Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
The history of Rasselas, prince of Abissinia 1759
Rasselas is the son of an emperor and confined to the happy valley until ready to rule. He resents this situation and devises a way to leave and travel the world. He explores a number of avenues in his quest to discover what his "choice of life" ought to be, and what will make him happy on earth. He is generally smart, keen-witted, and rational, and submits to the guidance of Imlac.
3. In a talk with his old instructor, he told him that he fled from pleasure, he had no aspirations or ambitions in that place and he was tired of enjoying. Rasselas was not happy. The old man, surprised, told him that if he saw the miseries of the world, would appreciate what he had. Rasselas said he had to learn from these miseries and to be happy.
4. For a while, Rasselas pretended to regain interest in the amusements the palace, but he was already tired. One day, after a deep reflection in which he felt he had wasted a lot of time, he decided to think of a way to escape the Valley of Happiness.
5. Rasselas tried to find a way out for 10 months, but there was no chance. He lost hope and decided to stooped to find new methods for finding impossible departure. However, he wished to examine the behaviour of men and be alert to any possibility.
6. Usually several artists came to the valley to make comfort and pleasure to people, but one day came a character who caught much an attention to Rasselas. He was a creator with a lot of knowledge about the mechanical powers. The creator told Rasselas he wanted to invent wings to fly. Rasselas was interested in this project, and after a year a creator had tested it. However, the result was not expected, and Rasselas had to pull the creator of the lake, almost dead.
7. During a period heavy rainfalls, the only thing that enthused Rasselas was a poem, recited by Imlac on the conditions of humanity. The prince ordered him to attend in his room, and asked many questions. He entertained every day with teachings and innovations. One day, the prince asked Imlac to tell him his story about the reason that led him to end up in Happy Valley, but when he began the narrative, Rasselas was called to a concert.
8/13. Imlac is a son of a wealthy merchant who found pleasure in learning, came to despise riches, and preferred to live as a scholar. He traveled many places like Persia, Arabia and other countries. After that, he wanted to become a poet. Imlac returned home to twenty years of his departure and found that his father had died. He decided to enter the Happy Valley where he now admits he is not happy. Rasselas asks him for help to escape and although Imlac says it will be difficult and that Rasselas may repent, Rasselas did not stop thinking about it.