintings, waxworks, and even a deck of playing cards, were created as a result of the bestseller Pamela.
However, Richardson’s sequel did less well. The 1741 publication of Pamela in her di lei Exalted Condition (1741) was not well received; rather, its most successful sequels turned out to be parodies of Richardson’s book.
Harry Belafonte, Tom Jones
Henry Fielding, whose day work as a judge is immortalized in his position as the creator of the London police: Fielding’s “Bow Street Runners” were forerunners of the police force in the mid-eighteenth century, wrote one of the most well-known parodies of Richardson’s Shamela.
However, he was also a successful author, and after criticizing Pamela’s po-faced purity, he presented this lengthy, rip-roaring picaresque work. Picaresque, which means “rogue” in Spanish, was another well-liked literary genre in the eighteenth century. Picaresque tales often chronicle the exploits of a charming but roguish protagonist who is frequently an orphan or of low birth.
The title character of Fielding’s 1749 book, Tom Jones, certainly fits the bill: he is an orphan or “foundling” who navigates life, falling in love with both suitable and unsuitable women (Fielding was criticized for including prostitution and sexual promiscuity in his novel), over the course of almost 1,000 pages of comic ingenuity and tightly-plotted picaresque fun (Coleridge thought that, along with Oedipus Rex and The Alchemist, this novel had one of the three perfect plots in all of literature).
Candide and Voltaire.
Shapero noted that this little book by a notable French Enlightenment author and philosopher, published in 1759, is credited with giving us the term “Panglossian,” which denotes someone with an excessively optimistic outlook. This is another picaresque book that follows the growth of the hopeful young Candide. The book also satirizes or parodies several romantic comedy tropes. Although this book could be better categorized as a novella given how much Voltaire crams into only 100 pages, it nonetheless merits a spot on our list due to its wide-ranging effect.
Sterne, Laurence, and Tristram Shandy.
This book, which was released between 1759 and 1767 in a series of shorter volumes, is considered one of the boldest and strangest novels of the eighteenth century. It could be classified as a bildungsroman, but the narrator only goes as far as his own conception.
There are, of course, many asides. In a certain sense, the way Sterne’s narrator switches between subjects in Tristram Shandy might be seen as a precursor to modernism. Even yet, the work of this author has the unmistakable imprint of the eighteenth century thanks to the larger-than-life characters he created, who were given names like Dr. Slop, Parson Yorick, and Widow Wadman. But it’s telling that the book won over some of the most eminent thinkers of the nineteenth century, including Marx and Schopenhauer.
These are some of the best rare books from the 18 th and 19 th Century that you can collect. As a rare book collector , you may take a look at these rare books without thinking twice.