Rasselas: Prince of Abyssinia.
John B. Alden: 1887.
A short classic about a young prince who leaves his overprotective castle to search the world for happiness — or, the way to live happily. He is joined by his sister and an older “man of learning,” Imlac, on his quest.
Along their way, they meet with a variety of people who seem happy: farmer, hermit, scientist, philosopher, ruler, etc.; yet each one declares himself to be unhappy. Eventually, they decide to return to Abyssinia.
Johnson’s cynicism and pessimism are laughable at times, probably intentionally. Rasselas intends to find a life of continual ease and happiness — such as his father intended for him at Abyssinia — yet despite his own experience and observations, he his unable to see that struggle and strife are necessar to experience true happiness.