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A. ANGLO- Saxon period (5th - 10th centuries)
During the first five centuries of our era and long before that, Britain was inhabited by a people called Kelts, who lived in tribes. Britain’s history is considered to begin in the 5th century, when it was invaded from the Continent by the fighting tribes of Angles, Saxons and Jutes. At the very end of the 5th century they settled in Britain and began to call themselves English (after the principal tribe of settlers, called English). Although we know very little of this period from literature some poems have nevertheless reached us. In those early days songs called epics were created in many countries. The epics tell about the most remarkable events of a people’s history and the deeds of one or more heroic personages.
The Song of Beowulf
The first masterpiece of English literature, the epic poem The Song of Beowulf, describes the historical past of the land from which the Angles, Saxons and Jutes came. They brought the subject over from the Continent when they invaded Britain, and it was made into a poem somewhere about the 7th century. The story of Beowulf tells of the time when kings Hrothgar ruled the Danes. Hrothgar built a great house for himself and his man. It has a large hall with flat stones in the centre. All the men slept in this hall. There was a great feast when the hall was built. During the feast the songs from the hall were heard by a monster that lived at the bottom of a lonely lake. The gay songs irritated him. When all Hrothgar’s men were asleep, Grendel, the monster, appeared. He seized thirty of the sleeping men, carried them away and ate them. Night after night the man disappeared one after another, until Hrothgar had lost nearly all of them. One day the men that guarded the coast saw a ship approaching the shores of Denmark from Norway. A young Viking was on board, tall and strong as a young oak-tree. It was Beowulf, who had heard of Grendel and his doings, He had come to help Hrothgar to kill the monster. He was received with great joy by Hrothgar, who gave a feast in his honour. When the men lay down to sleep after the feast, Grendel appeared in the dark hall. He seized Beowulf ad a great struggle began. In this struggle the monster lost his arm, but ran away. Again there was singing and joy in the hall the next night. But late a night a still more terrible monster, a Water Witch, appeared. She was Grendel’s mother who had come to kill Beowulf, but she did not find him and disappeared, carrying away one of the best of Hrothgar’s men. The next day Beowulf went after her and found her a the dead body of Grendel. With an old sword of the giants that he found there Beowulf killed the Water Witch and cut off Grendel’s head. Carrying the head he came back to the men who were waiting for him. Later, he returned to his own people with rich presents from Hrothgar. The second part of the poems tells us of Beowulf’s deeds when he was king of Norway. A fiery dragon was destroying his country. Beowulf found the dragon’s cave and a lot of treasure in it.
Beowulf saved his country- he killed the dragon, but the monster wounded him with his fiery breath. Beowulf died and his people buried him on a high cliff by the seashore. Over his grave raised a mound and rode around it, singing a song of mourning. Thus, the epic The song of Beowulf, tells of some events from a people’s history, sings the heroic deeds of a man, his courage and his desire of justice, his love for his people and self- sacrifice for the sake of his country. The poem is a classical example of Anglo-Saxon poetry. It has no rhyme, but each line has alliteration, which is a repetition, at close interval, of the same consonant in words or syllables. For example, the repetition of the sounds b and f in the following lines makes them musical and gives them rhyme: Then the baleful fiend its fire belched out, And bring home burned. The blaze stood high And land folk fighting Another interesting feature of the poem is the use of picture names that show the subject in a new light. The unknown poet calls the sea a ‘sail-road’, or ‘sat-stream’, the musical instruments ‘joy-wood’, ‘glee-wood’, etc. These descriptive words, together with the subject, are called double metaphors.
B. Anglo- Norman period (11th-13th centuries)
1. Background In the year 1066, in the Battle of Hastings, the Anglo- Saxon king’s army was defeated by William, Duke of Normandy, who became King of England. A strong feudal monarchy was established in the country. The ruling classes consisted of the Norman nobility and the clergy. The power of the Catholic Church had become very great. Most of the English people became serfs. The Normans came from the north-west of France. They brought with them the culture of their country and the French language. Thus, three languages were spoken in England. The language of the nobility was French; the churchmen used Latin and the common people spoke Anglo- Saxon. The three social classes of the country had their own literature. The Normans brought the romance to England. The romance told of love and adventure and expressed the ideas of knighthood in feudal society. The literature of the Church was scholastic, moralizing, and it supported the feudal system. The books written in Latin by monks, taught the common people that they should be poor and obey their masters. Their suffering on earth, the Church said, would bring them happiness in heaven. The Anglo- Saxon composed their own popular poetry. The main genres were the fabliaux- funny stories about townspeople, and the bestiaries- stories in which the characters were animals. 2. Famous writers & their works
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
We can make special mention of only one other romance, which all students should read in modern translation, namely, 'Sir Gawain (pronounced Gaw'-wain) and the Green Knight.' This is the brief and carefully constructed
work of an unknown but very real poetic artist, who lived a century and more later than Laghamon and probably a little earlier than Chaucer. The story consists of two old folk-tales, here finely united in the form of an Arthurian romance and so treated as to bring out all the better side of knightly feeling, with which the author is in charming sympathy. Like many other medieval writings, this one is preserved by mere chance in a single manuscript, which contains also three slightly shorter religious poems (of a thousand or two lines apiece), all possibly by the same author as the romance. One of them in particular, 'The Pearl,' is a narrative of much fine feeling, which may well have come from so true a gentleman as he. The dialect is that of the Northwest Midland, scarcely more intelligible to modern readers than Anglo-Saxon, but it indicates that the author belonged to the same border region between England and Wales from which came also Geoffrey of Monmouth and Laghamon, a region where Saxon and Norman elements were mingled with Celtic fancy and delicacy of temperament. The meter, also, is interesting--the Anglo-Saxon unrimed alliterative verse, but divided into long stanzas of irregular length, each ending in a 'bob' of five short riming lines. 'Sir Gawain and the Green Knight' may very fittingly bring to a close our hasty survey of the entire NormanFrench period, a period mainly of formation, which has left no literary work of great and permanent fame, but in which, after all, there were some sincere and talented writers, who have fallen into forgetfulness rather through the untoward accidents of time than from lack of genuine merit in themselves. C. The Pre-Renaissance (14th -15th centuries) 1. Background In this period, the fight between English, Latin & French came to an end. In 1362, the Parliament decided to use English at courts. In 1399, Henry IV, the first king whose mother tongue was English came to the throne. In 1485, after the war of the Roses (1455 – 1485), the Tudor Age (1485 – 1603), an age that witnessed the growth and prosperity of the Renaissance, began. 2. Features of literature trends: Folklore & Drama 2.1. Anglo-Saxon folklore Anglo-Saxon folklore continued its vigorous vitality and flourished in the 15th century ballads. Originally, a ballad was a song intended as the accompaniment to a dance. The standard ballad verse form is a quatrain, often with one rhyming pair. Most of the 15th century ballads are centered on a legendary hero of the English people: Robin Hood. 2.2. Drama The drama was born in the church. In the early times, the clergymen explained the truths of religion by a series of living pictures in which the performers acted in dumb show. Later, the actors spoke as well as acted their parts. The plays were known as Mysteries and Miracles. The performance of these stories in church marked the first stage in the development of drama. The second stage was reached when the Mysteries and Miracle gave place to Morality and Interlude. The serious and comic elements in the Mysteries and Miracle were now
separated. The Morality was didactic and the characters typified certain qualities such as Sin, Grace, and Repentance. The Interlude was comic and aimed at amusement. The forth stage saw the beginning of English tragedy and comedy. The Renaissance saw the flourishing of English drama. 3. Famous writers & their works Geoffrey Chaucer and Canterbury Tales Geoffrey Chaucer was considered the most famous writer at this time. He was the last poet of the Middle Age and the first poet who paved the way for English realistic literature. Chaucer was the author of a number of translations and literary works: Le roman de la rose (translation), The Book of the Duchess. The Canterbury Tales is his most important work. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories in verse told by people of different social standing. Chaucer had planned 120 stories but wrote only 24 because death broke off his work. The Canterbury Tales begins with the General Prologue, a detailed introduction and description of each of the pilgrims journeying to Canterbury to catch sight of the shrine to Sir Thomas a Becket, the martyred saint of Christianity, supposedly buried in the Cathedral of Canterbury since 1170. The pilgrims, a mixture of virtuous and villainous characters from Medieval England, include a Knight, his son the Squire, the Knight's Yeoman, a Prioress, a Second Nun, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, a Man of Law, a Franklin, a Weaver, a Dyer, a Carpenter, a Tapestry-Maker, a Haberdasher, a Cook, a Shipman, a Physician, a Parson, a Miller, a Manciple, a Reeve, a Summoner, a Pardoner, the Wife of Bath, and Chaucer himself. They each bring a slice of England to the trip with their stories of glory, chivalry, Christianity, villainy, disloyalty, cuckoldry, and honor. Some pilgrims are faithful to Christ and his teachings, while others openly disobey the church and its law of faithfulness, honor, and modesty. The pilgrimage begins in April, a time of happiness and rebirth. They pilgrims hope not only to travel in this blessed time, but to have a rebirth of their own along the way. The pilgrimage consists of these characters journeying to Canterbury and back, each telling two tales in each direction, as suggested by the host. At the conclusion of the tales, the host will decide whose story is the best. The Knight is the first to tell a story, one made up properly of honor and chivalry. His tale is followed by the Miller's opposite tale of dishonor and frivolity. Chaucer frequently places tales of religion and Christ-like worship with tales of unfaithful women and cuckolded men. The Reeve, the Cook, and the Man of Law tell the next stories, while the host interjects his opinions throughout. There are several rivalries that grow from within the intertext, including the small quarrels between the Friar and Summoner and between the Miller and Reeve. Between each tale, most pilgrims have a prologue, in which they tell about themselves or allow Chaucer to illustrate the dynamics of the group. The Friar and the Summoner develop a minor feud, in which they each tell tales of ill-will towards the other's profession, and the Pardoner brings his own immoral behavior into the Tales. The Wife of Bath is a memorable
character and is often thought of as a primordial feminist who acts on her own terms instead of those of the man. The Canterbury Tales are not fully completed, for the original task of having each pilgrim tell two tales is never realized. Furthermore, two of the tales are begun and then suddenly cut off before their grand conclusion, such as the Squire's Tale and the Tale of Sir Thopas. Some of the pilgrims never even tell one story, such as the Tapestry-Maker and the Haberdasher, and the destination of Canterbury is not explicitly mentioned in the pilgrims' prologues or Chaucer's Retraction. Chaucer concludes his tales with a Retraction, asking for mercy and forgiveness from those whom he may have offended along his course of storytelling and pilgrimage. He hopes to blame his ignorance and lack of education on any erroneous behavior or language, for he believes that his intentions were all moralistic and honorable. In the end, he gives all credit to Jesus Christ.
Chapter II: literature of the RENAISSANCE I. Cultural – Historical Background
The word’ Renaissance’ was first used by Jules Michelet, a French historian (1780-1874). First of all, ‘Renaissance’ means not only ‘the revived interest in Greek and Roman literatures’ but also ‘the discovery of the world and human beings’. More than that, it implies ‘the awakening of men’s mind, the awakening of individual spirit and secularism’. 1. Renaissance: the revived interest in Greek and Roman literatures It is obvious that, in the Middle Ages, people did read and study Greek and Roman literatures, but the number of readers of these literatures was very limited among scholars and literary men. Now, thanks to Petrarch’s and Boccacio’s enthusiasm in propagating the spirit of humanism in Greek and Roman literatures, and thanks to the invention of the printing machine, the number of readers of ancient writers increased greatly and the reading and studying of Greek and Roman literatures became an interest. In this period, the spirit of humanism became assimilated with the studying of those literatures. 2. Renaissance: the discovery of the world and human beings The Renaissance was a great age of geographical and scientific discoveries. In geographical field, Christopher Columbus discovered America; Amerigo Vespucci and Vasco da Gama discovered the Philippines; Magellan travelled around the world and discovered several lads and islands. These great geographical discoveries opened new horizons and bright prospects for European people; they longed to discover other continents and people. In scientific field, Newton discovered ‘Law of Gravity’, Galileo and Copernicus discovered the stars and the stellar systems, and Kepler discovered the orbits of planets. These scientific discoveries had deep influence on the concepts of the Middle Ages about the position ad destiny of men in the Universe. In the Middle Ages, men completely lost their values and position. The Church of Rome taught them that men were symbols of evils and sins, that they were slaves in this temporary world. They lived and waited for their emancipation from this earthly hopeless life. They lived and prepared themselves for future life in paradise. In the Renaissance, men were reborn. They began to accept this world with a much more optimistic attitude. They enjoyed their present life and realized this earthly life was beautiful ad interesting, that men ha the right to live and enjoy everything on earth. 3. Renaissance: the awakening of men’s mind, the awakening of individual spirit and secularism Middle Ages men despised materialistic and sexual desires. Renaissance men were quite different: new land discoveries, new luxurious life, new economic political and social life all created new will and eagerness in them. Spiritually, they began to lead a revolt against the strict, cramped and austere pattern of life in the Middle Ages. In this age there was also a great shift in the outlook. The thought of the Middle Ages was essentially Godcentred. But humanism, by its very nature, placed a new importance on created things. This emphasis on the importance of temporal things led to a de-emphasis of God and the eternal life. Renaissance men were no more
subordinated to God. Their happiness was here, on earth, and it depended on their own strength and ability to achieve it. Men were their own guides to truth ad happiness. II. The Elizabethan Drama 1. Origin Records of drama in English go back to the Middle Ages, a period in which numerous 'Miracle' and 'Morality' plays were written. Such plays were often based on biblical themes, especially those involving such miraculous events as the saving of Noah and his family in the ark, or those from which a clear moral could be drawn. Medieval plays were usually written to coincide with such religious festivals as Christmas or Easter. They were at first performed in the churches, but later on, the ‘Miracles’ were played on movable stages in the streets. Out of the ‘Miracles’ arose the ‘moralities’, in which virtues and vices such as Sin, Grace, Repentance, Hope, Belief, Justice, were personified. A humorous element soon crept into these allegorical productions, which became a vehicle for satire. On the other hand, ‘Interludes’ (dramatic dialogues with song and clowneries) were sometimes introduced into them in order to relieve the attention of the spectators. These interludes- in which the characters were generally drawn from real life- enjoyed great popularity and soon assumed an independent existence; from them the English Drama was directly evolved. 3. Theatres and Performances at the Close of the 16th Century From the beginning of the 16th century, there had been in England numerous companies of actors playing either in London or in provincial towns. But they were regarded by many people as ‘rogues and vagabond’ and their social status was very uncertain until 1572, when it was provided that actors should be authorized to play under the protection of some powerful personage: the company would bear its protector’s name, and the players be called his ‘servants’. Performances were at first given in inn-yard, the actors playing on a field platform erected on trestles; later on, regular theatres were built. The companies of actors did not comprise any women: the feminine parts were played by boys whose voice had not yet broken. 3. The Elizabethan Drama Elizabethan drama refers to the plays produced while Queen Elizabeth reigned in England, from 1558 until 1603. England during Queen Elizabeth I’s reign is considered to have reached its greatness and glory. The Queen herself was the symbol of the glory of the country. Despite plagues and other calamities, England grew prosperous and powerful and deserved to be called ‘Merry England’. When William Shakespeare came to London to carry on his theatre work, he found everything in his favour: the theatre alive and strong, people enjoying going to the theatre and plays shrewdly written for the public’s taste. Since the first public theatre was opened in 1576, a group of talented men called the University Wits had already developed new types of plays out of old forms and had learned what the public wanted.
During the years 1590-1600 the whole nation became intensely interested in its past. People loved to watch plays which sang of patriotism and of their kings. In order to meet this demand, Shakespeare wrote ten plays of this kind. Unlike Shakespeare, most playwrights of the time were more practical men, bent on making a living rather than a noble calling. They may have been well-educated, but they were more eager to fill the theatres than to please the public and the critics. As a result, drama in England, from the start, was almost a popular art rather than a learned and classical art it was in France. A dramatist in those days was likely to be an actor and producer. He joined a company and became its playwright. He sold his manuscripts to it and kept no personal rights in them. Revising old plays and working with another man on new ones were common. No manuscripts of Shakespeare, for this reason, have survived, because they were not printed. III. Typical Writers and Works 1. William Shakespeare (1564-1616) - The Greatest Humanist and The Idol of The Renaissance
‘No household in the English-speaking world is properly furnished unless it contains a copy of the Holy Bible and one of the works of William Shakespeare. It is not always thought necessary that these books should be read in maturer years, but they must be present as symbols of religion and English culture. Shakespeare has not always been so symbolic a figure. He was an actor and playwright, when neither actors not the stage were regarded as respectable or of any importance. The notion that he was the supreme genius of the English race did not began until he had been dead more than a century; but since then it has become so firmly accepted that no schoolboy can avoid a detailed study of at least one of his plays. (Introducing Shakespeare- G.N. Harrison) Details about William Shakespeare’s life are sketchy, mostly mere surmise based upon court or other clerical records. William Shakespeare, surely the world's most performed and admired playwright, was born in April, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, about 100 miles northwest of London. Shakespeare was the eldest son of Mary Arden, the daughter of a local landowner, and her husband, John Shakespeare (1530-1601), a glover and wood dealer.
William no doubt attended the local grammar school in Stratford where his parents lived, and would have studied primarily Latin rhetoric, logic, and literature. At age 18 (1582), William married Anne Hathaway, a local farmer’s daughter eight years his senior. Their first daughter (Susanna) was born six months later (1583), and twins Judith and Hamnet were born in 1585. Shakespeare’s life can be divided into three periods: the first 20 years in Stratford, which include his schooling, early marriage, and fatherhood; the next 25 years as an actor and playwright in London; and the last five in retirement back in Stratford where he enjoyed moderate wealth gained from his theatrical successes. The years linking the first two periods are marked by a lack of information about Shakespeare, and are often referred to as the “dark years”; the transition from active work into retirement was gradual and cannot be precisely dated. William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, and was buried two days later in the chancel of Holy Trinity Church where he had been baptized exactly 52 years earlier. Written upon William Shakespeare’s tombstone is an appeal that he be left to rest in peace with a curse on those who would move his bones. Good friend, for Jesus´ sake forbeare To digg the dust enclosed here! Blest be ye man that spares thes stones And curst be he that moues my bones. Translation: Good friend, for Jesus’ sake, forbear To dig the dust enclosed here; Blest be the man that spares these stones And curst he that moves my bones. William Shakespeare’s works Scholars distinguish three periods in William Shakespeare’s works:
1. The early period (roughly from 1590 to 1600), during which he wrote mainly gay comedies and
dramatic histories. This is the period of optimism of William Shakespeare.
2. The middle period (roughly from 1600 to 1608), during which he wrote great tragedies and bitter
comedies. This is the period of maturity of William Shakespeare.
3. The late period (roughly from 1609 to 1612), during which he wrote legendary and lyrical plays, and
tragic comedies. Tragedies 1. Titus Andronicus first performed in 1594 (printed in 1594), 2. Romeo and Juliet 1594-95 (1597), 3. Hamlet 1600-01 (1603),
4. Julius Caesar 1600-01 (1623), 5. Othello 1604-05 (1622), 6. Antony and Cleopatra 1606-07 (1623), 7. King Lear 1606 (1608), 8. Coriolanus 1607-08 (1623), derived from Plutarch 9. Timon of Athens 1607-08 (1623), and 10. Macbeth 1611-1612 (1623). Histories 11. King Henry VI Part 1 1592 (printed in 1594); 12. King Henry VI Part 2 1592-93 (1594); 13. King Henry VI Part 3 1592-93 (1623); 14. King John 1596-97 (1623); 15. King Henry IV Part 1 1597-98 (1598); 16. King Henry IV Part 2 1597-98 (1600); 17. King Henry V 1598-99 (1600); 18. Richard II 1600-01 (1597); 19. Richard III 1601 (1597); and 20. King Henry VIII 1612-13 (1623) Comedies 21. Taming of the Shrew first performed 1593-94 (1623), 22. Comedy of Errors 1594 (1623), 23. Two Gentlemen of Verona 1594-95 (1623), 24. Love's Labour's Lost 1594-95 (1598), 25. Midsummer Night's Dream 1595-96 (1600), 26. Merchant of Venice 1596-1597 (1600), 27. Much Ado About Nothing 1598-1599 (1600), 28. As You Like It 1599-00 (1623), 29. Merry Wives of Windsor 1600-01 (1602), 30. Troilus and Cressida 1602 (1609), 31. Twelfth Night 1602 (1623), 32. All's Well That Ends Well 1602-03 (1623), 33. Measure for Measure 1604 (1623), 34. Pericles, Prince of Tyre 1608-09 (1609), 35. Tempest (1611),
36. Cymbeline 1611-12 (1623), 37. Winter's Tale 1611-12 (1623). 2. Typical Works
Hamlet- Prince of Denmark
Critique Hamlet is without question the most famous play in the English language. Probably written in 1601 or 1602, the tragedy is a milestone in Shakespeare’s dramatic development; the playwright achieved artistic maturity in this work through his brilliant depiction of the hero’s struggle with two opposing forces: moral integrity and the need to avenge his father’s murder. Shakespeare’s focus on this conflict was a revolutionary departure from contemporary revenge tragedies, which tended to graphically dramatize violent acts on stage, in that it emphasized the hero’s dilemma rather than the depiction of bloody deeds. The dramatist’s genius is also evident in his transformation of the play’s literary sources—especially the contemporaneous Ur-Hamlet—into an exceptional tragedy. The Ur-Hamlet, or “original Hamlet,” is a lost play that scholars believe was written mere decades before Shakespeare’s Hamlet, providing much of the dramatic context for the later tragedy. Numerous sixteenth-century records attest to the existence of the Ur-Hamlet, with some references linking its composition to Thomas Kyd, the author of The Spanish Tragedy. From these sources Shakespeare created Hamlet, a supremely rich and complex literary work that continues to delight both readers and audiences with its myriad meanings and interpretations. In the words of Ernest Johnson, “the dilemma of Hamlet the Prince and Man” is “to disentangle himself from the temptation to wreak justice for the wrong reasons and in evil passion, and to do what he must do at last for the pure sake of justice.… From that dilemma of wrong feelings and right actions, he ultimately emerges, solving the problem by attaining a proper state of mind.” Hamlet endures as the object of universal identification because his central moral dilemma transcends the Elizabethan period, making him a man for all ages. In his difficult struggle to somehow act within a corrupt world and yet maintain his moral integrity, Hamlet ultimately reflects the fate of all human beings. 3. William Shakespeare’s Sonnets What is a sonnet? The sonnet came to birth in Sicile at the court of King Frederic I (1123-1190) – a Holy Roman emperor. His Chancellor Piteo Della Vigna, is generally credited with the invention of the sonnet, evolving from Sicilian folk songs. These early sonneteers rhymed the first eight lines, or octet, of the sonnet abababab. To the octet is added a sixline stanza called the sestet, rhyming abcac, or ababa. Petrach sometimes concluded his sonnets with a couplet aa or cc.
English has not so many rhyme sounds as Italian so it is natural that in Elizabethan England, a new sonnet form developed in which only two rhymes of each sound were demanded. Hence, we have the English sonnet, or Shakespearean sonnet, which has three four- line units or quatrains and a concluding couple. The English sonnet rhyme scheme is ababcdcdefefgg. William Shakespeare’s Sonnets William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are an island of poetry surrounded by a barrier of icebergs and dense fog; or in the metaphor of Sir Walter Raleigh, the modern Oxford scholar. They have been used like wedding cakes, not to eat but to dream upon. The Sonnets of William Shakespeare appeared, without his permission, in 1609 and advertised as "never before imprinted". The publisher, although reputable, clearly wanted to make use of the celebrity of William Shakespeare who by 1609 was a famous member of the Globe Theatre and could count royalty amongst his patrons. The 1609 quarto, entitled Shakespeare’s Sonnets, was published by Thomas Thorpe, printed by George Eld, and sold by William Aspley and William Wright Though it is hard to find a clear composition for the 154 sonnets by Shakespeare, on the whole we can understand that these sonnets are about an ideal frank emotional friendship between the poet and a noble handsome young man who was uninterruptedly praised by Shakespeare; and about a love affair between the poet and an attractive charming Dark Lady, who was once an unlimited source of his happiness and unhappiness. Through these sonnets, we also know that his old friend and his Muse did meet each other, did love each other, and by so doing, both did betray him, both did bring him great sorrow ad grief, though he did his best to try an explanation for their wrongdoings and forgive them. This sonnet, sonnet 116, may have been written in the hours of his great sorrow and grief, in his anguish and disappointment, about a shattered belief in love and friendship.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds Admit impediments. Love is not love Which alters when it alteration finds, Or bends with the remover to remove: O no! it is an ever-fixed mark That looks on tempests and is never shaken; It is the star to every wandering bark, Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken. Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks Within his bending sickle's compass come: Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom. If this be error and upon me proved, I never writ, nor no man ever loved.
Chapter III: the classical literature (1603-1689) I. Cultural – Historical Background
After the death of Shakespeare, great changes took place in English life and thought. England began to split into two warring camps: the king’s and the Parliament’s. The division was between the old and the new way of life. On the one hand was the conservative element of the country- those who derived their wealth from the land, from old estates, and who supported the reigning monarch and accepted the established religion of England. On the other hand were those whose livelihood came from trade, who belonged to the town, who wanted a greater share in the government of the country, and who thought that the Reformation of religion in England had not gone far enough. The new men of England, the men who gained their wealth from trade, were inclined to a sort of religious belief very different from the established faith of England. They were for the most part Puritans: they wanted a purer kind of Christianity than the Reformation had brought to the country. They wanted a Christianity so pure that it would admit of no toleration, no joy, no colour, no charity; an austere religion which frowned on easy pleasure, and published moral crimes in the most savage manner. Briefly speaking, the 17th- century England was a time of conflicts between the king and the Parliament, between English Protestants and Puritans. These conflicts became so acute under the reign of King Charles I that they led to the Civil War, followed by the Restoration of the Monarchy and the ‘Glorious Revolution’. 1. The Civil War (also called The Bourgeois Revolution, 1640-1648) After Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, James VI of Scotland became James I of England and Scotland, the first king of The Stuarts. Being an extravagant and licentious king, James I brought with him to England the Scottish courtiers. To make up for his luxurious expenditures and expensive court, the king was forced to impose and raise taxes, which was rejected by the parliament dominated by puritans. The dispute between the king and the parliament became more and more acute when Charles I, son of James I, succeeded the throne in 1652 ad very later imprisoned those Parliament members who tried to prevent him from doing what he wanted. As a result, the Civil War (1640-1648) between the two camps- the King’s army and the Parliament’s army- broke out. Charles I was captured and beheaded in 1649. The Commonwealth of England (with Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector) was set up in 1649. 2. The Restoration of the Monarchy (1660) No sooner had the Commonwealth been established than it developed into a tyrannical government. The republic under the dictatorship of Cromwell imposed on England a way of life that she had never known before. As a result, the hopes and beliefs that English people placed on Oliver Cromwell began to shatter. The political situation in England became worse with the death of Cromwell in 1658. His son, Richard, was too inferior to his father in intelligence and will power to maintain his heredity title (i.e. Lord Protector of The Commonwealth of England) and to unite the Parliament’s army. England fell into a state of chaos and Charles II, an exile in France, was called back to England to ascend the throne in 1660, restoring the English monarchy. 3. The ‘Glorious Revolution’ (1688)
Leaving France, Charles II was promised a warm support by Louise XIV on two conditions: 1. not to interfere in the political arena in Europe, and 2. to yield certain concessions to the Roman Catholics in England. Everything seemed to be going well until Charles’ death. In 1685, Charles II died without direct issue and let the crown to his brother, James II. As a Stuart king, James II inherited all the extravagance licentiousness of the Stuarts. On the other hand, James II was an extremely fanatical Stuart, who tried to play the all- powerful monarch, regardless of the compromise between Charles II and Louis XIV. Therefore, James II was no more supported by King Sun of France and he had to pay the price. In 1688, an arrangement was made among the top layers for James II to flee to France, leaving the crown to his daughter, Mary, and his son-in-law, William of Orange. This event was known as the ‘Glorious Revolution’, making the end of the Absolute Monarchy and the beginning of the Constitutional Monarchy in England. II. Literature The changes that took place in political and religious life of England were truthfully reflected in the literature of the 17th century. The Bourgeois Revolution which had sent Charles I to the scaffold and banished the Stuarts ha been no less religious than political, for the men who opposed unrestrained royal prerogative were in majority earnest religious men, imbued with Calvinistic principles. These men, known by the name of Puritans, had risen to power with the establishment of the Commonwealth. The sincerity of this religious fervour is revealed by Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’. But the Puritan rule (1648-1660) soon degenerated into a sombre tyranny, and the ludicrous satire of Butler, the ‘Hudibras’- a reaction against Puritanism- bears witness to the disaffection of the public for the ‘government of the godly’. The Puritans had overstrained men’s moral capacities ad severely punished moral crimes: on the king’s return in 1660, there was a general outburst of frivolity. The stage- always a faithful mirror of the stage of society- was invaded with the licentiousness of the times, and there was not a comedy of Dryden, Wycherley, Vanbrugh, Congreve, and Farquhar which was not tainted with it. Against this genera depravity, Jeremy Collier, in his ‘Short Review of the Immorality of the English Stage’ (1698), raised a vehement protest. There was a dark period for the development of stage in England. During the Puritan rule, theatres were closed because pleasure was regarded as sinful and stage was thought to be the world of devils. After the downfall of the absolutely monarchy in England, the Cavaliers had emigrated to France, mostly to Paris, where, being playgoers, they had attended the performances given at the Hotel de Bourgogne and the Palais Royal: this was the very moment when the masterpieces of Corneille (‘Le Cid’, 1636; ‘Horace’, 1640) were calling forth tempests of applause. The English exiles were conquered by the orderly pomp, noble pathos and psychological depth of the French ‘classical drama’, and naturally desired, when the Restoration had brought them back to England, to have performances of s similar kind. However, the plays written under Charles II were quite
different from those written under Elizabeth: they were written in service of the king and his court, not in service of the public. Dryden (1631-1700), the most distinguished Cavalier poet and playwright, accordingly turned out heroic dramas written in conformity to the French pattern. His tragedy ‘All for Love’ (1678) was at the time considered as fine as Shakespeare’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra. But, as a tragic writer, Dryden was surpassed by Otway (1652-1685), whose two tragedies ‘The Orphan’ (1680) and ‘Venice Preserved’ (1682) won European fame. In prose, the business of writers became to express thoughts in a clear, straight-forward, conversational language, intelligible to any men of sense. Dryden, in his essay ‘Of Dramatic Poesie’(1668), and Locke, in his essay ‘Concerning Human Understanding’(1690) gave models of an easy, yet dignified prose style, hardly to be improved upon by the artists of the age of Pope. But prose in the 17 th century flourished among Puritan writers, especially with John Bunya and John Milton, the latter being also a first-rate poet. III. Typical Writers and Works Typical Writers: John Milton John Milton (1608-74) is the first great literary personality of England. He came from a London family with a certain amount of money. He never had to earn his own living. He had leisure and was able to study, equip himself with more learning than any previous great poets. His father was a composer of music and he himself was blessed with musical ear. Later he was blind and his greatest work is written after this calamity struck him. One of his great works is “On the morning of Christ’s Nativity”, in which he is not content merely to praise the new-born heavenly-child, but must describe his victory over the false gods. From most of his works, we can see that he was destined to be the man alone, finding no pleasure in the gay world about him. Some see Milton as the egocentric, the proud self-centered men around whom the universe revolts: what he wants, god also must want. If his marriage is a failure, the marriage law must be altered. If he despises woman then woman must be despicable. According to him, he is never wrong. It is fitting epilogue to the career of this great poet. Even in his last days, Milton is still experimentary with verse and language, producing new tones and rhythms (even new word like “eye-witness”). In the new cynical, bright and corrupt England of Charles II, some of his works stand as a monument to an age whose literary glories, whose moral aspirations, whose genuinely heroic spirit can never be approached in the centuries to come. Milton is the last of the old. Typical Work: ‘Paradise Lost’ In 1667 John Milton bestowed his great masterpiece, Paradise Lost, upon the world. In 1674 the revised second edition was published, where he divided the original ten books into twelve and added the introductory summaries or "Arguments" for each book at the request of confused early readers. Chapter IV: the age of enlightenment (1689-1798) I. Cultural – Historical Background
The period from the middle of the 17th century to the end of the 18th century is often regarded as the historical background for the appearance of the Enlightenment in England. Some remarkable events in this period were: 1. The Dispute of Power between the Tory and the Whig The Bourgeois Revolution (1648) gave birth to two conflicting parties: the Whig and the Tory. The Whig, set up by Lord Shaftesbury, belonged to the Low Church, consisting of city merchants, financiers, bourgeoisie, and dissenters. The Tory, set up by Dryden, belonged to the High Church, consisting of great landowners, aristocrats, and clergymen. In the 18th century, these two parties alternately ruled England. Their continuous disputes threw the English political and social life into confusion. 2. The Rise of the British Empire This was a period of the British colonial expansion. It began a time when ‘The sun never sets on the British Empire’. Ireland was deprived of all rights; Scotland agreed to unite with England; England defeated Louis XIV in the two wars with France and got hold of Gibralta, ‘a western key to Mediterranean Sea; most of the French colonies in America were handed to England; Senegal and India went to England, too. The conquered lands were used as the sources of cheap raw materials. 3. The Beginning of the Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was initiated by the inventions of various kinds of machines in the 2nd half of the 18th century. With new machines, either invented or imported, the English industry, especially the textile and mine industries, developed rapidly. Along with the expansion of the British Empire, the enlargement of the British market and the increasing standard of living of English people, the Industrial Revolution precipitated the development of England into a big capitalist country. II. Literature The 18th century in England as well as in Europe, was the age of REASON. The writers’ central problems were the study of ma and the origin of his virtues ad vices. Believing that’ Vice is due to ignorance’, they started a movement for the enlightenment of the people. The terminology ‘Enlightenment’ indicates the historical role of the bourgeoisie in the age of the Bourgeois Revolution in comparison with the corrupt feudalism by recalling the contrast between light and dark. It also implies the progress of the ideological movement and literature in the 18th century. Being a period of political intrigue and increasing intellectual tendencies, the age of Enlightenment was favourable to the development of prose rather than of poetry. The literature of this time was illustrated by such masters of prose as Swift, the prince of English satirist; Defoe, the father of the English novel; Adison and Steele, the creators of English essay-writing; and Pope, the acknowledge ruler of the literary world of his day.
The Enlightenment writers belonged to two groups: • • The first group wanted to better the world by teaching including Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Daniel Defoe, and Alexander Pope. The second group openly protested against vicious social orders in their social satires, including Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding and Robert Burns. III. Typical Writers and Works 1. Daniel Defoe (1660 – 1731) Daniel Defoe is rightly considered the father of the English and the European novel, for it was due to him that the genre became once and for ever established in European literature. Daniel Defoe’s life was complicated and adventurous. He was the son of a London butcher whose name was Foe, to which Daniel later added the prefix De. He sometimes used it separately giving his name a French sound. His father, being a puritan, wanted his son to become a priest. Daniel was educated at theological school. However, he never became a priest, for he looked for another business to apply his abilities to. He became a merchant, first in wine, then in hosiery. He traveled in Spain, Germany, France and Italy on business. Though his travels were few they, however, gave him, a man of rich imagination, material for his future novels. Foe’s business was not very successful and he went bankrupt more than once. He took an active part in the political life of Britain. In 1685 he participated in the Duke of Monmouth’s revolt against James II. The rebellion was defeated in a compromise of the aristocracy and the bourgeoisie and resulted in a compromise of these two classes. After this defeat, Defoe had to hide himself for some time. When the Dutchman William of Orange came to throne of England in 1688, Defoe was among his most active supporters. It was in his later years, however, that Defoe wrote the novels for which he is now justly famous. They were perhaps the first books that conform to the term "novel", and brought him great success. 1719's Robinson Crusoe and its sequel, the Farther Adventures of Robinson Crusoe, are probably the most famous, but soon he had published Captain Singleton (1720), Moll Flanders (1722), A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Roxana (1724). These novels were extremely influential and showed a journalist's interest in realistic description. Many of the works written after Roxana were travel books (e.g. A New Voyage round the World (1724) and A Tour through the Whole Island of Great Britain (1724-6)). Defoe's simple but effective prose style ensured him widespread popularity and he is seen as the father of the English Novel, as well as the first journalist of great individual merit. He died in his lodgings on April 24, 1731. Typical Work: Robinson Crusoe Critique 2. Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) The greatest satirist in the history of English literature, Jonathan Swift, was the contemporary of Steele, Addision, Defoe and other English enlighteners of the early period. However, he stood apart from them, for
while they supported the bourgeois order, Swift, by criticizing different aspects of the bourgeois life came to the negation of the bourgeois society. Lunacharsky called Swift one of the first critics of bourgeois system and capitalist reality. Jonathan Swift was born on November 30, 1667 in Dublin in an English family. His father died seven months before Jonathan’s birth leaving his family in poverty. Jonathan was brought up by his prosperous uncle Godwin Swift who sent him to school and then to Trinity College in Dublin. There he studied theology and later became a clergyman. His favorite subjects, however, were not theology but literature, history and language. At 21 Swift went to live in England and became a private secretary of distant relative, Sir William Temple, a writer and a well-known diplomat of the time. At Moor Park, Sir William estate, Swift made friends with Hester Jonson, the daughter of one of Temple’s servants, fourteen years his junior. Hester, or Stella as Swift poetically called her, remained his faithful friend through all his life. His letters to her, written in 1710-1713, were later published in the form of a book under the title of Journal Stella. During the two years at Moor Park, Swift read and studied much and in 1692 he took his Master of Arts Degree at Oxford University. With the help of Sir William, Swift got the place of vicar in a small church in Kilroot (Ireland) where he stayed for a year and a half. Then he came back to Moor Park and lived there till Sir William’s death in 1698. Typical Works: Gulliver’s Travels Critique Swift is best known for his satires. In Gulliver’s Travels, his masterpiece, he satirizes the evils of the existing society in the form of fictitious travels. In the first voyage to Lilliput, Gulliver finds himself in a country of very small people. He feels contempt for their ideas, customs and institutions. The Emperor boasts that he is the delight of the Universe while as a matter of fact; he is just as tall as a snail. Swift satirizes the hypocrisy, hostility and flattery of England in the 18th century. In the second voyage to Brobdingnag, Gulliver lives in the land of giants. They are generally good-nature creatures and treat him kindly though they were amused by his size. So we can see that Brobdingnag is an expression of Swift’s desire to escape from the disgusting world and create an ideal monarch with a clever, honest and kind king. Jonathan Swift’s bitterness of satire reaches its climax in Gulliver’s third trip to Laputa. Swift ridicules the scientists of 18th century who are isolated from the world. They are busy inventing stupid things, such as: extracting sunbeams out of cucumbers, building houses beginning at the roof, etc. All these things don’t serve any practical purpose and unfamiliar to humanity as a whole.
Gulliver’s last voyage is the most biting satire of all. He finds a land governed by horses of highest intelligence and uprightness. In this region, peace and contentment are never destroyed by disease, flattery, cheats, bribery and social evils. These beastly creatures show Swift’s extreme pessimism caused by a deep contempt and hatred for humanity. Through his Gulliver’s Travel, Jonathan Swift has shown that he is the greatest satirist in English literature. Critics have suggested that Swift intended the novel to be both an attack on mankind and its follies and a honest assessment of mankind's positive and negative qualities. It is also considered a critique of the greatest moral, philosophical, scientific, and political ideas of Swift's time. The greatest and most lasting accomplishment of Gulliver's Travels may be its ability to encourage readers of any society at any time to raise important questions about mankind's limitations, how we can structure our institutions to bring out the best in people, and what it means to be human.
Chapter v: the 19th century English literature
A. The English Romanticism (1798-1832)
I. Cultural – Historical Background 1. The American Revolution (1775-1783) The American Revolution was the symbol of the growth of national consciousness in America in the last decades of the 18th century. In May 1775, the Second Continental Congress of the 13th English colonies faced a most basic decision: the irresistible demand for national independence. Under the leadership of George Washington, the Colonial Army fought a heroic people’s war against Great Britain to win independence ad set up the new United States Government. A great new nation was born on September 3, 1783 when Great Britain reluctantly signed the peace treaty which recognized the independence of the United States of America. The success of the American Revolution had a great influence on the political life in England. The words of the Declaration of Independence, which was passed on 4th July 1776 by Congress, awakened all people outside the USA the truth’ All men are created equal’. 2. The French Revolution The French Revolution was an inevitable outcome of difficulties in both economics and politics after the century-long wars with England. The growing bourgeoisie, supported by the starving peasants and the town poor, went revolutionary. The success of the French Revolution (14/7/1789) also had a deep influence on England. English workers and petty bourgeoisie, following the example of the French Revolution, stated acting. ‘Correspondence Societies’ sprang up everywhere with quite radical programmes for universal suffrage, freedom of speech, unions, press, meeting, etc. English literary men, in particular, welcomed the French Revolution as a new fresh air that breathed hope into human hearts. 3. The ‘Holly Alliance’ Considering a revolutionary France under the leadership of the militarist Napoleon dangerous, England joined other European countries to cancel Napoleon’s ambitions to conquer Europe. Defeating Napoleon at the battle of Waterloo in 1815 England, together with her allies, set up the’Holly Alliance’. The ‘Holly Alliance’ tried to do everything that a reactionary alliance could do to return to the pre-1789 state, and to suppress democratic trends and revolutionary ideas. Europe entered a state of disillusionment. 4. The Industrial Revolution With the inventions of new machines already well started in the second half of the 18 th century, and with the expansion of the United Kingdom after the fall of the Napoleonic empire, England became a powerful, prosperous manufacturing country. The changes that the Industrial Revolution brought about had both good ad bad effects on the social life of this country. On the one hand, industrialization increased the wealth of the nation; on the other hand, it caused much suffering to the working people who were thrown out of work by the introduction of machinery into mines ad
mills. As a result, the workers began to attack workplaces, breaking machines and calling themselves Luddites. The Luddite movement became widespread and caused lots of trouble and damage to the State. 5. The Post-War England Filled with the dread of revolutions, the Torries in power were conservative and reactionary. Every reform was opposed. Every democratic trend was suppressed. In accordance with the Torry’s reactions, new economic ideas were moulded, drowning the labouring poor more deeply into the gulf of poverty and misery. Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834) initiated’ Diminishing Returns’, an economic theory which stated that, after a certain point, further increases in a particular factor of production lead to progressively smaller increases in output. Malthus is best remembered to the world as the British economist who wrote ‘An Essay on the Principle of Population’ (1798), arguing that a population without planning increased faster than food production. In his opinion, poverty was impossible to eradicate because population increased by geometrical progression whereas food and natural resources increased by arithmetical progression. Therefore, the only thing to do was to prohibit the marriages among the poor, or prohibit them multiplying. Otherwise, they would starve. Adam Smith (1723-1790), the author of ‘The Wealth of the Nations’ (1776) suggested letting things work themselves out according to the ‘law of supply and demand’. This economic idea led to the false conclusion that no struggle was necessary. In addition, ‘The Poor Law’ (1834) drove the poor and beggars, whose subsidies were cut according to this la, to workhouses- the ‘Bastilles’ of the proletarians. II. Literature 1. What is meant by ‘Romanticism’? As an –ISM in literature, Romanticism was the embodiment of disillusionment and negative attitudes towards the actual world. Firstly, it was the embodiment of disillusionment in the consequences of the French Revolution. The atmosphere of reaction overspreading Brittan and Europe after the formation of the ‘Holly Alliance’ seemed to destroy the expectation to live in Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Romanticism, secondly, was the embodiment of the negative attitudes of various social layers towards the way of life that the Industrial Revolution bourgeoisie created. Under the omnipotence of money, the 19 th century bourgeoisie led a snobbish artificial selfish life. To escape from this state of sickness, the romantics on the one had, advocated returning to NATURE, to the meadows and mountains, where man can find himself and his fellow-countrymen, where his soul can be saved from corruption. On the other hand, the romantics tried to construct dream worlds from their own imagination as a refuge for their souls. The individual man, as a result, began to shrink into his self and drown himself in the solitary ego: loneliness became a disease of the age. As an approach to literature, Romanticism was the embodiment of the revolt against Classicism both in topic ad in style. Topically, the great romantic poets found their inspiration chiefly in the simplicities of everyday life:
an ordinary sunset, a walk over the hills, a cluster of spring flowers, the song of a nightingale, a cottage girl, etc. Stylistically, the romantics expressed their feelings in everyday language, easily understood by all. In general, in Romanticism, Reason gave way to Imagination, Feelings and Emotions. Romanticism was no more the age of reason; it was the age of imagination and emotions. There are six essential features of this historical romanticism: A deep interest in nature and in obscure, humble or underprivileged people A vivid imagination that can produce supernatural of fantastic dream worlds An enthusiasm in fighting against tyrannical authority and glorifying liberty A love for the remote in time and distance
- A sense of disappointment mixed with a melancholy mood
A revolution in literary language-use 2. Romanticism in English Poetry 2.1. The Two Generations of the Romantics The Conservative Trend (The Lake School) Early in 1798 William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey formed a group called ‘The Lake School’. The school was named after the beautiful lake in the North West of England where Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Southey had been living for a long time. The Lake poets underwent evolution in their political views and creative activities. They started with protesting against social injustice, showing their interest in vital social problems of their time. They admired the French Revolution so warmly that Wordsworth even travelled to France to witness the great liberation of mankind. But later on, frightened by the blood and fire across the water, they went over to the side of reaction and started rejecting both economic and social progress. They regretted being unwise in welcoming the French Revolution and in believing that REASON was capable of creating an equal society. They turned away from the ideas of the Enlightenment to the distrust of reason and rationalism. They bent their pens towards the idealization of the patriarchal feudal past and medieval attitudes. The Progressive Trend (The Cockney School) Quite opposed to the conservative trend of Romanticism was the progressive trend known as the Cockney School, whose representatives were Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and John Keats. The representative of this school expressed the ideas and interests of the classes that were disappointed to see the state of things which was a result of the capitalist development. They saw its negative sides and criticized them. But their criticism was much more than a confirmation of the patriarchal ideas of the past, their criticism was the expression of the longing for a better present and a wonderful future. They were little interested in the past, only mindful of the present. Their eyes were fixed on the current affairs on the days. Their works, in general, embodied the dream of social justice that the broad masses of people cherished.
2.2. Contrasts between the two generations of Romanticism Between the two generations of Romanticism there are remarkable contrasts: Wordsworth Coleridge and Southey reached manhood in the early years of the French Revolution. They were thoroughly imbued with revolutionary ideas, and conceived boundless hopes of regeneration of mankind. They were bitterly disappointed when they realized that the French Revolution deviated from its noble aims, and that the golden age promised by prophets and politicians was receding into an ever-remoter future. They accordingly reconciled themselves with more orderly notions. They idealized medieval attitude, patriarchal feudal past and mysterious religious doctrines and they tried to escape from the actual world to look for the ‘paradise lost’ as a refuge for their own sufferings. In a word, the old romantics were indeed UNPRACTICAL CONSERVATIVE DREAMERS. Byron, Shelly, and Keas came of age at the very moment when Europe was smoking with ruins and the Holy Alliance was dictating its orders to exhausted peoples. They had inherited the noble aspirations of their elders, but felt frustrated in their very youth; Byron sought for a remedy of ennui in action: he travelled and fought, and fell on the soil of Greece. Shelly, filled with revolutionary spirit to the core, tried to carry out his principles of life, and reaped disaster: from his misery he found a refuge in the worship of intellectual beauty and in the composition of poems expressing his unshattered belief in the ultimate triumph of justice and goodness. Keats, the frailest of the three, drew aside from the turmoil of the world, drank deep at the fountains of beauty and died at 26. But all these young romantics were PRACTICAL REVOLUTIONARY DREAMERS. They rose against the tyrannical authority and social injustice in the hope to change the world with their own individual actions. They did not bend their pens and have any compromise with the bourgeoisie in their struggle for social justice and for a better future for the common people. III. Typical Writers and Works 1. William Wordsworth (1770-1850) The life of William Wordsworth was quiet and eventful. He was born in Cockermouth, Cumberland in 1770 and spent the great part of his life in the mountains of the Lake District, where he was very deeply influenced by the natural beauty of the country, and was always in sympathy with the humble people. In 1788 William Wordsworth went to St John’s College, Cambridge, but no professor he met in his university classes as much impressed on him as did the sky and the trees and the wild flowers of his native region: he preferred devoting most of his time to the admiration of Nature to cramming for any exams at Cambridge University; and he was more interested in reading books than in listening to the lectures. On leaving the university, he spent a few months in London, and then crossed over to France (1790). He found this country ‘mad with joy’ and was ready to give what aid he could to the French Republicans. He resided in France three years. There he met two people who did change his life: Captain Michel Beaupuy, who propagated and explained the noble aims of the French Revolution to him; and Miss Annette Vallon, with whom he fell in
love ad gave birth to a daughter, Caroline. Attracted by the fresh air of the Revolution and the first sweet flavour of love, he intended to devote his whole life to France and his whole heart to the French woman, but, unfortunately, he was compelled to return to England because his relatives stopped his supplies of money. However, he still hoped that he would return to France someday to live with his beloved wife. But the war between England and France in 1793 broke his heart ad his hope. He did not meet his wife until 1802. No sooner had they lived with each other in the same roof than they had to say goodbye to each other, because there appeared some gloomy clouds in their happy sky. He was by this time experiencing a severe intellectual crisis: continuous bloody events in France left him disillusioned and pessimistic; his dreams of brotherhood were shattered. With a broken heart for love and with a disillusioned and pessimistic soul for the development of the French Revolution, he came back to his own inwards, leading a secluded life in the valley of Grasmere, the heart of his beloved Lake District. He asked Nature and Poetry to give him the peaceful joys for which his mind was thirsting. From then on, he withdrew from urban civilization and sought consolation in the country life. William Wordsworth’s Poetry Wordsworth on Nature Nature is an unfinished treasure of romantic souls. To Wordsworth, Nature is the most valuable and beloved source of living. He blames people who spend so much of their energy in the materialistic life that their lives become senseless and sordid: ‘The world is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; we have given our heats away, a sordid boon’. Wordsworth’s aim as poet was to search for beauty in Nature- in mountains, woods, and streams- ad to explain this beauty to the soul of man. All the sights and sounds of Nature attracted him, and he was always looking for an idea behind or under the beauty. As for him, Nature has a soul. The soul of man had been corrupted by town civilization, but the soul of Nature was not. So the best way for man was to enter into communication with Nature’s soul and Nature would lift him out of himself and place him in a higher state in which the soul of Nature and the soul of man were united in a single harmony. The belief led him to the conclusion that nature was man’s best moral teacher: ‘Let Nature be your teacher’. Nature, to Wordsworth, has a message to Man. And in order to find out such a message, he tried to’ see into the life of thing’. A wonderful sunset with its glorious colours, meant more to him than just the end of another day. It seemed to him to be full of ‘The light that never was on sea or lad’. He felt more than he saw or heard, and it was this feeling, which came to him direct from Nature or God, that he tried to describe in his poetry.
Flowers, especially wild flowers such as the primrose and the daffodils gave him Nature’s message to man. Most of us can see how beautiful even a common flower is, ad admire its loveliness and its scent. We may even feel the beauty in our hearts as well as see it with our eyes. But how many can describe, or make clear to others, what this feeling is? Wordsworth could, at any rate, make us realize that what we feel at the sight of a beautiful flower is the flower’s way of speaking to us. Or it is Nature speaking to us through the flower. ‘To me the meanest flower that blows can give Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears’. To Wordsworth, poetry meant experience of this kind- moments of deep feeling- which he could remember later when his mind was at rest. Then was the time to write them down. He did not forget what he had heard or seen. ‘The music in my heart I bore Long after it was heard no more’. In short, more than any other poets of his time, Wordsworth clearly realized the relation and interaction between the inward life of Man and the outdoor life of the objective world. Nature, no wonder, was his religion; and he himself was ‘Nature’s high priest’. Wordsworth on Man Wordsworth’s love of Nature is seen not only in his admiration of natural beauty but also in his understanding of the simple men and women of the valleys and hills of the Lake District, humble people with ordinary joys ad sorrows. He understood the character of the poor, believed in them and admired them. He saw their courage, strength ad hope: ‘Love had he found in huts where poor men lie, His daily teachers had been woods and rills, the silence that is in the starry sky, The sleep that is among the lonely hills.’ Many of his poems are about these neighbours of his, the men, women, and children among whom he lived, people about whom little real poetry had been written in the past. In his poems on Nature, when dealing with the source of Goodness (and especially when expressing the significance of Goodness), Wordsworth always established his absolute belief in the noble value of the commoners. In his poems on Man, he dealt with the primal qualities where Ma and Nature touch and blend. Thus his love for Nature was transferred to the shepherd, the reaper, ad to other farmers and cottagers with their ordinary joys and sorrows. Other poets had neglected them. But to Wordsworth everybody, rich or poor, was a human being. And his ears were ever open to listen to what he called ‘the still, sad music of humanity’. The choice of men and women in ‘humble and rustic life’ as the objects for description in his poetry resulted from his love for them, but more basically from his conception associated with Rousseau’s name, of the ‘noble
savage’, with its implication that men are better when closer to their ‘natural state’, uncorrupted by the artificiality of civilization. Wordsworth’s Typical Poems The Daffodils (1804) I WANDER'D lonely as a cloud That floats on high o'er vales and hills, When all at once I saw a crowd, A host, of golden daffodils; Beside the lake, beneath the trees, Fluttering and dancing in the breeze. Continuous as the stars that shine And twinkle on the Milky Way, They stretch'd in never-ending line Along the margin of a bay: Ten thousand saw I at a glance, Tossing their heads in sprightly dance. The waves beside them danced; but they Out-did the sparkling waves in glee: A poet could not but be gay, In such a jocund company: I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought: For oft, when on my couch I lie In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye Which is the bliss of solitude; And then my heart with pleasure fills, And dances with the daffodils. The Rainbow (1802) My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky: So was it when my life began; So is it now I am a man; So be it when I shall grow old, Or let me die! The Child is father of the Man; I could wish my days to be Bound each to each by natural piety. The Solitary Reaper (1805) Behold her, single in the field, Yon solitary Highland Lass! Reaping and singing by herself; Stop here, or gently pass! Alone she cuts and binds the grain, And sings a melancholy strain; O listen! for the Vale profound Is overflowing with the sound. No Nightingale did ever chaunt More welcome notes to weary bands Of travellers in some shady haunt, Among Arabian sands: A voice so thrilling ne'er was heard In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird, Breaking the silence of the seas Among the farthest Hebrides. Will no one tell me what she sings?— Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow For old, unhappy, far-off things, And battles long ago: Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day? Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain, That has been, and may be again? Whate'er the theme, the Maiden sang As if her song could have no ending; I saw her singing at her work, And o'er the sickle bending;— I listened, motionless and still; And, as I mounted up the hill, The music in my heart I bore, Long after it was heard no more. 2. George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824) One of the great poets of England was the revolutionary romancist George Gordon Byron. He was born on January 22, 1788 in London, in an old aristocratic, but poor family. The boy spent his childhood in Scotland, with his mother. At the age of ten Byron returned to England, as heir to the title of Lord and the family of castle of Newstead Abbey. It was situated near Nottingham, close to the famous Sherwood Forest. He went to school to Harrow, then to Cambridge University. When he was 21 he became a member of the House of Lords. In 1809 he traveled abroad, visiting Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece and Turkey. He returned home in 1812. In 1812 Byron delivered his speeches in House of Lords. His first speech was in defense of the Luddites. Later he spoke on favor of the oppressed Irish people. In his speeches Byron showed himself a defender of the peoples cause, and that made the reactionary circle hate him. When after unhappy marriage in 1812, he and his wife parted, his enemies in the governing circles seized this opportunity and began to persecute him. The great poet was accused of immorality and had to leave his native country. In May 1816 Byron went to Switzerland where he made friends with the poet Percy B. Shelly, his great contemporary. Their friendship was based on the similarity of their political convictions. Both of them hated oppression and stood for the liberty of nations. At the end of 1816 Byron continued his voyage and went to Italy, where he lived till 1823. There he became actively engaged in the Carbonari movement against Austrian rule, for the liberation of Italy. The defeat of the Carbonari uprising (1821) was a heavy blow to the great fight for liberty. In the summer of 1823 he went off to Greece to fight for liberation from Turkish oppression. There, on April 19, 1824, Byron died of a fever. The Greeks, who considered him their national hero, buried his heart in their country and declared national mourning for him. His body was brought to England where it was buried near Newstead Abbey. In 1969 the authorities finally allowed his remains to be buried in the “Poets’ Corner” in Westminster Abbey.
Byron’s Poetry Byron as a poet of freedom Much more than Wordsworth and Coleridge, who, after their first enthusiasm for the French Revolution, surrendered to caution and skepticism, more even than Keats, whose love of liberty was hardly developed to its full range, Byron was all through his life a poet of freedom. The struggle for freedom was clearly shown in ‘Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage’, in ‘The Oriental Tales’, and in ‘Don Juan’. Byron as a poet of love Byron’s second theme is love. In the subject of love, he seems to have been haunted by the dream of an ideal first love, tender and natural, and not at all like what he had felt for the women whom he thought to have loved. This theme is shown in Byron’s ‘The Oriental Tales’ and ‘Don Juan’. Byron as a realist In the great appeals for liberty which ring through Don Juan, and in the attacks which Byron makes on its enemies, the fundamental purpose of his poem is seen: Byron set out to tell the truth. He was never tired of insisting that the chief merit of his poem was in their truthfulness. Like his hero, he has seen the world and known that it was ‘very much unlike what people write’. Therefore, in Don Juan, Byron declares:’ I mean to show things really as they are, not as they ought to be: for I avow that till we see what’s what in fat, we’re far from much improvement’. And Byron believed that by fastening upon the truth, he would improve the world. And this belief distinguishes Byron from the other romantics: with Keats, it is the past; with Shelly, the future; with Byron, it is the present that really interests him. Byron is always a man of the world; ad Don Juan is the record of his personality, the personality of a poet and of a man of action. Byron’s Typical Poems When we two parted (1808) When we two parted In silence and tears, Half broken-hearted To sever for years, Pale grew thy cheek and cold, Colder thy kiss; Truly that hour foretold Sorrow to this. The dew of the morning Sunk chill on my brow--
It felt like the warning Of what I feel now. Thy vows are all broken, And light is thy fame; I hear thy name spoken, And share in its shame. They name thee before me, A knell to mine ear; A shrudder comes o'er me-Why wert thou so dear? They know not I knew thee, Who knew thee so well-Long, long I shall rue thee, Too deeply to tell. In secret we met— In silence I grieve, That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive If I should meet thee After long years, How should I greet thee?-With silence and tears. Song for the Luddites (1816) As the Liberty lads o'er the sea Bought their freedom, and cheaply, with blood, So we, boys, we Will _die_ fighting, or _live_ free, And down with all kings but King Ludd! When the web that we weave is complete, And the shuttle exchanged for the sword,
We will fling the winding sheet O'er the despot at our feet, And dye it deep in the gore he has pour'd. Though black as his heart its hue, Since his veins are corrupted to mud, Yet this is the dew Which the tree shall renew Of Liberty, planted by Ludd!
B. The English Critical Realism (1832-1901)
The reign of Queen Victoria, one of the longest in the annals of England (1837-1901), is also one of the most glorious in the history of English literature. The literature of the Victoria age does not essentially differ in spirit and poetic mood from that of the preceding period. The study of the works produced in the second half of the 19 th century will necessarily reveal gradual changes in method and spirit, as well as manifestation of strongly individual temperaments; yet it can be said that, on the whole, Victorian literature continues to flow in the channels of Romanticism. I. Cultural – Historical Background 1. Aims of Chartism In June 1836, ‘The London Workingmen’s Association’ was formed as a political and educational body intended to attract the ‘intelligent and influential portion of the working class’. In Feb, 1837, the Association drew up a petition to Parliament in which were embodied the six demands that afterwards became known as the People’s Charter. They were: 1. Equal electoral district; 2. Abolition of the property qualifications for M.P.s; 3. Universal manhood suffrage;
4. Annual Parliaments;
5. Vote by ballot; 6. Payment of M.P.s As for the conservatives (the Torries), these demands were considered by dangerous, but they were accepted with enthusiasm by hundreds of thousands of industrial workers who saw in them the means to remove their intolerant economic grievances. Engels declared that the six points were’ sufficient to overthrow the whole English Constitution, Queen, and Lord included’. ‘Chartism’, he wrote,’ is of an essentially social nature, a class movement’.
As the movement spread beyond London, its character changed and sharp divisions arose among its leaders. The petition was, later, rejected ad in a few months about 450 arrests were made and decline began. The failure of Chartism in 1848 was partly a result of the weaknesses of its leadership and tactics. But these weaknesses were themselves only a reflection of the newness and immaturity of the working class. After the defeat in April 1848 of the Chartist movement and the defeat of the June 1848 French Revolution, a new period began in Europe when Engels affirmed that it was a period of oppression of the workers’ movements in the whole Europe. At the same time, the bourgeoisie in England learned a dangerous but valuable lesson from the Chartist movement and began to fear the new social incidents. As a result, they were forced to give way in the political fields: The Age of ‘Compromise’ began. 2. The Historical Significance of Chartism Chartism was an event of colossal historical importance for the political development of England. It was a severe lesson for the ruling classes who could never forget those years when the workers’ mass movement threatened the foundations of capitalism. Afraid to lose their power, the ruling classes yielded certain concessions to the workers. The bourgeoisie had to give up some of the cruelest of their exploitation methods. Thus, the bourgeoisie was forced to recognize the Trade Union, to introduce a number of democratic reforms. Acting against the policy of the British Establishment, the British proletarians contributed to the historically indispensable cause of weakening the reaction in the whole world since England was one of the wealthiest ad most powerful countries, supporting the world’s reactionary forces. The salient feature distinguishing the Chartist movement from Workers’ movements in other countries is the fact that English workers earlier than any other detachment of the world’s toilers showed that they could start and head a nation-wide popular movement with immediate aims rigidly defined. They demonstrated an extremely high degree of class consciousness declaring the independence of their goals ad interests as sharply opposed to those of the bourgeoisie and other exploiting classes. They unambiguously outlined their programme which envisaged a reconstruction of society. The Chartist movement showed outstanding examples of proletarian tactics such as the idea of the General Strike. British progressive cherish the revolutionary and democratic traditions of the past. They study the experience of the Chartist movement and often remind the English workers of the glorious revolutionary past. II. Literature It was in the period of political strife that a new trend was born in English literature: Critical Realism. Romanticism now seemed too abstract, too aloft, too remote from the actual world. A direct and straightforward consideration of everyday life became an imperative necessity. Writers in the Victorian age denounced the evils of the day and pictured the lives of the people of both low and high societies, thus creating social novels. There are some of the most essential features of this trend. They are found in the leading writers of the time, chiefly Dickens, Thackeray, Bronte, and others.
- The introduction of a new set of characters from the working class as a new force in society. - A deep sense of the dramatic contrast between the rich and the poor - An irresistible hatred for every species of social oppression and injustice - An illusion of bringing about social justice and harmony by reforms - An interest in the theme of Woman Emancipation The Victoria age was primarily an age of prose rather than poetry; therefore, we shall pay particular attention to the two distinguished authors of critical realism: Charles Dickens and William Makepeace Thackeray. III. Typical Writers and Works 1. Charles Dickens Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was the greatest critical realist in the 19 th century English Literature. He was born in Portsmouth, in a poor family. He had to leave school and worked hard to support the family. At 15, he studied short-hand and worked as a reporter, then a writer. Dickens’s life as a literary artist falls into 4 periods. In the first period (1833 – 1841), he wrote some novels such as Oliver Twist (1838), the Posthumous parpers of the Pickwick Club, etc. This was the period of humour and optimism. In the second period (1842 – 1848), he had some famous novels: American notes, Dombey and son, etc. This was the period of sarcasm and criticism. The third period (1849 - 1860) was the period of strongest social criticism on the soulless and unwholesome nature of competition in an industrial life. In this period, he had many novels like: David Copperfield, Bleak House, A tale of two cities... The fourth period (1861 – 1865) was characterized by romanticism resulting from disillusionment, with some works such as: Great expectation, Our mutual friend. Charles Dickens had great contribution to English and world literature. On the literary side, he was not only the writer who had described the town-life of his day, but he was also the first genuine story teller. On the social side, he was not merely a story teller but a social reformer who used fiction as a platform for his social appeals, and who proved to possess a very rare quality. He brought smile with sermonic powder to people in a complicated history. In general, Charles Dickens was the pioneer of a great age of fiction. No doubt, English life and literature seem to be saner and sunnier with Dickens. David Copperfield is autobiographical in its essence. The finest of the novels is Great Expectations- a long but tightly knit work, moving. It is in this book that Dickens reveals his understanding of the mind of the child, his sympathy with its fantasies and its inability to understand the grown-up world. In some ways, Dickens remained a child. Typical Work: David Copperfield (1850) Critique
‘David Copperfield’ might be regarded as the peak of Dicken’s literary career. It was best loved by the author himself. In the novel, somewhat autobiographical, Dickens engraved extremely typical characters. One of the many qualities that distinguish ‘David Copperfield’ from more modern and more sophisticated novels is its eternal freshness. It is, in short, a work of art which can be read and reread, chiefly for the gallery of characters Dickens has immortalized. In this novel, his humourous and satirical art was brought to perfection. Nowhere in all the works by Dickens, the problem of children and the responsibility of the society for them was so clearly and seriously mentioned. 2. William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 – 1863) W.M. Thackeray was born on Calcutta, India, in the family of an English official of high standing. Contrary to Charles Dickens, Thackeray had a very good education both at school ad at Cambridge University. The future writer wanted to be an artist and went to Europe to study art. For some time he lived among the artistic circles of Paris. Later, when he returned to London, he learned that he had lost all his money, for the bank where it was deposited had gone bankrupt. Thus, he had to earn his living. He began sketches, but was not very successful. He started writing satirical and humorous stories and essays. Later he wrote novels and delivered lectures. Thackeray wrote in the same year and under the same political conditions as his contemporary Dickens did. Together they’re better appreciated that apart; they present the life of their period more completely together. Dickens usually chose for his main character the “little” man with his troubles and difficulties. Thackeray directed satire against representatives of the upper classes of society, whom he knew better. Dickens was inclined to look for a happy solution that smoothed over existing contradictions. Thackeray, on the contrary, was merciless in his satirical attacks on the ruling classes. He considered that art should be a real mirror of life. He showed bourgeois society and its vices without softening their description. In this approach o art he was the follower of the great satirist of the Enlightenment, Jonathan Swift. Thackeray’s most outstanding works are The Book of Snobs (under this title he published a collection of satirical essays) that appeared in 1846 – 1847 and his novel Vanity Fair (1847 – 1848). Typical Work: Vanity Fair Critique ‘Vanity Fair’, the best known of Thackeray’s works, is a social novel which shows not only the bourgeois aristocratic society as a whole, but also the very laws which govern it. Describing the events which took place at the beginning of the 19th century, the author presents a broad satirical picture of contemporary England. The social background of the novel, which influences all the characters in their thought and actions, is high society at large. Thackeray attacks the vanity, pretensions, prejudices, and corruption of the aristocracy. He mercilessly exposes the snobbishness, hypocrisy, money worshipping and parasitism of all those who form the bulwark of society. Thackeray shows that goodness often goes hand in hand with stupidity ad folly, that cleverness is often knavery.
The title of this novel was an allusion, quite familiar in these days, to the city of London which had been described as Vanity Fair in the famous 17th century religious allegory of John Bunyan:’ The Pilgrim’s Progress’ (1678). It is also associated with the book of the Bible whose memorable words are’ ALL IS VANITY’. His main subject is the false heartless ways and the resourceful hypocrisy of society, the silent misery of simple souls.
Chapter VI: English literature in the 20th century
I. Cultural – Historical Background The 20th century witnessed a decline in economic and political power of Great Britain, which could be traced back to the following remarkable events: 1. The Boer War (1899- 1902) The Boer War was the fight for colony in South Africa between the British imperialists and the Dutch colonialists. Although Great Britain defeated the Boers of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal Republic in South Africa the fight for the expansion of the British Empire cost the life of thousands of men. 2. World War I (1914- 1918) The First World War lasted from 1914 to 1918, in which Great Britain, France, Russia Belgium, Italy, Japan, the Unites States, and other allies defeated Germany, Austria, Hungary, Turkey, and Bulgaria. The war lasted only for four yeas but left heavy consequences for the following decades. It continued polarizing the English society, left behind millions of the wounded and disabled, and created as many problems as it solved. 3. The October Revolution (1917) The October Revolution was the overthrow of Czarism by the uprising of Mach 1917 (The February Revolution) continued with the seizure of the central organs of State power in Petrograd by the Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin on November 7, 1917 (October 25, old style- The October Revolution). It was the first socialist revolution of the proletariat and its victory showed a way out for the workers in their uncompromising class struggle for a better life. The October Revolution inspired the oppressed to rise up in arms to fight for their own interests. Struck by the triumph of the Revolution, English intellectuals and writers went to Russia to find out how the oppressed managed their State. 4. The Struggle for National Independence of Ireland (1916-1921) In 1916, Ireland began their struggle against Great Britain for national independence. Defeated, Great Britain had to concede the independence of Ireland in 1921. In the following year, the Republic of Ireland was founded. 5. The General Crises (1929-1933) The 20th century saw the ferment of the general crises, which were caused by the vigorous and unplanned development of free enterprises in Great Britain. The depression following these crises had great impact on the life of the ordinary people. 6. World War II (1939-1945) The Second World War broke out in 1939, in which Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union, the United States, and other allies defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan. The Second World War proved far more catastrophic than the First World War. In this war, not only the military forces but also the civilian population of Great Britain were involved. The Germans attacked Britain and bombed London. By the end of the war in September 1945, England had suffered the loss of hundreds of
thousands of people and the devastation of wide urban areas in London. National economic system and financial resources were badly affected. 7. The General Strikes of the British Workers (1926; 1962; 1972) The general strikes in Great Britain revealed the seriousness of the class struggle of the British workers against the capitalist monopoly in this country. The General Strike broke out in Britain in 1926. In 1962, the British railway workers went out on strike for higher pay. The increase in price and inflation which seriously affected the life of the working people led to the nation-wide strikes in 1972. These strikes represented the maturity and the solidarity of the British workers in their economic and political struggles against the state monopoly. In general, Great Britain in this century lost her domination of the past. In the main political problems of the world, she participated as one of the most active partners of the United States, who has become much stronger and taken over the leading role of the capitalist world. II. Literature 1. The Transition from the Victorian Age The Victorian age lost itself in the sands ten or fifteen years before the close of the 19th century. The Victorian age had been a time of optimism, the basis of which was England’s material prosperity. The British flag had followed her trade and forces to every corner of the world, and a empire had been greatly enlarged. During the last two decades of the century, the material prosperity began to be assailed by foreign competition; new social forces came into play. A current of pessimism- arising partly from the discordance which existed between the teaching of the Bible and the message of science, partly from the consciousness that the evils denounced by Carlyle and Ruskin- has not been adequately dealt with invaded literature. Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was the most remarkable exponent of this literary pessimism. His ‘Wessex Novels’ (several of which were masterpieces of realistic description and psychological penetration ) were dominated by the notion of a relentless fate, or more exactly of uncompromising determinism. Men, in the novels of Thomas Hardy were slaves to their environments, to their instincts, to their heredity; most of them were destined to live a life of utter misery, without any hope of redemption during their brief transit through this sorrow world. Still more tragic was the note of despondency one heard in the verse of James Thomson (1834-1882), whose poetry was that of 'sheer, overmastering, inexorable despair’. Thomson proclaimed That every struggle brings defeat Because Fate holds no prize to crown success; That all the oracles are dumb or cheat Because they have no secret to express;
That none can pierce the vast black veil uncertain Because there is no light behind the curtain; That all is vanity and nothingness. (The City of Dreadful Night) From this atmosphere of despondency may young writers sought to free themselves. Some fled, on the wings of imagination, to the land of romance. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), an essayist, a novelist, and occasionally a poet, was the pioneer of this new literature of adventure. His ‘Treasure Island’, which made him at once one of the most popular writers of the day, was followed by fascinating historical romances, such as ‘The Master of Ballantrae’. Stevenson was one of these pure artists who believed that ‘life is hard enough for poor mortals without having it indefinitely embittered for them by bad art’. He said of himself that he was’ a poetical character with a prose talent’. The cherishing of ‘Art for Art’s Sake’ was one of the market tendencies of the transitional period from the Victorian age to the dawn of the 20th century. Oscar Wilde (1856-1900), the best representative of pure aestheticism, recoiled from political and social controversy, and rejected the artistic doctrines of Ruskin.’ They are the elect’, he said, ‘to whom beautiful things mean only beauty. There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written, that is all’. 2. English Literature in the 20th century English Literature in the 20th century can be grouped into four main trends: 2.1. The Imperialist Trend Writers of this trend such as Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) and Herbert George Wells (1866-1946) supported the idea of the expansion of imperialism. During the Boer war, Kipling supported the policy of British expansion. He was the voice of imperialism triumphant. He proclaimed, in prose and in verse, the grandeaur of all that is best in English tradition. He exalted the energy, the spirit of adventure and discovery, the sense of organization, the discipline, the piety, which have made throughout the centuries the grandeur of the English nation. He also sang of the new feeling of brotherhood which now united the different communities of the British Empire. Herbert George Wells, with psychological interest and social purpose, built his stories upon scientific fancy. As Wells advanced in his literary career, the interest of his fiction shifted more and more to philosophical and social criticism. He wished humanity to be organized on a more rational basis, to do away with the deadening influence of tradition and with the anarchy of mercantilism. With a rich imagination, a vitality of creation and a clear and forceful style, Wells produced may literary works of merit which made him one of the great intellectual forces of modern England. 2.2. The Progressive Realistic Trend The Realistic literature in the 20th century was conditioned by the vices in various aspects of the English society.
Writers in this trend understood the working and living conditions of the working people and sympathized with the sufferings of the underprivileged, but they could not find a way out for them. They yearned for a better society but they did not know which one it would be. They even talked of revolution to change the social order but they also feared that a socialist revolution would be too violent. The greatest writers of the new era did not, however, shrink from the problems which had increased in complexity and acuteness. Essayists, novelists, and playwrights exposed the cant and selfishness of degraded Victorianism. ‘I write plays’, sad Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) ‘with the deliberate object of converting the nation to my opinions’. Bernard Shaw realized that the objective of literature was to solve human problems and to lead the people in their struggle against injustice. In 1895 Shaw joined the Fabian Society, a social organization supporting the idea of passing to socialism by means of social reforms. Of the realistic novel, Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) was one of the most brilliant representatives. His first novel, ‘A man from the North’ was published in 1898; but it was only with’ The Old Wives’ Tale’ (1908) that he asserted himself as a prominent writer. The picture that Arnold Bennett gave of his characters was of remarkable actuality. No detail was too small to escape his glance; no class of people was too humble to be excluded from the rage of his observation. He could invest even what was uninteresting with prodigious interest, ad the lives of the dull became exciting in his hands. Another famous writer of the realistic trend was William Somerset Maugham(1874-1965). His rich experience of life and his acute insight into human nature provided ground for his analytical and critical quality of his works. This quality kept his frequent audience in frequent suspense and his stories forever fresh. His famous works’ Of Human Bondage’ (1915) and ‘The Moon and Six Pence’ (1919) are still widely read. Hardly less influential was John Galsworthy (1867-1933), a novelist and playwright, perhaps the most complete and perfect writer of his day. With a highly artistic temperament, Galsworthy veiled the severity of argument under the grace of an easy, unpretentious style, now and then relieved by delightful touches of poetry. His novels were elaborately constructed. His masterpiece was perhaps ‘The Man of Property’ (later on expanded, by the addition of ‘The India Summer of a Forsyte’, ‘In Chancery’ and ‘To Let’, into the ‘Forsyte Saga’), in which he gave a vivid, though sober, picture of the ravages affected in the wealthy middle- class family of the Forsytes by the tenacious, unimaginative, soulless ‘spirit of property’. Realism and romance were blended in the novels and tales of Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), who did not become acquainted with the English language until his twenty-first year. His wonderful descriptions of sea-life ad storms were founded on his personal experiences on several merchant-vessels, mainly in the East. On the scene of realistic literature also arose Graham Greene (1905-1991), who never confined himself to a narrow world. His concern of the world at large and his attitude towards political problems lay in man’s predicament and individual’s responsibility for the sufferings of others. ‘The Quiet American’, his masterpiece, published in 1955, was considered one of the best novels on anti-colonial literature.
2.3. The Decadent Trend During the 20’s there appeared writers who did not believe in human nature and society. Compared with the Victorian writers whose world outlook was critical but optimistic, all the English writers of the early 20th century looked for a new way of expressiveness and many succumbed to decadence. While the late 19 th century critical realist tended to reveal the vices of the capitalist society without any doubt about the goodness in human nature, the early 20th century writers were poisoned with pessimism. The early 20th century English writers, horrified by the bloodshed of World War I, feverishly looked for the causes of the war. Being unable to see the real cause- the clashing greeds of imperialist countries and their competition in enrichment- they put the blame on the development of technology, and on the inborn depravity of man. Frustrated by the reality, these writers tried to escape every contact with social life ad retreat to their own worlds. They became’ introverts’, turning aside to explore the subconscious, the subtle sensations and perceptions in the inner life. Life in all its complexity and fullness and vigour no longer occupied them. The decadent trend in English literature was closely associated with James Joyce (1882-1941), Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965), and David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930). 2.4. The Socialist Realistic Trend The socialist realistic trend with its tradition established since the Chartist movement gained wider recognition among readers. In the 1930’s, a new type of writers came into being in England: the writers-fighters. The writers of this period took a very active pat in socio-political activities. Such communist writers as Ralph Fox (1900-1937), John Cornford (1915-1936), Christopher Caudwell (1907-1937) and Sean O’Casey (1880-1964) were also antifascist fighters. Of the socialist realistic trend, Ralph Fox was one of the pioneers. He propagated the idea of Marxism and revealed the seriousness of the class struggle of the time in his famous works ‘Class Struggle in the Epoch of Imperialism’ (1933), ‘The Colonial Policy of British Imperialism’ (1933), and ‘Communism in a Changing Civilization’ (1935). III. Typical Writers and Works 1. Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) Rudyard Kipling was born in Bombay, but educated in England at the United Services College, Westward Ho, Bideford. In 1882 he returned to India, where he worked for Anglo-Indian newspapers. His literary career began with Departmental Ditties (1886), but subsequently he became chiefly known as a writer of short stories. A prolific writer, he achieved fame quickly. Kipling was the poet of the British Empire and its yeoman, the common soldier, whom he glorified in many of his works, in particular Plain Tales from the Hills (1888) and Soldiers Three (1888), collections of short stories with roughly and affectionately drawn soldier portraits. His Barrack Room Ballads (1892) were written for, as much as about, the common soldier. In 1894 appeared his Jungle Book, which became a children's classic all over the world. Kim (1901), the story of Kimball O'Hara and
his adventures in the Himalayas, is perhaps his most felicitous work. Other works include The Second Jungle Book (1895), The Seven Seas (1896), Captains Courageous (1897), The Day's Work (1898), Stalky and Co. (1899), Just So Stories (1902), Trafficks and Discoveries (1904), Puck of Pook's Hill (1906), Actions and Reactions (1909), Debits and Credits (1926), Thy Servant a Dog (1930), and Limits and Renewals (1932). During the First World War Kipling wrote some propaganda books. His collected poems appeared in 1933. Kipling was the recipient of many honorary degrees and other awards. In 1926 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Society of Literature, which only Scott, Meredith, and Hardy had been awarded before him. Typical Work: Jungle Book Critique Rudyard Kipling, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1907, wrote these stories for children while living in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book are children’s classics which attempt to teach the lessons of justice, loyalty, and tribal laws. It is evident from reading these books that here is a master writer who loved children and could tell them a good story with an underlying meaning that adults can appreciate as well. 2. George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950) George Bernard Shaw was an Irishman. He was born in Dublin (Ireland) in a middle-class bourgeois family. At an early age he left Ireland and went to London to earn his living. He wrote later that he was then a simple proletarian. That’s why, when he began to be interested in politics, he joined one of the socialist organizations that existed at that time. So he used to say “I became socialist and am proud of it”. It is true that his socialism was rather passive, like that of Galsworthy and Wells. He considered reform to be the main way of reorganizing society. Shaw was always very active in social and political life of his country and saw very clearly where the evil in society lay. When World War II broke out, he stressed that the enemies of mankind were neither Germany nor Great Britain, but imperialism. He was among the first of the English intellectual to welcome the Great October Socialist Revolution and remain a sincere friend of our country. In 1931 Shaw came to the Soviet Union, where he celebrated his 75th birthday. His first visit in Moscow was to the Lenin Mausoleum. On his departure he said that he was leaving the country of hope, to return to the country of despair. Shaw made a revolution in the English theatre with the new ideas he brought into it. He considered that the theatre should rouse people, make them think and suffer. People, he said, should be taught to look at life soberly, intelligently. An oculist had once told him that he had perfectly normal sight, which only about ten percent of all the people of the world had. Shaw liked to add to this that his intellectual eyesight was also normal. That was why he understood things better than most people. He considered it his study to disclose the real state of things that people seldom saw. Therefore, he introduced the so-called “problem” plays in which he set different social problems and tried to solve them through dialogue of his characters. He used to say that his
way of joking was to speak the truth. Indeed, many bitter truths were presented to the audience, hidden in playful paradoxes, which were the playwright’s favorite device. The main theme of Shaw’s plays was, throughout his life, the criticism. With this criticism he began his activity as a playwright in 1892, when his first comedy, Widower’s House was written. Typical Work : Major Barbara Critique 3. Graham Greene (1904) Graham Greene was born at Berkhamsted, near London. His father, Charles Henry Greene, was headmaster of the local Church school. Henry Greene was a catholic and this strongly influenced the views of the writer since his very childhood. Graham Greene was educated in Oxford. From 1926 to 130 he was sub-editor of the London Times. He travelled a good deal in Mexico, which later became a scene of many of his novels. Greene started writing in the late 20s. He wrote a lot of short stories, critical essays, travel books, and plays. Since the beginning of his literary career Greene has been writing along two lines-the so-called ‘serious novels’ and the ‘entertaining novels’. While the former are generally a meditation on the psychology of man, the latter are more of the detective type of novels. The group of ‘serious novels’ is represented by The Man Within (1929), England Made Me (1953), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), The Quiet American (1995), A Burnt-Out Case (1961). The ‘entertaining novels’ are Stamboul Train (1932), A Gun for Sale (1936), The Confidential Agent (1939), Loser Takes All (1955), The Ministry of Fear (1968). The borderline between these two groups is, however, vague because the former are often constructed along detective or adventure lines while the latter present serious problems. Greene’s novels touch on the burning political issues of the day- the American war in Vietnam in The Quiet American, racism in South Africa in The Human Factor (1978), the people’s struggle against the reactionary dictatorship in Haiti in The Comedians (1966). The social and political events serve as a background against which problems of ethical character are solved. Greene’s novels present a profound research into the depths of human psychology and are permeated with philosophical meditations on the nature of man and human predicament. The major conflict in several of his novels occurs between believers, who live according to the law of the Church and unbelievers. And yet Greene avoids the easy solution that the believer will be saved ad the unbeliever damned. He tries to find a way to reconcile these opposite views, which at the early period of his writing was its weakest point. Typical Work: The Quiet American
The Quiet American is one of Greene's later books, published in 1955, and draws on his experiences as a SIS agent spying for Britain in World War II in Sierra Leone in the early 1940s and on winters spent from 1951 to 1954 in Saigon reporting on the French colonial war for The Times and Le Figaro. He was apparently inspired to write The Quiet American in October 1951 while driving back to Saigon from the Ben Tre province. He was accompanied by an American aid worker who lectured him about finding a “third force in Vietnam”. Greene spent three years writing it. Critique There are novels, famous not only for their literary values but also for their historical background. Those novels force the characters to express their opinions and to show their attitudes. The characters cannot be just onlookers. They cannot always ignore the reality of life, but, up to some time, they have to take sides and transform it. Such a novel is ‘The Quiet American’, a novel about Vietnam, a masterpiece on anti-colonial literature. Published in 1955, right after the end of the Vietnamese resistance against the French colonialists, the novel is generally regarded both as a new discovery and as a prophecy of the American evil interference in Vietnam. Since the publication of this novel, the term’ the quiet American’ has soon become a symbol of American new colonialists, who used to make trouble, organize coups d’etat, and provoke rebellions in many countries under a clean, innocent cover. However, such a new discovery and a prophecy could hardly be made and exposed by other writers in the 1950s. The contribution of Graham Greene, therefore, lies in the creation of a vivid, convincing artistic image of a ‘pioneer’, Pyle- the quiet America- who symbolizes all the evil characteristics of American new colonialists. Another strong point of ‘The Quiet American’ is that, through this novel, Graham Greene critically and ironically attacked the American dirty machinations in their attempts to set up the so-called ‘Third Force’, a force believed to be a National Democracy working for the reconciliation and reunion of the Vietnamese people in North and South Vietnam. The strongest point of this novel is the devotion of the author to the Vietnamese resistance against America imperialist: like Fowler. Greene eventually came to realize that nobody could stand outside the VietnamAmerican War; that nobody could even sit on the fence; that up to some time ma has to make a choice and take a side if man remains to be human. Greene’s character did make a choice and take a side, and so did Greene himself: he chose to take sides with the Vietnamese ad strongly condemned the American intervention. This marked a turning point in the life and career of Graham Greene, a Christian writer, who used to be haunted by our ancestral sins and write about the most spleenful aspects of a haunted spirit.
Topic for writing assignments
• • • • • •
Different views on the roles of women presented in twentieth-century English literature Views of parent-child relations or relationships among different generations Views of problems caused by class differences or racism in society Views of love relationships or marriage Views of love in different Victorian works Development of 19th-century realism in poetry and fiction Use of humor in literary works
Report on a nineteenth- or twentieth-century British author (of adults' or children’s literature). Focus on at least one major literary work by that author which you have read. Report on a social, historical, political, religious or scientific issue in Britain as it is reflected in particular works of literature. For example, in some of Dickens’ novels problems with the educational system in England are illustrated. Darwin’s theory of evolution and Freud’s psychoanalytical theories had a major impact on many writers. Yeats, Joyce, and others wrote about political problems in Ireland.
Report on a particular place in the British Isles or former British Empire and the sense of place conveyed in specific literary work(s). For example, the Bronte sisters wrote about the Yorkshire moors, George Eliot’s novels are set in the rural Midlands where she grew up, Dickens and T. S. Eliot made use of London scenes in their times, Irish places were important to Joyce and Yeats. Bring some pictures to class or display pictures on the Internet or in PowerPoint.
Create a short skit or some other kind of production that dramatizes a literary piece.
• Report on some aspect of social history that relates to particular works of literature. What Jane Austen
Knew and Charles Dickens Ate is an interesting book on nineteenth-century life. • Select any work of British literature that interests you and discuss how it illustrates major characteristics of literary trends.
• Why do we consider Vanity Fair to be one of the greatest examples of the 19th century critical realism? • What themes does Charlotte Bronte touch upon in Jane Eyre?
• • Why has Byron often been called a poet of “world sorrow”? What themes did Oscar Wilde touch on his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray?
• Explain what makes it possible to link Galsworthy with the best writers of world literature.
1. William Shakespeare (1564-1616): Hamlet, Twelfth Night 2. John Donne.(1572-1631): The Good Morrow, Good Friday. 3. John Milton. (1608-1674): Paradise Lost. 4. John Bunyan. (1628-1688): The Pilgrim’s Progress. 5. Daniel Defoe (1660-1731): The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe. 6. Jonathan Swift.(1667-1745): Gulliver’s Travels .
7. Alexander Pope (1688-1744): The Rape of the Lock, Ode on Solitude, The Universal Prayer.
8. William Blake (1757-1827): Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. 9. William Wordsworth (1770-1850): The World is Too Much With Us, The Daffodils, The Rainbow, The Solitary Reaper 10. George Gordon Byron (1788 – 1824): When we two parted, Song for the Luddites 11. John Keats (1795-1821): On a Grecian Urn.
12. Walter Scott (1771-1832): Ivanhoe
13. Charlotte Brontë (1816-1855): Jane Eyre.
14. Jane Austen: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility 15. Charles Dickens (1812-1870): Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, 16. Emily Bronte: Wuthering Heights 17. Lewis Carroll: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland 18. William Makepeace Thackeray: Vanity Fair
19. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): The Picture of Dorian Gray 20. Robert Browning (1812-1889): My Last Duchess. 21. Gerald M. Hopkins (1844-1889): Pied Beauty 22. William B. Yeats (1865-1939): Easter 1916, The Circus Animals’ Desertion. 23. T. S. Eliot (1888-1965): Murder in the Cathedral, The Waste Land. 24. George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950): Pygmalion, Major Barbara 25. Joseph Conrad (1857-1924): Heart of Darkness 26. D.H.Lawrence. (1885-1930): Sons and Lovers, England, My England. 27. James Joyce (1882-1941): A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses. 28. Virginia Woolf (1882-1941): Mrs. Dalloway. Modern Fiction. 29. George Orwell (1902-1950): Animal Farm. 30. Graham Green (1904-1990): End of the Affair 31. William G. Golding (1911- 1993): Lord of the Flies.
Literature quiZ 1
Middle age 1. Which people began their invasion and conquest of southwestern Britain around 450? a) the Normans b) the Geats c) the Celts d) the Anglo-Saxons e) the Danes
2. The popular legend of which of the following figures made its earliest appearance in Celtic literature before becoming a staple subject in French, English, and German literatures? a) Sir Gawain b) King Arthur c) Saint Patrick d) Saint Augustine e) King Alfred 3. The decision of which writer to emulate French and Italian poetry in his own vernacular prompted a changed in the status of English? a) Margery Kempe b) Sir Thomas Malory c) Geoffrey Chaucer d) William Langland b) Saint Jerome's translation of the Bible d) Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People e) John Gower 4. What is the first extended written specimen of Old English? a) Boethius's Consolidation of Philosophy c) Malory's Morte Darthur e) a code of laws promulgated by King Ethelbert 5. Who was the first English Christian king? a) Alfred their hybrid culture? a) Islam and Christianity d) oral and written literatures Old English poetry? a) symbolism b) simile c) metonymy d) kenning e) appositive expression 8. Which of the following statements is not an accurate description of Old English poetry? a) Romantic love is a guiding principle of moral conduct. b) Its formal and dignified use of speech was distant from everyday use of language. c) Irony is a mode of perception, as much as it was a figure of speech. d) Christian and pagan ideals are sometimes mixed. e) Its idiom remained remarkably uniform for nearly three centuries. 9. Which of the following best describes litote, a favorite rhetorical device in Old English poetry? a) embellishment at the service of Christian doctrine understatement a) Latin a) Geoffrey Chaucer d) stress on every third diphthong b) German b) Marie de France c) French b) repetition of parallel syntactic structures c) ironic e) a compound of two words in place of a single word d) Celtic e) English d) a and c only e) b and c only b) insular and continental philosophy e) all of the above c) pagan and Christian moral codes b) Richard III c) Richard II d) Henry II e) Ethelbert 6. Old English poets, such as the Beowulf poet, were fascinated by the tension between which two aspects of
7. The use of "whale-road" for sea and "life-house" for body are examples of what literary technique, popular in
10. Which of the following languages did not coexist in Anglo-Norman England? 11. Which twelfth-century poet or poets claimed to have obtained narratives from Breton storytellers? c) Chrétien de Troyes 12. To what did the word the roman, from which the genre of "romance" emerged, initially apply? a) a work derived from a Latin text of the Roman Empire b) a story about love and adventure
c) a Roman official around the year 1200?
d) a work written in the French vernacular e) a series of short stories
13. The styles of The Owl and the Nightingale and Ancrene Riwle show what about the poetry and prose written a) They were written for sophisticated and well-educated readers. b) Writing continued to benefit only readers fluent in Latin and French. c) Their readers' primary language was English. evident in the works of which of the following writers? a) Geoffrey of Monmouth e) Marie de France 15. What was Geoffrey Chaucer's final work? a) Complaint to His Purse d) Legend of Good Women a) Sir Thomas Malory e) Geoffrey of Monmouth 17. Which literary form, developed in the fifteenth century, personified vices and virtues? a) the short story b) the heroic epic c) the morality play 16th century 1. Which of the following sixteenth-century works of English literature was translated into the English language after its first publication in Latin? a) Christopher Marlowe's Doctor Faustus The History of King Richard III a) George Puttenham a) Atheism b) William Shakespeare's King Lear c) Thomas More's d) William Shakespeare's Sonnets c) Walter Ralegh c) Catholicism e) Thomas More's Utopia e) all of the above e) Paganism d) the romance e) the limerick b) Troilus and Criseyde e) The House of Fame b) Margery Kempe c) Geoffrey Chaucer d) William Langland c) The Canterbury Tales b) the Gawain poet c) the Beowulf poet d) Chrétien de Troyes d) a and c only e) a and b only 14. In addition to Geoffrey Chaucer and William Langland, the "flowering" of Middle English literature is
16. Who is the author of Piers Plowman?
2. Which of the following sixteenth-century poets was not a courtier? b) Philip Sidney b) Protestantism d) Thomas Wyatt d) Hinduism 3. What was the predominant religion in England during the early sixteenth century? 4. Which of the following might be addressed/represented by pastoral poetry? a) an exaltation of the city life over the boring country life engage in singing contests and simplicity of living in the country a) the glorification of a nation or people Virgil in structure and motifs e) b and d only b) exotic adventures and marvels c) an imitation of Homer and b) shepherd and shepherdesses who fall in love and d) a celebration of the humility, contentment, c) heroic stories in epic form
5. Which of the following could be found in heroic poetry? d) a concern with love as well as war e) all of the above
6. Which of the following were kinds of comedies written for the Elizabeth theater? a) tragic-comedy b) humor comedy c) city comedy d) raucous comedy e) all but d 7. Which of the following is true about public theaters in Elizabethan England? a) They relied on admission charges, an innovation of the period. c) They were located outside the city limits of London. correlating to ticket cost. e) all of the above Early 17th century 1. What major new prose genre emerged in the Jacobean era? a) the novel b) the sermon c) the familiar essay d) the diary e) the intimate essay 2. Which of the following female authors of the Jacobean era wrote a work that became the "first" of its kind to be published by an English woman? a) Rachel Speght e) all of the above 3. What was the general subject of the Welsh poet Katherine Philips's work? a) celebrations of the transience of all life and beauty b) celebrations of lesbian sexuality in terms that did not imply a male readership c) celebrations of religious ecstasy and divine inspiration d) celebrations of female friendship in Platonic terms normally reserved for male friendships e) celebrations of an intense longing for past biblical eras of innocence and for the perfection of heaven 4. Who authored the scholarly biography, Life of Donne? a) Izaak Walton a) L'Allegro b) Katherine Philips b) Lycidas c) John Skelton d) Isabella Whitney e) Aemilia Lanyer 5. What is the title to Milton's blank-verse epic that assimilates and critiques the epic tradition? c) Paradise Lost d) The Divine Comedy e) The Beggar's Opera e) John Milton 6. Which writer was not active under both Elizabeth I and James I? a) William Shakespeare b) Ben Jonson c) John Donne d) Francis Bacon Restoration and the 18th century 1. Which of the following best describes the doctrine of empiricism? a) All knowledge is derived from experience. political power. illusion. b) Human perceptions are constructed and reflect structures of d) The sensory world is an c) The search for essential or ultimate principles of reality. b) Aemilia Lanyer c) Elizabeth Cary, Lady Falkland d) Lady Mary Wroth b) The early versions were oval in shape. d) The seating structure was tiered, with placement
e) God is the center of an ordered and just universe. b) metaphysics c) abstract logical deductions d) a and b only e) a, b, and c
2. Against which of the following principles did Jonathan Swift inveigh? a) theoretical science 114,000 quotations? 3. Whose great English Dictionary, published in 1755, included more than fifteen hundred illustrations and
a) William Hogarth a) Civilization
b) Jonathan Swift b) Woman
c) Samuel Johnson c) God
d) Ben Jonson d) Alcohol
e) James Boswell e) Nature
4. What was most frequently considered a source of pleasure and an object of inquiry by Augustan poets? 5. Which of the following was described by its author as a "comic epic-poem in prose"? a) Fielding's Joseph Andrews Vanity of Human Wishes eighteenth century? a) love poems b) philosophical poems c) descriptive poems d) meditative poems e) epics 7. Which work exposes the frivolity of fashionable London? a) Defoe's Robinson Crusoe d) Richardson's Clarissa a) William Beckford's Vathek Randsom time? a) Henry Fielding b) Laurence Sterne ) Samuel Richardson Romantic age 1. What served as the inspiration for Percy Bysshe Shelley's poems to the working classes A Song: "Men of England" and England in 1819? a) he organization of a working class men's choral group in Southern England b) the Battle of Waterloo working classes 2. Who applied the term "Romantic" to the literary period dating from 1785 to 1830? a) Wordsworth because he wanted to distinguish his poetry and the poetry of his friends from that of the ancien régime, especially satire b) English historians half a century after the period ended c) "The Satanic School" of Byron, Percy Shelley, and their followers d) Oliver Goldsmith in The Deserted Village (1770) e) Harold Bloom c) the Peterloo Massacre d) the storming of the Bastille e) the first Reform Bill, passed in 1832, which aimed to bring greater Parliamentary representation to the d) Tobias Smollett e) Jonathan Swift b) Swift's Gulliver's Travels e) Pope's The Rape of the Lock b) Matthew Lewis's The Monk c) Tobias Smollett's Roderick c) Behn's Oroonoko b) Richardson's Pamela e) Burney's Evelina c) Swift's Gulliver's Travels d) Johnson's The
6. For which of the following poetic genres was blank verse generally not considered a good medium in the
8. Which of the following is not generally considered a Gothic romance? d) Ann Radcliffe's The Italian e) William Godwin's Caleb Williams
9. Who wrote The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, a novel that abandons clock time for psychological
3. Which of the following became the most popular Romantic poetic form, following on Wordsworth's claim that poetic inspiration is contained within the inner feelings of the individual poet as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings"? a) the lyric poem written in the first person e) the ode 4. Romantic poetry about the natural world uses descriptions of nature _________. a) for their own sake; to merely describe natural phenomenon endowing it with traits normally associated with humans processes of human thinking spiritual world e) b, c, and d b) to depict a metaphysical concept of nature by c) as a means to demonstrate and discuss the b) the sonnet c) doggerel rhyme d) the political tract
d) symbolically to suggest that natural objects correspond to an inner,
5. How would "Natural Supernaturalism" be best characterized as a Romantic notion introduced by Carlyle? a) a form of animism in which objects in the natural world are believed to be inhabited by spirits b) a spontaneous belief in the supernatural based upon a surprise encounter with a supernatural being c) a process by which things that are familiar and thought to be ordinary are made to appear miraculous and new to our eyes d) the experience of hallucinating contact with the supernatural world when taking opium e) an oxymoron that nobody understood and that cannot be explained in the context of a discussion of Romantic literature 6. Which setting could you not imagine a work of Romantic literature employing? a) a field of daffodils b) the "Orient" c) a graveyard d) a medieval castle e) All of the above would be appropriate settings for Romantic literature. 7. Which poet asserted in practice and theory the value of representing rustic life and language as well as social outcasts and delinquents not only in pastoral poetry, common before this poet's time, but also as the major subject and medium for poetry in general? a) William Blake d) William Wordsworth b) Alfred Lord Tennyson e) Mary Wollstonecraft b) a lyric poem written in the first person c) Samuel Johnson
8. Which of the following descriptions would not have applied to any Romantic text? a) a spiritual autobiography written in an epic style c) a comedy of manners d) a political tract demanding labor reform
e) a novel written about the intellectual and emotional development of a monster created by a scientist 9. Which of the following poems describe or celebrate an apocalyptic regeneration of humanity and the world effected by the creative capacity of the human mind? a) Coleridge's Dejection: An Ode b) Blake's "Prophetic Books" c) Carlyle's Sartor Resartus d) Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman e) all but d
10. Which of the following periodical publications (reviews and magazines) appeared in the Romantic era? a) London Magazine b) The Spectator c) The Edinburgh Review d) The Tatler e) a and c only 11. The Gothic novel, a popular genre for the Romantics, exemplified in the writing of Horace Walpole and Ann Radcliffe, could contain which of the following elements? a) supernatural phenomenon gloomy castles, and dark dungeons b) perversion and sadism, often involving a maiden's persecution d) secret passages, decaying mansions, e) all of the above b) William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge c) Sir c) plots of mystery and terror set in inhospitable, sullen landscapes 12. Which two writers can be described as writing historical novels? a) Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley Walter Scott and Maria Edgeworth novelists never wrote historical novels. 13. Which Romantic writer(s) wrote in more than one of these popular literary forms: essay, novel, drama, poetry? a) Percy Bysshe Shelley Coleridge b) William Wordsworth e) all of the above Victorian age 1. Which ruler's reign marks the approximate beginning and end of the Victorian era? a) King Henry VIII b) Queen Elizabeth I c) Queen Victoria d) King John e) all of the above, in that order, with Victoria's reign marking the most pivotal period for England's colonial efforts in India, Africa, and the West Indies 2. Which of the following novelists best represents the mid-Victorian period's contentment with the burgeoning economic prosperity and decreased restiveness over social and political change? a) Anthony Trollope b) Charles Dickens c) John Ruskin d) Friedrich Engels e) Oscar Wilde 3. What does the phrase "White Man's Burden," coined by Kipling, refer to? a) Britain's manifest destiny to colonize the world Christianity to the peoples of the world other parts of the world tackling the world's problems b) the moral responsibility to bring civilization and c) the British need to improve technology and transportation in c) George Gordon, Lord Byron d) Samuel Taylor d) Jane Austen and Charlotte Brontë e) none of the above: Romantic
d) the importance of solving economic and social problems in England before e) a Chartist sentiment
4. Which of the following best defines Utilitarianism? a) a farming technique aimed at maximizing productivity with the fewest tools b) a moral arithmetic, which states that all humans aim to maximize the greatest pleasure to the greatest number a critical methodology stating that all words have a single meaningful function within a given piece of literature d) a philosophy dictating that we should only keep what we use on a daily basis. e) a form of nonconformism
5. Which of the following authors promoted versions of socialism? a) William Morris b) John Ruskin c) Edward FitzGerald d) Karl Marx e) all but c 6. Which best describes the general feeling expressed in literature during the last decade of the Victorian era? a) studied melancholy and aestheticism b) sincere earnestness and Protestant zeal c) aucous celebration mixed with self-congratulatory sophistication d) paranoid introspection and cryptic dissent e) all of the above 7. Fill in the blanks from Tennyson's The Princess. Man for the field and woman for the _____: Man for the sword and for the _____ she: Man with the head and woman with the _____: Man to command and woman to _____. a) crop; scabbard; foot; agree d) hearth; needle; heart; obey a) Thomas Carlyle b) throne; scepter; soul; decree e) field; sword; head; command b) Matthew Arnold c) Charles Dickens d) Elizabeth Barrett Browning c) school; scalpel; pen; set free
8.Which of the following Victorian writers regularly published their work in periodicals? e) all of the above: In addition to short fiction, most Victorian novels appeared serialized in periodicals. 9. What best describes the subject of most Victorian novels? a) the representation of a large and comprehensive social world in realistic detail of alternate states of consciousness c) a mythic dream world e) a and d d) the attempt of a protagonist to define his or her place in society b) a surrealist exploration
10. What was the relationship between Victorian poets and the Romantics? a) The Romantics remained largely forgotten until their rediscovery by T. S. Eliot in the 1920s. b) The Victorians were disgusted by the immorality and narcissism of the Romantics. c) The Romantics were seen as gifted but crude artists belonging to a distant, semi-barbarous age. d) The Victorians were strongly influenced by the Romantics and experienced a sense of belatedness. e) The Victorians were aware of no distinction between themselves and the Romantics; the distinction was only created by critics in the twentieth century. 11. What type of writing did Walter Pater define as "the special and opportune art of the modern world"? a) the novel b) nonfiction prose c) the lyric d) comic drama e)transcripts of Parliamentary debates d) Robert Corrigan 12. Which of the following comic playwrights made fun of Victorian values and pretensions? a) W. S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan e) all but d 20th century 1. Which scientific or technological advance did not take place in the first fifteen years of the twentieth century? b) Oscar Wilde c) George Bernard Shaw
a) Albert Einstein's theory of relativity the internet
b) wireless communication across the Atlantic e) the mass production of cars
c) the creation of
d) the invention of the airplane
2. In the 1930s, younger writers such as W. H. Auden were more _______ but less _______ than older modernists such as Eliot and Pound. a) popular; reverenced e) spiritual; orthodox 3. Which poet could be described as part of "The Movement" of the 1950s? a) Thom Gunn a) W. B. Yeats b) Dylan Thomas b) James Joyce c) Pablo Picasso d) Philip Larkin e) both a and d d) Oscar Wilde 4. Which of the following writers did not come from Ireland? c) Seamus Heaney e) none of the above; all came from Ireland 5. Which novel did T. S. Eliot praise for utilizing a new "mythical method" in place of the old "narrative method" and demonstrates the use of ancient mythology in modernist fiction to think about "making the modern world possible for art"? a) Virginia Woolf's The Waves b) Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness c) James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake e) James Joyce's Ulysses d) E. M. Forster's A Passage to India b) brash; confident c) radical; inventive d) anxious; haunting
6. Who wrote the dystopian novel Nineteen-Eighty-Four in which Newspeak demonstrates the heightened linguistic self-consciousness of modernist writers? a) George Orwell b) Virginia Woolf c) Evelyn Waugh d) Orson Wells e) Aldous Huxley 7. Which of the following novels display postwar nostalgia for past imperial glory? a) E. M. Forster's A Passage to India c) Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness a) 1930 b) 1945 c) 1960 b) Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea d) Paul Scott's Staying On d) 2000 e) c and d
8. When was the ban finally lifted on D. H. Lawrence's novel Lady Chatterley's Lover, written in 1928. e) The ban has not yet been formally lifted. c) the Independent Theatre 9. Which of the following was originally the Irish Literary Theatre? a) the Irish National Theatre d) the Abbey Theatre b) the Globe Theatre e) both a and d
Key to Literature quiZ
1. d) the Anglo-Saxons 2. b) King Arthur
3. e) John Gower 4. e) a code of laws promulgated by King Ethelbert 5. e) Ethelbert 6. c) pagan and Christian moral codes 7. d) kenning 8. a) Romantic love is a guiding principle of moral conduct. 9. c) ironic understatement 10. b) German 11. e) b and c only 12. d) a work written in the French vernacular 13. d) a and c only 14. b) the Gawain poet 15. c) The Canterbury Tales 16. d) William Langland 17. c) the morality play 16th century 1. e) Thomas More's Utopia 2. a) George Puttenham 3. c) Catholicism 4. e) b and d only 5. e) all of the above 6. e)all but d 7. e)all of the above Early 17th century 1. c) the familiar essay 2. e) all of the above 3. d) celebrations of female friendship in Platonic terms normally reserved for male friendships 4. a) Izaak Walton 5. c) Paradise Lost 6. e)John Milton Restoration and the 18th century 1. a)All knowledge is derived from experience. 2. e)a, b, and c
3. c)Samuel Johnson 4. e)Nature 5. a)Fielding's Joseph Andrews 6. a)love poems 7. e)Pope's The Rape of the Lock 8. c)Tobias Smollett's Roderick Randsom 9. b)Laurence Sterne Romantic age 1. c)the Peterloo Massacre 2. b)English historians half a century after the period ended 3. a)the lyric poem written in the first person 4. e)b, c, and d 5. c)a process by which things that are familiar and thought to be ordinary are made to appear miraculous and new to our eyes 6. e)All of the above would be appropriate settings for Romantic literature. 7. d)William Wordsworth 8. c)a comedy of manners 9. e)all but d 10. e)a and c only 11. e)all of the above 12. c)Sir Walter Scott and Maria Edgeworth 13. e)all of the above Victorian age 1. c)Queen Victoria 2. a)Anthony Trollope 3. b)the moral responsibility to bring civilization and Christianity to the peoples of the world 4. b) a moral arithmetic, which states that all humans aim to maximize the greatest pleasure to the greatest number 5. e)all but c 6. a)studied melancholy and aestheticism 7. d)hearth; needle; heart; obey 8. e)all of the above: In addition to short fiction, most Victorian novels appeared serialized in periodicals. 9. e)a and d 10. d)The Victorians were strongly influenced by the Romantics and experienced a sense of belatedness.
11. b)nonfiction prose 12. e)all but d 20th century 1. c)the creation of the internet 2. c)radical; inventive 3. e)both a and d 4. e)none of the above; all came from Ireland 5. e)James Joyce's Ulysses 6. a)George Orwell 7. d)Paul Scott's Staying On 8. c)1960 9. e)both a and d
English Literary quiZ 2 1 - Who was the author of the famous storybook 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'? a. Rudard Kipling a. 10 b. John Keats b. 12 c. Lewis Carroll c. 14 d. H.G. Wells d. they vary 2 - How many lines does a sonnet have? 3-Who wrote 'Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise'?
c. Shakespeare c. Jungle Book
d. Kipling d. Peter Pan
4- Name the book which opens with the line 'All children, except one grew up'? a. The Railway Children b. Winnie the Poo 5 - Which is the first Harry Potter book? a. HP and the Goblet of Fire b. HP and the Philosopher’s Stone c. HP and the Chamber of Secrets 6 - In which century were Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales written? a. 14th a. Scottish a. Anne b. 15th b. Welsh b. Charlotte c. 16th c. English c. Emily c. schoolboys on a desert island e. man f. castle d. Irish d. 17th e. French 7 - What nationality was Robert Louis Stevenson, writer of 'Treasure Island'? 8 - 'Jane Eyre' was written by which Bronte sister? 9 - What is the book 'Lord of the Flies' about? a. a road trip around the USA b. a swarm of killer flies a. dwarf b. wiZard c. troll d. hobbit 10 - In the book' The Lord of the Rings', who or what is Bilbo? 11- The following taboo phrases were used by which writer? "I fart at thee", "shit on your head', "dirty bastard" a. Ben Johnson b. William Shakespeare b. Irvine Welsh c. Henry James d. Ernest Hemingway d. Emile Zola 12 - Who wrote the crime novel "Ten Little Niggers"? a. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle c. Agatha Christle
Key 1 - Who was the author of the famous storybook 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland'? c 2 - How many lines does a sonnet have? 14 3 - Who wrote 'Where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise'? c 4 - Name the book which opens with the line 'All children, except one grew up'? d 5 - Which is the first Harry Potter book? b 6 - In which century were Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales written? 14
7 - What nationality was Robert Louis Stevenson, writer of 'Treasure Island'? a 8 - 'Jane Eyre' was written by which Bronte sister? b 9 - What is the book 'Lord of the Flies' about? c 10 - In the book' The Lord of the Rings', who or what is Bilbo? c 11 - The following taboo phrases were used by which writer? a "I fart at thee", "shit on your head', "dirty bastard" 12 - Who wrote the crime novel "Ten Little Niggers"? c
English Literary quiZ 3
1. Which Welsh poet wrote "Under Milk Wood?" a. Anthony Hopkins a. Geoffrey Chaucer b. Richard Burton b. Dick Whittington c. Tom Jones d. Dylan Thomas d. King Richard II 2. Who wrote Canterbury Tales? c. Thomas Lancaster 3. Who wrote "The Hound of the Baskervilles"?
a. Agatha Christie a. Titus Andronicus
b. H Ryder-Haggard b. Taming of the Shrew
c. P D James c. White Devil
d. Arthur Conan Doyle d. Hamlet c. William Wordsworth
4. Wlliam Shakespeare is not the author of: 5. Which of the following writers wrote historical novels? a. Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte and Samuel Taylor Coleridge a. The Poor Man and the Lady 7. Who wrote 'The Winter's Tale?' a. George Bernard Shaw a. True a. Alfred Tennyson a. Last Orders b. John Dryden b. False b. Robert Browning b. God of Small Things c. Oscar Wilde c. Disgrace d. John Milton c. Christopher Marlowe d. William Shakespeare 8. Sophocles and Aeschylus were Roman playwrights. 9. The Princess, In Memoriam, and Ode on the Death of the Duke of Wellington are the works of: 10. The story of ___________ revolves around Indian characters and Indian society. d. The Sea 11. Which of the following is not a J.K. Rowling book? a. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban b. Quidditch Through the Ages c. Harry Potter and the HalfBlood Prince d. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Theme. e. None of the above b. Sir Walter Scott and Maria Edgeworth d. Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley b. The Return of Native c. Chollttee d. None of the above
6. Which of the following are Thomas Hardy books?
KEY 1. Dylan Thomas 2. Geoffrey Chaucer 3. Arthur Conan Doyle 4. White Devil 5. Sir Walter Scott and Maria Edgeworth
6. The Poor Man and the Lady 7. William Shakespeare 8. False 9. Alfred Tennyson 10. God of Small Things 11. None of the above
references Fletcher. R.H. (1918). A History of English Literature L. Cortes & N. Nikiforova & O.Soudlenkova. English Literature Nguyen Chi Trung. (2002). English Literature. NXB DaNang
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