A line of iambic hexameter. The final line of a Spenserian stanza is an alexandrine. eg: "A needless alexandrine ends the song / That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along". The second line is an alexandrine from Pope's "Essay on Criticism"
The use of a repeated consonant or sound, usually at the beginning of a series of words. eg: "I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet / When far away an interrupted cry / Came over houses from another street...". "Acquainted with the Night" by Robert Frost
A reference to someone or something, usually literary. eg: "Call me Ishmael" in Moby-Dick, referring to the biblical figure of Ishmael (son of Abraham). Consider too titular allusions like Faulkner's "The Sound and the Fury," which echoes Macbeth
The main character opposing the protagonist; often a "villain". eg: Iago from Othello
the attribution of humanlike characteristics, such as emotions or physical characteristics, to nonhuman inanimate objects, animals, or forces of nature. Differs from personification in that it's not a one-off reference, but a sustained part of a work's structure. See Aslan from the Narnia series, Orwell's Animal Farm, or a deity like Zeus who acts and behaves like a human
A speech addressed to someone not present, or to an abstraction. The form often lends itself to parody. eg: Donne, in "The Sun Rising," addressing the sun: "Busy old fool, unruly sun..."
German for the "novel of education". Follows the education and maturation of a character from naivete and inexperience through the harsh realities of the adult world. eg: Joyce's Portrait, Salinger's Catcher in the Rye
The pause that breaks a line of Old English verse. Also any particularly deep pause in a line of verse. eg: "Hwaet! we Gar-Dena | | on geardagum..." (Beowulf); "Arma virumque cano | | Troiae qui primus ab oris" (Aeneid)
A principle of neoclassical drama. The relation of style to content in the speech of dramatic characters, as when a figure's social station matches a particular mode of speech. eg: Moliere, Wilde
A derogatory term used to describe poorly written poetry of little or no literary value. eg: Shakespeare used doggerel in dialogue between the Dromio twins in The Comedy of Errors for comic effect
A poem or other work written to celebrate a wedding. eg: Spenser's poem of the same title: "Song! made in lieu of many ornaments, / With which my love should duly have been dect, / Which cutting off through hasty accidents, / Ye would not stay your dew time to expect..."
Derived from Lyly's Euphues to characterize writing self-consciously laden with elaborate figures of speech. Polonius' dialogue in Hamlet is often reminiscent of euphuism, as in "To thine own self be true"
Lines rhymed by their final two syllables. A pair of lines ending "running" and "gunning" would be an example of feminine rhyme. Properly, in a feminine rhyme (and not simply a 'double rhyme'), the penultimate syllables are stressed and the final ones unstressed. eg: Sonnet 20 by Shakespeare: "Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion... / With shifting change, as is false women's fashion"
Flat and Round Characters
Terms coined by EM Forster to describe characters built around a single dominant trait (flat) and those with psychological complexity (round). eg: Dickens' Mr. Micawber from David Copperfield (flat) v. Anna Karenina from Tolstoy (round)
Not to be confused with pastoral, deals instead with the labour (rather than ease) of country people--pushing ploughs, raising crops, etc. eg: Virgil's Georgics, from which the term is derived
Aristotle's term for what is popularly called the 'tragic flaw'. Differs from tragic flaw, however, in that hamartia implies fate, whereas tragic flaw implies an inherent psychological flaw in the tragic character. eg: Oedipus' hasty temper and Macbeth's ambition
A repeated descriptive phrase, as found in Homer's epics. "The wine dark sea"
From Samuel Butler's "Hudibras," refers to the couplets of rhymed tetrameter (8 syllables long), which Butler employed in "Hudibras." Any deliberate, humorous, ill-rhymed, ill-rhythmed couplets. eg: "We grant, although he had much wit / He was very shy of using it"
purposeful exaggeration for effect. eg: Emerson's "the shot heard round the world" (The Concord Hymn)
a type of understatement in which an idea is expressed by negating its opposite or negation eg: describing a particularly horrific scene by saying, "It was not a pretty picture." of Paul in the Book of Acts: "I am a Jew, from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of no ordinary city" (Acts 21:39)
A rhyme ending on the final stressed syllable. eg: Frost's "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening": "Whose woods these are I think I know. / His house is in the village though"
A term for a phrase that refers to a person or object by a single important feature of that thing. eg: Edward Bulwer-Lytton's Richelieu: ("The pen [writing] is mightier than the sword [war/fighting].")
Principles derived from Aristotle's Poetics (popular in the neoclassical movement 17th and 18th century), which speak of the essential unities of narrative: time, place, and action. Takes place in one day, within the confines of a single locale, and contains only a single dramatic plot, no subplot.
A lament for the dead that is sung by a shepherd; the shepherd is a figure for the author, and the subject of the elegy is another poet (e.g. Milton's "Lycidas"; Shelley's "Adonais")
A work that gives an idealized vision of the lives of people, especially shepherds, in the country or in nature. eg: Marlowe's "The Passionate Shepherd to his Love"
The attribution of human emotions or characteristics to inanimate objects or to nature; for example angry clouds; a cruel wind. The term was invented by Ruskin (cf. his famous line on "The cruel crawling foam")
a figure of speech in which an object or animal is given human feelings, thoughts, or attitudes. See Emily Dickinson's "The Train"
A chronicle, usually autobiographical, presenting the life story of a rascal of low degree making her/his living more through wits than industry. A picaresque tale tends to be episodic and structureless, and the picaro, or central figure, tends not to develop or change in the course or her/his adventures. Eg: Twain's Huckleberry Finn or Defoe's Moll Flanders
The main character, usually the "hero". Shakespeare's Othello is an example
A form of humorous poetry, using very short rhymed lines and a pronounced rhythm; made popular by Renaissance poet John Skelton. Similar to doggerel, the only difference being the quality of the thought expressed. eg: O ye wretched Scots / Ye puant pisspots" (Skelton's "How the Doughty Duke of Albany")
The rhythm created and used in the nineteenth century by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Like Old English verse, it fits a varying number of unstressed syllables in a line - only the stresses count in scansion. eg: Hopkins' "Pied Beauty": "Glory be to God for dappled things-- / For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow / For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim..."
describing one kind of sensation in terms of another, thus mixing senses. eg: Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale": "Tasting of Flora and the country green... O for a beaker of the warm South"
a form of metonymy that's restricted to cases where a part is used to signify the whole. eg: Eliot's "Prufrock": "I should have been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas"
The perspective from which a story is written; first-person, third-person, etc.
First Person Narration
Look for the pronoun "I". Omniscient or limited. Consider Shelley's "Ozymandias"
Third Person Narration
Either narrated by named characters or those referred to by pronouns. eg: Jane Austen's novels or Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Second Person Narration
Author speaks using the pronoun "you" to bring the reader into the work
First Person Plural Narration
Using the pronoun "we"
Typical stanza of folk ballad. Length of lines, as in sprung rhythm and Old English verse, is determined by the number of stressed syllables only. Rhyme scheme abcb. eg: Coleridge's "Mariner"
Four lines of iambic tetrameter, ABBA. Derived from Tennyson's poem of the same name
a stanza of eight lines (usually iambic pentameter) with the rhyme scheme abababcc. See Byron's Don Juan
A seven-line stanza of iambic pentameter rhymed ababbcc, used by Chaucer and other medieval/Renaissance poets. eg: Wyatt's "They Flee From Me That Sometime Did Me Seek": "With naked foot stalking in my chamber. / I have seen them gentle, tame, and meek, / That now are wild, and do not remember"
Stanza of 9 lines in total; 8 lines of iambic pentameter, with five feet, followed by an alexandrine (iambic hexameter). Rhyme scheme: (ababbcbcc). Created for The Faerie Queene
an Italian form of iambic verse consisting of eleven-syllable lines arranged in tercets (three-line stanzas), the middle line of each tercet rhyming with the first and last lines of the following tercet (called an interlocking rhyme scheme). Invented by Dante for the Commedia
Unrhymed iambic pentameter verse. eg: Tennyson's "Ulysses": "One equal temper of heroic hearts, / Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will / To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"
Unrhymed verse without a strict meter. eg: Whitman's "Song of Myself": "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you"
Old English Verse
Verse characterized by the internal alliteration of lines and a strong midline pause called a caesura
Example: Beowulf: "Protected in war; so warriors earn / Their fame, and wealth is shaped with a sword"
Fourteen-line lyric poem that is usually written in iambic pentameter and that has one of several rhyme schemes.
A 14-line sonnet consisting of an octave rhyming abbaabba and of a sestet (or two tercets) rhyming cdecde. eg: Milton's "When I Consider How My Light is Spent"
A sonnet form composed of three quatrains and a final couplet written in iambic pentameter, with the rhyme scheme abab cdcd efef gg.
a sonnet consisting of three quatrains and a concluding couplet in iambic pentameter with the rhyme pattern abab bcbc cdcd ee. eg: "One Day I Wrote Her Name Upon the Strand" by Spenser
a nineteen-line poem divided into five tercets and a final quatrain. The villanelle uses only two rhymes which are repeated as follows: aba, aba, aba, aba, aba, abaa. Line 1 is repeated entirely to form lines 6, 12, and 18, and line 3 is repeated entirely to form lines 9, 15, and 19; thus, eight of the nineteen lines are refrain. Dylan Thomas's poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" is an example of a villanelle.
A 39-line poem of six stanzas of six lines each and a final stanza (called an envoi) of three lines. Rhyme plays no part in the sestina. Instead, one of six words is used as the end word of each of the poem's lines according to a fixed pattern. eg: Kipling's "Sestina of Tramp-Royal"
A 'helping verb' (often a form of "be", "have", or "do") eg: "I am working on it"
a verb ending in -ing and functions as a noun; example: "eating worms is bad for your health"
a form of a verb expressing a command; that which is necessary or required. eg: "Do it now!"
relating to the mood of verbs that is used in simple declarative statements in the present tense. eg: "John plays with the ball"
the unconjugated form of a verb that generally appears with the word 'to' in front of it. "To be, or not to be"
Verb that can be used as a adjective. Present ends in -ing-----*Past ends in ed.-d,-t,-en,-n. eg: "John has often played with the ball"
tells something about the subject (a verb and its cohorts)
a mood that represent an act or state (not as a fact but) as contingent, possible, or counterfactual. "If I were a rich man"
a conjunction (like 'since' or 'that' or 'who') that introduces a dependent or subordinate clause. eg: "Since you're awake, I'll turn on the TV"
a group of words that is used in place of a noun. eg: "Playing the banjo is extremely annoying"
the case (in some inflected languages) used when the referent of the noun is being addressed directly (in short, direct address). "Sit, Ubu!"
Famous texts: "The Mirror Stage in the Formation of the I"
Major ideas: how selfhood is formed in a childhood act of misrecognition of the self, in which he becomes alienated from himself and enters the symbolic order; language shapes and maps an individual's consciousness
Related thinkers: Freud, Saussure, Hegel
Jargon: mirror, phallus, signifier/signified, substitution, desire, jouissance, objet petit a, imaginary/symbolic/real orders
Essential idea: texts are not timeless works subject to universal standards of evaluation. Individuals, consciousnesses, and their products (like literature) are shaped by historical and cultural context
Jargon: base and superstructure, class, proletariat, means of production, bourgeoisie, imperialism, dialectical materialism
A subset of Marxist criticism.
Major ideas: specific institutions of culture produce effects on the consciousness of society's members and the works they produce
Jargon: ideology (and its effects on consciousness)
Feminist, Black, and Post-Colonial Criticism
All work within Marxist/New Historicist frameworks.
Essentially critique Euro-American society's dominance and marginalization of the other from diff. perspectives
Jargon: patriarchy, imperialism, phallocratic/phallocentric, hegemony, Euro-American dominance
The application of the analytical tools of psychology and psychoanalysis to authors and/or fictional characters in order to understand the underlying motivations and meanings of a literary work. Concerned with the universals of human consciousness and how the psyche manifests itself in literature. Considers authorial biography and personality as legitimate objects of study.
Jargon (of Freudian criticism in particular): Oedipal complex, libido, id, ego, superego, subconscious, repression, resistance
Consider too Bloom's Freudian idea of the "strong-poet," a father figure who exerts an anxious influence on later writers.
Influenced by Jung's theories and those of James G. Frazer in The Golden Bough.
Major thinkers: Northrop Frye and Joseph Campbell
Major Ideas: Looks for recurring symbols, plots, motifs, character types, etc. across world literatures. Myth critics believe that these persistent, powerful stories point to universal needs in the human psyche--the collective unconscious
Incl. Formalism, New Criticism, etc.; those forms broadly concerned with language
Major Ideas: Explores how literature defamiliarizes expectations about linguistic structure to create new meaning through story, plot, voice, etc.
Anglo-American, mid-20C. dominant
Major Figures:TS Eliot, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, IA Richards, John Crowe Ransom, FR Leavis
Major idea: close reading and examination of text for inherent meaning in complex language
Jargon: ambiguity, irony, symbol, meaning
Continental Europe, mid-20C.; assoc. with Saussurean linguistics in particular
Major ideas: Like semiotics, interested in the linguistic underpinnings of literature; meaning is produced by structure of language
Jargon: sign, signifier, signified; look too for binary oppositions and spatial metaphors when describing a text's structure
Major schools/ideas: deconstruction; focus on the gaps, displacements, excesses of a text rather than its ordered, deliberate structure
Major Figures: above all, Derrida
Deconstructionist Jargon: erasure, trace, bracketing, differance, slippage, dissemination, logocentrism, indeterminacy, decentering
Post-Structuralist Jargon: mimesis, alterity, marginality, desire, lack
Major Focus: studying what happens in a reader's mind in the act of reading; the subjective experience of the literary text
Similar Schools: Reception Aesthetics
Major Figures; Stanley Fish, Wolfgang Iser, Barthes
Jargon: implied/ideal reader, horizon of expectations
Book of Genesis: Creation
Seven-day creation (light and darkness, heaven/firmament, earth and foliage, lights in the firmament, animals of sea and sky, beasts of the earth and man in God's image, rest, in that order)
Genesis: Cain and Abel
Tiller of the ground/shepherd, respectively. Lord appreciates Abel's offerings more, Cain murders Abel and is driven into the land east of Eden after being marked by God for protection. See Steinbeck's East of Eden
Genesis: Noah's Flood
God decides to destroy the wickedness of man
Chooses Noah to collect two and two of all flesh and restart life on earth; rainbow appears after the flood to symbolize a new compact with man
Genesis: Tower of Babel
Builders aspire to the heavens, God curses them with not being able to understand each other and they're scattered across the earth
Genesis: Abraham and Isaac
Isaac a gift from god to the aging Abe and Sarah; God demands his sacrifice as a burnt offering, but retracts this command at the last minute
Moses hidden from Pharaoh, adopted by Egyptian princess, becomes a prince. Sees God in burning bush in the wilderness who helps him convince the Hebrews to follow him. Ten plagues released on Pharaoh for not letting his people go (bloody water, frogs, locusts, fire and brimstone, death of firstborn(origin of Passover)). Hebrews, in escaping, cross the Red Sea parted by Moses.
See also: Aaron (Moses' brother), the golden calf (idolatry), Mount Sinai, covenant, manna, the Ten Commandments
Samuel and Kings
Son of first Hebrew king Saul, David defeats the Philistine Goliath, composes the Psalms. His son Solomon (by Bathsheba) is a figure of wisdom. His other son Absalom rebels (the subject of Dryden's poem Absalom and Achitopel and Faulkner's Absalom! Absalom!)
Satan and God compete to sway Job's faith; God curses him with poverty and sickness but he remains faithful and has his goods restored to him. "The patience of Job" important.
Set in Babylonian captivity. Skilled interpreter of dreams, appointed to high office by King Darius, thrown into a den of lions by jealous court officials. "Writing on the wall" from Daniel's interpretation of prophecy for King Belshazzar
Ordered to go to Nineveh, refuses and tries to escape, swallowed by whale, repents and argues with God. See Moby-Dick
Immaculate conception of Jesus, three Magi come to visit, Herod's massacre of the innocents fails, Christ baptized by John the Baptist, tempted by Satan in the wilderness, performs miracles, convenes the Last Supper with his apostles, Judas betrays him in Gethsemane (for thirty pieces of silver), Jesus is crucified and risen. See also Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-20, Matthew 13:1-23, Luke 8:1-15)
See Morrison's Song of Solomon, Faulker's Absalom! Absalom!, Proust's Sodom and Gomorrah, Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, Butler's The Way of All Flesh, Ibsen's The Master Builder, etc.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Macbeth's famous speech from 5.5
Romeo and Juliet
Characters: the lovers, Friar Laurence, the Nurse, Mercutio, Benvolio, Tybalt
NB Harold Bloom on Iago as the prototype of evil; Coleridge on motiveless malignity
Taming of the Shrew
Cf. Chaucer's Wife of Bath's tale
Characters: Petruchio, Lucentio, Grumio, Gremio, Hortensio, Tranio, Vincentio, Baptista, Bianca, Katherine
Caliban and post-colonialism (especially Robert Browning's "Caliban in Setebos" (1864))
Merchant of Venice
Issues of Judaism, conversion, anti-Semitism. Portia's act as lawyer. Mercy v. Justice. "Hath not a Jew eyes?"
"Now is the winter of our discontent / Made glorious summer by this son of York"
154 sonnets; most important are 18, 116, and 130
Old English, Caedmon ("Hymn"), Beowulf
Middle English, Gutenberg Bible (1456). Langland (Piers Plowman), Chaucer, Thomas Malory
Early Tudor period (Henry VII, VIII, Edward VI, and Mary). John Skelton, Thomas More
Elizabethan. Sidney, Spenser, Lyly, Marlowe, Shakespeare
Jacobean. Ben Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher
Caroline Period, Charles I. John Donne, John Webster
Execution of Charles I, Cromwell and the Interregnum. Milton, Robert Herrick, and Marvell
Restoration, Reign of Charles II. Congreve, George Etherege, John Bunyan (Pilgrim's Progress), John Dryden (Absalom and Achitopel)
Queen Anne, last Stuart ruler. Daniel Defoe, Alexander Pope
George I, House of Hanover. Swift, Henry Fielding, Thomas Gray
George III, The Enlightenment, The American Revolution (1775-83), the Gothic Novel. Samuel Johnson, Laurence Sterne, Horace Walpole, Thomas Chatterton (forger of medieval poetry under name Thomas Rowley, died at 17 of self-inflicted arsenic poisoning), Mary Wollstonecraft, William Cowper (hymnodist, most famous for Olney Hymns, The Task, and translations of Homer; "God moves in mysterious ways")
Early Romantic Period, Sturm und Drang. Anne Radcliffe, Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Byron, Keats, Charles Lamb ("Tales of Shakespeare" and working with Coleridge), Austen
Middle Romantic Period. Reign of George IV (1820-30) and William IV (1830-7). Thomas Carlyle (Historian of French Rev., source for Dickens), Tennyson (Ulysses and In Memoriam), Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe
Late Romantic/Victorian. Macaulay (essayist and writer on British history; important for "Whig history"), Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning
Transcendentalism. Hawthorne, Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Melville
Late Victorian; Realism. Ruskin (art critic w/ interest in nature's role in society), George Meredith (novelist and poet), Algernon C. Swinburne (decadent poetry on classical themes, like Atalanta in Calydon), George Eliot, Gerard Manley Hopkins (sprung rhythm, Catholicism, The Windhover), Thomas Hardy, Mark Twain, Henry James
Modernism. Yeats, Conrad, DH Lawrence, Auden, Joyce, Woolf, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Stein, TS Eliot, Pound, WEB Du Bois
The address to the Muse with which epics begin
In medias res
"In the midst of things", or in the middle of the narrative action, where most epics begin
Background information, lists of equipment and participants in battles
A stylized comparison that is extended across unusual length (see PL for English examples)
Supernatural beings who interfere in human affairs; resolution enabled by a great battle, contest, or deed
Homeric epic, takes place in 12th c. BCE. Siege of Troy, ruled by Priam and attacked by Spartan Agamemnon. Paris has stolen Helen, wife of Ag.'s brother Menelaus. Achilles withdraws from the siege, Hector turns the tide of the siege for the Trojans, and Ach.'s friend Patroclus is killed by Hector while wearing his armour. Ach. enters the field in divine armour crafted by Hephaestus, kills Hector. Gods continually favour different humans
goddess of the hearth
goddess of the harvest
goddess of the underworld
goddess of strife
god of goatherds/shepherds
Daughters of Zeus and Eurynome
Daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, whose music brings joy
songs to the Gods (hymns)
Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos
Saturn, ruler of the titans, father of Zeus
Naiads, Nereides, Oceanides
Odysseus leaves the sack of Troy, gets lost, blinds cyclops Polyphemus, enrages his father Poseidon, men transformed into pigs by the witch Circe, sail between Scylla and Charybdis, resist the sirens' song, men struck down by Zeus for killing sacred cows, Odysseus survives and stranded with Calypso, detained for 7 years, brought to Ithaca by Scherian people. Odysseus' son Telemachus evades attempts to murder him by Penelope's suitors, Odysseus and Telemachus slaughter suitors. THE END
Aeneas, son of Priam, leads a fleet from fallen Troy to found a new city under command of the gods, having fled carrying his father Anchises (NB story of Trojan horse and death of Laocoon). Blown to shores of Carthage by resentful Juno where Aeneas wins Dido's love. Reminded by Jupiter and Mercury of his purpose, he leaves Dido, who kills herself, and lands on Italian shores where he victoriously battles Turnus' armies and prepares to settle the land. Allusions: Mercutio's Queen Mab, Dante, Eliot's "Lil" in The Waste Land
House of Atreus plays/The Oresteia: Agamemnon, Choephoroe, Eumenides (5th C. BCE)
Clytemnestra, angry with husband Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter (Iphigenia) and bringing home his slave/lover Cassandra, conspires with her lover Aegisthus to murder him
Choephoroe ("The Libation Bearers")
Based on the advice of an oracle, Orestes (Ag. and Cly.'s son) decides to avenge his father. He and sister Electra murder Cly. and Aegist., but Orestes is tormented by the furies.
Eumenides ("Benevolent Ones")
Athena presides over a precedent-setting murder trial: Orestes v. the Furies for the murder of Aegist. and Cly. The jury is hung. Athena decides in favour of Orestes but placates the Furies by offering to share in her rule of Athens.
Oedipus plays (5th C. BCE)
The oracle prophesies that King Laius will have a song who will kill Laius and marry Queen Jocasta. But instead of killing newborn Oedipus to avoid the prophecy, they abandon him and he is adopted by the rulers of Corinth. When Oedipus grows up and learns of the prophecy, he leaves Corinth, solves the Sphinx' riddle, kills Laius on the road and marries the queen. When this is revealed, Jocasta hangs herself and Oedipus blinds himself
Oedipus at Colonus
Oedipus goes to Colonus with daughters Antigone and Ismene. His sons fight each other to the death for his vacated throne
Despite penalty of death, Antigone attempts to bury her brother Polynices. King Creon, her uncle, banishes her to a cave where she hangs herself. Creon's son Haemon, her lover, stabs himself in grief.
Major characters: Beowulf, Grendel, Hrothgar, Wealtheow, Scyld Scefing, Wiglaf, Heorot (Hart hall)
Plot: the young Beowulf arrives at Heorot, helps destroy the monster Grendel (battle 1) and his mother (battle 2), and succeeds Hrothgar as king. In his old age, a dragon arrives to destroy the hall and Beowulf, helped by the noble Wiglaf, defeats it (battle 3) but is killed in the battle
William Langland (ca. 1380). Long poem composed of eight allegorical dream visions, wherein Will seeks out Truth. Part of the 14th century revival in alliterative verse. Alliterative long line consisting of at least four major stressed syllables, with varying numbers of unstressed syllables between them
Chaucer (ca. 1387). Various metres, depending on the speaker; typically rhyming couplets. Pay particular attention to the names and characteristics of the tellers of tales and the figures within them. There are 24 tales told and 29 pilgrims (31 if you count the two additional Nun's Priests)
Knight is valorous, chivalrous, polite. Tale is of Arcite and Palamon, friends who fall in love with a woman, Emily, and battle for her hand. Arcite wins with the aid of Mars over Palamon, who fights for Venus, but dies in the process; Palamon wins Emily's hand.
Prioress is dainty, materialistic, sentimental to dogs; "Amor Vincit Omnia" brooch. Her tale is in rhyme royal, tells of boy killed by Jews for singing a Christian hymn; the murder is discovered because he continues singing despite his throat being slit. Origin of the phrase "murder will out".
The Nun's Priest(s) Tale
A favourite of ETS as it is a mock epic (esp. of the Iliad). One of the three mentioned Nun's Priests tells the tale of Chaunticleer, a vain and handsome rooster, Perteltote, his favourite hen, and Sir Russell, a fox. Fox tricks Chant. into singing for him, catches him, but when he begins to monologue the rooster slips away.
The Merchant's Tale
Merchant wears a fool's motley and a beaver hat; obsessively discusses business. In the tale, January, an old knight, marries the young May. "Enjoys" her continually until he goes blind, at which point she takes a young lover Damian, hooking up in trees in January's garden as he attempts to discover them down below. When Pluto restores January's sight, May claims she committed adultery to cure his blindness.
The Wife of Bath's Tale
It is essential to know her character: slightly deaf, gap-toothed, plump, ruddy, but comely; wears scarlet stockings and a large hat; has had 5 husbands--a grotesque vision of female gusto. In the tale, one of Arthur's knights rapes a woman, is sentenced to death but pardoned; meets an old witch who tells him how to answer a riddle about female desire to secure his freedom if only he'll marry her. Upon revealing that women only want "sovereignty," the witch turns into a beautiful woman.
Large, strong, hard-drinking, aggressive, large red beard, hairy wart on his nose. Tells a drunken tale where a carpenter's wife Alison contrives to sleep with their boarder, the student Nicholas, by convincing her husband to sleep in a washtub in the attic to avoid an apocalyptic flood. Another suitor, Absalom, comes along begging for a kiss, at which Alison puts her ass out the window. He returns with a poker and brands Nicholas' ass in the dark instead, and the carpenter's washtub comes falling down as he cuts the ropes upon hearing Nicholas' cries for "Water"!
The Pardoner's Tale
Thin, vain, smooth-skinned blond who carries pardons ("hot from Rome") and a bag of spurious relics. Explains that Radix malorum est Cupiditas (the love of money is the root of all evil), and tells a tale about three drunkards who set out to find Death. Upon finding a pile of treasure instead, they murder one another in trying to cheat each other out of the booty. When the Pardoner tries to huck his relics, the Host threatens to take his testicles instead and bury them in pig sh*t!
The Franklin's Tale
A wealthy landowner tells a romantic tale about a lover Aurelius, a faithful wife Dorigen, and Dorigen's husband Arveragus
The Reeve's Tale
An administrator tells a tale of how a greedy miller Simkin has his wife and daughter enjoyed by clerks, John and Alan, who he'd swindled earlier
The Clerk's Tale
Griselda, a patient wife, endures the trials of her needlessly jealous husband, the Marquis Walter
The Doctor's Tale
A woman, Virginia, has her father kill her in order to avoid falling into the clutches of Apius, an evil judge
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Author also responsible for "Pearl", "Patience", and "Cleanness"
Plot: Gawain takes up the Green Knight's beheading challenge, has one year to escape his own beheading, travels to a castle (where he resists the advances of the host's wife) and then to the Green Chapel, where the Knight spares his life for his mostly honourable conduct (he was also the host in another form, from whom Gawain stole a magical girdle).
Form: Long alliterative lines, characterized by "bob and wheel"--bob a short line with one foot, and the wheel is a short quatrain of trimeter lines that rhyme with the bob: ababa. Note also the continual 'green' imagery and that of the pentangle, which is developed as a complex cipher for Mary late in the text
Le Morte D'Arthur
Thomas Malory (1470). Tales of Arthur's knights in prose, unlike the primarily poetic works by other authors
The Faerie Queene (1590-6)
Look for archaic diction/syntax and the Spenserian stanza (nine lines, rhyming ababbcbcc, iambic pentameter with a final alexandrine or iambic hexameter line)
Young Donne: "The Sun Rising" and "The Flea"--Catholic, courtier, playboy
Old Donne: Dean of Paul's, poems and sermons like the Holy Sonnets (incl. "Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you")
Cited in Carew's elegy for the Dean of Paul's
Author of Paradise Lost and Regained, Samson Agonistes, Comus, Areopagitica and other political tracts, among other works. Look for stentorian blank verse and contorted word order.
Condemnation of censorship; books as "not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them"
Masque presented at Ludlow Castle; a young lady lost in the woods is captured by the lecherous Comus and can only escape with the help of her brothers and a spirit of purity. Quote: "Mortals, that would follow me, / Love virtue, she alone is free. / She can teach ye how to climb / Higher than the sphery chime; / Or if Virtue feeble were, / Heaven itself would stoop to her"
Pastoral elegy for Edward King, drawing on Theocritus' Idylls
The Pilgrim's Progress
John Bunyan (1678-84). Allegory of the believer's journey to redemption; the protagonist Christian passes places like Vanity Fair and the Slough of Despond on his way to the Celestial City
Absalom and Achitophel
Dryden (1681). Uses biblical characters to allegorize a political crisis in Charles II's reign. Absalom is the rebellious Duke of Monmouth, while Achitophel is the Earl of Shaftesbury, and King David is Charles II. Written in heroic couplets
Dryden (1679-82). A satirical attack on playwright Thomas Shadwell, who succeeds to the throne of dullness as Mac Flecknoe (son of Richard Flecknoe, another rival of Dryden's). Written in mock epic form and alludes continually to literary figures past and present
The Country Wife
William Wycherley (1675)
Cast: Mr Horner, Mr Pinchwife, Sir Jasper Fidget, Mrs Squeamish, and Mrs Dainty Fidge
Plot: The Country Wife is more neatly constructed than most Restoration comedies, but is typical of its time and place in having three sources and three plots. The separate plots are interlinked but distinct, each projecting a sharply different mood. They are:
Horner's impotence trick
the married life of Pinchwife and Margery
the courtship of Harcourt and Alitheat
The Man of Mode
George Etheredge (1676)
Cast: Dorimant, Sir Fopling Flutter, Mrs Loveit
The Way of the World
William Congreve (1700)
Cast: Mrs. Millamant, Mr. Mirabell, Mr. Fainall, Lady Wishfort, Foible (woman), and Mincing (woman)
Plot: The play is based around the two lovers Mirabell and Millamant. In order for the two to get married and receive Millamant's full dowry, Mirabell must receive Millamant's aunt, Lady Wishfort's blessing. Unfortunately, she is a bitter lady who hates Mirabell and wants her own nephew, Sir Witwoud to marry Millamant.
Other characters include Fainall who is having a secret affair with Mrs. Marwood, a friend of Mrs. Fainall's, who in turn once had an affair with Mirabell.
Waitwell is Mrs. Fainall's servant and is married to Foible, Mrs. Wishfort's servant. Waitwell pretends to be Sir Rowland and on Mirabell's command, tries to trick Lady Wishfort into a false engagement.
The School for Scandal
Richard Sheridan (1777)
Cast: Sir Peter Teazle, Maria, Lady Sneerwell, Sir Benjamin Backbite, and Chares Surface
Plot: Brothers Joseph and Charles Surface, and their cousin Maria, are orphans in the care of their uncle, Sir Peter Teazle. Both brothers wish to marry Maria. Lady Sneerwell, a malicious gossip and founder of The School for Scandal, wants to marry Charles and spreads false rumours about an affair between Charles and Lady Teazle in an attempt to make Maria reject Charles. Meanwhile, Joseph is attempting to seduce Lady Teazle. The brothers have a rich uncle, Sir Oliver, whom they have never met, and who visits them both incognito to test their characters before deciding which of them shall inherit his fortune. He finds that Joseph is a sanctimonious hypocrite, and that Charles is a generous libertine, and prefers Charles.
In a farcical scene involving characters hiding behind furniture, Sir Peter learns of the plotting between Joseph and Lady Sneerwell, that the rumours about Charles and Lady Teazle are false, and that his wife is merely a victim of Joseph's flattery. He is therefore reconciled with his wife, and decides that Charles deserves to marry Maria. Lady Teazle, who has had a narrow escape from ruin, delivers an epilogue warning of the dangers of scandal-making.
Gulliver's Travels (1726)
Swift. Broadly the book has three themes:
~a satirical view of the state of European government
~an inquiry into whether man is inherently corrupt or whether men are corrupted
~a restatement of the older "ancients v. moderns" controversy previously addressed by Swift in the Battle of the Books.
Important items: Lilliput, Brobdingnag, Laputa (the flying island), Struldburgs (unhappy immortals who wish for death), Houynhnhnms (intelligent horses), Yahoos (idiotic, dirty, violent humanoid creatures)
The Rape of the Lock
Alexander Pope (1712). A satire on a scandal about an impertinent haircut given by Lord Petre to Arabella Fermor (Arabella becomes Belinda in the poem). Contains versions of the epic invocation, the epic feast, the epic battle, the interference of the gods, and the epic simile--the epic feast is a tea serving, the epic battle is at cards, and the gods become dead demi-mondes
Pope (1728). Mock epic in heroic couplets; a savage assault on bad poetry launched particularly against Colley Cibber, the current poet laureate.
An Essay on Criticism
Pope (1711). Heroic couplets, discussing how bad criticism may be as harmful as bad poetry. Refers to ancient writers approvingly, like Virgil, Homer, Aristotle, Horace, Longinus, etc.
'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill
Appear in Writing or in Judging ill,
But, of the two, less dang'rous is th' Offence,
To tire our Patience, than mis-lead our Sense
Some few in that, but Numbers err in this,
Ten Censure wrong for one who Writes amiss;
A Fool might once himself alone expose,
Now One in Verse makes many more in Prose" (1-8)
Samuel Johnson (1709-84)
Works: "The Vanity of Human Wishes" (a poem), The Lives of the English Poets, essays for his journal The Rambler, an English Dictionary, Rasselas (a novel about a Prince of Abyssinia looking for happiness)
Author of The Life of Johnson; look for any passages that discuss a figure like Johnson candidly and genially
Works: Songs of Innocence and Experience--short, childlike poems expressing deep themes in simple language
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell; Visions of the Daughters of Albion--more complex work of a visionary mystic
Important Gothic Novels
Rough dates: 1764-1860
Major works: Walpole's Castle of Otranto (1764), Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Matthew Lewis' The Monk (1796), Poe's stories
Major themes: the seemingly supernatural is shown to have a real-world explanation (gothic explique), images of the fearsome and sublime, Catholic settings and undertones
Note: these, especially Radcliffe's novel, parodied in Austen's Northanger Abbey
Major ETS idea: understated prose and ironic treatment of character; acumen at naturally and perceptively displaying social conventions, conversations, and patterns of thought
Sense and Sensibility
Pub. 1811. Characters: Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, Lucy Steele, Edward Ferris, John Willoughby, and Colonel Brandon
Pride and Prejudice
Pub. 1813. Character: Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Charles Bingley, and George Wickham
Pub. 1814. Characters: the Bertrams, Fanny Price, Mrs. Norris
Pub. 1815. Characters: Emma Woodhouse, Mr Knightley, Miss Bates, Frank Churchill, Harriet Smith, Jane Fairfax
Pub. 1818 (posthumously). Characters: Catherine Morland, the Allens, Henry Tilney, and John Thorpe. Parodies Radcliffe's Udolpho
Pub. 1818 (posthumous). Characters: Sir Walter, Elizabeth, and Anne Elliot, Frederick Wentworth, and Kellynch Hall (the family manor)
Wordsworth, Coleridge, Southey
Know: Lyrical Ballads (pub. with Coleridge), his appreciation of rustic life and diction as a poetic subject
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Know: Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Biographia Literaria (outline of aesthetic principles), emphasis on imagination as the supreme creative faculty of mankind, a faculty by which truths about oneself and the world can be uncovered
Author of Tales from Shakespeare; a correspondent of Coleridge and Wordsworth
Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881)
Works: Sartor Resartus (a philosophical work on appearances and essences)
Influences: Kant, Goethe
Style: passionate, often ridiculous and weird
John Henry, Cardinal Newman (1801-1890)
Convert from Anglican to Roman Catholic faiths; wrote Apologia Pro Via Sua on the matter. Also authored "The Idea of a University" in support of liberal arts study.
Style: look for passages of rigorous clarity and simplicity
John Stuart Mill (1806-73)
Social theorist and reformer. Father James Mill and Jeremy Bentham founded utilitarianism
Works: On Liberty, "What is Poetry", and The Subjection of Women
Matthew Arnold (1822-88)
Essayist and poet; essays most important
Works: Dover Beach, Culture and Anarchy
Major Ideas: praise of Hellenic/Grecian high culture, denunciation of philistinism (tacky middle-class taste); phrase "sweetness and light" often comes up
John Ruskin (1819-1900)
Most important ideas: coinage of "the pathetic fallacy" and his style of "reading" the literary, philosophical, and social history of a culture in its architecture (as in The Stones of Venice)
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-64)
Novelist and one of the first distinctively American working authors; lived and worked in Massachusetts; lifelong Democrat and occasional public servant
The Scarlet Letter
Hawthorne. Set in early Puritan Salem, Massachusetts
Characters: Roger Chillingworth (husband), Rev. Arthur Dimmesdale (lover), Hester Prynne (adulteress), Pearl (illegitimate daughter of Hester and Dimmesdale)
The Blithedale Romance
Hawthorne. Based on Transcendentalist utopian settlement at Brook Farm.
Characters: Miles Coverdale, Hollingworth, Zenobia (a version of Margaret Fuller), and Priscilla.
The House of Seven Gables
Theme: the sins of the fathers visited on later generations
Characters: The Pyncheons, especially Hepzibah Pyncheon, Old Maule, Phoebe, Holgrave, and Clifford
Names: Ishmael, Queequeg, Tashtego, Ahab, Daggoo, Pip, Pequod, Starbuck
Style: biblical, Shakespearean, grandiose
Handsome titular sailor is undone by his own goodness and by the cunning Claggart (Budd is a Christ-like figure in this tale). Billy kills Claggart accidentally and the heroic Captain Edward Fairfax "Starry" Vere, though believing his innocence, must maintain order ont he ship and so executes Billy
Bartleby the Scrivener
Story about modern alienation focusing on the titular Bartleby, who ultimately withdraws from the world so fully that he dies
Walt Whitman (1819-92)
Themes: human community and spirit, celebration of the self; influenced by transcendentalism, the Upanishads, Hegel, etc.
Works: Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", "O Captain, My Captain" (the latter two memorialize Lincoln)
Emily Dickinson (1830-86)
Look for her distinctive style of syntax and lineation (dashes!)
Major works: "Because I Could Not Stop for Death", "The Heart Asks Pleasure First"
Bio: born and lived in family home in Amherst, Mass. entire life, never married or traveled
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
Themes: characters' interiority/consciousness, unconventional structure, emphasis on phenomenal details
A Room of One's Own (1929)
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction". Judith Shakespeare
Mrs Dalloway (1925)
Characters: Septimus Smith, Clarissa Dalloway, Richard Dalloway, Sally Seton, Peter Walsh
Theme: "a day in the life" of suffering minds
To The Lighthouse (1927)
Characters: Ramsay family, Lily Briscoe, Charles Tansley, Augustus Carmichael, Minta Doyle, Paul Rayley
Theme: the passage of time, the horrors of war, the pressures of familial and social expectations
James Joyce (1882-1941)
Irish modernist novelist/short story author; distinctive and all-encompassing prose style that ranges from babytalk to multiple languages to refined, clear prose.
Major works: Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake
James Joyce, collection of stories
Stories: "The Dead" (Gabriel Conroy and wife Gretta; Gretta reveals a dead lover, Michael Furey, from her past); "Araby" (child narrator and his idealization of "Mangan's sister"); "Two Gallants" (Lenahan and Corley coerce a maid into stealing from her employer)
Characters: Leopold and Molly Bloom, Stephen Dedalus
Follows Leopold through a single day (June 14) in Dublin
Finnegans Wake (1939)
Look for the continually shifting style, incorporating multiple languages and often resembling word salad more than English. Recurring image: HCE (Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker and a multitude of other signifieds)
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Part of the "lost generation" of American modernists, her Paris apartment was a pilgrimage site for authors, painters, etc. (incl. Picasso, Hemingway, and others). "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose".
Three Lives (1909)
Three disconnected stories of women in the fictional town of Bridgepointe.
The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933)
An unconventional auto/biography of Stein and her lover that fictionalizes their celebrity connections and life in the Paris milieu
Poet and critic, American-born Anglican convert, anxious response to the violence and philosophical emptiness of modernity. Author of major poems as well as "Tradition and the Individual Talent" and "Hamlet and His Problems"
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1920)
Famous lines: "Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table."
"In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo."
"Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea."
The Waste Land (1922)
Famous lines: "April is the cruelest month" (Chaucer!)
"I will show you fear in a handful of dust."
Look for: polyglot vocabulary, five sections, dense cultural allusions, etc.
The Hollow Men (1925)
Theme: search for meaning in the wreckage of WWI
"This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but with a whimper"
Ash Wednesday (1930)
More traditional prosody and melody than Eliot's earlier poetry
Opening lines: "Because I do not hope to turn again / Because I do not hope..."
Henry James (1843-1916)
American-born novelist, spent much time travelling to Europe and later acquired British citizenship
Style: dense, extended sentences and prose; close attention to characters' psychology; sophisticated use of point of view and interior monologue
Major works (divided roughly into three periods): Portrait of a Lady (1881), The Bostonians (1886), What Maisie Knew (1897), The Wings of the Dove (1902), The Ambassadors (1903), The Golden Bowl (1904)
Portrait of a Lady (1881)
The story is of a spirited young American woman, Isabel Archer, who "affronts her destiny" and finds it overwhelming. She inherits a large amount of money and subsequently becomes the victim of Machiavellian scheming by two American expatriates. The narrative is set mainly in Europe, especially in England and Italy. Generally regarded as the masterpiece of his early phase, The Portrait of a Lady is described as a psychological novel, exploring the minds of his characters, and almost a work of social science, exploring the differences between Europeans and Americans, the old and the new worlds.
The Bostonians (1886)
A bittersweet tragicomedy that centres on Basil Ransom, an unbending political conservative from Mississippi; Olive Chancellor, Ransom's cousin and a zealous Boston feminist; and Verena Tarrant, a pretty protégée of Olive's in the feminist movement. The storyline concerns the contest between Ransom and Olive for Verena's allegiance and affection, though the novel also includes a wide panorama of political activists, newspaper people, and quirky eccentrics.
What Maisie Knew (1897)
The story of the sensitive daughter (Maisie) of divorced and irresponsible parents (Beale and Ida Farange)
The Wings of the Dove (1902)
The story of Milly Theale, an American heiress stricken with a serious disease, and her impact on the people around her (incl. Kate Croy, Merton Densher, Aunt Maud (Lowder), and Susan Stringham). Some of these people befriend Milly with honourable motives, while others are more self-interested.
The Ambassadors (1903)
A dark comedy that follows the trip of protagonist Lewis Lambert Strether to Europe in pursuit of his widowed fiancée's supposedly wayward son, Chad Newsome. Strether is to bring the young man back to the family business, but he encounters unexpected complications. The third-person narrative is told exclusively from Strether's point of view
There I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers, and a kirtle
Embroider'd all with leaves of myrtle;
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull;
Fair linèd slippers for the cold,
With buckles of the purest gold;
Marlowe, "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love" (1599). First major example of pastoral love poetry extant in Renaissance English literature. Alluded to in later poetry by Sir Walter Raleigh, Donne, Herrick, and C. Day-Lewis
Leave thee alone, for the comparison
Of all that insolent Greece or haughty Rome
Sent forth; or since did from their ashes come.
Triumph, my Britain! Thou hast one to show
To whom all scenes of Europe homage owe.
He was not of an age, but for all time!
And all the Muses still were in their prime,
When, like Apollo, he came forth to warm
Our ears, or, like a Mercury, to charm.
Nature herself was proud of his designs,
And joy'd to wear the dressing of his lines,
Which were so richly spun, and woven so fit
As, since, she will vouchsafe no other wit.
The merry Greek, tart Aristophanes,
Neat Terence, witty Plautus, now not please;
But antiquated and deserted lie,
As they were not of Nature's family.
Yet must I not give Nature all!
Ben Jonson, "To the Memory of My Beloved, The Author, Mr. William Shakespeare, and What He Hath Left Us". First major response to Shakespeare's work and legacy; printed with F1. Note other lines: "Swan of Avon"; "Soul of the age"; "shake a stage"; etc.
Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
The liquefaction of her clothes!
Next, when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free,
—O how that glittering taketh me!
"Upon Julia's Clothes," (1648), by Robert Herrick in Hesperides (a collection of over 400 short poems). Note the open sensuality (cf. "Upon Julia's Breasts")--this is characteristic of the Restoration lyric
HER eyes the glow-worm lend thee,
The shooting stars attend thee ;
And the elves also,
Whose little eyes glow
Like the sparks of fire, befriend thee.
No Will-o'-th'-Wisp mislight thee,
Nor snake or slow-worm bite thee ;
But on, on thy way,
Not making a stay,
Since ghost there's none to affright thee.
"The Night-Piece, to Julia" (1648), by Robert Herrick in Hesperides (a collection of over 400 short poems).
But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
"To His Coy Mistress" (1681), Marvell in "Poems". This poem is likely to be the subject of a tested allusion in other works-- see also "Had we but world enough, and time";
"Let us roll all our strength and all
Our sweetness up into one ball,
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run."
Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile,
The short and simple annals of the poor.
The boast of heraldry, the pomp of pow'r,
And all that beauty, all that wealth e'er gave,
Awaits alike th'inevitable hour.
The paths of glory lead but to the grave.
"Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard" (1751), Thomas Gray. Note the interest in rustic/rural life, in memento mori and memorialization more broadly; look for this solemn tone to distinguish it.
Other lines: "Far from the madding crowd's ignoble strife"; "leaves the world to darkness and to me"; "Some mute inglorious Milton here may rest,
Some Cromwell guiltless of his country's blood."
A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
- Fair as a star when only one
Is shining in the sky.
"She Dwelt Among The Untrodden Ways" (1800), William Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads. Part of the series of "Lucy" poems, about the unremarked life and death of a remarkable young rural girl. Cf. Gray's "Country Church Yard" on the theme of mortality, memorialization, etc.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
Ulysses (1842), Tennyson. Interesting theme of the individual's relationship to the community, the need for activity as rejuvenating force
Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
Ulysses (1842), Tennyson. A kind of Victorian imperial and fraternal masculinity expressed here
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
"The Second Coming" (Jan. 1919), Yeats. Melancholy at the destructive, almost apocalyptic force of WWI. Cited in many later works, including Chinua Achebe's "Things Fall Apart".
And, moved thro' life of lower phase,
Result in man, be born and think,
And act and love, a closer link
Betwixt us and the crowning race
Of those that, eye to eye, shall look
On knowledge, under whose command
Is Earth and Earth's, and in their hand
Is Nature like an open book;
No longer half-akin to brute,
For all we thought and loved and did,
And hoped, and suffer'd, is but seed
Of what in them is flower and fruit;
Whereof the man, that with me trod
This planet, was a noble type
Appearing ere the times were ripe,
That friend of mine who lives in God,
That God, which ever lives and loves,
One God, one law, one element,
And one far-off divine event,
To which the whole creation moves.
"In Memoriam A.H.H." (1849), Tennyson. Note the "In Memoriam stanza" of iambic tetrameter (abba), unusual in a poem of this length. A long set of musings on life, death, knowledge, theology, science, etc. that cycles around the issue of Arthur Henry Hallam's death.
In a somer seson, whan softe was the sonne,
I shoop me into shroudes as I a sheep were,
In habite as an heremite unholy of werkes,
Wente wide in this world wondres to here.
Ac on a May morwenynge on Malverne hilles
Me bifel a ferly, of Fairye me thoghte.
Piers Plowman (1380), William Langland. Written in alliterative long line; part of the 14th century alliterative revival that also produced Sir Gawain and the Green Night. A set of dream visions in which the dreamer Will searches for Truth, the poem concerns the narrator's intense quest for the true Christian life, in the terms of the medieval Catholic mind. That quest entails a series of dream-visions and an examination into the lives of three allegorical characters, Do-Wel ( "Do-Well" ), Do-Bet ( "Do-Better" ), and Do-Best, who are sought by Piers, the humble plowman of the title. Look for elements like interior consciousness and especially first-person voice, in contrast with the characters of Chaucer or the Pearl poet
"I have y-sein segges," quod he, "in the cite of London
Beren bighes ful brighte abouten her nekkes,
And some colers of crafty werk; uncoupled thei wenden
Both in wareine and in waste, where hem leve lyketh;
And otherwise thei aren elleswhere, as I here telle..."
Piers Plowman (1380), William Langland. Written in alliterative long line; part of the 14th century alliterative revival that also produced Sir Gawain and the Green Night. A set of dream visions in which Will searches for Truth. Look for elements like interior consciousness and especially first-person voice, in contrast with the characters of Chaucer or the Pearl poet
It falles me here to write of Chastity,
That fairest vertue, farre aboue the rest;
For which what needs me fetch from Faery
Forreine ensamples, it to haue exprest?
Sith it is shrined in my Soueraines brest,
And form'd so liuely in each perfect part
That to all Ladies, which haue it profest,
Need but behold the pourtraict of her hart,
If pourtrayd it might be by any liuing art.
The Faerie Queene (1590-6), Edmund Spenser. Note the courtly praise of Elizabeth and the focus, in each book, upon one of a set of virtues. Also the deliberately archaic diction and the use of Spenserian stanza (iamb. pent. 8 followed by iamb. hex./alex. 1 ababbcbcc.
Thus she him trayned, and thus she him taught,
In all the skill of deeming wrong and right,
Vntill the ripenesse of mans yeares he raught;
That euen wilde beasts did feare his awfull sight,
And men admyr'd his ouerruling might;
Ne any liu'd on ground, that durst withstand
His dreadfull heast, much lesse him match in fight,
Or bide the horror of his wreakfull hand,
When so he list in wrath lift vp his steely brand.
Which steely brand, to make him dreaded more,
She gaue vnto him, gotten by her slight
And earnest search, where it was kept in store
In Ioues eternall house, vnwist of wight,
Since he himselfe it vs'd in that great fight
Against the Titans, that whylome rebelled
Gainst highest heauen; Chrysaor it was hight;
Chrysaor that all other swords excelled,
Well prou'd in that same day, when Ioue those Gyants quelled.
The Faerie Queene (1590-6), Edmund Spenser. Note the the focus, in each book, upon one of a set of virtues, as well as the common allegorical structure relating the physical preparation of the chivalrous knight to moral constancy. Also the deliberately archaic diction and the use of Spenserian stanza (iamb. pent. 8 followed by iamb. hex./alex. 1 ababbcbcc.
After Crystenmasse com þe crabbed lentoun,
Þat fraystez flesch wyth þe fysche and fode more symple;
Bot þenne þe weder of þe worlde wyth wynter hit þrepez,
Colde clengez adoun, cloudez vplyften,
Schyre schedez þe rayn in schowrez ful warme,
Fallez vpon fayre flat, flowrez þere schewen,
Boþe groundez and þe greuez grene ar her wedez,
Bryddez busken to bylde, and bremlych syngen
For solace of þe softe somer þat sues þerafter
And blossumez bolne to blowe
Bi rawez rych and ronk,
Þen notez noble innoȝe
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1375-1400), by the Pearl Poet. Above all, look for an alliterative poem with shorter lines and the distinctive bob and wheel
I saw then in my dream, that he went on thus, even until he came at the bottom, where he saw, a little out of the way, three men fast asleep, with fetters upon their heels. The name of the one was Simple, of another Sloth, and of the third Presumption.
X then seeing them lie in this case, went to them, if peradventure he might awake them, and cried, you are like them that sleep on the top of a mast, for the Dead Sea is under you, a gulf that hath no bottom: awake, therefore, and come away; be willing also, and I will help you off with your irons. He also told them, If he that goeth about like a roaring lion comes by, you will certainly become a prey to his teeth. With that they looked upon him, and began to reply in this sort: Simple said, I see no danger; Sloth said, Yet a little more sleep; and Presumption said, Every tub must stand upon its own bottom. And so they lay down to sleep again, and X went on his way.
Pilgrim's Progress (1678),, John Bunyan. Cf. Piers Plowman, but here in early modern English prose.
Then they addressed themselves to the water, and entering, X began to sink, and crying out to his good friend Hopeful, he said, I sink in deep waters; the billows go over my head; all his waves go over me. Selah. Then said the other, Be of good cheer, my brother: I feel the bottom, and it is good. Then said X, Ah! my friend, the sorrows of death have compassed me about, I shall not see the land that flows with milk and honey. And with that a great darkness and horror fell upon X, so that he could not see before him. Also here he in a great measure lost his senses, so that he could neither remember nor orderly talk of any of those sweet refreshments that he had met with in the way of his pilgrimage. But all the words that he spoke still tended to discover that he had horror of mind, and heart-fears that he should die in that river, and never obtain entrance in at the gate. Here also, as they that stood by perceived, he was much in the troublesome thoughts of the sins that he had committed, both since and before he began to be a pilgrim. It was also observed that he was troubled with apparitions of hobgoblins and evil spirits; for ever and anon he would intimate so much by words.
Pilgrim's Progress (1678),, John Bunyan. Cf. Piers Plowman, but here in early modern English prose rather than alliterative poetry
The king himself the sacred unction made,
As king by office, and as priest by trade:
In his sinister hand, instead of ball,
He plac'd a mighty mug of potent ale;
Love's kingdom to his right he did convey,
At once his sceptre and his rule of sway;
Whose righteous lore the prince had practis'd young,
And from whose loins recorded Psyche sprung,
His temples last with poppies were o'er spread,
That nodding seem'd to consecrate his head:
Just at that point of time, if fame not lie,
On his left hand twelve reverend owls did fly.
"Mac Flecknoe" (1676), John Dryden. A mock-heroic, satiric coronation of Dryden's rival Shadwell as the king of literary dulness. Look for heroic couplets, any mention of Shadwell or other Jacobean/Restoration poets, and classical allusions
There thou may'st wings display and altars raise,
And torture one poor word ten thousand ways.
Or if thou would'st thy diff'rent talents suit,
Set thy own songs, and sing them to thy lute.
He said, but his last words were scarcely heard,
For Bruce and Longvil had a trap prepar'd,
And down they sent the yet declaiming bard.
Sinking he left his drugget robe behind,
Born upwards by a subterranean wind.
The mantle fell to the young prophet's part,
With double portion of his father's art.
"Mac Flecknoe" (1676), John Dryden. A mock-heroic, satiric coronation of Dryden's rival Shadwell as the king of literary dulness. Look for heroic couplets, any mention of Shadwell or other Jacobean/Restoration poets, and classical allusions
Rhyming iambic pentameter couplets. Associate with Dryden and Pope especially
Not weigh'd, or winnow'd by the multitude;
But swallow'd in the mass, unchew'd and crude.
Some truth there was, but dash'd and brew'd with lies;
To please the fools, and puzzle all the wise.
Succeeding times did equal folly call,
Believing nothing, or believing all.
Th' Egyptian rites the Jebusites embrac'd;
Where gods were recommended by their taste.
Absalom and Achitophel (1680-1), John Dryden. Heroic couplets, long poem about the Succession Crisis. Look for Hellenic and Hebraic names and places broadly; reference the story of David and his sons specifically
In pious times, ere priest-craft did begin,
Before polygamy was made a sin;
When man, on many, multipli'd his kind,
Ere one to one was cursedly confin'd:
When Nature prompted, and no Law deni'd
Promiscuous use of concubine and bride;
Then, Israel's monarch, after Heaven's own heart,
His vigorous warmth did variously impart
To wives and slaves: and, wide as his command,
Scatter'd his Maker's image through the land.
Absalom and Achitophel (1680-1), John Dryden. Heroic couplets, long poem about the Succession Crisis. Look for Hellenic and Hebraic names and places broadly; reference the story of David and his sons specifically
Youth, beauty, graceful action, seldom fail:
But common interest always will prevail:
And pity never ceases to be shown
To him, who makes the people's wrongs his own.
The crowd, (that still believe their kings oppress,)
With lifted hands their young Messiah bless:
Who now begins his progress to ordain;
With chariots, horsemen, and a num'rous train:
From East to West his glories he displays:
And, like the sun, the Promis'd Land surveys.
Absalom and Achitophel (1680-1), John Dryden. Heroic couplets, long poem about the Succession Crisis. Look for Hellenic and Hebraic names and places broadly; reference the story of David and his sons specifically
What dire offence from amorous causes springs, What mighty contests rise from trivial things, I sing This verse to CARYLL, Muse! is due:
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If She inspire, and He approve my lays.
The Rape of the Lock (1712), Alexander Pope. NB heroic couplets and natural line breaks in the work, which is the most famous English mock epic. This is Pope's comic version of the epic invocation
Oft, when the world imagine women stray,
The sylphs through mystic mazes guide their way, Through all the giddy circle they pursue,
And old impertinence expel by new.
What tender maid but must a victim fall
To one man's treat, but for another's ball?
The Rape of the Lock (1712), Alexander Pope. NB heroic couplets and natural line breaks in the work, which is the most famous English mock epic. The sylphs and other elemental beings here stand in for Homeric deities, exerting their own force over social life
Not with more glories, in th' ethereal plain
The sun first rises o'er the purpled main,
Than, issuing forth, the rival of his beams Launched on the bosom of the silver Thames.
Fair nymphs, and well-dressed youths around her shone,
But every eye was fixed on her alone.
On her white breast a sparkling cross she wore, Which Jews might kiss, and infidels adore.
The Rape of the Lock (1712), Alexander Pope. NB heroic couplets and natural line breaks in the work, which is the most famous English mock epic. Cf. this moment to the attention paid by Homer to the weapons and armour of character like Ulysses
Just in that instant, anxious Ariel sought
The close recesses of the virgin's thought;
As on the nosegay in her breast reclined,
He watched th' ideas rising in her mind,
Sudden he viewed, in spite of all her art,
An earthly lover lurking at her heart.
Amazed, confused, he found his power expired, Resigned to fate, and widi a sigh retired.
The Rape of the Lock (1712), Alexander Pope
Say how the Goddess bade Britannia sleep,
And pour'd her Spirit o'er the land and deep.
In eldest time, e'er mortals writ or read,
E'er Pallas issu'd from the Thund'rer's head,
Dulness o'er all possess'd her ancient right,
Daughter of Chaos and eternal Night:
Fate in their dotage this fair Ideot gave,
Gross as her sire, and as her mother grave,
Laborious, heavy, busy, bold, and blind,
She rul'd, in native Anarchy, the mind.
Still her old Empire to restore she tries,
For, born a Goddess, Dulness never dies.
The Dunciad (1741), Alexander Pope. Mock-epic written in heroic couplets. This is Pope's (almost Miltonic) version of the epic invocation
How hints, like spawn, scarce quick in embryo lie,
How new−born nonsense first is taught to cry,
Maggots half−form'd in rhyme exactly meet,
And learn to crawl upon poetic feet.
Here one poor word an hundred clenches makes,
And ductile dulness new meanders takes;
There motley Images her fancy strike,
Figures ill pair'd, and Similies unlike.
She sees a Mob of Metaphors advance,
Pleas'd with the madness of the mazy dance:
How Tragedy and Comedy embrace;
How Farce and Epic get a jumbled race;
The Dunciad (1741), Alexander Pope. Mock-epic written in heroic couplets. NB the continual reference to styles and authors of poetry and prose
Did we behold the German fashionable dress of the Fifteenth Century, we might smile; as perhaps those bygone Germans, were they to rise again, and see our haberdashery, would cross themselves, and invoke the Virgin. But happily no bygone German, or man, rises again; thus the Present is not needlessly trammelled with the Past; and only grows out of it, like a Tree, whose roots are not intertangled with its branches, but lie peaceably underground. Nay it is very mournful, yet not useless, to see and know, how the Greatest and Dearest, in a short while, would find his place quite filled up here, and no room for him; the very Napoleon, the very Byron, in some seven years, has become obsolete, and were now a foreigner to his Europe. Thus is the Law of Progress secured; and in Clothes, as in all other external things whatsoever, no fashion will continue.
Sartor Resartus (1833-6), Thomas Carlyle. A philosophical work in fiction influenced by contemporary German thinkers, including Kant and Goethe—means The Tailor Reclothed. Note the Sterne-esque style and emphasis on history and clothing
Here, however, difficulties occurred. The first thought naturally was to publish Article after Article on this remarkable Volume, in such widely circulating Critical Journals as the Editor might stand connected with, or by money or love procure access to. But, on the other hand, was it not clear that such matter as must here be revealed, and treated of, might endanger the circulation of any Journal extant? If, indeed, all party-divisions in the State could have been abolished, Whig, Tory, and Radical, embracing in discrepant union; and all the Journals of the Nation could have been jumbled into one Journal, and the Philosophy of Clothes poured forth in incessant torrents therefrom, the attempt had seemed possible. But, alas, what vehicle of that sort have we, except Fraser's Magazine?
Sartor Resartus (1833-6), Thomas Carlyle. A philosophical work in fiction influenced by contemporary German thinkers, including Kant and Goethe—means The Tailor Reclothed. Note the Sterne-esque style and emphasis on history and clothing, as well as the external persona of the skeptical Editor of Teufelsdrockh's works.
I frequently asked myself, if I could, or if I was bound to go on living, when life must be passed in this manner. I generally answered to myself that I did not think I could possibly bear it beyond a year. When, however, not more than half that duration of time had elapsed, a small ray of light broke in upon my gloom. I was reading, accidentally, Marmontel's Mémoires, and came to the passage which relates his father's death, the distressed position of the family, and the sudden inspiration by which he, then a mere boy, felt and made them feel that he would
be everything to them—would supply the place of all that they had lost. A vivid conception of the scene and its feelings came over me, and I was moved to tears. From this moment my burden grew lighter.
John Stuart Mill, from his Autobiography (1873). Mill's period of youthful depression as a result of an education that emphasized logic over the cultivation of feeling and sense is a favourite of ETS
The curtal sonnet is a form invented by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and used in three of his poems. It is an eleven-line (or, more accurately, ten-and-a-half-line) sonnet, but rather than the first eleven lines of a standard sonnet it consists of precisely ¾ of the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet shrunk proportionally, so that the octave of a sonnet becomes a sestet and the sestet a quatrain plus an additional "tail piece." "Pied Beauty" is an example.
It was now perceived that such phrases as "self-government," and "the power of
the people over themselves," do not express the true state of the case. The "people" who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised; and the "self government" spoken of is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest. The will of the people, moreover, practically means the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people; the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority; the people, consequently may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this as against any other abuse of
Mill, "On Liberty" (1859). The phrase "tyranny of the majority" (drawn from Alexis de Tocqueville) exemplifies Mill's sense of how society must defend the liberty and sovereignty of the individual over himself
I have said that it is important to give the freest scope possible to uncustomary things, in order that it may in time appear which of these are fit to be converted into customs. But independence of action, and disregard of custom are not solely deserving of encouragement for the chance they afford that better modes of action, and customs more worthy of general adoption, may be struck out; nor is it only persons of decided mental superiority who have a just claim to carry on their lives in their own way. There is no reason that all human existences should be constructed on some one, or some small number of patterns. If a person possesses any tolerable amount of common sense and experience, his own mode of laying out his existence is the best, not because it is the best in itself, but because it is his own mode. Human beings are not like sheep; and even sheep are not undistinguishably alike.
Mill, "On Liberty" (1859). The passage suggests Mill's emphasis on supporting and allowing the development of human individuality as one of the chief goals of a society
This fact is in accordance with the best general conclusions which the world's imperfect experience seems as yet to suggest, concerning the peculiar tendencies and aptitudes characteristic of women, as women have hitherto been. I do not say, as they will continue to be; for, as I have already said more than once, I consider it presumption in anyone to pretend to decide what women are or are not, can or cannot be, by natural constitution. They have always hitherto been kept, as far as regards spontaneous development, in so unnatural a state, that their nature cannot but have been greatly distorted and disguised; and no one can safely pronounce that if women's nature were left to choose its direction as freely as men's, and if no artificial bent were attempted to be given to it except that required by the conditions of human society, and given to both sexes alike, there would be any material difference, or perhaps any difference at all, in the character and capacities which would unfold themselves.
Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869). NB Mill's distinctive argument that female education has distorted their natural capabilities, making it impossible to speculate on what they might or might not be good at (this is v. similar to Wollstonecraft's ideas, and will need to be distinguished)
Poetry is feeling confessing itself to itself in moments of solitude, and embodying itself in symbols which are the nearest possible representations of the feeling in the exact shape in which it exists in the poet's mind. Eloquence is feeling pouring itself out to other minds, courting their sympathy, or endeavoring to influence their belief, or move them to passion or to action.
Mill, "What is Poetry" (1833)
Other well-meaning friends of this new power are for leading it, not in the old ruts of middle-class  Philistinism, but in ways which are naturally alluring to the feet of democracy, though in this country they are novel and untried ways. I may call them the ways of Jacobinism. Violent indignation with the past, abstract systems of renovation applied wholesale, a new doctrine drawn up in black and white for elaborating down to the very smallest details a rational society for the future,—these are the ways of Jacobinism. Mr. Frederic Harrison and other disciples of Comte,—one of them, Mr. Congreve, is an old acquaintance of mine, and I am glad to have an opportunity of publicly expressing my respect for his talents and character,—are among the friends of democracy who are for leading it in paths of this kind. Mr. Frederic Harrison is very hostile to culture, and from a natural enough motive; for culture is the eternal opponent of the two things which are the signal marks of Jacobinism,—its fierceness, and its addiction to an abstract system. Culture is always assigning to system-makers and systems a smaller share in the bent of human destiny than their friends like.
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869). Arnold's easiest identifiers are "sweetness and light" and the idea of "the philistine"
The best art and poetry of the Greeks, in which religion and poetry are one, in which the idea of beauty and of a human nature perfect on all sides adds to itself a religious and devout energy, and works in the strength of that, is on this account of such surpassing interest and instructiveness for us, though it was,—as, having regard to the human race in general, and, indeed, having regard to the Greeks themselves, we must own,—a premature attempt, an attempt which for success needed the moral and religious fibre in humanity to be more braced and developed than it had yet been. But Greece did not err in having the idea of beauty, harmony, and complete human perfection, so present and paramount; it is impossible to have this idea too present and paramount; only the moral fibre must be braced too.
Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (1869). Note Arnold's Hellenism and general sense that classical culture valued beauty and human virtue more than his own capital-obsessed age
All the Gothics in existence, southern or northern, were corrupted at once: the German and French lost themselves in every species of extravagance; the English Gothic was confined, in its insanity, by a strait-waistcoat of perpendicular lines; the Italian effloresced on the main land into the meaningless ornamentation of the Certosa of Pavia and the Cathedral of Como, (a style sometimes ignorantly called Italian Gothic), and at Venice into the insipid confusion of the Porta della Carta and wild crockets of St. Mark's. This corruption of all architecture, especially ecclesiastical, corresponded with, and marked the state of religion over all Europe,—the peculiar degradation of the Romanist superstition, and of public morality in consequence, which brought about the Reformation.
Ruskin, The Stones of Venice (1851-3). Note association of cultural and religious values with particular forms of architecture
When a young girl comes within the sphere of such a man, she is as perilously situated as the maiden whom, in the old classical myths, the people used to expose to a dragon. If I had any duty whatever, in reference to Hollingsworth, it was to endeavor to save Priscilla from that kind of personal worship which her sex is generally prone to lavish upon saints and heroes. It often requires but one smile out of the hero's eyes into the girl's or woman's heart, to transform this devotion, from a sentiment of the highest approval and confidence, into passionate love. Now, Hollingsworth smiled much upon Priscilla,--more than upon any other person. If she thought him beautiful, it was no wonder. I often thought him so, with the expression of tender human care and gentlest sympathy which she alone seemed to have power to call out upon his features.
Hawthorne, The Blithedale Romance (1852). Set in an agrarian utopian community based on Brook Farm -- look for a lighter tone in comparison with H's other work.
Phoebe Pyncheon slept, on the night of her arrival, in a chamber that looked down on the garden of the old house. It fronted towards the east, so that at a very seasonable hour a glow of crimson light came flooding through the window, and bathed the dingy ceiling and paper-hangings in its own hue. There were curtains to Phoebe's bed; a dark, antique canopy, and ponderous festoons of a stuff which had been rich, and even magnificent, in its time; but which now brooded over the girl like a cloud, making a night in that one corner, while elsewhere it was beginning to be day. The morning light, however, soon stole into the aperture at the foot of the bed, betwixt those faded curtains. Finding the new guest there,—with a bloom on her cheeks like the morning's own, and a gentle stir of departing slumber in her limbs, as when an early breeze moves the foliage,—the dawn kissed her brow. It was the caress which a dewy maiden—such as the Dawn is, immortally—gives to her sleeping sister, partly from the impulse of irresistible fondness, and partly as a pretty hint that it is time now to unclose her eyes.
Hawthorne, The House of the Seven Gables (1851). Distinguished by its Gothic tone from Blithedale R.
I am enamour'd of growing out-doors,
Of men that live among cattle or taste of the ocean or woods,
Of the builders and steerers of ships and the wielders of axes and mauls, and the drivers of horses,
I can eat and sleep with them week in and week out.
What is commonest, cheapest, nearest, easiest, is Me,
Me going in for my chances, spending for vast returns,
Adorning myself to bestow myself on the first that will take me,
Not asking the sky to come down to my good will,
Scattering it freely forever.
Whitman, "Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass (1855). NB the open, modern-seeming free verse and buoyant emphasis on theself and subjective experience
O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck
You've fallen cold and dead.
Whitman, "O Captain! My Captain!" from Leaves of Grass (1855). The emphasis on embodiment and almost homoerotic dimension help ID Whitman here
I hide myself within my flower,
That wearing on your breast,
You, unsuspecting, wear me too —
And angels know the rest.
I hide myself within my flower,
That, fading from your vase,
You, unsuspecting, feel for me
Almost a loneliness.
Dickinson, "With a Flower" (1890). Note the distinctive dashes and D's sensitive, interiorized first-person voice
When I was small, a woman died.
To-day her only boy
Went up from the Potomac,
His face all victory,
To look at her ; how slowly
The seasons must have turned
Till bullets clipt an angle,
And he passed quickly round !
If pride shall be in Paradise
I never can decide ;
Of their imperial conduct,
No person testified.
But proud in apparition,
That woman and her boy
Pass back and forth before my brain,
As ever in the sky.
DIckinson, "Along the Potomac" (1890).
It was all dry: all withered: all spent. They ought not to have asked her; she ought not to have come. One can't waste one's time at forty-four, she thought. She hated playing at painting. A brush, the one dependable thing in a world of strife, ruin, chaos — that one should not play with, knowingly even: she detested it. But he made her. You shan't touch your canvas, he seemed to say, bearing down on her, till you've given me what I want of you. Here he was, close upon her again, greedy, distraught.
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (1927). Lily Briscoe's anxiety at the pressures of marriage and artistic production.
Going and coming, beckoning, signalling, so the light and shadow which now made the wall grey, now the bananas bright yellow, now made the Strand grey, now made the omnibuses bright yellow, seemed to Septimus Warren Smith lying on the sofa in the sitting-room; watching the watery gold glow and fade with the astonishing sensibility of some live creature on the roses, on the wall-paper. Outside the trees dragged their leaves like nets through the depths of the air; the sound of water was in the room and through the waves came the voices of birds singing. Every power poured its treasures on his head, and his hand lay there on the back of the sofa, as he had seen his hand lie when he was bathing, floating, on the top of the waves, while far away on shore he heard dogs barking and barking far away. Fear no more, says the heart in the body; fear no more.
Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925). Smith is a shell-shocked veteran of WWI
Everything's going on the same or so it appeals to all of us, in the old holmsted here. Coughings all over the sanctuary, bad scrant to me aunt Florenza. The horn for breakfast, one o'gong for lunch and dinnerchime. As popular as when Belly the First was keng and his members met in the Diet of Man.
Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939). The mishmash of languages, jargons, styles, and periods of comic fiction should help ID this. Look also for HCE as a recurring image
When the shadow of the sash appeared in the curtains it was between seven and eight oclock and then I was in time again, hearing the watch. It was Grandfather's and when Father gave it to me he said I give you the mausoleum of all hope and desire; it's rather excruciatingly apt that you will use it to gain the reducto absurdum of all human experience which can fit your individual needs no better than it fitted his or his father's. I give it to you not that you may remember time, but that you might forget it now and then for a moment and not spend all your breath trying to conquer it
Faulkner, Sound and the Fury (1929).
I can remember how when I was young I believed death to be a phenomenon of the body; now I know it to be merely a function of the mind — and that of the minds who suffer the bereavement. The nihilists say it is the end; the fundamentalists, the beginning; when in reality it is no more than a single tenant or family moving out of a tenement or a town
Faulkner, As I Lay Dying (1930). NB that the different narrators might make this novel challenging to identify; some are more lucid than others
Anna had great pride in the knowledge and possessions of her cherished Miss Mathilda, but she did not like her careless way of wearing always her old clothes. "You can't go out to dinner in that dress, Miss Mathilda," she would say, standing firmly before die outside door, "You got to go and put on your new dress you always look so nice in." "But Anna, there isn't time." "Yes there is, I go up and help you fix it, please Miss Mathilda you can't go out to dinner in that dress and next year if we live till then, I make you get a new hat, too. It's a shame Miss Mathilda to go out like that."
Gertrude Stein, Three Lives (1909). Look for Bridgepointe, the titular trio of female characters Anna, Melanctha, and Lena
Tell about the South. What's it like there. What do they do there. Why do they live there. Why do they live at all.
Faulkner, Absalom! Absalom! (1936)
I was born in San Francisco, California. I have in consequence always
preferred living in a temperate climate but it is difficult, on the
continent of Europe or even in America, to find a temperate climate and
live in it. My mother's father was a pioneer, he came to California in
'49, he married my grandmother who was very fond of music. She was a
pupil of Clara Schumann's father. My mother was a quiet charming woman
named Emilie. My father came of Polish patriotic stock. His grand-uncle raised a
regiment for Napoleon and was its colonel. His father left his mother
just after their marriage, to fight at the barricades in Paris, but his
wife having cut off his supplies, he soon returned and led the life of a
conservative well to do land owner. I myself have had no liking for violence and have always enjoyed the
pleasures of needlework and gardening. I am fond of paintings, furniture,
tapestry, houses and flowers and even vegetables and fruit-trees. I like
a view but I like to sit with my back turned to it.
Stein, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (1933). Look for Stein's characteristic wit and for the names of modernist luminaries in Paris, but not for the difficult style of her other poetry
And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: "I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all"—
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
Should say: "That is not what I meant at all.
That is not it, at all."
Eliot, "Prufrock" (1920)
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
Eliot, "Prufrock" (1920)
At the violet hour, when the eyes and back
Turn upward from the desk, when the human engine waits
Like a taxi throbbing waiting,
I Tiresias, though blind, throbbing between two lives,
Old man with wrinkled female breasts, can see
At the violet hour, the evening hour that strives
Homeward, and brings the sailor home from sea,
The typist home at teatime, clears her breakfast, lights
Her stove, and lays out food in tins.
Out of the window perilously spread
Her drying combinations touched by the sun's last rays,
On the divan are piled (at night her bed)
Stockings, slippers, camisoles, and stays.
I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest—
I too awaited the expected guest.
Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)
LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, "What is it?"
Let us go and make our visit.
Eliot, "Prufrock" (1920)
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying "Stetson!
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!
That corpse you planted last year in your garden,
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year?
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed?
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that's friend to men,
Or with his nails he'll dig it up again!
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!"
Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925). This is the only line from this work likely to be tested
Because I do not hope to turn again
Because I do not hope
Because I do not hope to turn
Desiring this man's gift and that man's scope
I no longer strive to strive towards such things
(Why should the agèd eagle stretch its wings?)
Why should I mourn
The vanished power of the usual reign?
Eliot, Ash Wednesday (1930). Look for more conventional religious imagery and sentiment to distinguish this from Eliot's other poetry
A phrase invented by TS Eliot to describe the way that Hamlet's subjective/psychological response to his father's death does not correspond with the reality or scope of the event itself--this is why he claims the play is a failure
Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
Eliot, Four Quartets (1946)
Daisy Miller (1878)
This novella deals with the eponymous American girl and her courtship by Winterbourne, both of whom are expatriates in Italy and Switzerland. She is overly flirtatious and dies a tragic death.
Portrait of a Lady (1881)
First published in 1881. It is the story of a young female American, Isabel Archer, who inherits a large amount of money, which left her to the Machiavellan schemings of two European expatriates (Gilbert Osmond and Madame Merle). Like many of James' novels, it is set mostly in Europe, notably Italy.
Names: Isabel Archer, Lord Warburton, Edward Rosier, Gilbert Osmond, Madame Merle, Pansy
The Golden Bowl (1904)
Adam Verver, a US billionaire in London, dotes on daughter Maggie, an innocent abroad. An impecunious Italian, Prince Amerigo, marries her even though her best friend, Charlotte Stant, an alabaster beauty with brains, no money, and a practical and romantic nature, is his lover. She and Amerigo keep it secret from Maggie that they know each other, so Maggie interests her widowed father in Charlotte, who is happy with the match because she wants to be close to Amerigo. Charlotte desires him, the lovers risk discovery, Amerigo longs for Italy, Maggie wants to spare her father pain, and Adam wants to return to America to build a museum. Amidst lies and artifice, what fate awaits adulterers?
She had had no hidden motive in wishing him not to take her home; it simply struck her that for some days past she had consumed an inordinate quantity of his time, and the independent spirit of the American girl whom extravagance of aid places in an attitude that she ends by finding "affected" had made her decide that for these few hours she must suffice to herself. She had moreover a great fondness for intervals of solitude, which since her arrival in England had been but meagrely met. It was a luxury she could always command at home and she had wittingly missed it. That evening, however, an incident occurred which--had there been a critic to note it--would have taken all colour from the theory that the wish to be quite by herself had caused her to dispense with her cousin's attendance. Seated toward nine o'clock in the dim illumination of Pratt's Hotel and trying with the aid of two tall candles to lose herself in a volume she had brought from Gardencourt, she succeeded only to the extent of reading other words than those printed on the page--words that Ralph had spoken to her that afternoon. Suddenly the well-muffed knuckle of the waiter was applied to the door, which presently gave way to his exhibition, even as a glorious trophy, of the card of a visitor. When this memento had offered to her fixed sight the name of Mr. Caspar Goodwood she let the man stand before her without signifying her wishes.
Portrait of a Lady (1881). Note almost exclusive emphasis on Isabel's (female) POV, dilemmas, etc.
The Beast in the Jungle (1903)
John Marcher, the protagonist, is reacquainted with May Bartram, a woman he knew ten years earlier, who remembers his odd secret- Marcher is seized with the belief that his life is to be defined by some catastrophic or spectacular event, lying in wait for him like a "beast in the jungle." May decides to take a flat nearby in London, and to spend her days with Marcher curiously awaiting what fate has in stall for John. Of course Marcher is a self-centered egoist, believing that he is precluded from marrying so that he does not subject his wife to his "spectacular fate". So he takes May to the theatre and invites her to an occasional dinner, while not allowing her to really get close to him for her own sake. As he sits idly by and allows the best years of his life to pass, he takes May down as well, until the denouement wherein he learns that the great misfortune of his life was to throw it away, and to ignore the love of a good woman, based upon his preposterous sense of foreboding.
"I've come, you know, to make you break with everything, neither more nor less, and take you straight home; so you'll be so good as immediately and favourably to consider it!"—Strether, face to face with Chad after the play, had sounded these words almost breathlessly, and with an effect at first positively disconcerting to himself alone. For Chad's receptive attitude was that of a person who had been gracefully quiet while the messenger at last reaching him has run a mile through the dust. During some seconds after he had spoken Strether felt as if he had made some such exertion; he was not even certain that the perspiration wasn't on his brow. It was the kind of consciousness for which he had to thank the look that, while the strain lasted, the young man's eyes gave him. They reflected—and the deuce of the thing was that they reflected really with a sort of shyness of kindness—his momentarily disordered state; which fact brought on in its turn for our friend the dawn of a fear that Chad might simply "take it out"—take everything out—in being sorry for him. Such a fear, any fear, was unpleasant. But everything was unpleasant; it was odd how everything had suddenly turned so.
Henry James, The Ambassadors (1903)
I hardly know whether it was the analogies or the differences that were uppermost in the mind of a young American, who, two or three years ago, sat in the garden of the "Trois Couronnes," looking about him, rather idly, at some of the graceful objects I have mentioned. It was a beautiful summer morning, and in whatever fashion the young American looked at things, they must have seemed to him charming. He had come from Geneva the day before by the little steamer, to see his aunt, who was staying at the hotel—Geneva having been for a long time his place of residence. But his aunt had a headache— his aunt had almost always a headache—and now she was shut up in her room, smelling camphor, so that he was at liberty to wander about. He was some seven-and-twenty years of age; when his friends spoke of him, they usually said that he was at Geneva "studying." When his enemies spoke of him, they said—but, after all, he had no enemies; he was an extremely amiable fellow, and universally liked. What I should say is, simply, that when certain persons spoke of him they affirmed that the reason of his spending so much time at Geneva was that he was extremely devoted to a lady who lived there—a foreign lady—a person older than himself.
Daisy Miller (1878); spoken of the cosmopolite Winterbourn
He accepted her amendments, he enjoyed her corrections, though the moral of them was, she pointed out, that he really didn't remember the least thing about her; and he only felt it as a drawback that when all was made strictly historic there didn't appear much of anything left. They lingered together still, she neglecting her office—for from the moment he was so clever she had no proper right to him—and both neglecting the house, just waiting as to see if a memory or two more wouldn't again breathe on them. It hadn't taken them many minutes, after all, to put down on the table, like the cards of a pack, those that constituted their respective hands; only what came out was that the pack was unfortunately not perfect—that the past, invoked, invited, encouraged, could give them, naturally, no more than it had. It had made them anciently meet—her at twenty, him at twenty-five; but nothing was so strange, they seemed to say to each other, as that, while so occupied, it hadn't done a little more for them. They looked at each other as with the feeling of an occasion missed; the present would have been so much better if the other, in the far distance, in the foreign land, hadn't been so stupidly meagre. There weren't, apparently, all counted, more than a dozen little old things that had succeeded in coming to pass between them; trivialities of youth, simplicities of freshness, stupidities of ignorance, small possible germs, but too deeply buried—too deeply (didn't it seem?) to sprout after so many years. Marcher could only feel he ought to have rendered her some service—saved her from a capsized boat in the bay or at least recovered her dressing-bag, filched from her cab in the streets of Naples by a lazzarone with a stiletto. Or it would have been nice if he could have been taken with fever all alone at his hotel, and she could have come to look after him, to write to his people, to drive him out in convalescence. Then they would be in possession of the something or other that their actual show seemed to lack.
Henry James, The Beast in the Jungle (1903)
The Turn of the Screw (1898)
An unnamed narrator listens to a manuscript read by a male friend from a former governess whom the latter claimed to know and who is now dead.
A young governess is hired by a man who has found himself responsible for his niece and nephew after the death of their parents. He lives in London and has no interest whatsoever in the children. The boy is at a boarding school. The girl, Flora, is living at his country home where she is cared for by the housekeeper, Mrs. Grose. He gives the governess full charge of the children and makes it clear he never wants to hear from her again regarding them. The governess travels to her new employer's house and begins her duties. Shortly thereafter, the boy, Miles, turns up after being expelled from his school. For some mysterious reason, the headmaster feels he is a threat to the other boys.
The governess begins to see and hear strange things. She learns that her predecessor, a Miss Jessel, and her lover Quint, a clever but abusive man, died under curious circumstances. Gradually, she becomes convinced that the pair are somehow using the children to continue their relationship from beyond the grave. The governess takes action against the perceived threat with tragic consequences.
Mr. Pardon, as Olive observed, was a little out of this combination; but he was not a person to allow himself to droop. He came and seated himself by Miss Chancellor and broached a literary subject; he asked her if she were following any of the current "serials" in the magazines. On her telling him that she never followed anything of that sort, he undertook a defence of the serial system, which she presently reminded him that she had not attacked. He was not discouraged by this retort, but glided gracefully off to the question of Mount Desert; conversation on some subject or other being evidently a necessity of his nature. He talked very quickly and softly, with words, and even sentences, imperfectly formed; there was a certain amiable flatness in his tone, and he abounded in exclamations—"Goodness gracious!" and "Mercy on us!"—not much in use among the sex whose profanity is apt to be coarse. He had small, fair features, remarkably neat, and pretty eyes, and a moustache that he caressed, and an air of juvenility much at variance with his grizzled locks, and the free familiar reference in which he was apt to indulge to his career as a journalist. His friends knew that in spite of his delicacy and his prattle he was what they called a live man; his appearance was perfectly reconcilable with a large degree of literary enterprise.
The Bostonians (1886). Look for discussions of politics, journalism, and (as here) the "serial" system of publication
The Age of Innocence (1920)
Plot: Newland Archer, NYC heir and lawyer, is happily anticipating a highly desirable marriage to the high-bred May Welland, but is infatuated with Countess Ellen Olenska, May's exotic, beautiful thirty-year-old cousin, who has been living in Europe but has separated herself from a bad marriage to a Polish count. He becomes intrigued by the worldly Ellen who flouts New York society's fastidious rules. Newland and May marry. He tries forgetting Ellen but fails. His society marriage is loveless, and the social life he once found absorbing has become empty and joyless. Though Ellen lives in Washington and has remained distant, he is unable to cease loving her; she eventually leaves for Paris and, though he travels to visit her with his son many years later, decides not to walk up to her apartment and returns to his hotel.
Characters: Newland Archer, Ellen Olenska, May Welland
The House of Mirth (1905)
The House of Mirth tells the story of Lily Bart, a woman who is torn between her desire for luxurious living and a relationship based on mutual respect and love. She sabotages all her possible chances for a wealthy marriage, loses the esteem of her social circle, and dies young, poor, and alone.
Characters: Lily Bart, Judy Trenor, Bertha Dorset, Aunt Peniston, Ned Silverton
In reality they all lived in a kind of hieroglyphic world, where the real thing was never said or done or even thought, but only represented by a set of arbitrary signs; as when Mrs Welland, who knew exactly why Archer had pressed her to announced her daughter's engagement at the Beaufort ball (and had indeed expected him to do no less), yet felt obliged to simulate reluctance, and the air of having her hand forced, quite as, in the books on Primitive Man that people of advanced culture were beginning to read, the savage bride is dragged with shrieks from her parents' tent
Wharton, The Age of Innocence (1920)
Most timidities have such secret compensations, and Miss Bart was discerning enough to know that the inner vanity is generally in proportion to the outer self-depreciation. With a more confident person she would not have dared to dwell so long on one topic, or to show such exaggerated interest in it; but she had rightly guessed that Mr. Gryce's egoism was a thirsty soil, requiring constant nurture from without. Miss Bart had the gift of following an undercurrent of thought while she appeared to be sailing on the surface of conversation; and in this case her mental excursion took the form of a rapid survey of Mr. Percy Gryce's future as combined with her own. The Gryces were from Albany, and but lately introduced to the metropolis, where the mother and son had come, after old Jefferson Gryce's death, to take possession of his house in Madison Avenue--an appalling house, all brown stone without and black walnut within, with the Gryce library in a fire-proof annex that looked like a mausoleum.
Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth (1905)
An English poet and the sister of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. Their father, Gabriele Rossetti, was a political asylum seeker from Naples, and their mother, Frances Polidori, was the sister of Lord Byron's friend and physician, John William Polidori. Born in London and educated privately, she suffered ill-health in her youth, but was already writing poetry in her teens. Her engagement to a painter, James Collinson, was broken off because of religious differences (she was High Church Anglican). This experience is credited with inspiring her most popular poem 'Remember'. She refused to marry Charles Cayley, whom she was deeply in love with, because of religious reasons.
Goblin Market (1862)
Christina Rossetti. Goblin Market deals implicitly with the ambiguous nature of the female role in Victorian society and is highly allusive to Biblical imagery (notably the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden and The Fall). Two girls, Laura and Lizzie, hear the goblins hawk their merchandise of exotic fruit each day. Laura is tempted by the fruit, while Lizzie warns her away, then runs from the goblins with her ears covered to avoid hearing their voices. Laura purchases fruit from the goblins with a lock of her hair, then eats a great deal. The next day, she longs to buy more, and spends the afternoon in depressed anticipation. At evening, however, only Lizzie can hear the goblins. Laura grows sick and weak with longing for the goblin-fruit, until finally Lizzie takes pity on her and goes to buy more fruit from the goblins, bringing a silver penny to pay them. When the goblins discover Lizzie refuses to eat any of the fruit and wants to bring it to someone else, they grow very angry and try to persuade her to eat. She resists them and returns home with the juice of the goblin fruits in her mouth and on her lips, though she does not dare swallow. She allows Laura to kiss her and taste the juice from her skin; Laura is eager to do so, but soon finds that the juice burns like a fire in her blood. After Lizzie cares for her through a long night of sickness, however, Laura recovers and is her old self again.
Backwards up the mossy glen
Turned and trooped the goblin men,
With their shrill repeated cry,
"Come buy, come buy."
When they reached where Laura was
They stood stock still upon the moss,
Leering at each other,
Brother with queer brother;
Signalling each other,
Brother with sly brother.
One set his basket down,
One reared his plate;
One began to weave a crown
Of tendrils, leaves, and rough nuts brown
(Men sell not such in any town);
One heaved the the golden weight
Of dish and fruit to offer her:
"Come buy, come buy," was still their cry.
Christina Rossetti, Goblin Market (1862). Note the sexualized and Edenic imagery conjoined with the childlike simplicity of the language
There is a knowledge which is desirable, though nothing come of it, as being of itself a treasure, and a sufficient remuneration of years of labor
Cardinal Newman, The Idea of a University (1873)
I do not know when I first learnt to consider that Antiquity was the true exponent of the doctrines of Christianity and the basis of the Church of England; but I take it for granted that Bishop Bull, whose works at this time I read, was my chief introduction to this principle. The course of reading which I pursued in the composition of my work was directly adapted to develop it in my mind. What principally attracted me in the ante-Nicene period was the great Church of Alexandria, the historical centre of teaching in those times. Of Rome for some centuries comparatively little is known. The battle of Arianism was first fought in Alexandria; Athanasius, the champion of the truth, was Bishop of Alexandria; and in his writings he refers to the great religious names of an earlier date, to Origen, Dionysius, and others who were the glory of its see, or of its school. The broad philosophy of Clement and Origen carried me away; the philosophy, not the theological doctrine; and I have drawn out some features of it in my volume, with the zeal and freshness, but with the partiality of a neophyte.
Cardinal Newman, Apologia Pro Vita Sua (1864)
A perfect Judge will read each Work of Wit
With the same Spirit that its Author writ,
Survey the Whole, nor seek slight Faults to find,
Where Nature moves, and Rapture warms the Mind;
Nor lose, for that malignant dull Delight,
The gen'rous Pleasure to be charm'd with Wit.
But in such Lays as neither ebb, nor flow,
Correctly cold, and regularly low,
That shunning Faults, one quiet Tenour keep;
We cannot blame indeed--but we may sleep.
In Wit, as Nature, what affects our Hearts
Is nor th' Exactness of peculiar Parts;
'Tis not a Lip, or Eye, we Beauty call,
But the joint Force and full Result of all.
Thus when we view some well-proportion'd Dome,
The World's just Wonder, and ev'n thine O Rome!)
No single Parts unequally surprize;
All comes united to th' admiring Eyes;
No monstrous Height, or Breadth, or Length appear;
The Whole at once is Bold, and Regular.
Pope, Essay on Criticism (1711). Note Pope's characteristic heroic couplets and aphoristic/apothegm-filled style
William Cowper (1731-1800)
English poet and hymnodist, wrote nature verse that prefigured much of the work of the Romantics, incl. Coleridge and Wordsworth. Associated with evangelic Christianity, and was friends with John Newton (author of "Amazing Grace"), with whom he published the Olney Hymns (1779)
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Cowper, "Light Shining Out of Darkness" from Olney Hymns (1779)
Welsh poet and writer whose most famous poems include "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" and "And Death Shall Have No Dominion." His vivid and often fantastic imagery was a rejection of the trends in 20th Century verse: while his contemporaries gradually altered their writing to serious topical verse (political and social concerns were often expressed), Thomas gave himself over to his passionately felt emotions, and his writing is often both intensely personal and fiercely lyrical. Thomas, in many ways, was more in alignment with the Romantics than he was with the poets of his era (Auden and Eliot, to name but two). He is particularly remembered for the radio-play Under Milk Wood, for his poem "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night," which is generally interpreted as a plea to his dying father to hold onto life, and for the short stories "A Child's Christmas in Wales." and "The Outing".
And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
Dylan Thomas, "And Death Shall Have No Dominion" (1936)
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Dylan Thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" (1952). NB this is an exemplary modern version of the villanelle
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree
Kubla Khan, unfinished poem by S. T. Coleridge
Look for: Abyssinian maid, Xanadu, Mount Abora, other fanciful names. Iambic tetrameter and pentameter with interlocking end rhymes
It's when you feel like this that, out of resentment, you begin to bump people back. And, let me confess, you feel that way most of the time. You ache with the need to convince yourself that you do exist in the real world, that you're a part of all the sound and anguish, and you strike out with your fists, you curse and you swear to make them recognize you. And, alas, it's seldom successful.
Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952). The work explores the theme of man's search for his identity and place in society, as seen from the perspective of a black man in the New York City of the 1940's. In contrast to his contemporaries such as Richard Wright and James Baldwin, Ellison created characters who are dispassionate, educated, articulate and self-aware. Through the protagonist, Ellison explores the contrasts between the Northern and Southern varieties of racism and their alienating effect. The narrator is "invisible" in a figurative sense, in that "people refuse to see" him, and also experiences a kind of dissociation.
Lacan's model of the psyche
• Imaginary - a preverbal/verbal stage in which a child (around 6-18 months of age) begins to develop a sense of separateness from her mother as well as other people and objects; however, the child's sense of sense is still incomplete.
• Symbolic - the stage marking a child's entrance into language (the ability to understand and generate symbols); in contrast to the imaginary stage, largely focused on the mother, the symbolic stage shifts attention to the father who, in Lacanian theory, represents cultural norms, laws, language, and power (the symbol of power is the phallus--an arguably "gender-neutral" term).
• Real - an unattainable stage representing all that a person is not and does not have. Both Lacan and his critics argue whether the real order represents the period before the imaginary order when a child is completely fulfilled--without need or lack, or if the real order follows the symbolic order and represents our "perennial lack" (because we cannot return to the state of wholeness that existed before language).
Major figures include Edward Said (sah-EED), Homi Bhabha (bah-bah), Frantz Fanon (fah-NAWN), Gayatri Spivak, Chinua Achebe (ah-CHAY-bay) , Wole Soyinka, Salman Rushdie, Jamaica Kincaid, and Buchi Emecheta.
"an important concept in post-colonial theory, referring to the integration (or, mingling) of cultural signs and practices from the colonizing and the colonized cultures ("integration" may be too orderly a word to represent the variety of stratagems, desperate or cunning or good-willed, by which people adapt themselves to the necessities and the opportunities of more or less oppressive or invasive cultural impositions, live into alien cultural patterns through their own structures of understanding, thus producing something familiar but new). The assimilation and adaptation of cultural practices, the cross-fertilization of cultures, can be seen as positive, enriching, and dynamic, as well as as oppressive"
Sees interpretation as a circular process whereby valid interpretation can be achieved by a sustained, mutually qualifying interplay between our progressive sense of the whole and our retrospective understanding of its component parts. Two dominant theories that emerged from Wilhelm Dilthey's original premise were that of E. D. Hirsch who, in accord with Dilthey, felt a valid interpretation was possible by uncovering the work's authorial intent (though informed by historical and cultural determinants), and in contrast, that of Martin Heidegger (HIGH-deg-er) who argued that a reader must experience the "inner life" of a text in order to understand it at all. The reader's "being-in-the-world" or dasein is fraught with difficulties since both the reader and the text exist in a temporal and fluid state. For Heidegger or Hans Georg Gadamer (GAH-de-mer), then, a valid interpretation may become irrecoverable and will always be relative.
a moment of undecidability; the inherent contradictions found in any text. Derrida, for example, cites the inherent contradictions at work in Jean-Jacques Rousseau's use of the words culture and nature by demonstrating that Rousseau's sense of the self's innocence (in nature) is already corrupted by the concept of culture (and existence) and vice-versa.
This great and just character of --- gave me an extreme curiosity to see him, especially when I knew he spoke French and English, and that I could talk with him. But though I had heard so much of him, I was as greatly surprised when I saw him as if I had heard nothing of him; so beyond all report I found him. He came into the room, and addressed himself to me and some other women with the best grace in the world. He was pretty tall, but of a shape the most exact that can be fancied: the most famous statuary could not form the figure of a man more admirably turned from head to foot. His face was not of that brown rusty black which most of that nation are, but of perfect ebony, or polished jet. His eyes were the most awful that could be seen, and very piercing; the white of 'em being like snow, as were his teeth. His nose was rising and Roman, instead of African and flat.
Aphra Behn, Oroonoko (1688)
When Nature made her chief work, Stella's eyes,
In color black why wrapped she beams so bright?
Would she in beamy black, like painter wise,
Frame daintiest lustre, mixed of shades and light?
Or did she else that sober hue devise,
In object best to knit and strength our sight,
Lest if no veil those brave gleams did disguise,
They sun-like should more dazzle than delight?
Or would she her miraculous power show,
That whereas black seems Beauty's contrary,
She even if black doth make all beauties flow?
Both so and thus, she minding Love shoud be
Placed ever there, gave him this mourning weed,
To honor all their deaths, who for her bleed.
Sidney, Astrophel and Stella (1598)
CAN we not force from widow'd poetry,
Now thou art dead, great Donne, one elegy,
To crown thy hearse ? Why yet did we not trust,
Though with unkneaded dough-baked prose, thy dust,
Such as the unscissor'd lecturer, from the flower
Of fading rhetoric, short-lived as his hour,
Dry as the sand that measures it, might lay
Upon the ashes on the funeral day ?
Have we nor tune nor voice ? Didst thou dispense
Through all our language both the words and sense?
'Tis a sad truth. The pulpit may her plain
And sober Christian precepts still retain ;
Doctrines it may, and wholesome uses, frame,
Grave homilies and lectures ; but the flame
Of thy brave soul, that shot such heat and light,
As burn'd our earth, and made our darkness bright,
Committed holy rapes upon the will,
Did through the eye the melting heart distil,
And the deep knowledge of dark truths so teach,
As sense might judge what fancy could not reach,
Must be desired for ever.
Carew, "An Elegy upon the Death of the Dean of St. Paul's, Dr. John Donne"
When (like committed linnets) I
With shriller throat shall sing
The sweetnes, Mercy, Majesty,
And glories of my KING;
When I shall voyce aloud, how Good
He is, how Great should be;
Enlarged Winds that curle the Flood,
Know no such Liberty.
Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
Nor Iron bars a Cage;
Mindes innocent and quiet take
That for an Hermitage;
If I have freedome in my Love,
And in my soule am free;
Angels alone that sore above,
Injoy such Liberty.
Lovelace, "To Althea from Prison". NB Royalist emphasis on service to the monarch; mention of freedom as a purely interior quality (necessary as the aristocracy was gradually edged out of real property ownership by the Civil War and the bourgeoisie)
His children thy great lord may call his own ;
A fortune, in this age, but rarely known.
They are, and have been taught religion ; thence
Their gentler spirits have suck'd innocence.
Each morn, and even, they are taught to pray,
With the whole household, and may, every day,
Read in their virtuous parents' noble parts,
The mysteries of manners, arms, and arts.
Now, ----, they that will proportion thee
With other edifices, when they see
Those proud ambitious heaps, and nothing else,
May say, their lords have built, but thy lord dwells.
Jonson, To Penshurst
I am bound by my own definition of criticism: a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best that is known and thought in the world. How much of current English literature comes into this "best that is known and thought in the world"? Not very much, I fear; certainly less, at this moment, than of the current literature of France or Germany... the criticism I am really concerned with,--the criticism which alone can much help us for the future, the criticism which, through-out Europe, is at the present day meant, when so much stress is laid on the importance of criticism and the critical spirit,--is a criticism which regards Europe as being, for intellectual and spiritual purposes, one great confederation, bound to a joint action and working to a common result; and whose members have, for their proper outfit, a knowledge of Greek, Roman, and Eastern antiquity, and of one another
Arnold, "Essay on Criticism at the Present Time"
My Ántonia (1918)
Willa Cather; tells the stories of several immigrant families who move out to rural Nebraska to start new lives in America, with a particular focus on a Bohemian family, the Shimerdas, whose eldest daughter is named Ántonia. The book's narrator, Jim Burden, arrives in the fictional town of Black Hawk, Nebraska, on the same train as the Shimerdas, as he goes to live with his grandparents after his parents have died. Jim develops strong feelings for Ántonia, something between a crush and a filial bond, and the reader views Ántonia's life, including its attendant struggles and triumphs, through that lens.
Death Comes for the Archbishop
Willa Cather; It concerns the attempts of a Catholic bishop and a priest to establish a diocese in New Mexico Territory. It is based on the careers of Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy and Father Joseph Machebeuf. The primary character is Bishop Jean Marie Latour, who travels alone from Cincinnati to New Mexico to take charge of the newly established diocese of New Mexico, which has only just become a territory of the United States. He is later assisted by his childhood friend Father Joseph Vaillant. At the time of his departure, Cincinnati is the end of the railway line west, so Latour must travel by riverboat to the Gulf of Mexico, and thence overland to New Mexico, a journey which takes an entire year. He spends the rest of his life establishing the Roman Catholic church in New Mexico, where he dies in old age. The novel is notable for its portrayal of two well-meaning and devout French priests who encounter a well-entrenched Spanish-Mexican clergy they are sent to supplant when the United States acquired New Mexico and the Vatican, in turn, remapped its dioceses. Several of these entrenched priests are depicted in classic manner as exempla of greed, avarice and gluttony, while others live simple, abstemious lives among the Indians. Cather portrays the Hopi and Arapaho sympathetically, and her characters express the near futility of overlaying their religion on a millennia-old Native culture. Cather's vivid landscape descriptions are also memorable.
You're an expatriate. You've lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed by sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafés.
Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926)
A Farewell to Arms (1929)
The novel, a love story, draws heavily on Hemingway's experiences as a young soldier in Italy. It tells the story of Lieutenant Frederic Henry, a young American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army during World War I. Henry falls in love with the English nurse Catherine Barkley. After he is wounded at the front by a trench mortar shell, she tends to him in the hospital during his recuperation, and their relationship develops. His recuperation and romance with the now pregnant Catherine ends abruptly when Henry must return to the front. Henry narrowly escapes death at the hands of fanatical Italian soldiers, who are executing officers separated from their troops during the Italians' disastrous retreat following the Battle of Caporetto. He finds Catherine, and after a sojourn in an Italian resort, the couple flees to Switzerland on the eve of Henry's arrest for deserting. In Switzerland, their child is born dead, and Catherine dies shortly after due to hemorrhages. A Farewell to Arms is an excellent example of the simple, terse prose style that made Hemingway famous.
I am no romantic glorifier of the Spanish woman, nor did I ever think of a casual piece as anything much other than a casual piece in any country. But when I am with Maria I love her so that I feel, literally, as though I would die and I never believed in that or thought that it could happen
Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). Characters: Robert Jordan, Pablo, Maria
The Sun Also Rises (1926)
The novel is a powerful exposé of the life and values of the Lost Generation, a generation deeply scarred by World War I. The main characters are Jake Barnes and Lady Brett Ashley. Barnes suffered an injury during World War I that makes him unable to consummate his relationship with Brett sexually.
So Janie began to think of Death. Death, that strange being with the huge square toes who lived way in the West. The great one who lived in the straight house like a platform without sides to it, and without a roof. What need has Death for a cover, and what winds can blow against him? He stands in his high house that overlooks the world. Stands watchful and motionless all day with his sword drawn back, waiting for the messenger to bid him come. Been standing there before there was a where or a when or a then. She was liable to find a feather from his wings lying in her yard any day now. She was sad and afraid too. Poor Jody! He ought not to have to wrassle in there by himself. She sent Sam in to suggest a visit, but Jody said No. These medical doctors wuz all right with the Godly sick, but they didn't know a thing about a case like his.
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
The main character, a black woman in her early forties named Janie Crawford, tells the story of her life and journey via an extended flashback to her best friend, Pheoby. Her life has three major periods corresponding to her marriages to three men; as a domestic helper to Logan, as a trophy wife for the ambitious Jody, and a loving relationship with the drifter Tea Cake, who she ends up having to shoot in self-defense
Characters: Janie, Jody, Tea Cake, Logan Killicks
My father... warned me that my white friends in high school were not really my friends and that I would see, when I was older, how white people would do anything to keep a Negro down
James Baldwin, Notes of a Native Son (1955). Essays detailing racial issues in America and Europe
Go Tell It On the Mountain (1953)
Semi-autobiographical work by James Baldwin. The novel examines the role of the Christian Church in the lives of African-Americans, both as a source of repression and moral hypocrisy and as a source of inspiration and community. It also, more subtly, examines racism in the United States. The protagonist is John Grimes.
Native Son (1940)
Richard Wright (1908-1960), the grandson of slaves, in this novel tells the story of Bigger Thomas, an African-American of the poorest class, struggling to live in the Chicago, Illinois of the 1930s. His life, however, is doomed from the outset: after Bigger accidentally kills a white woman, he runs from the police, kills his girlfriend and is then caught and tried.
What happens to a dream deferred?
Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?
Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.
Or does it explode?
Langston Hughes, "Montage of a Dream Deferred" (1951), the title work of a book length poem suite in a jazzy, almost improvisational style. Hughes was influenced by Walt Whitman and Carl Sandburg among others
William Morris (1834-96)
Early British socialist, textile designer, writer, and artist
Works: The Defence of Guenevere and Other Poems (1858), The Earthly Paradise (1868-1870), A Dream of John Ball (1888), the utopian News from Nowhere (1890), and the fantasy romance The Well at the World's End (1896).
Look for passages dealing with the sociological/cultural impact of housing and clothing, especially an emphasis on solidity and function over form
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
Countee Cullen (1903-46) was an American poet, one of the finest of the Harlem Renaissance. His most famous poems are "Yet Do I Marvel" and "Incident", the latter of which describes a childhood trip to Baltimore marred by a racial slur. Countee Cullen was raised and educated in a primarily white community. Countee Cullen differed from many other poets of the Harlem Renaissance because he lacked the background to comment from personal experience on the lives of other blacks or use popular black themes in his writing.
Authors: Faulkner, Eudora Welty, Flannery O'Connor, Tennessee Williams, Carson McCullers, John Kennedy Toole
Characteristics: a sub-genre of the Gothic writing style, unique to American literature. Like its parent genre, it relies on supernatural, ironic or unusual events to guide the plot. Unlike its predecessor, it uses these tools not for the sake of suspense, but to explore social issues and reveal the cultural character of the South. The Southern Gothic author usually avoids perpetuating antebellum stereotypes such as the contented slave, the demure Southern belle, the chivalrous gentleman and the righteous Christian preacher. Instead, the writer takes classic Gothic archetypes, such as the damsel in distress or the heroic knight, and portrays them in a modern and realistic manner, transforming them into a spiteful, reclusive spinster or a white-suited, fan-brandishing lawyer with ulterior motives. One of the most notable features of the Southern Gothic is the grotesque, a stock character who possesses some cringe-inducing qualities, typically bigotry and self-righteousness, but enough good traits that the reader finds himself empathizing nevertheless. Deeply flawed characters, while often disturbing to read about, provide the author with greater narrative range and more opportunities to highlight unpleasant aspects in Southern culture without moralizing. Tennessee Williams described Southern Gothic as a style that captured "an intuition, of an underlying dreadfulness in modern experience."
Authors: Thomas Gray, Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, Robert Blair, Thomas Chatterton, Thomas Parnell (part of the Scriblerus Club)
Characteristics: pre-Romantic English poets of the 18th century characterised by their gloomy meditations on mortality, 'skulls and coffins, epitaphs and worms' in the context of the graveyard. To this was added, by later practitioners, a feeling for the 'sublime' and uncanny, and an interest in ancient English poetic forms and folk poetry. They are often reckoned as precursors of the Gothic genre.
"Why I Live at the P.O."
From A Curtain of Green (1941) by Eudora Welty. Sister, the narrator of "Why I Live at the P.O.", opens the story explaining why Mr. Whitaker broke up with her and married her sister, Stella-Rondo: she "[t]old him I was one-sided. Bigger on one side than the other, which is a deliberate, calculated falsehood: I'm the same."
Delta Wedding (1946)
Eudora Welty. The novel unfolds through the overheard thoughts of the members of the Fairchild family. The oversized clan deals with a massive amount of external and internal issues that focus on both the unity and the conflict within this tight-knit Southern family. This novel does not focus on one person, place, or thing. The protagonist of Delta Wedding is the Fairchild family in that the author tells the story through the voices of the entire family. However, the character of George does stand out as the hero of the novel.
The Optimist's Daughter (1972)
Eudora Welty. Follows Laurel Hand and Becky McKelva, daughter and second wife, respectively of Judge McKelva, who is undergoing eye surgery and must be cared for
Mourning Becomes Electra (1931)
Eugene O'Neill. The play updates the Greek myth of Orestes to the family of a Northern general in the American Civil War. Agamemnon is now General Ezra Mannon, Clytemnestra is his second wife Christine, Orestes is his son Orin, and Electra is his daughter Lavinia. As an updated Greek tragedy, the play features murder, adultery, incestuous love, and revenge, and even a group of townspeople who function as a kind of Greek chorus. Though fate alone guides characters' actions in Greek tragedies, O'Neill's characters have motivations grounded in 1930s-era psychological theory as well. The play can easily be read from a Freudian perspective, paying attention to various characters' Oedipus complexes and Electra complexes.
The Iceman Cometh (1939-40)
Eugene O'Neill. The play stages the story of the whiskey-soaked and disillusioned denizens of Harry Hope's saloon and the upheaval caused by the newly sober salesman Hickey, who -- with all the annoying zeal of a recent convert -- urges his former drinking companions to give up their "pipe dreams."
Long Day's Journey Into Night (1956)
Eugene O'Neill. The play covers a fateful, heart-wrenching night at the seaside Connecticut home of the Tyrones (the autobiographical representations of O'Neill himself, his brother, and their parents): James Tyrone Sr., an Irish-born retired actor who squandered his considerable gifts as a classical thespian to make a career playing one particular role in a commercially successful but artistically unfulfilling play; Edmund, the younger and more poetically inclined son, suffers from a respiratory condition and a deep disillusionment with the world around him after sailing the world as a deck hand; the elder son James Jr. ("Jamie"), an affable alcoholic and the object of stubborn repeated attempts by his father to be set up in business, despite his status as a confirmed ne'er-do-well; and the wife and mother of the family, Mary Cavan Tyrone, who lapses between self-delusion and the haze of her morphine addiction - the result of the shoddy ministrations of a quack doctor during her difficult labor and delivery of Edmund twenty-three years prior.
Flannery O'Connor (1925-64)
Considered an important voice in American literature, O'Connor wrote two novels, 32 short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries. She was a Southern writer in the vein of William Faulkner, often writing in a Southern Gothic style and relying heavily on regional settings and grotesques as characters. A "born" Roman Catholic , her writing is deeply informed by the sacramental, and the Thomist notion that the created world is charged with God. Her most famous work is a collection of short stories which includes the eponymous "A Good Man is Hard to Find"
The Glass Menagerie (1944)
Tennessee Williams. The Glass Menagerie is a memory play, and its action is drawn from the memories of the narrator, Tom Wingfield. Tom is a character in the play, which is set in St. Louis in 1937. He is an aspiring poet who toils in a shoe warehouse to support his mother, Amanda, and sister, Laura. Mr. Wingfield, Tom and Laura's father, ran off years ago and, except for one postcard, has not been heard from since. The character "Jim" also enters as a potential suitor to Laura
A Street Car Named Desire (1947)
Tennessee Williams. Blanche DuBois is a fading Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask her nymphomania and alcoholism. After her ancestral southern plantation is "lost" (due to the "epic fornications" of her ancestors), Blanche arrives at her sister's house in the French Quarter of New Orleans where the multicultural setting is a shock to her nerves. Stella, the sister, is just as addicted to sex as Blanche, and is willing to put up with Stanley's crudity and lack of culture because of her need for a sexual partner.
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)
Tennessee Williams. It is the story of a Southern family in crisis, focusing on the turbulent relationship of a wife and husband, Maggie "The Cat" and Brick Pollitt, and their interaction with Brick's family over the course of a weekend gathering at the family estate in Mississippi, ostensibly to celebrate the birthday of patriarch and tycoon "Big Daddy" Pollitt. Maggie, through wit and beauty, has escaped a childhood of desperate poverty to marry into the wealthy Pollitt family, but finds herself suffering in an unfulfilling marriage. Brick, an aging football hero, has neglected his wife and further infuriates her by ignoring his brother's attempts to gain control of the family fortune. Brick's indifference, and his nearly continuous drinking, date back to the recent suicide of his friend Skipper. Although Big Daddy has cancer and will not celebrate another birthday, his doctors and his family have conspired to keep this information from him and his wife. His relatives are in attendance and attempt to present themselves in the best possible light, hoping to receive the definitive share of Big Daddy's enormous wealth.
By Jean Racine, based on both the play Hippolytus by Euripides, and a later Roman play Phaedra by Seneca the Younger. Due to its negative reception in the popular press, Racine abandoned writing for the public theater after this play (although later in his career he did write additional works on a royal commission). In the absence of her husband, King Thésée, Phèdre falls in love with Hippolyte, son of Thésée of a preceding marriage. Note the adherence to Aristotelian unities.
Moliere (the title means "The Impostor"). As the play begins, the well-off Orgon is convinced that Tartuffe is a man of great religious zeal and fervor. In fact, Tartuffe is a scheming hypocrite. By the time Tartuffe is exposed and Orgon renounces him, Tartuffe has legal control of Orgon's finances and family, and is about to steal all of Orgon's wealth and marry his daughter. Instead the king intervenes, and Tartuffe is condemned to prison. As a consequence, the word tartuffe is used in contemporary French, and also in English, to designate a hypocrite who ostensibly and exaggeratedly feigns virtue, especially religious virtue.
Honore de Balzac (1799-1850)
Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist. Along with Flaubert, he is generally regarded as a founding-father of realism in European fiction. His large output of novels and stories, collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, is a broad panorama of French society in the period of the Restoration and the July Monarchy
Works: La Comedie Humaine is the most important
Le Père Goriot: one of the series of novels to which Balzac gave the title of "The Human Comedy." It is a comedy, mingled with lurid tragic touches, of society in the French capital in the early decades of the 19th century. The novel follows Eugene Rastignac's entrance into heartless Parisian society. This heartlessness is embodied by the cruel fate of Goriot who has reduced himself to a state of squalour to provide his daughters with the material luxuries they desire. These daughters do not even come to visit him as he's dying and Rastignac is the only attendent at his funeral
Lost Illusions: The story of a young, handsome, talented man, Lucian de Rubempre, who travels to Paris with a married woman to make his literary name. He loses the woman, betrays his talent, and sells out not only himself but his family, mistresses, etc. He dies in the end after making an unlikely comeback orchestrated by Balzac's criminal matermind, Vautrin (who also figures prominently in Pére Goriot)
Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle) (1783-1842)
Marie-Henri Beyle, better known by his penname Stendhal, was a 19th century French writer. He is known for his acute analysis of his characters' psychology and for the dryness of his writing-style. He is considered one of the foremost and earliest practioners of the realistic form
Works: Le Rouge et le Noir (1830; The Red and the Black) and La Chartreuse de Parme (1839; The Charterhouse of Parma).
French realist novelist, famous for his devotion to finding "le mot juste"
Works: Madame Bovary, The Sentimental Education
The novel place in provincial northern France, near the town of Rouen. A doctor, Charles Bovary, marries a beautiful farm girl, Emma. She is filled with a desire for luxury and romance, which she gets from reading popular novels (cf. Northanger Abbey). Charles means well, but is boring and clumsy. When Emma gets pregnant and eventually gives birth to a daughter, she believes her life is virtually over. Charles decides that Emma needs a change of scenery, and moves from the village of Tostes into an equally stultifying village, Yonville. There, Emma flirts with a young law student, Léon, who seems to share her appreciation for "the finer things in life." When he leaves to study in Paris, Emma begins an affair with a rich landowner, Rodolphe. Swept away by romantic fantasy, she makes a plan to run away with him. Rodolphe, however, does not love her, and breaks off the plan the evening before it was to take place. Emma and Charles attend the opera in Rouen one night, and Emma reencounters Léon. They begin an affair--Emma travels to the city each week to meet him, while Charles believes that she is taking piano lessons. Meanwhile, Emma is spending exorbitant amounts of money at the local dressmaker's. When Emma's debts begin to pile up and people begin to suspect her adultery, she sees suicide as her only means of escape. She swallows arsenic and dies, painfully and slowly. The loyal Charles is distraught, even more so after finding the letters that Rodolphe wrote to her. Soon after, he dies, leaving their daughter an orphan.
No Exit (1944)
Sartre. The play begins with a bellhop leading a man named Garcin into a hotel room. The room has no windows and only one door. Eventually Garcin is joined by a woman (Inez), and then another (Estelle). After their entry, the bellhop bolts the door shut. All expect to be tortured, but no torturer arrives. Instead, they realize, they are there to torture each other, which they do effectively, by probing each other's sins, desires, and unpleasant memories. At first, the three see events concerning them that are happening on earth, though they can only observe and listen, but eventually (as their connection to Earth dwindles and the living move on) they are left with only their own thoughts and the company of the other two.
Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881)
Fyodor Dostoyevsky is considered one of the greatest of Russian writers, whose works have had a profound and lasting effect on twentieth-century fiction. His works often feature characters living in poor conditions with disparate and extreme states of mind, and exhibit both an uncanny grasp of human psychology as well as penetrating analyses of the political, social and spiritual states of Russia of his time. Many of his best-known works are prophetic precursors to modern-day thoughts.
Notes from Underground (1864)
Dostoevsky (1821-1881). It is considered the world's first existentialist work. It presents itself as an excerpt from the rambling memoirs of a bitter, isolated, unnamed narrator (generally referred to by critics as Underground Man), a retired civil servant living in St. Petersburg.
Themes: inaction/ennui, suffering, paranoia, and spitefulness (this last the narrator characterizes as the end result of man's effort to separate himself from nature)
Neat detail: narrator wishes he had a toothache
Crime and Punishment (1866)
The novel portrays the haphazardly planned murder of a miserly, aged pawnbroker and her younger sister by a destitute Saint Petersburg student named Raskolnikov, and the emotional, mental, and physical effects that follow. A philosophical disquisition as much as a fictional novel.
The Brothers Karamazov (1880)
The book is written on two levels: on the surface it is the story of a patricide in which all of the murdered man's sons share varying degrees of complicity, but on a deeper level, it is a spiritual drama of the moral struggles between faith, doubt, reason, and free will. Origin of "The Grand Inquisitor" parable.
~ Fyodor Karamazov
~ Dmitri Karamazov (Mitya, Mitka, Mitenka)
~ Ivan Karamazov (Vanya, Vanka, Vanechka)
~ Alexei (Alyosha) Karamazov (Alyoshka, Alyoshenka)
~ Pavel Smerdyakov: Was born from a mute woman of the street and is widely rumored to be the illegitimate son of Fyodor Karamazov. When the novel begins Smerdyakov is Fyodor's lackey and cook. He is a very morose and sullen man.
~ Agrafena Alexandrovna Svetlova (Grushenka, Grusha, Grushka): Is the local Jezebel and has an uncanny charm among men.
I AM A SICK MAN.... I am a spiteful man. I am an unattractive man. I believe my liver is diseased. However, I know nothing at all about my disease, and do not know for certain what ails me. I don't consult a doctor for it, and never have, though I have a respect for medicine and doctors. Besides, I am extremely superstitious, sufficiently so to respect medicine, anyway (I am well-educated enough not to be superstitious, but I am superstitious).
Dostoevsky, Notes from Underground (1864)
Anton Chekhov (1860-1904)
Anton Chekhov was a physician, major Russian short story writer and playwright. Many of his short stories are considered the apotheosis of the form while his playwriting career, though brief, has had a great impact on dramatic literature and performance.
The Seagull (1896)
This is the first of what are generally considered to be Anton Chekhov's four major plays. It centers on the romantic and artistic conflicts between four theatrical characters: the ingénue Nina, the fading leading lady Irina Arkadina, her son the experimental playwright Konstantin Treplyov, and the famous middlebrow story writer Trigorin.
Like the rest of Chekhov's full-length plays, The Seagull relies upon an ensemble cast of diverse, fully developed characters. In opposition to much of the melodramatic theater of the 19th century, lurid actions (such as Treplyov's suicide attempts) are kept offstage. Characters tend to speak in ways that skirt around issues rather than addressing them directly, a concept known as subtext.
The play has a strong intertextual relationship with Shakespeare's Hamlet. Arkadina and Treplyov quote lines from it before the play-within-a-play in the first act (and the play-within-a-play device is itself used in Hamlet). There are many allusions to Shakespearean plot details as well. For instance, Treplyov seeks to win his mother back from the usurping older man Trigorin much as Hamlet tries to win Queen Gertrude back from Uncle Claudius.
The Cherry Orchard (1904)
Although the play is viewed by most as a tragicomedy, Chekhov called it a comedy and even claimed that it had many farcical elements.
Lyubov Ranevskaya returns to her Russian country house with her adopted daughter Varya, her 18-year old daughter Anya, and several other people, including Ranyevskaya's brother, Gayev, and a maid, Dunyasha. Ranevskaya must ultimately sell the titular orchard in an auction to Yermolay Alekseyevich Lopakhin, a man whose ancestors were serfs on the property. In the end, the orchard is chopped down by Lopakhin.
Three Sisters (1901)
Four young people - Olga, Masha, Irina and Andrey Prozorov - are left stranded in a provincial backwater after the death of their father, an army general. They focus their dreams on returning to Moscow, a city remembered through the eyes of childhood as a place where happiness is possible.
Olga works as a teacher in a gymnasium, or a school. Masha is married to Fyodor Ilyich Kulygin, a teacher. At the time of their marriage, Masha was enchanted by his cleverness, but seven years later,she considers him to be rather stupid. Irina is the youngest sister, she dreams of going to Moscow and meeting her true love. Andrey is the only boy in the family. He is in love with Natasha Ivanovna. The play begins on the first anniversary of their father's death, also Irina's name-day. It follows with a party. At this Andrey tells his feelings to Natasha. Act two begins about 21 months later, Andrey and Natasha are married and have a child. Masha begins to have an affair with Aleksandr Ignatyevich Vershinin, a lieutenant commander who is married to a woman who constantly attempts suicide.
Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910)
Tolstoy is widely regarded as one of the greatest of all novelists, particularly noted for his masterpieces War and Peace and Anna Karenina; in their scope, breadth and realistic depiction of Russian life, the two books stand at the peak of realistic fiction. As a moral philosopher he was notable for his ideas on nonviolent resistance through his work The Kingdom of God is Within You, which in turn influenced such twentieth-century figures as Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
War and Peace (1869)
The novel tells the story of five aristocratic families (particularly the Bezukhovs, the Bolkonskis, and the Rostovs) and the entanglement of their personal lives with the history of 1805-1813, specifically Napoleon's invasion of Russia. As events proceed, Tolstoy systematically denies his subjects any significant free choice: the onward roll of history determines happiness and tragedy alike.
Central protagonist: Pierre Bezukhov
Anna Karenina (1877)
Anna is the jewel of St. Petersburg society until she leaves her husband for the handsome and charming military officer, Count Vronsky. By falling in love, they go beyond society's external conditions of trivial adulterous dalliances. But when Vronsky's love cools, Anna cannot bring herself to return to the husband she detests, even though he will not permit her to see their son until she does. Unable to accept Vronsky's rebuff, and unable to return to a life she hates, she kills herself.
Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
Paul Thomas Mann was a German novelist, social critic, philanthropist and essayist, lauded principally for a series of highly symbolic and often ironic epic novels and mid-length stories, noted for their insight into the psychology of the artist and intellectual and an underlying eroticism informed by Mann's own struggles with his sexuality. He is noted for his analysis and critique of the European and German soul in beginning of the 20th century using modernized German and Biblical myths as well as the ideas of Goethe, Nietzsche, and Schopenhauer.
Major works: Death in Venice (characters incl. the aged composer Gustav von Aschenbach and his young paramour Tadzio); The Magic Mountain (set in pre-WWI Alps; characters Hans Castorp, Joachim Ziemßen, Leo Naphta)
A Doll's House
Henrik Ibsen. Nora and Torvald Helmer, the blackmailer Krogstad
The Wild Duck.
Henrik Ibsen. The play tells the story of Gregers Werle, a young man who returns to his hometown after an extended exile and is reunited with his boyhood friend Hjalmar Ekdal. Over the course of the play the many secrets that lie behind the Ekdals' apparently happy home are revealed to Gregers, who insists on pursuing the absolute truth, or the "Summons of the Ideal". Among these truths: Gregers' father impregnated his servant Gina, then married her off to Hjalmar to legitimize the child. Another man has been disgraced and imprisoned for a crime the elder Werle committed. And while Hjalmar spends his days working on a wholly imaginary "invention", his wife is earning the household income.
The daughter of an impoverished General, has just returned from her honeymoon with Jørgen Tesman, an aspiring young academic - reliable but uninteresting. It becomes clear in the course of the play that she has never loved him, and she fears she may be pregnant. The reappearance of her former lover, Ejlert Løvborg, throws their lives into disarray. Løvborg, a writer, is also an alcoholic who has wasted his talent until now. Thanks to a relationship with Hedda's old schoolmate, Thea Elvsted (who has left her husband for him), he shows signs of rehabilitation, and has just completed what he considers to be his masterpiece. Hedda burns his manuscript to secure the university job for Tesman, Lovborg kills himself in desperation and Hedda shoots herself
Things Fall Apart (1958)
Chinua Achebe. Explores the forces that drive the rise and fall of Okonkwo, a leader in the Umuofia clan and the influences of British colonialism and Christian missionaries on his traditional Ibo (also spelled Igbo) community.
South African Jewish author whose writings focus on the damages caused by apartheid. Her first novel, The Lying Days (1953), was based largely on her own life and set in her home town. Her next three novels, A World of Strangers (1958); Occasion for Loving (1963), which focuses on an illicit love affair between a black man and a white woman; and The Late Bourgeois World (1966) deal with master-servant relations in South African life.
Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
Poet and critic most famous for The Library of Babel. Borges' narrator describes how his universe consists of an endless expanse of interlocking hexagonal rooms, each of which contains the bare necessities for human survival—and four walls of bookshelves. Though the order and content of the books is random and apparently completely meaningless, the inhabitants believe that the books contain every possible ordering of just a few basic characters (letters and punctuation marks). Though the majority of the books in this universe are pure gibberish, the library also must contain, somewhere, every coherent book ever written, or that might ever be written, and every possible permutation or slightly erroneous version of every one of those books. The narrator notes that the library must contain all useful information, including predictions of the future, biographies of any person, and translations of every book in all languages. Conversely, for any given text some language could be devised that would make it readable with any of an infinite number of different contents.
William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)
William Hazlitt was an English writer remembered for his humanistic essays and literary criticism, often esteemed the greatest English literary critic after Samuel Johnson. Famous for his writings on Shakespeare, which can be distinguished from Johnson's by their emphasis on the fullness/verisimilitude of character rather than on the plays' structural and linguistic adherence to universal principles of decorum and sense
Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-61)
One of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.
Works: Aurora Leigh, Sonnets from the Portuguese
OF writing many books there is no end;
And I who have written much in prose and verse
For others' uses, will write now for mine,-
Will write my story for my better self,
As when you paint your portrait for a friend,
Who keeps it in a drawer and looks at it
Long after he has ceased to love you, just
To hold together what he was and is.
E.B.B., Aurora Leigh (1856). Nine books of blank verse; first-person narrative from the scholarly Aurora's perspective. Called "a novel in verse" by its creator, shifts from reporting past events to giving accounts of the present in a diary-like form.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints!---I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!---and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.
E.B.B., Sonnets from the Portuguese (1845-6). A sonnet in a diction unlike Shakespeare's or Spenser's is a good candidate for Browning
Robert Browning (1812-1889)
English poet and playwright whose mastery of dramatic verse, especially dramatic monologues, made him one of the foremost Victorian poets--look for this form to identify his work
Vanity, saith the preacher, vanity!
Draw round my bed: is Anselm keeping back?
Nephews--sons mine . . . ah God, I know not! Well--
She, men would have to be your mother once,
Old Gandolf envied me, so fair she was!
What's done is done, and she is dead beside,
Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since,
And as she died so must we die ourselves,
And thence ye may perceive the world's a dream.
Life, how and what is it? As here I lie
In this state-chamber, dying by degrees,
Hours and long hours in the dead night, I ask
"Do I live, am I dead?" Peace, peace seems all.
Robert Browning, "The Bishop Orders His Tomb at Saint Praxed's Church". Note the dramatic monologue form
I am poor brother Lippo, by your leave!
You need not clap your torches to my face.
Zooks, what's to blame? you think you see a monk!
What, 'tis past midnight, and you go the rounds,
And here you catch me at an alley's end
Where sportive ladies leave their doors ajar?
The Carmine's my cloister: hunt it up,
Do,--harry out, if you must show your zeal,
Whatever rat, there, haps on his wrong hole,
And nip each softling of a wee white mouse,
Weke, weke, that's crept to keep him company!
Robert Browning, "Fra Lippo Lippi". Note the dramatic monologue form
Sir, 'twas not
Her husband's presence only, called that spot
Of joy into the Duchess' cheek: perhaps
Frà Pandolf chanced to say "Her mantle laps
Over my Lady's wrist too much," or "Paint
Must never hope to reproduce the faint
Half-flush that dies along her throat": such stuff
Was courtesy, she thought, and cause enough
For calling up that spot of joy. She had
A heart -- how shall I say? -- too soon made glad,
Too easily impressed; she liked whate'er
She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.
Robert Browning, "My Last Duchess". Note the dramatic monologue form
The rain set early in to-night,
The sullen wind was soon awake,
It tore the elm-tops down for spite,
And did its worst to vex the lake:
I listen'd with heart fit to break.
When glided in Porphyria; straight
She shut the cold out and the storm,
And kneel'd and made the cheerless grate
Blaze up, and all the cottage warm;
Which done, she rose, and from her form
Withdrew the dripping cloak and shawl,
And laid her soil'd gloves by, untied
Her hat and let the damp hair fall,
And, last, she sat down by my side
And call'd me.
Robert Browning, "Porphyria's Lover". Note the dramatic monologue form
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-82)
English poet, painter and translator. The son of émigré Italian scholar Gabriele Rossetti, he was the brother of poet Christina Rossetti and the critic William Michael Rossetti and a founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood with John Everett Millais and William Holman Hunt. Poetry influenced by Keats and often used the sonnet form; major images/themes relating to medievalism.
Major works: The House of Life (a sonnet sequence);
Look in my face; my name is Might-have-been;
I am also called No-more, Too-late, Farewell;
Unto thine ear I hold the dead-sea shell
Cast up thy Life's foam-fretted feet between;
Unto thine eyes the glass where that is seen
Which had Life's form and Love's, but by my spell
Is now a shaken shadow intolerable,
Of ultimate things unuttered the frail screen.
Mark me, how still I am! But should there dart
One moment through thy soul the soft surprise
Of that winged peace which lulls the breath of sighs, -
Then shalt thou see me smile, and turn apart
Thy visage to mine ambush at thy heart
Sleepless with cold commemorative eyes.
DG Rossetti, "A Superscription"--note the octet and sestet characteristic of the Italian sonnet form
Carl Sandburg (1878 - 1967)
Carl August Sandburg, American poet, historian, novelist, balladeer and folklorist. Major GRE works: "Chicago" and "The Fog"
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing!
Sandburg, "Chicago". Note social realist tone and interest in working people's vitality
Modernist poet who promoted the Imagist movement and associated with figures like Stein, Eliot, etc. Most famous for his book-length series of Cantos, "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley", and "In a Station of the Metro"
For three years, out of key with his time,
He strove to resuscitate the dead art
Of poetry; to maintain "the sublime"
In the old sense. Wrong from the start --
No, hardly, but, seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn;
Capaneus; trout for factitious bait:
Pound, "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" Cf. "an old bitch gone in the teeth"
Poetic movement promoted by Pound and HD with three principles:
1. Direct treatment of the "thing", whether subjective or objective.
2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome
Hilda Doolittle, prominently known only by her initials H.D., was an American poet, novelist and memoirist. She is best known for her association with the key early 20th-century avant-garde Imagist group of poets, although her later writing represents a move away from the Imagist model and towards a distinctly feminine version of modernist poetry and prose. Her work is noted for its use of classical models and its exploration of the conflict between lesbian and heterosexual attraction and love that closely resembled her own life. Her later poetry also explores traditional epic themes, such as violence and war, from a feminist perspective.
Major works: "Helen"; "Oread"; the collection Sea Garden
One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;
And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter
Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,
Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place
For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955), Modernist poet, "The Snow Man". Be careful to distinguish him from William Carlos Williams by the latter's more idiosyncratic line endings and rhythms
By the road to the contagious hospital
under the surge of the blue
mottled clouds driven from the
northeast-a cold wind. Beyond, the
waste of broad, muddy fields
brown with dried weeds, standing and fallen
patches of standing water
the scattering of tall trees
All along the road the reddish
purplish, forked, upstanding, twiggy
stuff of bushes and small trees
with dead, brown leaves under them
William Carlos Williams, "Spring and All". Note the influence of dadaist and surrealist description and his spare but striking depiction of the banal and local.
Recognize also : The Red Wheelbarrow, Landscape With the Fall of Icarus
for inspection, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them,"
shall we have
it. In the meantime, if you demand on the one hand,
the raw material of poetry in
all its rawness and
that which is on the other hand
genuine, you are interested in poetry.
Marianne Moore, "Poetry". Moore was an American modernist poet who scorned regular metre in favour of more free "syllabics"
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82)
American poet who wrote many poems that are still famous today, including The Song of Hiawatha (an epic poem based on the legends of the Ojibway Indians), "Paul Revere's Ride", and Evangeline (the romantic story of lovers caught up in the Acadian expulsion by the British to America)
To know: his sonnet on Keats
The young Endymion sleeps Endymion's sleep;
The shepherd-boy whose tale was left half told!
The solemn grove uplifts its shield of gold
To the red rising moon, and loud and deep
The nightingale is singing from the steep;
It is midsummer, but the air is cold;
Can it be death? Alas, beside the fold
A shepherd's pipe lies shattered near his sheep.
Lo! in the moonlight gleams a marble white,
On which I read: "Here lieth one whose name
Was writ in water." And was this the meed
Of his sweet singing? Rather let me write:
"The smoking flax before it burst to flame
Was quenched by death, and broken the bruised reed."
HW Longfellow, "Keats". Note sonnet form and numerous allusions to Keats' work
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-94), "The Chambered Nautilus". Holmes was a physician and popular poet of the nineteenth century. The shell serves as a metaphor for the winding spirals of spiritual growth. Look for marine imagery to identify this one
William Dean Howells (1837 - 1920)
Howells was an American realist author. He wrote for various magazines, including Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Magazine. He wrote his first novel, The Wedding Journey, in 1872, but his career took off with his first realist novel, A Modern Instance. His most famous novel is The Rise of Silas Lapham.
Howells also wrote plays, criticism, and essays about contemporary literary figures such as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy, which helped establish their reputation in the United States. Nevertheless, Howells's own reputation in American literature has waned somewhat, with his novels being considered "prudish." According to him, the vast majority of people who would read his works were women and he wrote in a way that would not offend them. He believed that literature was potentially injurious and devoid of thought.
Today, Howells is most famous for his literary criticism and his editorial support of authors like Mark Twain, Thorstein Veblen and Henry James.
Jude the Obscure (1895)
Thomas Hardy. The novel tells the story of Jude Fawley, a stonemason who yearns to be a scholar at "Christminster", a city modelled on Oxford, England. Denied entry into the university, Jude is manipulated into an unwanted marriage with a country girl, Arabella, who soon deserts him. He becomes obsessed with his cousin, Sue Bridehead, even after she marries his former schoolteacher. Sue is attracted to the normalcy of her married life but quickly finds the relationship an unhappy one because, inherently, she is a libertine like Jude.
When Jude and Sue begin to live together, employers, who find out about this illicit relationship and its bastard children, dismiss Jude from his employment—and landlords continually evict them. Jude's eldest son (from his first marriage to Arabella), also called Jude but known as "Little Father Time", after observing the problems he and his siblings are causing their parents, hangs Sue's two children and then himself. The child leaves a pathetically misspelled note that reads: Done because we are too menny.
This tragedy ends Jude's relationship with Sue who returns to her first husband, Phillotson, after experiencing extreme religious guilt. After being tricked yet another time into remarrying Arabella, Jude falls ill and makes one last trip to Sue. Sue first confirms her intense love for him then leaves him forever, evincing the moral stranglehold of the church. Jude returns home and dies alone as Arabella is out courting his doctor.
Far From the Madding Crowd
A novel by 19th century English novelist Thomas Hardy, published in 1874. The title is apt, as the life of the book's heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, living in the quiet rural village of Weatherbury is indeed disrupted by the "madding crowd". After shunning the first man to love her, the shepherd Gabriel Oak, she is courted by two others: the lonely and repressed farmer Boldwood, and the charming but faithless Sergeant Troy. The role of fate is clearly established, with each twist and turn in the book being more luck than the choice of one of the characters. The book is widely seen as Hardy's first masterpiece.
I WISH either my father or my mother,
or indeed both of them, as they
were in duty both equally bound to it,
had minded what they were about when
they begot me; had they duly consider'd
how much depended upon what they
were then doing; -- that not only the
production of a rational Being was con-
cern'd in it, but that possibly the happy
formation and temperature of his body,
perhaps his genius and the very cast of
his mind ; -- and, for aught they knew
to the contrary, even the fortunes of his
whole house might take their turn from
the humours and dispositions which were
then uppermost : ---- Had they duly
weighed and considered all this, and
proceeded accordingly, ---- I am verily
persuaded I should have made a quite
different figure in the world, from that,
in which the reader is likely to see me.
Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759-67). Note the distinctive orthography and the sprawling comic tone
Laurence Sterne (1713-68)
English comic novelist of the eighteenth century, most famous for Tristram Shandy.
This novel is filled with allusions and references to the leading thinkers and writers of the 17th and 18th centuries. Pope, Locke, and Swift were all major influences on Sterne and Tristram Shandy. It's easy to see that the satires of Pope and Swift formed much of the humour of Tristram Shandy, but Swift's sermons and Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding contributed ideas and frameworks that Sterne explored throughout his novel. Sterne's engagement with the science and philosophy of his day was extensive, however, and the sections on obstetrics and fortifications, for instance, indicate that he had a grasp of the main issues then current in those fields.
Four influences on Tristram Shandy overshadow all others: Rabelais, Cervantes, Montaigne's Essays and John Locke.
Characters to associate with Tristram Shandy include Walter Shandy as well as Uncle Toby, Slop, and Corporal Trim, who together account for the bulk of the book's ideas and actions.
Henry Fielding (1707-54)
English novelist and dramatist best known for his rich earthy humour and satirical prowess, and as the author of the novels Joseph Andrews and especially Tom Jones.
There are probably two personalities that epitomize the 18th century novel -- Henry Fielding and Samuel Richardson. Fielding is remarkable his attitude on the novel differed so greatly from Richardson's. Whereas Richardson's novel attempts to promote public morality through the depiction of archetypally virtusous and villainous men and women, Fielding portrays a world of mixed morality, in which right and wrong are not always clear. Where Richardson is sober, Fielding is cavalier and hilarious. Fielding's most noteworthy books are Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones. For the GRE exam, you will likely need to recognize Tom Jones and possibly know something about the public differences between Fielding and Richardson.
Samuel Richardson (1689-1761)
An 18th-century English writer and printer. He is best known for his three epistolary novels: Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded (1740), Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady (1748) and The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753). Contrast these moral works with Fielding's comedy
Tom Jones (1749)
A long book which is difficult to summarize. The title character, a handsome, brave, generous young man of uncertain parentage and hearty appetites, remains faithful to his beloved in spirit, if not in flesh. The combination of vice and virtue in a fully realized, three-dimensional hero was unusual in English literature of its day. Throughout the lengthy book, the author openly mocks the moral rigidity of fashionable writers and critics while simultaneously acknowledging the frailties of his characters and celebrating their good natures.
Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740)
Samuel Richardson. Tells in the first person the story of the virtuous lady's maid Pamela and the modest and agonized delicacy, yet determination, with which she rebuffs and reforms her aristocratic would-be seducer Mr B and is rewarded with marriage to him. Told through Pamela's probingly introspective letters and diary, Pamela is widely considered a seminal influence on the direction the novel form was to take towards psychological analysis and self-examination.
The heroine, Pamela Andrews, is a maid whose master makes unwanted advances towards her. She rejects him until he shows his sincerity by proposing a fair marriage to her. In the second part of the novel, Pamela attempts to accommodate herself to upper-class society and to build a successful relationship with her husband.
Samuel Richardson. Clarissa Harlowe is a beautiful and virtuous young lady whose family has become very wealthy only in recent years and is now eager to become part of the aristocracy by acquiring estates and titles through advantageous pairings. Clarissa is forced by relatives to marry a rich but heartless man against her will and, more importantly, against her own sense of virtue. Desperate to remain free, she allows a young gentleman of her acquaintance, Lovelace, to scare her into escaping with him. However, she refuses to marry him, longing — unusually for a girl in her time — to live by herself in peace. Lovelace, in the meantime, has been trying to arrange a fake marriage all along, and considers it a sport to add Clarissa to his long list of conquests. However, as he is more and more impressed by Clarissa, he finds it difficult to keep convincing himself that truly virtuous women do not exist. The continuous pressure he finds himself under, combined with his growing passion for Clarissa, forces him to extremes and eventually he rapes her. Clarissa manages to escape from him, but remains dangerously ill. When she dies, however, it is in the full consciousness of her own virtue, and trusting in a better life after death. Lovelace, tormented by what he has done but still unable to change, dies in a duel with Clarissa's cousin. Clarissa's relatives finally realise the misery they have caused, but discover that they are too late and Clarissa has already died.
We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself
Samuel Johnson, Rasselas (1759). Note that both here and in "The Vanity of Human Wishes" Johnson is concerned with the aesthetic and moral choices made by the individual in seeking happiness
Samuel Johnson. Rasselas, son of the King of Abyssinia (modern day Ethiopia), is shut up in a beautiful valley, "till the order of succession should call him to the throne." He grows weary of the factitious entertainments of the place, and after much brooding escapes with his sister Nekayah, her attendant Pekuah and his poet-friend Imlac. They are to see the world and search for happiness, but after some sojourn in Egypt, where they frequent various classes of society and undergo a few mild adventures, they perceive the futility of their search and abruptly return to Abyssinia. The novel is in large part a philosophical disquisition on the nature and pursuit of happiness--a recurring theme for Johnson
His mind resembled the vast ampitheatre, the Colisæum at Rome. In the centre stood his judgement, which like a mighty gladiator, combated those apprehensions that, like the wild beasts of the Arena, were all around in cells, ready to be let out upon him. After a conflict, he drives them back into their dens; but not killing them, they were still assailing him
Boswell's Life of Johnson (1791)
Edward returned to them with fresh admiration of the surrounding country; in his walk to the village, he had seen many parts of the valley to advantage; and the village itself, in a much higher situation than the cottage, afforded a general view of the whole, which had exceedingly pleased him. This was a subject which ensured Marianne's attention, and she was beginning to describe her own admiration of these scenes, and to question him more minutely on the objects that had particularly struck him, when Edward interrupted her by saying, "You must not enquire too far, Marianne--remember I have no knowledge in the picturesque, and I shall offend you by my ignorance and want of taste if we come to particulars. I shall call hills steep, which ought to be bold; surfaces strange and uncouth, which ought to be irregular and rugged; and distant objects out of sight, which ought only to be indistinct through the soft medium of a hazy atmosphere. You must be satisfied with such admiration as I can honestly give. I call it a very fine country--the hills are steep, the woods seem full of fine timber, and the valley looks comfortable and snug--with rich meadows and several neat farm houses scattered here and there. It exactly answers my idea of a fine country, because it unites beauty with utility--and I dare say it is a picturesque one too, because you admire it; I can easily believe it to be full of rocks and promontories, grey moss and brush wood, but these are all lost on me. I know nothing of the picturesque."
Austen, Sense and Sensibility (1811)
A single woman, with a very narrow income, must be a ridiculous, disagreeable, old maid! the proper sport of boys and girls; but a single woman, of good fortune, is always respectable, and may be as sensible and pleasant as anybody else.
Austen, Emma (1816). Note the difference between this bit of wisdom and that which begins Pride and Prejudice--Emma's independence (financially speaking) is a good way of ID'ing this work
Let us leave it to the reviewers to abuse such effusions of fancy at their leisure, and over every new novel to talk in threadbare strains of the trash with which the press now groans. Let us not desert one another; we are an injured body. Although our productions have afforded more extensive and unaffected pleasure than those of any other literary corporation in the world, no species of composition has been so much decried. From pride, ignorance, or fashion, our foes are almost as many as our readers. And while the abilities of the nine-hundredth abridger of the History of England, or of the man who collects and publishes in a volume some dozen lines of Milton, Pope, and Prior, with a paper from the Spectator, and a chapter from Sterne, are eulogized by a thousand pens — there seems almost a general wish of decrying the capacity and undervaluing the labour of the novelist, and of slighting the performances which have only genius, wit, and taste to recommend them. "I am no novel-reader — I seldom look into novels — Do not imagine that I often read novels — It is really very well for a novel." Such is the common cant. "And what are you reading, Miss — ?" "Oh! It is only a novel!" replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. "It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda"; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best-chosen language.
Austen, Northanger Abbey (1817). Note the metafictional interest in novels (especially the Gothic) and, despite the parody of novel readers like Catherine Morland, this spirited defense of the form
My father, a wise and grave man, gave me serious and excellent counsel against what he foresaw was my design. He called me one morning into his chamber, where he was confined by the gout, and expostulated very warmly with me upon this subject. He asked me what reasons, more than a mere wandering inclination, I had for leaving father's house and my native country, where I might be well introduced, and had a prospect of raising my fortune by application and industry, with a life of ease and pleasure. He told me it was men of desperate fortunes on one hand, or of aspiring, superior fortunes on the other, who went abroad upon adventures, to rise by enterprise, and make themselves famous in undertakings of a nature out of the common road; that these things were all either too far above me or too far below me; that mine was the middle state, or what might be called the upper station of low life, which he had found, by long experience, was the best state in the world, the most suited to human happiness, not exposed to the miseries and hardships, the labour and sufferings of the mechanic part of mankind, and not embarrassed with the pride, luxury, ambition, and envy of the upper part of mankind.
Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
Robinson Crusoe (1719)
Daniel Defoe. The tale of a man stranded on a desert island and his adventures. Deals with themes of householding, English national identity, "projecting", etc. Based on the real figure of Alexander Selkirk
Moll Flanders (1722)
Daniel Defoe. A picaresque first-person narration of the fall and eventual redemption of a lone woman in 17th century England. She appears as a whore, bigamist and thief, lives in The Mint, commits adultery and incest, yet manages to keep the reader's sympathy.
Caleb Williams (1794)
William Godwin. A three-volume novel written as a call to end the abuse of power by what Godwin saw as a tyrannical government. Intended as a popularization of the ideas presented in his 1793 treatise Political Justice Godwin uses Caleb Williams to show how legal and other institutions can and do destroy individuals, even when the people the justice system touches are innocent of any crime.
Fanny Burney (1752-1840)
Frances Burney was a novelist, diarist and playwright. In total, she wrote four novels, eight plays, one biography and twenty volumes of journals and letters.She published her first novel, Evelina, anonymously in 1778. When the book's authorship was revealed, it brought her almost immediate fame due to its unique narrative and comic strengths. She followed with Cecilia in 1782, Camilla in 1796 and The Wanderer in 1814. All of Burney's novels explore the lives of English aristocrats, and satirise their social pretensions and personal foibles, with an eye to larger questions such as the politics of female identity.Throughout her career as a writer, her wit and talent for satirical caricatures were widely acknowledged: literary figures such as Dr Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Hester Thrale and David Garrick were among her admirers.
Frances (Fanny) Burney. Evelina, the title character, is abandoned by her father, Sir John Belmont, who thought that he would receive a fortune from marriage. Evelina's mother dies in childbirth, and Evelina is raised in seclusion by Mr. Villars, her guardian. When Evelina grows up to be a beautiful and intelligent woman, she travels to London to visit a friend, Mrs. Mirvan. She is introduced to society, falls in love with the handsome Lord Orville. However, her ill-bred relatives, and in particular her vulgar grandmother, Madame Duval, as well as the obstinate attentions of Sir Clement Willoughby frustrate her happiness. To attain her proper station in London society, Evelina's friends contact Sir Belmont to get him to acknowledge his daughter. Belmont announces that, in fact, he has had his daughter with him since her mother's death. It turns out that the nurse had passed her own child to Sir Belmont. Belmont discovers the imposition, recognizes Evelina, and she marries Lord Orville.
Cecilia is a novel following the history of Cecilia Beverley, an orphaned heiress who will inherit three thousand pounds a year once she reaches the age of twenty-one, in addition to a personal fortune of ten thousand pounds. This inheritance is solely dependent on whether or not her future husband adopts the name of Beverley. The events of the novel take place in the eight months before Cecilia comes of age and is able to take up a house of her own.
Characters: Mr. and Priscilla Harrel, Mr. Briggs, Mr. Delvile, Mortimer Delvile, Mr. Monckton, Mr. Belfield
George Eliot (1819 - 1880)
George Eliot is the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, who was an English novelist. She was one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. Her novels, largely set in provincial England, are well known for their realism and psychological perspicacity.
Works: Middlemarch, Silas Marner, Adam Bede
George Eliot's realist novel set in rural England. The central character, Dorothea Brooke, is a beautiful and serious-minded young woman who yearns for knowledge and the power to help others. She rejects a titled young man in favour of the Reverend Edward Casaubon, a middle-aged clergyman who, she imagines, will teach her and engage her in great works. Her marriage proves a terrible mistake, as Casaubon disdains her efforts to assist him in his research, and Dorothea begins to realize the meanness of his intellectual ambitions. Meanwhile, she makes the acquaintance of his poor relation, Will Ladislaw, who truly admires her and who matches her in passion and ambition; Casaubon then dies, willing Dorothea money but forbidding her to marry Will.
Other characters: Dr. Tertius Lydgate, Fred and Rosamond Vincy, Bulstrode, Mary Garth
Silas Marner (1861)
George Eliot. Set in the early years of the 19th century, Silas Marner was a weaver and had been since a young man. While living in this industrial town, he was also a highly thought of member of a little Dissenting church. Silas is accused of theft and expelled from the congregation; settles in the village of Raveloe, where he lived as a recluse who existed only for work and his precious hoard of money until that money was stolen by a son of Squire Cass, the town's leading land owner, causing him to become heartbroken. Soon, however, an orphaned child came to Raveloe. She was not known by the people there, but she was really the child of Godfrey Cass, the eldest son of the local Squire. Because the mother was a woman of low birth, Godfrey had refused to clarify her as his wife, and the woman, Molly, went to seek out Godfrey for revenge, but she never made it there and died on the way. Silas named the child Eppie (after his deceased mother Hephzibah) and changed his life completely. Symbolically, Silas lost his material gold only to have it replaced by the golden-haired Eppie.
Adam Bede (1859)
The story's plot follows four characters' rural lives in the fictional community of Hayslope—a rural, pastoral and close-knit community in 1799. The novel revolves around a love "rectangle" between beautiful but self-absorbed Hetty Sorrel, Captain Arthur Donnithorne, the young squire who seduces her, Adam Bede, her unacknowledged suitor, and Dinah Morris, Hetty's cousin, a fervent, virtuous and beautiful Methodist lay preacher. Adam loves Hetty; Hetty impregnated by Arthur, flees the town in shame and murders her child, is hanged; Adam pairs up with Dinah and has children
The Mill on the Floss (1860)
George Eliot. The novel details the lives of Tom and Maggie Tulliver, a brother and sister growing up at Dorlcote Mill on the River Floss. Maggie Tulliver holds the central role in the book. The story begins when she is 9 years old, 13 years into the Tullivers' marriage. Her relationship with her older brother Tom, and her romantic relationships with Philip Wakem, a hunchbacked, sensitive, and intellectual friend, and with Stephen Guest, a vivacious young socialite in St. Ogg's and assumed fiancé of Maggie's cousin Lucy Deane, constitute the most significant narrative threads. At the end of the novel, the river floods and the siblings die in a mutual embrace.
Daniel Deronda (1876)
George Eliot. The title character, raised by a wealthy benefactor, learns about his Jewish ancestry while trying to help a Jewish woman recover her family
Characters: Deronda, Mirah Lapidoth, Gwendolen Harleth, Sir Hugo Mallinger, Ezra Mordecai Cohen
The Egoist (1879)
George Meredith (1828-1909). The novel recounts the story of self-absorbed Sir Willoughby Patterne and his attempts at marriage; jilted by his first bride-to-be, he vacillates between the sentimental Laetitia Dale and the strong-willed Clara Middleton. More importantly, the novel follows Clara's attempts to escape from her engagement to Sir Willoughby, who desires women to serve as a mirror for him and consequently cannot understand why she would not want to marry him. Thus, The Egoist dramatizes the difficulty contingent upon being a woman in Victorian society, when women's bodies and minds are trafficked between fathers and husbands to cement male bonds.
Charles Dickens (1812-70)
English novelist, short story writer, and social critic.
Major works: Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, Barnaby Rudge, David Copperfield, Bleak House, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times, Great Expectations, Our Mutual Friend, and more.
Great Expectations (1860-1)
Pip - an orphan, and the protagonist. Pip is to be trained as a blacksmith, a low but skilled and honest profession, but strives to rise above his class after meeting Estella Havisham.
Joe Gargery - Pip's brother-in-law, and his first father figure. Joe represents the poor but honest life that Pip rejects.
Miss Havisham - Wealthy spinster who takes Pip on as a companion, and who Pip is led to believe is his benefactor. Miss Havisham does not discourage this as it fits into her own spiteful plans.
Estella [Havisham] - Miss Havisham's adopted daughter, who Pip pursues romantically throughout the novel. Estella represents the life of wealth and culture that Pip strives for. Since her ability to love any man (or anyone for that matter) has been ruined by Miss Havisham, she is unable to return Pip's passion. She warns Pip of this repeatedly, but he refuses to believe her.
Magwitch - Criminal and Pip's actual benefactor
Pickwick Papers (1836-7)
Dickens. The novel's main character, Mr. Pickwick, is a kind old gentleman, the founder of the Pickwick Club. Mr. Pickwick travels with his friends, Mr. Nathaniel Winkle, Mr. Augustus Snodgrass, and Mr. Tracy Tupman, and their adventures are the chief theme of the novel; the comedy derives from these Londoners visiting rural areas to hunt, shoot, and carouse together
Hard Times (1854)
Dickens. The book is one of a number of state-of-the-nation novels published around the same time, another being North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell, which aimed to highlight the social and economic pressures some people were under. Set in the fictitious Coketown. Note the satire on Utilitarianism (similarities between Louisa and JS Mill, who himself became depressed as a result of his "factual" education)
Mr. Thomas Gradgrind
Tom Gradgrind is a utilitarian who is the founder of the educational system in Coketown. 'Eminently practical' is Gradgrind's recurring description throughout the novel, and practicality is something he zealously aspires to. He represents the stringency of 'Fact', statistics and other materialistic pursuits. Only after his daughter's breakdown does he come to a realisation that things such as poetry, fiction and other pursuits are not 'destructive nonsense'.
Josiah Bounderby is a business associate of Mr. Gradgrind. He is a bombastic, yet thunderous merchant given to peroration. He employs many of the other central characters of the novel, and his rise to prosperity is shown to be an example of social mobility. He marries Mr. Gradgrind's daughter Louisa, some 25 years his junior, in what turns out to be a soulless matrimony. Bounderby is the main target of Dickens' attack on the supposed moral superiority of the wealthy, and is revealed to be an utter hypocrite in his sensational comeuppance at the end of the novel.
Louisa is the unemotional, distant and eldest child of the Gradgrind family. She has been taught to abnegate her emotions, and finds it hard to express herself clearly, saying as a child she has 'unmanageable thoughts'. She is married to Josiah Bounderby, in a very logical and businesslike manner, representing the emphasis on factuality and business ethos of her education. Her marriage is a disaster and is tempted into adultery by James Harthouse, yet, she manages to resist this temptation.
'Old Stephen' Blackpool, as he is referred to by his fellow 'Hands', is an improvident, indigent worker at one of Bounderby's mills. His life is immensely strenuous, and he is married to a constantly inebriated wife who comes and goes throughout the novel. He forms a close bond with Rachael, a female worker. After a dispute with Bounderby, he is dismissed from his work at the Coketown mills and is forced to find work elsewhere. Whilst absent from Coketown he is accused of complicity in a crime he did not commit, and tragically, on his way back to vindicate himself he falls into a pit, and seriously injures himself. He is rescued, but dies.
NOW, what I want is, Facts. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon Facts: nothing else will ever be of any service to them. This is the principle on which I bring up my own children, and this is the principle on which I bring up these children. Stick to Facts, sir!
Dickens, Hard Times (1854). NB the satire of utilitarianism in the figure of Thomas Gradgrind (the speaker here)
Oliver Twist (1838)
Plot: Oliver is taken in by Fagin and his criminal gang, but is eventually rescued by the respectable Mr. Brownlow after it becomes clear that he is the child of Brownlow's niece.
Characters: Oliver, Brownlow, Oliver's mother Agnes, Fagin, Monks, the Artful Dodger, the prostitute Nancy
Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9)
Dickens. The lengthy novel centres around the life and adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, a young man who must support his mother and sister after his father dies. His Uncle Ralph, who thinks Nicholas will never amount to anything, plays the role of an antagonist. The tone of the work is burlesque, with Dickens taking aim at what he perceives to be social injustices. Many memorable characters are introduced, including Nicholas' malevolent uncle Ralph, and the villainous Wackford Squeers, who operates a squalid boarding school at which Nicholas temporarily serves as a tutor.
David Copperfield (1850)
Dickens; the novel's focus on the hardships of factory work is drawn from Dickens' own early life in a blacking shop. A kind of Bildungsroman following David as he strives against his stepfather Murdstone, is sent to boarding school, must return to support his family after his mother's death, and is raised by the eccentric aunt Betsey Trotwood
Characters: David, Mr. Murdstone, Betsey Trotwood, Mr. Micawber, Uriah Heep, Clara and Daniel Peggotty, and many more
Bleak House (1852-3)
The plot concerns a long-running legal dispute (Jarndyce and Jarndyce) which has far-reaching consequences for all involved (and eventually consumes the estate). Dickens's assault on the flaws of the British judiciary system is based in part on his own experiences as a law clerk. His harsh characterization of the slow, arcane Chancery law process gave voice to widespread frustration with the system, helping to set the stage for its eventual reform in the 1870s.
Characters: Esther Summerson, Richard Carstone, Ada Clare, John Jarndyce, Harold Skimhorn, Sir Leicester Dedlock (har har)
Samuel Butler (1835-1902)
Distinguish this Butler from the author of Hudibras (17th C.)
Major works: Erewhon (an 1872 utopian satire of Victorian society); The Way of All Flesh (1903) a semi-autobiographical novel which attacks Victorian era hypocrisy. Written between 1873 and 1884, it traces four generations of the Pontifex family. It represents the diminishment of religious outlook from a Calvinistic approach, which is presented as harsh
Samuel Butler (1613-60)
A Royalist poet most famous for writing Hudibras (1684), a mock heroic narrative poem that launches a satirical polemic upon Roundheads, Puritans, Presbyterians and many of the other factions involved in the English Civil War.
Jane Eyre (1847)
Charlotte Bronte (1816 - 1855). Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of eponymous Jane Eyre, her growth to adulthood, and her love for Mr. Rochester, the byronic master of Thornfield Hall. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel's exploration of sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism.
Characters: Jane, Rochester, Bertha Mason, St. John Rivers, Helen, Blanche Ingram, Thornfield Hall (the estate that serves as setting)
Wuthering Heights (1847)
Emily Bronte (1818 - 1848). The tempestuous love between Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff is at the centre, surrounding by the relationships between the Earnshaws and the nearby Lintons; Heath. wants Cath.; Cath marries Edgar and Heath. marries Isabella; Cath. and Edgar have Cath Jr., who ultimately falls in love with Hindley's son Hareton
Characters: Lockwood, Nelly Dean, Catherine Earnshaw, Heathcliff, Hindley, Hareton, Edgar Linton, Isabella Linton, Catherine Linton (child of Catherine Sr. and Edgar)
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Best known for the "Wessex novels", set in a fictionalized version of the Dorchester region. Style is naturalistic and explores tragic characters struggling against their passions and social circumstances.
Works: Tess of the D'Urbervilles, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Jude the Obscure, Far From the Madding Crowd, Under the Greenwood Tree
Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891)
The story concerns a simple country girl, Tess Durbeyfield, whose father's pretensions to social status lead her into the company of the nouveau-riche d'Urberville family. In a scene which suggests rape, though it is open to interpretation, Tess is made pregnant by the rakish Alec d'Urberville. Tess returns home in disgrace, but the child she bears soon dies, leaving her free to leave her village once again to look for work. While employed as a milkmaid, she encounters the morally upright Angel Clare, who falls in love with her. After their marriage, she is honest with him about her past; though Angel is educated, he remains basically naive, and cannot reconcile his real affection for Tess, his wounded pride, and his image of Tess as a semi-pagan Mary figure. Abandoned by Angel, Tess is lured into a liaison with Alec d'Urberville, who comes back into her life by chance. When Alec lays eyes on Tess once more, he ruthlessly hunts her down, determined to win her back into his life of sin. Tess, influenced by her desprate situation and the perception that her husband will never rejoin her, yeilds to Alec's determination and allows him to support her while she lives with him. Eventually Angel returns, repentant, to reclaim her, and Tess murders Alec in order to be with her legal husband. They flee together, but the police catch up with them at Stonehenge, in a memorable finale. Tess is hanged for the murder of Alec.
The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886)
Follows the life of Michael Henchard, who sells his wife and child while drunk. Hench. later returns to the titular town and becomes mayor, is reunited with his wife Susan and child. Daughter Elizabeth Jane falls in love with his ass't Donald Farfrae, while Hench's mistress Lucetta returns to woo him herself. Farfrae and Lucetta marry, the latter is disgraced and dies. Eliz-Jane marries Farfrae and Henchard dies
William Thackeray (1811-1863)
Satirist of English middle-class society most famous for Vanity Fair (1847-8)
Vanity Fair (1847-8)
Follows the differing fortunes of the cunning Becky Sharp and Amelia Sedley. Becky marries the profligate Rawdon Crawley and toys with the feelings of Jos Sedley, while the heroic George Osborne is separated from Amelia Sedley following a feud between the two families after the Sedley patriarch's bankruptcy. George dies at war leaving a son behind; Amelia marries William Dobbin. Rawdon dies and Becky is supported by her son by him, who has inherited the family's baronetcy
Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-65)
Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel, Mary Barton, was published anonymously in 1848. The best-known of her remaining novels are Cranford (1853), North and South (1855), and Wives and Daughters (1865). Interest in unearthing the social issues of the time, especially the class division and unrest caused by industrialization in the North of England
Mary Barton (1848)
Gaskell. Set in the English city of Manchester between 1839 and 1842, and deals with the difficulties faced by the Victorian lower class. Mary is courted by the wealthy Harry Carson, who is shot dead by her father (inspired by Chartist rhetoric); her admirer Jem Wilson is pegged for the crime and Mary must save him from the death penalty.
Mary Barton — The titular character, a very beautiful girl.
Mrs Mary Barton — Mary's mother, who dies early on.
John Barton — Mary's father, a millworker, active member in trade unions.
Jem Wilson — Son of George and Jane, an engineer and inventor who has loved Mary from his childhood.
Mr Henry Carson — Wealthy owner of a mill in Manchester.
Harry Carson — Son of Henry Carson, attracted to Mary.
Gaskell. Set in the fictional town of Cranford (modeled on Knutsford), a series of episodes in the lives of Mary Smith and her friends, Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two spinster sisters. The "major" event in the story is the return to Cranford of their long-lost brother, Peter
North and South (1855)
Gaskell; another social critique novel. North and South is set in the fictional town of Milton, North of England where industrialization was changing the city. Forced to leave her home in the tranquil rural south, Margaret Hale settles with her parents in the industrial town of Milton where she witnesses the harsh brutal world wrought by the industrial revolution and where employers and workers clash in the first organized strikes. Sympathetic to the poor whose courage and tenacity she admires and among whom she makes friends, she clashes with John Thornton, a cotton mill manufacturer who belongs to the nouveaux riches and whose contemptuous attitude to workers Margaret despises. The confrontation between her and Mr Thornton is reminiscent of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, but in the broad context of the harsh industrial North.
Anthony Trollope (1815-82)
Social realist novels clustering around the fictional county of Barsetshire; emphasis on decorum, money, etc.
Works: The Warden, Orley Farm, Barchester Towers, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux, etc.
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
American novelist most famous for the Leatherstocking Tales, a series of works about Natty Bumppo, the white foundling raised by Indians and trained as a formidable warrior (incl. Last of the Mohicans). The novels were praised in Cooper's time for their depiction of a simpler, Edenic American frontier
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872 - 1906)
Dunbar is largely noteworthy (at least in his literary career) as a forerunner to the Harlem Renaissance, which ETS does stress. Dunbar's work is known for its colorful language and use of dialect.
Dunbar was a seminal African-American poet in the late 19th and early 20th century. His first collection of poetry, Oak and Ivy was published in 1892 and attracted the attention of James Whitcomb Riley, the popular "Hoosier Poet". Both Riley and Dunbar wrote poems in both standard English and dialect. His second book, Majors and Minors (1895) brought him national fame and the patronage of William Dean Howells, the novelist and critic and editor of Harper's Weekly. He was closely associated with Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington.
Harriet Ann Jacobs (1813-97)
An African-American writer who escaped from slavery and became an abolitionist speaker and reformer. Jacobs' single work, Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, published in 1861 under the pseudonym Linda Brent, was one of the first autobiographical narratives about the struggle for freedom by female slaves and an account of the sexual harassment and abuse they endured.
He might have been in a deserted village. We picture the world as thick with conquering and elate humanity, but here, with the bugles of the tempest pealing, it was hard to imagine a peopled earth. One viewed the existence of man then as a marvel, and conceded a glamour of wonder to these lice which were caused to cling to a whirling, fire-smote, ice-locked, disease-stricken, space-lost bulb. The conceit of man was explained by this storm to be the very engine of life. One was a coxcomb not to die in it. However, the Swede found a saloon
Stephen Crane, The Blue Hotel (1899), part of The Monster and Other Stories
Stephen Crane (1871-1900)
Novelist and short story author in a realist or impressionist vein. Stylistically, Crane's writing is characterized by vivid intensity, distinctive dialects, and irony. Common themes involve fear, spiritual crises and social isolation. Although recognized primarily for The Red Badge of Courage, which has become an American classic, Crane is also known for short stories such as "The Open Boat", "The Blue Hotel", "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky", and The Monster. His writing made a deep impression on 20th century writers, most prominent among them Ernest Hemingway, and is thought to have inspired the Modernists and the Imagists.
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
The Red Badge of Courage (1895)
The Black Riders and Other Lines (1895)
George's Mother (1896)
The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure (1898)
War is Kind (1899)
Active Service (1899)
The Monster and Other Stories (1899)
I can remember the time, when I used to sleep quietly without working in my thoughts, whole nights together, but now it is other wayes with me. When all are fast about me, and no eye open, but his who ever waketh, my thoughts are upon things past, upon the awfull dispensation of the Lord towards us; upon his wonderfull power and might, in carrying of us through so many difficulties, in returning us in safety, and suffering none to hurt us. I remember in the night season, how the other day I was in the midst of thousands of enemies, and nothing but death before me; It is then hard work to perswade my self, that ever I should be satisfied with bread again. "But now we are fed with the finest of the Wheat, and, as I may say, With honey out of the rock
Anne Rowlandson (1637-1711), The Sovereignty and Goodness of God: Being a Narrative of the Captivity and Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson. R was a colonial American author who wrote about living in captivity with Native Americans for 11 weeks
Farewell, dear babe, my heart's too much content,
Farewell sweet babe, the pleasure of mine eye,
Farewell fair flower that for a space was lent,
Then ta'en away unto eternity.
Blest babe, why should I once bewail thy fate,
Or sigh thy days so soon were terminate,
Sith thou art settled in an everlasting state.
By nature trees do rot when they are grown,
And plums and apples throughly ripe do fall,
And corn and grass are in their season mown,
And time brings down what is both strong and tall.
But plants new set to be eradicate,
And buds new blown to have so short a date,
Is by his hand alone that guides nature and fate.
Anne Bradstreet, (1612-72), "In Memory of My Dear Grandchild Elizabeth Bradstreet". Bradstreet was the first published female author in America. Other works include:
"Before the Birth of One of Her Children"
"Verses Upon the Burning of Our House"
"In Honour of that High and Mighty Princess Queen Elizabeth"
"The Author To Her Book"
Look for domestic subject matter and intimate tone (poems dedicated to family members, etc.)
'Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land,
Taught my benighted soul to understand
That there's a God, that there's a Saviour too:
Once I redemption neither sought nor knew.
Some view our sable race with scornful eye,
"Their colour is a diabolic die."
Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain,
May be refin'd and join th'angelic train.
"On Being Brought from Africa to America", Phillis Wheatley (1753-84). A child prodigy and slave who, having learned to read, wrote remarkable--mostly pious--poetry. Met with luminaries like Ben Franklin and George Washington. Look for any references to Egypt, Africa, etc., especially with the first-person pronoun. Most often writes in iambic pentameter couplets.
John Winthrop (1587-1649)
Gov. of the Massachusetts Bay Colony; most famous as a godly believer and as a writer for the Journal, a periodical of the colony
Jonathan Edwards (1703-58)
Edwards was a colonial American Congregational preacher and theologian, often associated with his defense of Calvinist theology and the Puritan heritage.
His Personal Narrative is a Puritan autobiography that recounts his spiritual conversion: "The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire, abhors you and is dreadfully provoked."
While he's not likely to appear, Robert Lowell's "Mr. Edwards and the Spider," might (in ref to these lines)
Cotton Mather (1663-1728)
Puritan minister and preacher whose prolific writings helped set the moral and cultural tone of early America.
Most famous work, Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), consists of seven "books" collected into two volumes and details the religious development of Massachusetts, and other nearby colonies in New England from 1620 to 1698. An excerpt of the book is collected in the widely respected Norton Anthology which details the works and accomplishments of William Bradford. Other notable parts of the book are Mather's descriptions of the Salem Witch Trials, in which he criticizes some of the methods of the court; his complete "catalogus" of all the students that graduated from Harvard College, and story of the founding of Harvard College itself; and his assertions that Puritan slaveholders should do more to convert their slaves to Christianity.
John Woolman (1720-1772)
Itinerant Quaker (Religious Society of Friends) preacher, traveling throughout the American colonies, advocating against conscription, taxation, and particularly slavery. Most famous for a Quaker spiritual autobiography
Edgar Allan Poe (1809 - 49)
American poet, short story writer, editor and critic best known for his tales of the macabre and his poems, as well as being one of the early practitioners of the short story and a progenitor of Gothic fiction. Works: "The Black Cat", "The Cask of Amontillado", "Murders in the Rue Morgue", "The Masque of the Red Death", "Annabel Lee", "The Raven", "Lenore"
The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841)
A short story from 1841 by Edgar Allan Poe. It features the brilliant deductions of Auguste Dupin and is one of the first detective stories ("The Purloined Letter" and "The Mystery of Marie Roget" also feature Dupin). "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" is almost certainly the first locked room mystery (a story in which the reader is presented with a puzzle and encouraged to solve it before finishing the story and being told the solution).
Annabel Lee (1849)
Like Poe's most famous poem, The Raven, it tells of a man mourning a dead lover whom he believes that angels, jealous of their bond, have taken away. Annabel Lee is six stanzas, three with six lines and three with eight, with the rhyme pattern differing slightly in each one.
The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me -
Yes! - that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.
Poe, Annabel Lee (1849)
The Raven (1845)
Poe. Recognize by its subject matter and its unusual, bouncing rhythm of trochaic octameter. The rhyme scheme is ABCBBB, or AA,B,CC,CB,B,B when accounting for internal rhyme. In every stanza, the 'B' lines rhyme with the word 'nevermore' and are catalectic, placing extra emphasis on the final syllable. The poem also makes heavy use of alliteration ("Doubting, dreaming dreams ...")
"I now replaced the nail and regarded it attentively. A person passing out through this window might have reclosed it, and the spring would have caught—but the nail could not have been replaced. The conclusion was plain, and again narrowed in the field of my investigations. The assassins must have escaped through the other window. Supposing, then, the springs upon each sash to be the same, as was probable, there must be found a difference between the nails, or at least between the modes of their fixture. Getting upon the sacking of the bedstead, I looked over the head-board minutely at the second casement. Passing my hand down behind the board, I readily discovered and pressed the spring, which was, as I had supposed, identical in character with its neighbor. I now looked at the nail. It was as stout as the other, and apparently fitted in the same manner—driven in nearly up to the head.
Poe, "Murders in the Rue Morgue" (1841).
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811 - 1896)
An American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom. It energized anti-slavery forces in the American North, while provoking widespread anger in the South.
Uncle Tom's Cabin (1851-2)
The book opens with a Kentucky farmer named Arthur Shelby about to lose his farm due to massive debts. Shelby decides to raise money by selling two of his slaves — Uncle Tom, a middle-aged man with a wife and child, and Harry, the son of Emily Shelby's maid Eliza — to a slave trader. Emily Shelby hates to do this because she had promised Eliza that Shelby would not sell her son, while her son, George Shelby, hates to see Tom go because he considers the slave to be his friend.
When Eliza overhears a conversation between the slave trader and his wife, she warns Uncle Tom, then takes Harry and flees to the North. The slave trader, Mr. Haley, pursues Eliza but she escapes capture by crossing into the free state of Ohio, so Haley hires a slave hunter named Tom Loker to bring Eliza and Harry back to Kentucky. Meanwhile, Eliza and Harry arrive in a safe Quaker settlement, where they are joined by Eliza's husband George, who had escaped earlier. He agrees to go with his wife and child to Canada, via the Underground Railroad.
Confronted by Loker, George shoots him but brings him to Quakers to be healed before making it to Canada. Tom is captured and taken to Mississippi where he befriends a white woman named Eva and is purchased by her brother, who later dies causing Tom to be sold to a Louisiana slaver Simon Legree, who vows to break him. Tom helps another slave, Cassy, to escape before dying himself. Cassy makes it to Canada, realizes she is Eliza's mother, and the family travels to the free state of Liberia, while the Shelbys set all their slaves free.
The American Language (1919)
By H.L. Mencken; this is a book about changes Americans had made to the English Language.
Mencken was inspired by "the argot of the colored waiters" in Washington, as well as one of his favourite authors, Mark Twain, and his experiences on the streets of Baltimore. In 1902, Mencken remarked on the "queer words which go into the making of 'United Statese.'" The book was preceded by several columns in The Evening Sun. In the tradition of Noah Webster, who wrote the first American dictionary, Mencken wanted to defend "Americanisms" against the English, whom he increasingly detested.
H. L. Mencken (1880-1956)
A twentieth century journalist, satirist and social critic, a cynic and a freethinker, known as the "Sage of Baltimore" and the "American Nietzsche". Make a strong effort to distinguish from Twain by his even more biting style and his subject matter (most famously on the development of "The American Language" in the book of that name). Also reported satirically on the Scopes "monkey" trial
The characters chiefly noted in American speech by all who have discussed it, are, first, its general uniformity throughout the country, so that dialects, properly speaking, are confined to recent immigrants, to the native whites of a few isolated areas and to the negroes of the South; and, secondly, its impatient disregard of rule and precedent, and hence its large capacity (distinctly greater than that of the English of England) for taking in new words and phrases and for manufacturing new locutions out of its own materials.
Mencken, "The American Language" (1909)
The Awakening (1899)
Kate Chopin (1850-1904). Edna Pontellier, the wife of a successful New Orleans business man and the mother of two, vacations with her family at a seaside resort. She spends a lot of time with Robert Lebrun, a romantic young man who has decided to attach himself to Edna for the summer. After many intimate conversations, boating excursions, and moonlit walks, they both realize that they are developing romantic feelings for each other. Edna realizes that there is much within herself that has remained dormant throughout her adult life.
When vacation ends and the Pontelliers return to New Orleans, Edna frees herself from the trappings of her old life, including her social position, her role as a mother, and her role as a wife. Moving out of her husband's house, she establishes herself in a cottage and hopes that Robert Lebrun will return soon from an extended business trip.
Upon Robert's return, Edna discovers that he is unable to come to grips with her newfound freedom. Indeed, he seems hopelessly bound by the traditional values of the French Creole community. Simultaneously, she discovers that her husband has set in motion a plan that will essentially force her to move back into his house.
Edna thereupon returns to the seaside resort in the off-season. She makes arrangements for a lunch to take with her to the beach, and carries along a towel for drying off as well. Unable to resist the lure of the water, she swims out as far as she can and, having exhausted herself, drowns. Most readers interpret this final passage as a deliberate attempt at suicide.
Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Novelist and short story writer who wrote psychologically detailed works set in New Orleans and in the South more generally. Works: The Awakening and the story "Story of an Hour"
"Story of an Hour" (1894)
Chopin. This short story is about an hour in the life of the main character, Mrs. Millard. She is afflicted with a heart problem. Bad news has come about that her husband has died in a train accident. Her sister Josephine and Richard who is her husband's friend has to break the horrifying news to her as gently as possible. They both were concerned that the news might somehow put her in great danger with her health. Ironically, Mrs. Millard reacts to the news with excitement. Even though the news is heartbreaking she is finally free from the depressing life she was living. She keeps whispering "Free! Body and soul free!". She now is happy because she doesn't have to live for anyone but herself now. At the end of the story, Mr. Millard opens the door and is surprised by Josephine's cry. Mr. Millard didn't have a faintest idea about the accident. With a quick motion, Richard tried to block Mr. Millard's view of his wife but it was too late. The doctors said she died of a heart disease.
Desiree's Baby (1893)
Chopin. Désirée is the adopted daughter of Monsieur and Madame Valmondé who are wealthy Creoles in Louisiana. As a baby, she was discovered by Monsieur Valmondé lying in the shadow of a stone pillar near the Valmondé gateway. She is courted by another wealthy, well-known and respected scion of a Creole family, Armand. They appear very devoted to one another and eventually have a child. People who see the baby get a sense that something is unusual about it. Eventually they realize that the baby's skin is the same color as a quadroon (one-quarter African) slave boy—the baby is not white. At the setting of the story, this would have been considered a terrible taint. Because of Désirée's unknown roots, Armand immediately assumes that she is part black although Désirée tries to deny the accusation. Madame Valmondé suggests that Désirée and the baby return to the Valmondé estate. Armand, scornful with Désirée and no longer in love with her, insists on her going. Désirée then takes the child and walks off into a bayou, never to be seen again. Armand then proceeds to burn all of Désirée's belongings, even the child's cradle, as well as all of the letters that she had sent him during their courtship. With this bundle of letters is also one written from his mother to his father, revealing that Armand is, in fact, the one who is part black. Désirée's race is never definitively determined.
Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893)
Stephen Crane; a naturalistic account of the hardships and social strife caused by industrialization.
Plot: Plagued by brutal parents, Jimmie becomes a cynical factory worker while Maggie attempts to better herself by dating Pete. She's kicked out and dies, while Pete becomes a drunk.
Jimmie Johnson: A young boy, Maggie and Tommie's brother, who first appears in the beginning scene fighting a gang war with the Rum Alley Children. Serves as a foil to Maggie.
Pete: A teenager who saves Jimmie in the fight. Later, he seduces Maggie and breaks her of her romantic viewpoints.
Father: The brutal, drunkard father of Jimmie, Maggie, and Tommie.
Maggie Johnson: The eldest Johnson child, protagonist of the story, apparently immune to the after-effects of the negative family. She is seduced by Pete and is seen as effectively ruined. She is implied to have become a prostitute at the end of the novel and dies an early death.
Tommie Johnson: The youngest Johnson child who dies an early death.
Mary Johnson: The drunkard and brutal mother who drives Maggie out of the house.
Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945(
An American novelist and journalist of the naturalist school. His novels often featured main characters who succeeded at their objectives despite a lack of a firm moral code, and literary situations that more closely resemble studies of nature than tales of choice and agency. Best known novels include Sister Carrie (1900) and An American Tragedy (1925).
Sister Carrie (1900)
Novel by Theodore Dreiser about a young country girl who moves to the big city where she starts realizing her own American Dream by embarking on a life of sin rather than by hard work and perseverance. Carrie becomes a "kept woman" by Drouet and eventually by Hurstwood, with whom she elopes. When the couple's money runs out Carrie becomes a successful actress and leaves Hurstwood, who kills himself
An American Tragedy (1925)
Dreiser. The novel tells the story of Clyde Griffiths, whose troubles with women and the law take him from his religious upbringing in Kansas City to the fictional town of Lycurgus, New York . Among Clyde's love interests are the materialistic Hortense Briggs, the charming farmer's daughter Roberta Alden and the aristocratic Sondra Finchley. The book is naturalistic in style, containing subject matter such as religion, capital punishment and abortion, and attempting to shed light on societal evils. Clyde seeks to murder the lower-class Roberta to be with the aristocratic Sondra, but she dies accidentally in a boating accident and he is hanged for his cowardice in not saving her
Benito Cereno (1855-6)
Herman Melville. Short story of a slave mutiny cunningly hidden from American discoverers through a performance of order.
Characters: Captain Amasa Delano, Babo, Benito Cereno, Alexandra Aranda
Harriet Jacobs (1813-97)
In 1861, she published Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl under the pseudonym Linda Brent. Much of "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" is devoted to the protagonist's struggle to free her two children (born out of wedlock through a consensual relationship with a white man who wasn't her master), after she runs away herself. She spends seven years trapped in a tiny space built into her grandmother's barn to occasionally see and hear the voices of her children.
Linda Brent is Harriet Jacobs, the book's protagonist and a pseudonym for the author.
William Brent is John Jacobs: Linda's brother, to whom she is close. William's escape from Mr. Sands, his relatively "kind" master, shows that even a privileged slave desires freedom above all else.
Ruth Nash is Margaret Horniblow.
Emily Flint is Mary Matilda Norcom, Dr. Flint's daughter and Linda's legal "owner." Emily Flint serves mainly as Dr. Flint's puppet, sometimes writing Linda letters in her name, trying to trick her into returning to Dr. Flint.
Dr. Flint is Dr. James Norcom. Although he is based on Harriet Jacobs's real-life master, Dr. Flint often seems more like a melodramatic villain than a real man. He is morally bankrupt and lacks any redeeming qualities. He is thoroughly one-dimensional, totally corrupted by the power that the slave system grants him. He sees no reason not to use and abuse his slaves in any way he chooses, and he never shows any signs of sympathy for them or remorse for his crimes.
Aunt Martha is Molly Horniblow, Aunt Martha is one of the narrative's most complex characters, embodying Jacobs's ambivalence about motherhood and maternal love. She is a second mother to Linda, a positive force in her life, and a paragon of honesty and decency. She is loving and family-oriented, representing an ideal of domestic life and maternal love. She works tirelessly to buy her children's and grandchildren's freedom.
Mr. Sands is Samuel Tredwell Sawyer; he is Linda's white lover and the father of her children. Mr. Sands has a kindlier nature than Dr. Flint, but he feels no real love or responsibility for his mixed-race children. He repeatedly breaks his promises to Linda that he will free them.
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)
American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century. He was seen as a champion of individualism and a prescient critic of the countervailing pressures of society, and he disseminated his thoughts through dozens of published essays and more than 1,500 public lectures across the United States.
"Self-Reliance" (Essays: First Series)
"Compensation" (First Series)
"The Over-Soul" (First Series)
"Circles" (First Series)
"The Poet" (Essays: Second Series)
"Experience" (Essays: Second Series)
Emerson. It is in this essay that the foundation of transcendentalism is put forth, a belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Transcendentalism suggests that divinity diffuses all nature, and speaks to the notion that we can only understand reality through studying nature. Within this essay, Emerson divides nature into four usages; Commodity, Beauty, Language and Discipline. These distinctions define the ways by which humans use nature for their basic needs, their desire for delight, their communication with one another and their understanding of the world.
NB the key idea of the "transparent eyeball"--the capacity to see through Nature to the divine, to see God in everything absent layers of historical and social meaning. Deeply influenced Thoreau's thought and the project that became Walden
Emerson. In the essay he formulates his philosophy of self-reliance an essential part of which is to trust in one's present thoughts and impressions rather than those of other people or of one's past self. This culminates in the quote: "A foolish consistency is the hobgobHe stresses originality, believing in one's own genius and living from within. From this springs the quote: "Envy is ignorance, imitation is suicide."
Our logrolling, our stumps and their politics, our fisheries, our Negroes, and Indians, our boasts, and our repudiations, the wrath of rogues, and the pusillanimity of honest men, the northern trade, the southern planting, the western clearing, Oregon, and Texas, are yet unsung... Wherever snow falls or water flows or birds fly, wherever day and night meet in twilight, wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds or sown with stars, wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are outlets into celestial space, wherever is danger, and awe, and love, there is Beauty, plenteous as rain, shed for thee, and though thou shouldest walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble
Emerson, The Poet (1844). A call for a new American bard to sing of the country's unique social and economic conditions, taken up by Whitman
If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.
Far or forgot to me is near,
Shadow and sunlight are the same,
The vanished gods to me appear,
And one to me are shame and fame.
They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
And I the hymn the Brahmin sings.
The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.
Emerson, "Brahma" (1856). Iambic tetrameter
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
Emerson, Concord Hymn (1837). Oft-quoted celebration of one of the first battles of the American Revolution
To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.
Emerson, "Nature" (1836). Cf. Descartes or Locke's ideas of achieving a clean mental slate through interiorizing withdrawal (often into a literal room/study)
Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life's cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another, you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have taught Shakspeare? Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington, or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is a unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow. Shakspeare will never be made by the study of Shakspeare. Do that which is assigned you, and you cannot hope too much or dare too much. There is at this moment for you an utterance brave and grand as that of the colossal chisel of Phidias, or trowel of the Egyptians, or the pen of Moses, or Dante, but different from all these. Not possibly will the soul all rich, all eloquent, with thousand-cloven tongue, deign to repeat itself; but if you can hear what these patriarchs say, surely you can reply to them in the same pitch of voice; for the ear and the tongue are two organs of one nature. Abide in the simple and noble regions of thy life, obey thy heart, and thou shalt reproduce the Foreworld again.
Emerson, "Self-Reliance" (1841). Echoes E's belief that individual experience is not transferred down through society in a progressive development, but that each person's abilities and actions are wholly their own to grasp
A belief system that espouses a non-traditional appreciation of nature. Transcendentalism suggests that divinity diffuses all nature, and speaks to the notion that we can only understand reality through studying nature.
Major figures: Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Jones Very (Hawthorne peripherally); Brook Farm was their utopian settlement, and "The Dial" was their periodical
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
American author, development critic, naturalist, transcendentalist, pacifist, tax resister and philosopher who is famous for Walden, on simple living amongst nature, and Civil Disobedience, on resistance to civil government and many other articles and essays. He was a lifelong abolitionist, delivering lectures that attacked the Fugitive Slave Law while praising the writings of Wendell Phillips and defending the abolitionist John Brown. Among his lasting contributions were his writings on natural history and philosophy, where he anticipated the methods and findings of ecology and environmental history, two sources of modern day environmentalism.
Details Thoreau's life for two years, two months, and two days in second-growth forest around the shores of Walden Pond, not far from his friends and family in Concord, Massachusetts. Walden was written so that the stay appears to be a year, with expressed seasonal divisions. Thoreau called it an experiment in simple living.Walden is neither a novel nor a true autobiography, but a social critique of the Western World, with each chapter heralding some aspect of humanity that needed to be either renounced or praised. Along with his critique of the civilized world, Thoreau examines other issues afflicting man in society, ranging from economy (the first chapter of the book) and reading to solitude and higher laws. He also takes time to talk about the experience at Walden Pond itself, commenting on the animals and the way people treated him for living there, using those experiences to bring out his philosophical positions. This extended commentary on nature has often been interpreted as a strong statement to the natural religion that transcendentalists like Thoreau and Emerson were preaching.
Men think that it is essential that the Nation have commerce, and export ice, and talk through a telegraph, and ride thirty miles an hour, without a doubt, whether they do or not; but whether we should live like baboons or like men, is a little uncertain. If we do not get out sleepers, and forge rails, and devote days and nights to the work, but go to tinkering upon our lives to improve them, who will build railroads? And if railroads are not built, how shall we get to heaven in season? But if we stay at home and mind our business, who will want railroads? We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman, or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them. They are sound sleepers, I assure you. And every few years a new lot is laid down and run over; so that, if some have the pleasure of riding on a rail, others have the misfortune to be ridden upon. And when they run over a man that is walking in his sleep, a supernumerary sleeper in the wrong position, and wake him up, they suddenly stop the cars, and make a hue and cry about it, as if this were an exception. I am glad to know that it takes a gang of men for every five miles to keep the sleepers down and level in their beds as it is, for this is a sign that they may sometime get up again.
Thoreau, Walden (1854). Note the passage's underlying emphasis on "Simplicity!" despite its lack of natural description. Know too: "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary."
Civil Disobedience (1849)
Details Thoreau's belief that people should not allow governments to overrule or atrophy their consciences, and that people have a duty both to avoid doing injustice directly and to avoid allowing their acquiescence to enable the government to make them the agents of injustice. Thoreau was motivated in part by his disgust with slavery and the Mexican-American War.
One of the most famous quotes often mistakenly attributed to either Thomas Jefferson or Thomas Paine, "That government is best which governs least", actually came from Thoreau in this essay.
To speak practically and as a citizen, unlike those who call themselves no-government men, I ask for, not at once no government, but at once a better government. Let every man make known what kind of government would command his respect, and that will be one step toward obtaining it. After all, the practical reason why, when the power is once in the hands of the people, a majority are permitted, and for a long period continue, to rule, is not because they are most likely to be in the right, nor because this seems fairest to the minority, but because they are physically the strongest. But a government in which the majority rule in all cases cannot be based on justice, even as far as men understand it.
Thoreau, Civil Disobedience (1849)
The Rise of Silas Lapham (1885)
A realistic novel written by William Dean Howells about the materialistic rise of Silas Lapham from rags to riches, and his ensuing moral susceptibility. Silas earns a fortune in the paint business, but he lacks social standards, which he tries to attain through his daughter's marriage into the aristocratic Corey family. Silas's morality does not fail him. He loses his money but makes the right moral decision when his partner proposes the unethical selling of the mills to English settlers.
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
American poet closely associated with modernism and Imagism. He was also a pediatrician and general practitioner of medicine. Many of his earlier poems are influenced by Dadaist and Surrealist principles. Williams disliked Ezra Pound's and especially T.S. Eliot's (see The Waste Land) frequent use of allusions to foreign languages, religion, history or art, and drew his themes from what he called "the local." He coined the expression "No ideas but in things", his famous summation of his poetic method. What he meant is that poets should leave traditional poetic forms and unnecessary literary allusions aside and try to see the world through the eyes of an ordinary person.
I will teach you my townspeople
how to perform a funeral--
for you have it over a troop
unless one should scour the world--
you have the ground sense necessary.
See! the hearse leads.
I begin with a design for a hearse.
For Christ's sake not black--
nor white either--and not polished!
Let it be weathered--like a farm wagon--
with gilt wheels (this could be
applied fresh at small expense)
or no wheels at all:
a rough dray to drag over the ground.
William Carlos Williams, "Tract". Note the near-Imagistic compression and emphasis on local, physical detail. Somewhere between Pound and Wallace Stevens, with a bit of HD perhaps.
Of asphodel, that greeny flower,
like a buttercup
upon its branching stem-
save that it's green and wooden-
I come, my sweet,
to sing to you.
We lived long together
a life filled,
if you will,
with flowers. So that
I was cheered
when I came first to know
that there were flowers also
William Carlos Williams, "Aspodel, that greeny flower". An example of Williams' idea of the "triadic line" and the "variable foot" that makes it up--one divides a single metrical phrase into three staggered free verse lines.
Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun;
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
Robert Frost, "Mending Wall" (1914). Note the poet's unrhymed blank verse, natural line breaks, and rural settings
I found a dimpled spider, fat and white,
On a white heal-all, holding up a moth
Like a white piece of rigid satin cloth --
Assorted characters of death and blight
Mixed ready to begin the morning right,
Like the ingredients of a witches' broth --
A snow-drop spider, a flower like a froth,
And dead wings carried like a paper kite.
What had that flower to do with being white,
The wayside blue and innocent heal-all?
What brought the kindred spider to that height,
Then steered the white moth thither in the night?
What but design of darkness to appall?--
If design govern in a thing so small.
Robert Frost, "Design"
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet
When far away an interrupted cry
Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye;
And further still at an unearthly height,
One luminary clock against the sky
Frost, "Acquainted With the Night" (1928). The poem is written in strict iambic pentameter, with 14 lines like a sonnet, and with a terza rima rhyme scheme, which follows the complex pattern, aba bcb cdc dad aa.
These pools that, though in forests, still reflect
The total sky almost without defect,
And like the flowers beside them, chill and shiver,
Will like the flowers beside them soon be gone,
And yet not out by any brook or river,
But up by roots to bring dark foliage on.
The trees that have it in their pent-up buds
To darken nature and be summer woods --
Let them think twice before they use their powers
To blot out and drink up and sweep away
These flowery waters and these watery flowers
From snow that melted only yesterday.
Frost, "Spring Pools"
Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
An American folklorist, anthropologist, and author during the time of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1926, a group of young black writers including Hurston, Langston Hughes, and Wallace Thurman, calling themselves the N*ggerati, produced a literary magazine called Fire!! that featured many of the young artists and writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Many readers objected to the representation of African American dialect in Hurston's novels, given the racially charged history of dialect fiction in American literature. Her stylistic choices in terms of dialogue were influenced by her academic experiences. Thinking like a folklorist, Hurston strove to represent speech patterns of the period which she documented through ethnographic research
James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938)
Leading African American author, poet, early civil rights activist, and prominent figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, he was the first African American accepted to the Florida bar. He served in several public capacities, including as consul to Venezuela and Nicaragua, but he is best remembered today for his writing, which included novels, poems, and collections of folklore.
His first major literary sensation was The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912), a fictional account of a light-skinned black man's attempts to succeed and survive in the early 20th century. It was while serving as executive secretary of the NAACP from 1920 through 1931 that he released God's Trombones, Seven Negro Sermons in Verse, one of the works he is best remembered for today.
John Berryman (1914-72)
American poet often considered one of the founders of the Confessional school of poetry. He is one of the figures acting as a bridge between the formally loose, socially aware poetry of the Beats and the personal, grieving poetry of Sylvia Plath. He was the author of The Dream Songs, which are playful, witty, and morbid; died by suicide in 1972.
Defining Features: poetic characters named Henry and Mr. Bones, as well as a confessional, raw tone
Huffy Henry hid the day,
unappeasable Henry sulked.
I see his point,—a trying to put things over.
It was the thought that they thought
they could do it made Henry wicked & away.
But he should have come out and talked.
All the world like a woolen lover
once did seem on Henry's side.
Then came a departure.
Thereafter nothing fell out as it might or ought.
I don't see how Henry, pried
open for all the world to see, survived.
What he has now to say is a long
wonder the world can bear & be.
Once in a sycamore I was glad
all at the top, and I sang.
Hard on the land wears the strong sea
and empty grows every bed.
Berryman, "Dream Songs 1: Huffy Henry hid the day" (1964)
How do you sound, your words, are they
yours? The ghost you see in the mirror, is it really
you, can you swear you are not an imitation greyboy,
that the sister you have you hand on is not really
so full of Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton is
coming out of her ears. You may even have to be Richard
with a white shirt and face, and four million negroes
think you cute, you may have to be Elizabeth Taylor, old
if you want to sit up in your crazy spot dreaming about
and the say of certain porters' hips. Check yourself,
learn who it is
speaking, when you make some ultrasophisticated point,
when you find yourself gesturing like Steve McQueen,
check it out, ask
in your black heart who it is you are, and is that image
black or white,
Amiri Baraka, "Poem for Half White College Students". Must attempt to distinguish this style from that of the Harlem Renaissance--look for the unique cultural content of each period (Burton/Taylor here)
Amiri Baraka (1934-)
An American writer of poetry, drama, essays, and music criticism. Baraka is today most widely known for the fact that in 2002 the state of New Jersey made him poet laureate, but forced him out of that position a year later because of his poem Somebody Blew Up America.
Anne Sexton (1928-74)
The modern model of the confessional poet, Sexton helped open the door not only for female poets, but for female issues; Sexton wrote about menstruation, abortion, masturbation, and adultery before such issues were even topics for casual discussion, helping redefine the boundaries of poetry. She committed suicide in 1974.
Works: Pulitzer-Prize winning Live or Die (1966), The Book of Folly (1972)
I walk in a yellow dress
and a white pocketbook stuffed with cigarettes,
enough pills, my wallet, my keys,
and being twenty-eight, or is it forty-five?
I walk. I walk.
I hold matches at street signs
for it is dark,
as dark as the leathery dead
and I have lost my green Ford,
my house in the suburbs,
two little kids
sucked up like pollen by the bee in me
and a husband
who has wiped off his eyes
in order not to see my inside out
and I am walking and looking
and this is no dream
just my oily life
where the people are alibis
and the street is unfindable for an
Anne Sexton, 45 Mercy Street. Cf. Plath's verse, if a little less caustic and tenebrous
O Sylvia, Sylvia,
with a dead box of stones and spoons,
with two children, two meteors
wandering loose in a tiny playroom,
with your mouth into the sheet,
into the roofbeam, into the dumb prayer,
where did you go
after you wrote me
about raising potatoes
and keeping bees?)
Anne Sexton, "Sylvia's Death". Might need to know that this is about Sylvia Plath
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-79)
A disciple of Marianne Moore, and a good friend of poets Robert Lowell and James Merrill. Bishop did not see herself as a "lesbian poet" or as a "female poet." Although she still considered herself to be "a strong feminist," she only wanted to be judged based on the quality of her writing and not on her gender or sexual orientation. In contrast to this confessional style involving large amounts of self-exposure, Bishop's style of writing, though it sometimes involved sparse details from her personal life, was known for its highly detailed and objective, distant point of view
The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.
---Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
Elizabeth Bishop, "One Art". Identify this one by the iambic pentameter, villanelle structure--a complex and challenging form
Robert Lowell (1917-77)
American Confessionalist poet known for inspiring and teaching several literary superstars of the 1950s and 1960s, including Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath. With his 1959 volume Life Studies, he moved firmly into the confessionalist mode. Life Studies is best known for the oft-reprinted poem "Skunk Hour," a poem that is primarily a description of a fading New England town, punctuated by two stanzas of what was, at the time, shocking personal confession, such as the declaration that "My mind's not right."
And now our fairy
decorator brightens his shop for fall,
his fishnet's filled with orange cork,
orange, his cobbler's bench and awl,
there is no money in his work,
he'd rather marry.
One dark night,
my Tudor Ford climbed the hill's skull,
I watched for love-cars. Lights turned down,
they lay together, hull to hull,
where the graveyard shelves on the town. . . .
My mind's not right.
Robert Lowell, "Skunk Hour" (1959). Note the confession of mental illness--striking for 1959. Dedicated to elizabeth Bishop
A very little thing, a little worm,
Or hourglass-blazoned spider, it is said,
Can kill a tiger. Will the dead
Hold up his mirror and affirm
To the four winds the smell
And flash of his authority? It's well
If God who holds you to the pit of hell,
Much as one holds a spider, will destroy
Baffle and dissipate your soul. As a small boy
On Windsor March, I saw the spider die
When thrown into the bowels of fierce fire:
There's no long struggle, no desire
To get up on its feet and fly--
It stretches out its feet
And dies. This is the sinner's last retreat;
Yes, and no strength exerted on the heat
Then sinews the abolished will, when sick
And full of burning, it will whistle on a brick.
Lowell, "Mr. Edwards and the Spider". Refers to the Puritan theologian John Edwards' comment that the God who holds mankind over the flaming pit of hell, as one would hold a spider, is to be feared
Sylvia Plath (1932-63)
American poet and short story writer famous for her dark, raw poetry, the semiautobiographical novel The Bell Jar, and her suicide.
Not God but a swastika
So black no sky could squeak through.
Every woman adores a Fascist,
The boot in the face, the brute
Brute heart of a brute like you.
You stand at the blackboard, daddy,
In the picture I have of you,
A cleft in your chin instead of your foot
But no less a devil for that, no not
Any less the black man who
Bit my pretty red heart in two.
I was ten when they buried you.
At twenty I tried to die
And get back, back, back to you.
I thought even the bones would do.
Plath, "Daddy", in Ariel (1965)
We real cool. We
Left school. We
Lurk late. We
Strike straight. We
Sing sin. We
Thin gin. We
Jazz June. We
Gwendolyn Brooks, "We Real Cool" (1966)
Abortions will not let you forget.
You remember the children you got that you did not get,
The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
The singers and workers that never handled the air.
You will never neglect or beat
Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
You will never leave them, controlling your luscious sigh,
Return for a snack of them, with gobbling mother-eye.
Gwendolyn Brooks, "The Mother" (1945)
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Her poetry is rooted in the poor and mostly African-American South Side of Chicago. Although her poems range in style from traditional ballads and sonnets to using blues rhythms in free verse, her characters are often drawn from the poor inner city
Tennessee Williams (1911-83)
American writer who worked principally as a playwright in the American theater. He also wrote short stories, novels, poetry, essays, screenplays and a volume of memoirs. His professional career lasted from the mid 1930s until his death in 1983; Williams adapted much of his best known work for the cinema. Many of his plays, including Streetcar Named Desire, may be based on his own troubled family life. Other works include The Glass Menagerie, Cat On a Hot Tin Roof, and Camino Real
Everyman (late 15th c.)
The best surviving example of the type of Medieval drama known as the morality play. Moralities evolved side by side with the mystery plays, although they were composed individually and not in cycles. The moralities employed allegory to dramatize the universal moral struggles of Christianity. Everyman, a short play of some 900 lines, portrays a complacent Everyman who is informed by Death of his approaching end. The play shows the hero's progression from despair and fear of death to a "Christian resignation that is the prelude to redemption." First, Everyman is deserted by his false friends: his casual companions, his kin, and his wealth. He falls back on his Good Deeds, his Strength, his Beauty, his Intelligence, and his Knowledge. These assist him in making his Book of Accounts, but at the end, when he must go to the grave, all desert him save his Good Deeds alone. The play makes its grim point that we can take with us from this world nothing that we have received, only what we have given.
Troilus and Criseyde (1380s)
Geoffrey Chaucer. The poem is composed of 8239 lines of rhyme-royal (seven-line stanzas rhyming ababbcc) in five books, the first major work of English literature and sometimes called the first English novel on account of its concern with the characters' psychology. Chaucer was following in the footsteps of Dante in his attempt to form vernacular English into a poetic language able to stand beside the language of Virgil and the classics.
Troilus and Criseyde is set inside Troy during the Trojan War. In Book 1 of Chaucer's version, one of Priam's sons, Troilus, appears as a young warrior scornful of love, until he glimpses Criseyde in a temple. Love's arrow having wounded him, Troilus suddenly finds himself deeply in love with her. He withdraws to complain alone, but a friend of his, Pandare, overhears him and he admits he is in love with Criseyde. Pandare offers to help Troilus meet her.
Much time elapses as they slowly establish a relationship, until at last Pandare skillfully arranges for them to spend a night together. This represents the first movement, 'from woe to wele' a rise to happiness. Suddenly Criseyde learns that her father, a prophet who has fled to the Greeks, is arranging for her to leave Troy and join him. The lovers are separated by blind destiny. Once in the Greek camp, Criseyde soon turns for protection to a Greek Diomede and although she and Troilus exchange letters, soon she seems to forget him. One day Troilus finds a brooch he gave her fixed in a cloak he has torn from Diomede during the fighting, and knows that she has betrayed him. He tries to kill Diomede, but cannot. Suddenly the book seems to be over, since the love-tale is at an end
Go, little book, go, little myn tragedye,
Ther God thy makere yet, er that he dye,
So sende might to make in some comedye!
But little book, no making thou n'envie,
But subgit be to alle poesye;
And kiss the steppes, whereas thou seest pace
Virgile, Ovide, Omer, Lucan, Stace.
And down from thennes faste he gan avyse
This littel spot of erthe, that with the se
Embraced is, and fully gan despise
This wrecched world, and held al vanite
To respect of the pleyn felicite
That is in hevene above; and at the laste,
There he was slayn, his lokyng down he caste.
And in hymself he lough right at the wo
Of hem that wepten for his deth so faste;
And dampned al oure werk that foloweth so
The blynde lust, the which that may not laste,M
And shoulden al oure herte on heven caste.
And forth he wente, shortly for to telle,
Ther as Mercurye sorted hym to dwelle.
Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde (1380s). Look for the polished style and rhyme royal verse, as well as numerous allusions to C's source in Boccaccio and the classical writers of Virgil, Ovid, Cicero, etc.
John Gower (1330-1408)
Poet and friend of Chaucer, was born around 1330, into a prominent Yorkshire family which held properties in Kent, Yorkshire, Norfolk and Suffolk. Gower's coat of arms is identical to those of Sir Robert Gower of Brabourne. Nothing is known of his education, though it has been speculated that he was trained in law. Gower himself held properties in Suffolk and Kent, where he seems to have resided until taking up residence in the priory of St. Mary Overies in Southwark, London, around 1377.
In 1385, Gower's good friend, Geoffrey Chaucer, dedicated the Troilus and Criseyde to him, giving him the epithet "moral Gower."
In 1386, Gower began work on his most acclaimed work, Confessio Amantis (i.e. Lover's Confession). Unlike his previous works, Gower wrote the Confessio in English at the request of Richard II who was concerned that so little was being written in English. It is a collection of tales and exempla treating of courtly love. The framework is that of a lover complaining first to Venus, and later in the work, confessing to her priest, Genius. The Confessio , completed around 1390, is an important contribution to courtly love literature in English. Some of the stories have their counterparts in Chaucer's Canterbury Tales , and one of the stories later served as the source for Shakespeare's Pericles, in which Shakespeare had Gower appear in the Chorus.
one of the earliest formally developed plays in medieval Europe. They developed from the representation of Bible stories in churches as tableaux with accompanying antiphonal song. As these liturgical plays became more popular, more vernacular elements were introduced and non-clergy began to participate. As the dramas became increasingly secular, they began to be performed entirely in the vernacular and were moved out of the churches by the 13th or 14th century.
These vernacular religious performances were taken over by the guilds, with each guild taking responsibility for a particular piece of scriptural history. From the guild control they gained the name mystery play or just mysteries, from the Latin mysterium (meaning handicraft and relating to the guilds). Mystery plays should not be confused with Miracle plays, which specifically re-enacted episodes from the lives of the saints. Also, Miracle plays were performed in Latin, unlike Mysteries which were meant to be understood by the common man.
The mystery play developed into a series of plays dealing with all the major events in the Christian calendar, from the Creation to the Day of Judgment. By the end of the 15th century, the tradition of acting these plays in cycles on festival days (such as the Feast of Corpus Christi) was established across Europe, each play was performed on decorated carts called pageants, that moved about the city to allow different crowds to watch each play. The entire cycle could take up to twenty hours to perform and could be spread over a number of days. Taken as a whole, these are referred to as Corpus Christi cycles.
Robert Henryson (1425-1500)
A Scottish poet who is remarkable mostly for his relationship to Chaucer; Henryson wrote a conclusion to Chaucer's Troilus.
Henryson's longest, and in many respects his most original and effective work, is his Morall Fabillis of Esope, a collection of thirteen fables, chiefly based on the versions of Anonymus, John Lydgate and William Caxton. The outstanding merit of the work is its freshness of treatment. The work is unrivalled in English fabulistic literature.
In the Testament of Cresseid, Henryson supplements Geoffrey Chaucer's tale of Troilus with the story of the tragedy of Cresseid. The description of Cresseid's leprosy, of her meeting with Troilus, of his sorrow and charity, and of her death, give the poem a high place in writings of this genre.
Julian of Norwich (1342-1413)
An early English mystic, little is known of her life aside from her writings. Even her name is uncertain, the name "Julian" coming from the Church of St. Julian in Norwich, where she occupied a cell adjoining the church as an anchoress. At the age of thirty, suffering from a severe illness and believing she was on her deathbed, Julian had a series of intense visions. These visions would twenty years later be the source of her major work, called Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love (circa 1393 ). This is believed to be the first book written by a woman in the English language.
He shewed me a little thing, the quantity of an hazel-nut, in the palm of my hand; and it was as round as a ball. I looked thereupon with eye of my understanding, and thought: What may this be? And it was answered generally thus: It is all that is made. I marvelled how it might last, for methought it might suddenly have fallen to naught for little. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasteth, and ever shall for that God loveth it. And so All-thing hath the Being by the love of God.
In this Little Thing I saw three properties. The first is that God made it, the second is that God loveth it, the third, that God keepeth it. But what is to me verily the Maker, the Keeper, and the Lover, — I cannot tell; for till I am Substantially oned to Him, I may never have full rest nor very bliss: that is to say, till I be so fastened to Him, that there is right nought that is made betwixt my God and me.
It needeth us to have knowing of the littleness of creatures and to hold as nought all-thing that is made, for to love and have God that is unmade. For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: that we seek here rest in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the Very Rest. God willeth to be known, and it pleaseth Him that we rest in Him; for all that is beneath Him sufficeth not us. And this is the cause why that no soul is rested till it is made nought as to all things that are made. When it is willingly made nought, for love, to have Him that is all, then is it able to receive spiritual rest.
Julian of Norwich. NB too the even more oft-quoted lines of her "Revelations of Divine Love": "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."
Margery Kempe (1373-1438)
Author of The Book of Margery Kempe (ca. 1438), a work considered by some to be the first autobiography in the English language. At around the age of 35, after a failed confession that resulted in a bout of self-described "madness," Margery Kempe had a vision that called her to leave aside the "vanities" of this world. Having for many weeks railed against the institutions of family, marriage and church, Kempe reports that she saw a vision of Christ at her bedside, asking her "Daughter, why have you forsaken me, and I never forsook you?" From that point forward, Kempe undertook two failed domestic businesses--a brewery and a grain mill--both common home-based businesses for medieval women. Though she had tried to be more devout after her vision, she was tempted by sexual pleasures and social jealousy for some years. Eventually turning away from what she interpreted as the effect of worldly pride in her vocational choices, Kempe more fully responded to the spiritual calling that she felt her earlier vision required. Striving to live a life of commitment to God, Kempe negotiated a chaste marriage with her husband, and began to make pilgrimages around Europe to sites that were holy to her, if not to others. The stories surrounding these travels are what eventually comprised much of her Book, although a final section includes a series of prayers.
"Sche cam beforn the Erchebischop and fel down on hir kneys, the Erchebischop seying ful boystowsly unto hir, "Why wepist thu so, woman?" Sche, answeryng, seyde, "Syr, ye schal welyn sum day that ye had wept as sor as I."
Margery Kempe in her eponymous Book (ca. 1438). NB the autobiographical, third-person middle English prose (helps distinguish from both the period's poems and something like Piers Plowman)
Thomas Wyatt (1503-42) and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1516-47)
Aristocratic authors dually (but independently) credited with introducing the sonnet form to England as they established the form that was later used by Shakespeare and others: three quatrains and a couplet, with a rhyme scheme of abab cdcd efef gg.
Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,
But as for me, hélas, I may no more.
The vain travail hath wearied me so sore,
I am of them that farthest cometh behind.
Yet may I by no means my wearied mind
Draw from the deer, but as she fleeth afore
Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,
Sithens in a net I seek to hold the wind.
Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,
As well as I may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about:
Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame.
Thomas Wyatt, "Whose List to Hunt". An imitation/translation of one of Petrarch's sonnets, following not the later English sonnet form but Petrarch's Italian one: (1) first stanza (octave): ABBA, ABBA; (2) second stanza (sestet): CDE, CDE (or CDC, CDC; or CDE, DCE). NB that Wyatt's work in this vein predates Surrey's
THE soote season, that bud and bloom forth brings,
With green hath clad the hill, and eke the vale.
The nightingale with feathers new she sings;
The turtle to her make hath told her tale.
Summer is come, for every spray now springs,
The hart hath hung his old head on the pale;
The buck in brake his winter coat he slings;
The fishes flete with new repaired scale;
The adder all her slough away she slings;
The swift swallow pursueth the flies smale;
The busy bee her honey now she mings;
Winter is worn that was the flowers' bale.
And thus I see among these pleasant things
Each care decays, and yet my sorrow springs!
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, "DESCRIPTION OF SPRING, WHEREIN EVERY THING RENEWS, SAVE ONLY THE LOVER." NB Surrey's English sonnets are predated by Wyatt's work in this vein. This poem has the same English meter/rhyme scheme later used by authors like Shakespeare, among others (abab cdcd efef gg)
Thomas Kyd (1558-1594)
Author of popular Elizabethan plays, most notably The Spanish Tragedy (1582-92), which influenced writers like Marlowe and Shakespeare. Other works include the ur-Hamlet and Soliman and Perseda
The Spanish Tragedy (1582-92)
Highly popular and influential in its time, The Spanish Tragedy established a new genre in English theatre, the revenge play or revenge tragedy. Its plot contains several violent murders and includes as one of its characters a personification of Revenge. The Spanish Tragedy was often referred to (or parodied) in works written by other Elizabethan playwrights, including William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, and Christopher Marlowe. Many elements of The Spanish Tragedy, such as the play-within-a-play used to trap a murderer and a ghost intent on vengeance, appear in Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Plot: Andrea killed by Balthazar on the battlefield reappears onstage with the figure of Revenge; Bel-Imperia rejects Bathazar and Lorenzo's efforts to have her marry B by courting Horatio, who the two men then kill. Hieronymo finds his son hanging in the garden, goes somewhat mad and vows revenge. Together with Bel-Imperia plans a play-within-the-play in which the offenders are killed as they act, the Duke of Castile is stabbed, Bel kills herself, and Hier. cuts out his tongue. Revenge explains that the evil will suffer in a classical Hell, while the good await Elysium.
Characters: Revenge, Don Andrea, Hieronymo, Horatio, Balthazar, Bel-Imperia, Lorenzo, the King, the Duke of Castile, the servant Pedringano, Hier.'s wife Isabella
See heere my shew; look on this spectacle!
Heere lay my hope, and heere my hope hath end;
Heere lay my hart, and heere my hart was slaine;
Heere lay my treasure, heere my treasure lost;
Heere lay my blisse, and heere my blisse bereft.
But hope, hart, treasure, ioy and blisse,—
All fled, faild, died, yea, all decaide with this.
From froth these wounds came breath that gaue me life;
They murdred me that made these fatall markes.
The cause was loue whence grew this mortall hate
Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy. Note the relatively archaic language (compared with Marlowe and esp. Shakespeare) and the almost melodramatic tone of the mourning
When to her lute Corrina sings,
Her voice reuiues the leaden stringes,
And doth in highest noates appeare,
As any challeng'd eccho cleere ;
But when she doth of mourning speake,
Eu'n with her sighes the strings do breake.
And as her lute doth liue or die,
Led by her passion, so must I,
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enioy a sodaine spring,
But if she doth of sorrow speake,
Eu'n from my hart the strings doe breake.
Thomas Campion (1567-1620), "When to her lute Corrina sings".
If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every shepherd's tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb;
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields;
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy's spring, but sorrow's fall.
The gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten,—
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618), "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" (1596). Part of a larger trend of response to Marlowe's original pastoral invocation, including works by Donne, Herrick, and even 20th century poets like C. Day-Lewis
Three things there be that prosper up apace
And flourish, whilst they grow asunder far;
But on a day, they meet all in one place,
And when they meet they one another mar:
And they be these: the wood, the weed, the wag.
The wood is that which makes the gallow tree;
The weed is that which strings the hangman's bag;
The wag, my pretty knave, betokeneth thee.
Mark well, dear boy, whilst these assemble not,
Green springs the tree, hemp grows, the wag is wild,
But when they meet, it makes the timber rot;
It frets the halter, and it chokes the child.
Then bless thee, and beware, and let us pray
We part not with thee at this meeting day.
Raleigh, "To His Son". Cf. the characterization of him as a "wag" with the tales of his raucous stewardship by Jonson.
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86)
English poet, courtier and soldier, remembered as one of the most prominent figures of the Elizabethan Age. His works include Astrophel and Stella, The Defence of Poetry (also known as The Defence of Poesy or An Apology for Poetry), and The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia.
Astrophel and Stella (1580s)
An English sonnet sequence by Sidney containing 108 sonnets and 11 songs (in which Astrophil describes Stella's response to his pleas). The name derives from the two Greek words, 'aster' (star) and 'phil' (lover), and the Latin word 'stella' meaning star. Thus Astrophel is the star lover, and Stella is his star. Sidney partly nativized the key features of his Italian model Petrarch, including an ongoing but partly obscure narrative, the philosophical trappings of the poet in relation to love and desire, and musings on the art of poetic creation. Sidney also adopts the Petrarchan rhyme scheme, though he uses it with such freedom that fifteen variants are employed
The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia
Form: This is PROSE separated by POEMS, including "Ye Goatherd Gods," a poem remarkable because it is a double sestina--a form so dedicated to rhyming structure that it is very rarely seen. This will aid in identification.
Characters: Musidorus, Pyrocles, Basilius, Philanax, Philoclea, Pamela
Description: The Arcadia, by far Sidney's most ambitious work, was as significant in its own way as his sonnets. The work is a romance that combines pastoral elements with a mood derived from the Hellenistic model of Heliodorus. In the work, that is, a highly idealized version of the shepherd's life adjoins (not always naturally) with stories of jousts, political treachery, kidnappings, battles, and rapes. As published in the sixteenth century, the narrative follows the Greek model: stories are nested within each other, and different story-lines are intertwined. The work enjoyed great popularity for more than a century after its publication.
A Defence of Poesy (1595)
Sidney. This tract was least partly motivated by Stephen Gosson, a former playwright who dedicated his attack on the English stage, The School of Abuse, to Sidney in 1579, but Sidney primarily addresses more general objections to poetry, such as those of Plato. In his essay, Sidney integrates a number of classical and Italian precepts on fiction. The essence of his defense is that poetry, by combining the liveliness of history with the ethical focus of philosophy, is more effective than either history or philosophy in rousing its readers to virtue. The work also offers important comments on Edmund Spenser and the Elizabethan stage.
Only the poet, disdaining to be tied to any such subjection, lifted up with the vigor of his own invention, doth grow, in effect, into another nature, in making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature, as the heroes, demi-gods, cyclops, chimeras, furies, and such like; so as he goeth hand in hand with nature, not enclosed within the narrow warrant of her gifts, but freely ranging within the zodiac of his own wit. Nature never set forth the earth in so rich tapestry as divers poets have done; neither with pleasant rivers, fruitful trees, sweet-smelling flowers, nor whatsoever else may make the too-much-loved earth more lovely; her world is brazen, the poets only deliver a golden.
SIdney, A Defence of Poesy (1595)
John Webster (c. 1578 - c. 1634)
English Jacobean dramatist, a late contemporary of William Shakespeare and author of The White Devil (1612) and The Duchess of Malfi (1616)
The Duchess of Malfi (1616)
The play is set in the court of Malfi (now Amalfi), Italy over the period 1504 to 1510. The Duchess, recently widowed, falls in love with Antonio, but her brothers, not wishing her to share their inheritance, forbid her from remarrying. However, she secretly marries Antonio and bears him several children.
The Duchess's lunatic and incestuously-obsessed brother Ferdinand threatens and disowns her. In an attempt to escape, the Duchess and Antonio concoct a story that Antonio has swindled her out of her fortune and has to flee into exile. She takes Bosola into her confidence, not knowing that he is the Cardinal's spy, and arranges that he will deliver her jewellery to Antonio at his hiding-place in Ancona. She will join them later, whilst pretending to make a pilgrimage to a town nearby. The Cardinal hears of the plan, instructs Bosola to banish the two lovers, and sends soldiers to capture them. Antonio escapes with their eldest son, but the Duchess, her maid and her two younger children are returned to Malfi and executed by Bosola. This experience, combined with a long-standing sense of injustice, turns Bosola against the Cardinal and his brother. Antonio, meanwhile, obtains a pardon from the Pope.
The Cardinal confesses to his mistress Julia his part in the killing of the Duchess, and then murders her to silence her. Next, Bosola overhears the Cardinal plotting to kill him, and so visits the darkened chapel to kill the Cardinal at his prayers. Instead, he mistakenly kills Antonio, who has just returned to Malfi to attempt a reconciliation with the Cardinal. Ferdinand, who by this time has gone mad, stabs the Cardinal, who dies. In the brawl that follows, Ferdinand and Bosola stab each other to death.
Antonio's elder son by the Duchess appears in the final scene, and takes his place as the heir to the Malfi fortune.
The Shepheardes Calendar (1579)
Edmund Spenser. In emulation of Virgil's first work, the Eclogues, Spenser wrote this series of pastorals to begin his career. However, Spenser's models were rather the Renaissance eclogues of Mantuanus. The title, like the entire work, is written using deliberately archaic spellings, in order to suggest a connection to medieval literature, and to Geoffrey Chaucer in particular. In sum, it's a pastoral allegory.
The poem introduces Colin Clout, a folk character originated by John Skelton, and depicts his life as a shepherd through the twelve months of the year alongside Hobbinol and Rosalind. The Calender encompasses considerable formal innovations, anticipating the even more virtuosic Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia (The "Old" Arcadia, 1580), the classic pastoral romance by Sir Philip Sidney, with whom Spenser was acquainted. It is also r
The Faerie Queene (1590-6)
Spenser. A long allegory, in the epic form, of Christian virtues, tied into England's mythology of King Arthur. Spenser intended to complete twelve books of the poem, but managed only six before his death.
In The Faerie Queene, Spenser creates an allegory: The characters of his far-off, fanciful "Faerie Land" are meant to have a symbolic meaning in the real world. Major characters include Britomart, Belphoebe, Duessa, ArchimagoRedcrosse,artegall, and Una.
Spenser's sonnet cycle, composed of 89 sonnets; published alongside the Epithalamion. Amoretti breaks with conventional love poetry in a number of ways. In most sonnet sequences in the Petrarchan tradition, the speaker yearns for a lover who is sexually unavailable. Not only is there a conflict between spiritual and physical love, but the love object is often already married; it is an adulterous love. "Spenser's innovation was to dedicate an entire sequence to a woman he could honorably win". Elizabeth Boyle was an unmarried woman, and their love affair eventually ended in marriage. Spenser employed an a-b-a-b, b-c-b-c, c-d-c-d, e-e rhyme scheme that has not been particularly popular.
Spenser's "Epithalamion" is a wedding song derived from Latin originals' published alongside the Amoretti. The epithalamion is composed in 24 immensely complex 18-line stanzas whose rhyme schemes vary but use Spenser's typical concatenation strategy to link each stage of the stanza together.
Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part,
Nay, I have done: you get no more of me,
And I am glad, yea glad with all my heart,
That thus so cleanly I myself can free.
Shake hands for ever, cancel all our vows,
And when we meet at any time again
Be it not seen in either of our brows
That we one jot of former love retain.
Now at the last gasp of Love's latest breath,
When his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies,
When Faith is kneeling by his bed of death,
And Innocence is closing up his eyes,
Now, if thou wouldst, when all have given him over,
From death to life thou might'st him yet recover.
Michael Drayton (1563-1631), "Since there's no help, come let us kiss and part". A Shakespearean sonnet not by Shakespeare has a good chance of being this one
Marlowe's bombastic early play about the rise of a Turkish shepherd to become an emperor
Characters: Mycetes, Cosroe, Tamburlaine, Bazajet, Zenocrate
"Hero and Leander" (1598)
NB that George Chapman, compiling the poem after M's death, supplied a traditional ending in which Leander is drowned.
Marlowe's epyllion (little epic) relates the Greek legend of Hero and Leander, youths living in cities on opposite sides of the Hellespont, a narrow body of water in what is now northwestern Turkey. Hero is a priestess or devotee of Venus (goddess of love and beauty) in Sestos, who lives in chastity despite being devoted to the goddess of love. At a festival in honor of her deity, Venus and Adonis, she is seen by Leander, a youth from Abydos on the opposite side of the Hellespont. Leander falls in love with her, and she reciprocates, although cautiously, as she has made a vow of chastity to Venus.
Leander convinces her to abandon her fears. Hero lives in a high tower overlooking the water; he asks her to light a lamp in her window, and he promises to swim the Hellespont each night to be with her. She complies. On his first night's swim, Leander is spotted by Neptune (Roman god of the sea), who confuses him with Ganymede and carries him to the bottom of the ocean. Discovering his mistake, the god returns him to shore with a bracelet supposed to keep him safe from drowning. Leander emerges from the Hellespont, finds Hero's tower and knocks on the door, which Hero then opens to find him standing stark naked. She lets him "whisper in her ear, / Flatter, entreat, promise, protest, and swear," and after a series of coy, half-hearted attempts to "defend the fort" she yields to bliss. The poem breaks off as dawn is breaking.
Doctor Faustus (ca. 1594)
Draws on the German Faustbook; the largely episodic story follows the scholar Faustus turning to necromancy after learning all other subjects, using his magic to resurrect Helen, slip in on a banquet between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, and other pranks. Faustus runs out of time on earth, refuses to repent (despite the protestations of his "good angel), and is taken to Hell.
Seven Deadly Sins
When Charles II came to the throne in 1660, the sense of novelty in all forms of literature was tempered by a sense of suddenly participating in European literature in a way that England had not before. One of Charles's first moves to was reopen the theaters and to establish Letters patent and mandates for the theater owners and managers. William Davenant received one of the patents, and Thomas Killigrew received the other. Drama was public and a matter of royal concern, and therefore both theaters were charged with producing a certain number of old plays, and Davenant was charged with presenting material that would be morally uplifting. Additionally, the position of Poet Laureate was recreated, complete with payment by a barrel of "sack" (brandy), and the requirement for birthday odes.The general first reaction to Charles's return was for authors to move in two directions. On the one hand, there was an attempt at recovering the English literature of the Jacobean period, as if there had been no disruption, but, on the other, there was a powerful sense of novelty, and authors approached Gallic models of literature and elevated the literature of wit (particularly satire and parody). The novelty would show in the literature of skeptical inquiry, and the Gallicism would show in the introduction of Neo-classicism into English writing and criticism.
Forms other than the lyric, such as the ode or pastoral poetry, became popular. Formally, the Restoration period had a preferred rhyme scheme. Rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter was by far the most popular structure for poetry of all types. Neo-Classicism meant that poets attempted adaptations of Classical meters, but the rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter held a near monopoly. According to Dryden ("Preface to The Conquest of Grenada"), the rhyming couplet in iambic pentameter has the right restraint and dignity for a lofty subject, and its rhyme allowed for a complete, coherent statment to be made. Dryden was struggling with the issue of what later critics in the Augustan period would call "decorum": the fitness of form to subject (q.v. Dryden Epic). It is the same struggle that Davenant faced in his Gondibert. Dryden's solution was a closed couplet in iambic pentameter that would have a minimum of enjambment. This form was called the "heroic couplet," because it was suitable for heroic subjects. Additionally, the age also developed the mock-heroic couplet. After 1672 and Samuel Butler's Hudibras, iambic tetrameter couplets with unusual or unexpected rhymes became known as "Hudibrastic verse." It was a formal parody of heroic verse, and it was primarily used for satire. Jonathan Swift would use the Hudibrastic form almost exclusively for his poetry.
The Rivals (1775)
Note: the character Mrs. Malaprop is the origin of malapropism, the unintentionally humorous misuse or distortion of a word.
Setting: Bath, a town legendary for conspicuous consumption and fashion at the time.
Plot: The plot centres around two characters: Lydia Languish and Captain Jack Absolute. Lydia is obsessed with the romantic ideals of love she reads in popular novels of the time, and is drawn into a relationship with Captain Absolute, who pretends to be a poor soldier called Ensign Beverly. Lydia finds the idea of eloping with a poor soldier romantic. In reality, Captain Absolute is a rich gentleman, the son of Sir Anthony Absolute. Both Sir Anthony and Mrs Malaprop, Lydia's aunt, want to prevent their secret romance. Mrs Malaprop wants Lydia to marry for financial reasons.
The marriage arranged by Sir Anthony is, in fact, with Lydia, but when Lydia finds out who Ensign Beverly really is, she refuses to marry him, clinging to her romantic notions of eloping with a poor soldier.
Faulkland, who is a close friend of Jack, falls in love with Julia, Sir Anthony's ward. However, he has irrational doubts about Julia's love for him and eventually decides to test her love. Julia rejects him.
Bob Acres decides to fight a duel against the fictional Ensign Beverly, and Sir Lucius O'Trigger wants to duel against Jack Absolute. Lydia stops the fight at the prospect of Jack's death and admits that she loves him and Julia forgives Faulkland.
She Stoops to Conquer (1773)
The hero is Charles Marlow, a wealthy young man who is being forced by his family to consider a potential bride whom he has never met. He is anxious about meeting her, because he suffers from shyness and can only behave naturally with women of a lower class. He sets out with a friend to travel to the home of his prospective in-laws, the Hardcastles, but they become lost on the road.
While the bride-to-be is awaiting his arrival, her half-brother, Tony Lumpkin (one of literature's great comic characters), while out riding, comes across the two strangers, and, realising their identity, plays a practical joke by telling them that they are a long way from their destination and will have to stay overnight at an inn. The "inn" he directs them to is in fact the home of his parents. When they arrive, their hosts, who have been expecting them, go out of their way to make them welcome. However, the two men, believing themselves in a hostel, behave rudely.
Meanwhile, Tony's sister, Kate, learning of the error and also acquainted with her suitor's shyness, masquerades as a serving-maid in order to get to know him. He falls in love with her and plans to elope with her. Needless to say, all misunderstandings are sorted out in the end, and Charles and Kate live happily ever after.
Love's Last Shift, or, Virtue Rewarded (1696)
Love's Last Shift is the story of a last "shift" or trick that a virtuous wife, Amanda, is driven to in order to reform and retain her out-of-control rakish husband Loveless. Loveless has been away for ten years, dividing his time between the brothel and the bottle, and no longer recognizes his wife when he returns to London. Acting the part of a high-class prostitute, Amanda inveigles Loveless into her luxurious house and treats him to the night of his dreams, confessing her true identity in the morning. Loveless is so impressed by her faithfulness that he immediately becomes a reformed character.
Periodical published by Daniel Defoe (1704-13)
Periodical published by Samuel Johnson (1750-2)
Periodical published by Jonathan Swift (1710-14)
Periodical published by Richard Steele (1709) before joining with Addison to start The Spectator
The Female Spectator
Periodical published by Eliza Haywood (1750-2)--unusual, as the name suggests, for being run by a woman
Major 18th century periodical run by Joseph Addison and Richard Steele (1711-12)
"Eloisa to Abelard"
Alexander Pope (1717). Ovidian heroic epistle inspired by the 12th century story of Eloisa's (Heloise's) illicit love for, and secret marriage to, her teacher Pierre Abélard, perhaps the most popular teacher and philosopher in Paris, and the brutal vengeance her family exacts when they castrate him, not realizing that the lovers had married.
How happy is the blameless vestal's lot!
The world forgetting, by the world forgot.
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd (207-10)
Cou'd our First Father, at his toilsome Plough,
Thorns in his Path, and Labour on his Brow,
Cloath'd only in a rude, unpolish'd Skin,
Cou'd he a vain Fantastick Nymph have seen,
In all her Airs, in all her antick Graces,
Her various Fashions, and more various Faces;
How had it pos'd that Skill, which late assign'd
Just Appellations to Each several Kind!
A right Idea of the Sight to frame;
T'have guest from what New Element she came;
T'have hit the wav'ring Form, or giv'n this Thing a Name.
Anne Finch (1661-1720), "Adam Pos'd"
NB: In the classic essay A Room of One's Own, Virginia Woolf both critiques Finch's writing and expresses great admiration for it. In Woolf's examination of the "female voice" and her search for the history of female writers, she argues that Finch's writing is "harassed and distracted with hates and grievances," pointing out that to Finch "men are hated and feared, because they have the power to bar her way to what she wants to do--which is to write."
Aphra Behn (1640 - 1689)
Famous for her prose work Oroonoko (1688) and for her comic Restoration dramas such as The Rover (1681) and The Lucky Chance (1686). As well as plays and prose she wrote poetry and translated works from French and Latin.
Aphra Behn. A relatively short novel concerning the grandson of an African king, Prince Oroonoko, who falls in love with Imoinda, the daughter of that king's top general.
The king, too, falls in love with Imoinda. He gives Imoinda the sacred veil, thus commanding her to become one of his wives, even though she was already married to Oroonoko. After unwillingly spending time in the king's harem (the Otan), Imoinda and Oroonoko plan a tryst with the help of the sympathetic Onahal and Aboan. They are eventually discovered, and because she has lost her virginity, Imoinda is sold as a slave. The king's guilt, however, leads him to falsely inform Oroonoko that she has been executed, since death was thought to be better than slavery. Later, after winning another tribal war, Oroonoko is betrayed and captured by an English captain, who planned to sell him and his men as slaves. Both Imoinda and Oroonoko were carried to Surinam, at that time an English colony based on sugarcane plantation in the West Indies. The two lovers are reunited there, under the new Christian names of Caesar and Clemene, even though Imoinda's beauty has attracted the unwanted desires of other slaves and of the Cornish gentleman, Trefry.
Upon Imoinda's pregnancy, Oroonoko petitions for their return to the homeland. But after being continuously ignored, he organizes a slave revolt. The slaves are hunted down by the military forces and compelled to surrender on deputy governor Byam's promise of amnesty. Yet, when the slaves surrender, Oroonoko and the others are punished and whipped. To avenge his honor, and to express his natural worth, Oroonoko decides to kill Byam. But to protect Imoinda from violation and subjugation after his death, he decides to kill her. The two lovers discuss the plan, and with a smile on her face, Imoinda willingly dies by his hand. A few days later, Oroonoko is found mourning by her decapitated body and is kept from killing himself, only to be publicly executed. During his death by dismemberment, Oroonoko calmly smokes a pipe and stoically withstands all the pain without crying out.
The Rover (1681)
Aphra Behn. Based on Thomas Killigrew's play Thomaso, or The Wanderer (1664), The Rover features multiple plot lines, dealing with the amorous adventures of a group of Englishmen in Naples at Carnival time.
The "rover" of the play's title is Willmore, a rakish naval captain, who falls in love with a young woman named Hellena, who has set out to experience love before her brother sends her to a convent. Complications arise when Angellica Bianca, a famous courtesan, falls in love with Willmore and swears revenge on him for his betrayal.
Meanwhile, Hellena's sister Florinda attempts to marry her true love, Colonel Belvile, rather than the man her brother has selected. The third major plot of the play deals with the provincial Blunt, who becomes convinced that a girl has fallen in love with him but is humiliated when she turns out to be a prostitute and a thief.
The Lucky Chance (1686)
Characters: Sir Feeble Fainwould, Sir Cautious Fulbank, Mr Gayman, Mr. Belmour, Mr. Bearjest, Capt. Noisy, Mr. Bredwel, Rag, Julia, Lady Fulbank, Leticia, Diana, Pert, Gammer Grime
Plot: Harry Bellmour, having killed his man in a duel, flies to Brussels,
perforce leaving behind him Leticia, to whom he is affianced. During his
absence Sir Feeble Fainwou'd, a doting old alderman and his rival,
having procured his pardon from the King to prevent it being granted if
applied for a second time, and keeping this stratagem secret, next
forges a letter as if from the Hague which describes in detail
Bellmour's execution for killing a toper during a tavern brawl. He then
plies his suit with such ardour that Leticia, induced by poverty and
wretchedness, reluctantly consents to marry him. On the wedding morning
Bellmour returns in disguise and intercepts a letter that conveys news
of the arrival of Sir Feeble's nephew, Frank, whom his uncle has never
seen. The lover straightway resolves to personate the expected
newcomer, and he is assisted in his design by his friend Gayman, a town
gallant, who having fallen into dire need is compelled to lodge, under
the name of Wasteall, with a smith in Alsatia. His estate has been
mortgaged to an old banker, Sir Cautious Fulbank, whose wife Julia he
loves, and to her he pretends to have gone to Northamptonshire to his
uncle's death bed.... (plot is complex, but I won't need to know it all)
All For Love (1677)
Heroic drama by John Dryden, a tragedy written in blank verse and an attempt on Dryden's part to reinvigorate serious drama. It is an acknowledged imitation of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, and focuses on the last hours of the lives of its hero and heroine. Combining the unities of classical theatre and the style of Shakespearean drama, Dryden creates an elaborately formal production in which fashionable philosophies of the time could be discussed and debated in a public atmosphere.
Any play in heroic couplets that mentions Ant. or Cleo. is a likely candidate for this one
John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester (1647-80)
Noted for his shockingly graphic sexual poems, he is considered a good example of the "court wits" that surrounded Charles II, as well as an indicator of the decadence of the Restoration. His major work is the poem "Upon Nothing."
Rochester's poetic work varies widely in form, genre, and content. He was part of a "mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease", who continued to produce their poetry in manuscripts, rather than in publication. As a consequence, some of Rochester's work deals with topical concerns, such as satires of courtly affairs in libels, to parodies of the styles of his contemporaries, such as Sir Charles Scroope.The majority of his poetry was not published under his name until after his death. Because most of his poems circulated only in manuscript form during his lifetime, it is likely that much of his writing does not survive.Rochester was also interested in the theatre. In addition to an interest in the actresses, he wrote an adaptation of Fletcher's Valentinian (1685), a scene for Sir Robert Howard's The Conquest of China, a prologue to Elkanah Settle's The Empress of Morocco (1673), and epilogues to Sir Francis Fane's Love in the Dark (1675) and Charles Davenant's Circe, a Tragedy (1677).
Rochester. Most of his poems are heroic couplets (rhyming iambic pentameter), but "Upon Nothing" is composed of three-line stanzas, two pentameter lines and a hexameter, rhyming aaa (look for this distinctive pattern).
Characters: Various allegorical characters ("Upon Nothing") are mixed with court and town types (the Debauchee, the Postboy, the courtiers and pimps, "courtesans" and open prostitutes) who made the Restoration court a famous and notorious place. His more ribald poems openly name members of the court known to have engaged in licentious sexual conduct
French truth, Dutch prowess, British policy,
Hibernian learning, Scotch civility,
Spaniard's dispatch, Dane's wit are mainly seen in thee.
The great man's gratitude to his best friend,
King's promises, whore's vows, towards thee they bend,
Flow swiftly to thee, and in thee never end.
Rochester, "Upon Nothing"--it's the riddling answer to this list. Note Rochester's satiric edge
Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
Swift is considered the foremost prose satirist in the English language, although he is also well known for his poetry and essays. Gulliver's Travels will appear on your exam, and A Modest Proposal is highly likely, as are some of his shorter poems.
NOTE: Swift was also a clergyman, and became Dean of St. Patrick's in Dublin--this image of the satiric Dean is alluded to in a poem by Swift himself (!) about what people might say about him after his own death
A Modest Proposal (1729)
Swift (in a sustained persona) argues, through economic reasoning as well as a self-righteous moral stance, for a way to turn the problem of squalor among the Catholics in Ireland into its own solution. The work is perhaps the best example of Juvenalian satire.
His proposal is to fatten up the undernourished children and feed them to Ireland's rich land-owners. Children of the poor could be sold into a meat market at the age of one thus combating overpopulation and unemployment, sparing families the expense of child-bearing while providing them with a little extra income, improving the culinary experience of the wealthy, and contributing to the overall economic well-being of the nation. He offers statistical support for his assertions and gives specific data about the number of children to be sold, their weight and price, and the projected consumption patterns. He suggests some recipes for preparing this delicious new meat, and he feels sure that innovative cooks will be quick to generate more. He also anticipates that the practice of selling and eating children will have positive effects on family morality: husbands will treat their wives with more respect, and parents will value their children in ways hitherto unknown. His conclusion is that the implementation of this project will do more to solve Ireland's complex social, political, and economic problems than any other measure that has been proposed.
Tale of a Tub (1704)
Swift; a prose parody which is divided into sections of "digression" and a "tale" of three brothers, each representing one of the main branches of western Christianity. The "tale," or narrative, is an allegory that concerns the adventures of three brothers, Peter, Martin, and Jack, as they attempt to make their way in the world. Each of the brothers represents one of the primary branches of Christianity in the west. This part of the book is a pun on "tub," which Alexander Pope says was a common term for a pulpit, and a reference to Swift's own position as a clergyman. Peter (named for Saint Peter) stands in for the Roman Catholic Church. Jack (who Swift connects to "Jack of Leyden") represents the various dissenting Protestant churches whose modern descendants would include the Baptists, Presbyterians, Quakers, Mennonites, and the assorted Charismatic churches. The third brother, middle born and middle standing, is Martin (named for Martin Luther), who Swift uses to represent the 'via media' of the Church of England. The brothers have inherited three wonderfully satisfactory coats (representing religious practice) by their father (representing God), and they have his will (representing the Bible) to guide them. Although the will says that the brothers are forbidden from making any changes to their coats, they do nearly nothing but alter their coats from the start. Inasmuch as the will represents the Bible and the coat represents the practice of Christianity, the allegory of the narrative is supposed to be an apology for the British church's refusal to alter its practice in accordance with Puritan demands and its continued resistance to alliance with the Roman church.
Samuel Butler (1613-80).
The work is a mock-heroic satirical polemic upon Roundheads, Puritans, Presbyterians and many of the other factions involved in the English Civil War. The work was written in three parts in 1663, 1664 and 1678 although an unauthorised edition came out in 1662.
Published only four years after Charles II had been restored to the throne and the Protectorate of Oliver Cromwell being completely over the poem found an appreciative audience. The satire is not balanced as Butler was fiercely royalist and only the parliamentarian side are singled out for ridicule. Butler also uses the work to parody some of the dreadful poetry of the time.
The epic tells the story of Sir Hudibras, a knight errant who is described dramatically and with laudatory praise that is so thickly applied to be absurd and the conceited and arrogant person is visible beneath. He is praised for his knowledge of logic despite appearing stupid throughout, but it his religious fervour which is mainly attacked
For his Religion, it was fit
To match his learning and his wit;
'Twas Presbyterian true blue;
For he was of that stubborn crew
Of errant saints, whom all men grant
To be the true Church Militant;
Such as do build their faith upon
The holy text of pike and gun;
Decide all controversies by
And prove their doctrine orthodox
By apostolic blows and knocks;
Call fire and sword and desolation,
A godly thorough reformation,
Which always must be carried on,
And still be doing, never done;
As if religion were intended
For nothing else but to be mended.
Butler, Hudibras (1684). Note the use of heroic couplets and a high, lofty style to represent contemporary controversy.
The knight and his squire sally forth and come upon some people bear-baiting. After deciding that this is anti-Christian they attack the baiters and capture one after defeating the bear. The defeated group of bear-baiters then rallies and renews the attack capturing the knight and his squire. While in the stock the pair argue on religion.
Part Two describes how the knight's imprisoned condition is reported by Fame to a widow Hudibras has been wooing and she comes to see him. With a captive audience, she complains that he does not really love her and he ends up promising to flagellate himself if she frees him. Once free he regrets his promise and debates with Ralpho how to avoid his fate with Ralpho suggesting that oath breaking is next to saintliness:
Hudibras then tries to convince Rapho of the nobility of accepting the beating in his stead but he declines the offer. They are interrupted by a skimmington, a procession where women are celebrated and men made fools. After haranguing the crowd for their lewdness, the knight is pelted with rotten eggs and chased away.
He decides to visit an astrologer, Sidrophel, to ask him how he should woo the widow but they get into an argument and after a fight the knight and squire run off in different directions believing they have killed Sidrophel.
Part Three picks up from where the second left off with Hudibras going to the widow's house to explain the details of the whipping he had promised to give himself but Ralpho had got there first and told her what had actually happened. Suddenly a group rushes in and gives him a beating and supposing them to be spirits from Sidrophel, rather then hired by the widow, confesses his sins and by extension the sins of the Puritans. Hudibras then visits a lawyer—the profession Butler trained in and one he is well able to satirise—who convinces him to write a letter to the widow. The poem ends with their exchange of letters in which the knight's arguments are rebuffed by the widow
Before the visit to the lawyer there is a digression of an entire canto in which much fun is had at the events after Oliver Cromwell's death. The succession of his son Richard Cromwell and the squabbles of factions such as the Fifth Monarchists are told with no veil of fiction and no mention of Sir Hudibras.
An informal group of friends that included Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, John Gay, John Arbuthnot, and Thomas Parnell. Robert Harley, 1st Earl of Oxford and Mortimer occasionally joined the club for meetings, though he is not known to have contributed to any of their literary work. The club began as a project of satirizing the abuses of learning wherever they might be found, which led to The Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus. The second edition of Pope's The Dunciad also contains work attributed to Martinus Scriblerus.
What needs my Shakespear for his honour'd Bones,
The labour of an age in piled Stones,
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a Star- ypointing Pyramid ?
Dear son of memory , great heir of Fame,
What need'st thou such weak witnes of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thy self a live-long Monument.
For whilst to th' shame of slow- endeavouring art,
Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalu'd Book,
Those Delphick lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of it self bereaving,
Dost make us Marble with too much conceaving ;
And so Sepulcher'd in such pomp dost lie,
That Kings for such a Tomb would wish to die.
Milton, "On Shakespeare". Cf. Jonson's verses on Shakespeare, which express similar sentiments
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He returning chide,
"Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?"
I fondly ask; But patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies "God doth not need
Either man's work or his own gifts. Who best
Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state
Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.
Milton, "When I consider.../ On His Blindness" (1652). An Italian sonnet; NB octet and sestet
Of Education (1644)
Milton's contribution to contemporary debate about methods of education, which in turn was part of a larger discussion about how the Church should be organized and how the State should be governed. In substance, Milton's tractate generally agrees with the humanistic theory of education that grew up in Western Europe during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, under the impulse of the Revival of Learning. This theory is marked by two or three outstanding characteristics, all of which are prominent in Milton's treatise. One of these is a clearer consciousness, among teachers and students, of education as a discipline for active life. A second is an insistence upon the more extensive reading of ancient writers, both classical and Christian, as the principal means of securing this discipline. A third characteristic is an attitude of severe and often hostile criticism toward medieval education and culture.
Samson Agonistes (1671)
In this closet drama Milton re-tells the story of the Hebrew hero Samson from the Book of Judges in the Bible. The play concentrates on Samson after he had been betrayed by his wife Delilah, was blinded and held prisoner by the Philistines, the enemies of the Hebrews. Samson resists the temptation to become despondent and, having re-gained his strength by allowing his hair to grow after the Philistines had cut it, destroyed the leadership of the Philistines by pulling a large building down on them and himself.
Blind mouthes! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A Sheep-hook, or have learn'd ought els the least
That to the faithfull Herdmans art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel Pipes of wretched straw,
The hungry Sheep look up, and are not fed,
But swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim Woolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing sed,
But that two-handed engine at the door,
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.
Milton, "Lycidas" (1637). While mostly a pastoral elegy in blank verse commemorating classmate Edward King, the poem also launches this attack on the church government of Milton's own time.
Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old,
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones;
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piedmontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O'er all th' Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant; that from these may grow
A hundred-fold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.
Milton, "On the Late Massacre in Piedmont" (1655)
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heav'n's eternal King,
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
Milton, "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" (1629)
A school of English poets of the 17th century, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the English Civil War. Much of their poetry is light in style, and generally secular in subject. They were different in their lifestyle and religion from the Roundheads, who supported Parliament and were against the Royalists.
∑ Ben Jonson
∑ Robert Herrick
∑ Edward Herbert
∑ Thomas Carew
∑ James Shirley
∑ Mildmay Fane
∑ Edmund Waller
∑ Sir John Suckling
∑ Richard Lovelace
∑ Abraham Cowley
Most of the Cavalier poets were courtiers, with notable exceptions. For example, Robert Herrick was not a courtier, but his style marks him as a Cavalier poet.
Frequently characterized as existing in opposition to the metaphysical poets, concerned less with this latter group's interest in psychological depth than with wit and style
A term coined by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, whose work was characterized by the inventive use of conceits, and by speculation about topics such as love or religion. Reacting against the deliberately smooth and sweet tones of much 16th-century verse, the metaphysical poets adopted a style that is energetic, uneven, and rigorous. (Johnson decried its roughness and violation of decorum, the deliberate mixture of different styles.) It has also been labelled the 'poetry of strong lines'. In his important essay, 'The Metaphysical Poets' (1921), which helped bring the poetry of Donne and his contemporaries back into favour, T. S. ELIOT argued that their work fuses reason with passion; it shows a unification of thought and feeling which later became separated into a 'dissociation of sensibility'."
John Donne (1572-1631)
George Herbert (1593-1633)
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
Abraham Cowley (1618-1667)
Robert Southwell (c. 1561-1595)
Richard Crashaw (c. 1613-1649)
Thomas Traherne (1636 or 1637 - 1674)
Henry Vaughan (1622-1695)
Often contrasted with the more style-conscious and witty cavalier poets (though as you can see from the cards, there is some overlap)
Thomas Carew (1595-1640)
A Cavalier poet known for Poems By Thomas Carew, Esquire, a collection of lyrics, songs, pastorals, poetic dialogues, elegies, addresses, and occasional poems. Major works are "The Rapture", an Elegy for Donne, and the country-house poem "To Saxham"
The Muses' garden, with pedantic weeds
O'erspread, was purg'd by thee ; the lazy seeds
Of servile imitation thrown away,
And fresh invention planted ; thou didst pay
The debts of our penurious bankrupt age
Carew, Elegy on the Death of Donne. NB the sense that Donne revolutionized the world of poetry
Come then, my Celia, we'll no more forbear
To taste our joys, struck with a panic fear,
But will depose from his imperious sway
This proud usurper, and walk as free as they,
With necks unyoked ; nor is it just that he
Should fetter your soft sex with chastity,
Whom Nature made unapt for abstinence ;
When yet this false impostor can dispense
With human justice and with sacred right,
And, maugre both their laws, command me fight
With rivals or with emulous loves that dare
Equal with thine their mistress' eyes or hair.
If thou complain of wrong, and call my sword
To carve out thy revenge, upon that word
He bids me fight and kill ; or else he brands
With marks of infamy my coward hands.
And yet religion bids from blood-shed fly,
And damns me for that act. Then tell me why
This goblin Honour, which the world adores,
Should make men atheists, and not women whores?
Carew, "A Rapture". Note the libertine tone and call for sexual freedom combined with a darker undertone of the real harm of social norms
In this play by Jonson, Volpone fakes a long illness to pique the expectations of all who aspire to his fortune. Mosca tells each of them, Voltore, Corbaccio, and Corvino, in their turns, that they are to be named Volpone's heir, thanks to Mosca's influence. Mosca then announces Volpone's impending death. The hopeful heirs shower Volpone with gifts. Corbaccio disinherits his own son in Volpone's favour; Corvino offers Volpone his wife. Complications ensue, and just as Volpone is about to be outsmarted by Mosca, he reveals all in open court and the characters are punished according to their crime and station.
GET up, get up for shame, the blooming morn
Upon her wings presents the god unshorn.
See how Aurora throws her fair
Fresh-quilted colours through the air:
Get up, sweet slug-a-bed, and see
The dew bespangling herb and tree.
Herrick, "Corinna's Going A-Maying" (in Hesperides, 1648). The same carpe diem theme as the more famous "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"
FOR God's sake hold your tongue, and let me love ;
Or chide my palsy, or my gout ;
My five gray hairs, or ruin'd fortune flout ;
With wealth your state, your mind with arts improve ;
Take you a course, get you a place,
Observe his Honour, or his Grace ;
Or the king's real, or his stamp'd face
Contemplate ; what you will, approve,
So you will let me love.
Donne, "The Canonization" (in Songs and Sonnets 1633). Exemplary of the young Donne's wit and irony; note, of course, the English sonnet form as an identifier
Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?
Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thou
Find'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.
'Tis true ; then learn how false fears be ;
Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,
Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.
Donne, "The Flea" (in Songs and Sonnets 1633). Exemplary of the young Donne's wit and irony
BUSY old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run ?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices ;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Donne, "The Sun Rising" (in Songs and Sonnets 1633). Exemplary of the young Donne's wit and irony, in contrast with the later Holy Sonnets. NB this parody of the epic invocation
Batter my heart, three-person'd God ; for you
As yet but knock ; breathe, shine, and seek to mend ;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
But am betroth'd unto your enemy ;
Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
Donne, "Batter My Heart, Three-Person'd God" (in Holy Sonnets, 1633), characteristic of the older Donne. NB it uses the same English sonnet form as D's earlier poetry to a much different end
And new philosophy calls all in doubt,
The element of fire is quite put out,
The sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit
Can well direct him where to look for it.
And freely men confess that this world's spent,
When in the planets and the firmament
They seek so many new; they see that this
Is crumbled out again to his atomies.
Donne, "Anatomy of the World"
WHERE, like a pillow on a bed,
A pregnant bank swell'd up, to rest
The violet's reclining head,
Sat we two, one another's best.
Our hands were firmly cemented
By a fast balm, which thence did spring ;
Our eye-beams twisted, and did thread
Our eyes upon one double string.
Donne, "The Ecstasy"
As lines, so loves oblique may well
Themselves in every angle greet;
But ours so truly parallel,
Though infinite, can never meet.
Therefore the love which us doth bind,
But Fate so enviously debars,
Is the conjunction of the mind,
And opposition of the stars.
Marvell, "The Definition of Love" (1681). NB iambic tetrameter alternating rhymes (abab)--not as common as, say, pentameter rhyming couplets, so use this as an identifier
Just Heav'n Thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with Prophesie thy loss of Sight.
Well might thou scorn thy Readers to allure
With tinkling Rhime, of thy own Sense secure;
While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells,
And like a Pack-Horse tires without his Bells.
Their Fancies like our bushy Points appear,
The Poets tag them; we for fashion wear.
I too transported by the Mode offend,
And while I meant to Praise thee, must Commend.
Thy verse created like thy Theme sublime,
In Number, Weight, and Measure, needs not Rhime.
Marvell, "On Mr. Milton's Paradise Lost" (1681). NB the reference to Milton's mighty blank verse, a stark contrast to the rhyming couplets of most of their shared contemporaries
"An Horatian Ode: Upon Cromwell's Return from Ireland" (1681)
Marvell; sets up the praise of the de-facto dictatorial ruler of England in terms that allow Marvell to put his deeds in context with the inexorable political realities which the Parliamentary cause hoped to outwit. Most impressive, for this political climate, are Marvell's ability to praise Charles I's conduct in defeat and to caution against English patriotic fervor after the end of the Irish uprising. The poem is a continuous effort to balance current appearances against the message of time and the poetic tradition. In short, the poem constantly contrasts Charles and Cromwell without clearly favouring either (and even noting salient similarities between them)
George Herbert (1593-1633)
Herbert's poems are characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility, and an ingenious use of imagery or conceits that was favored by the metaphysical school of poets. They include almost every known form of song and poem, but they also reflect Herbert's concern with speech--conversational, persuasive, proverbial. Carefully arranged in related sequences, the poems explore and celebrate the ways of God's love as Herbert discovered them within the fluctuations of his own experience. Look also for any pattern poems--sure to be Herbert
I STRUCK the board, and cry'd, No more ;
I will abroad.
What ? shall I ever sigh and pine ?
My lines and life are free ; free as the rode,
Loose as the winde, as large as store.
Shall I be still in suit ?
Herbert, "The Collar" (in The Temple, 1633). Note the disjointed style and especially the quality of vexed dialogue between the self and the divine--this is very similar to the one on the practice test
A commentary that follows a reading of scripture
A brief, interesting, memorable, and sometimes surprising or satirical statement
A succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or (sometimes) a normative principle
Richard Lovelace (1618-1657)
English poet and nobleman, one of the cavalier poets, and a noted royalist. He was imprisoned briefly in 1648 for supporting the Royalists during the time of Oliver Cromwell. He was best known for his poems "To Althea," "from Prison" and "To Lucasta, on Going to the Wars." Anything to do with these mistress' names or an image of heroic, persecuted nobility and masculinity is likely to be Lovelace
From hence, ye beauties undeceived,
Know, one false step is ne'er retrieved,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize;
Nor all that glisters, gold.
Thomas Gray, "On The Death Of A Favourite Cat, Drowned In A Tub Of Gold Fishes"; the poem is about a real cat, Selima, belonging to Horace Walpole, that drowned in a giant china pitcher of goldfish
'Ruin seize thee, ruthless King!
Confusion on thy banners wait,
Tho' fanned by Conquest's crimson wing
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm, nor Hauberk's twisted mail,
Nor even thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
From Cambria'sÊ curse, from Cambria's tears!'
Such were the sounds, that o'er the crested pride
Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay,
As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side
He wound with toilsome march his long array.
Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance:
'To arms!' cried Mortimer, and couch'd his quiv'ring lance.
Thomas Gray, "The Bard" ( ). NB that this long Pindaric ode is on the same rebellion and conflict dramatized by Marlowe in Edward II
Awake, Aeolian lyre, awake,
And give to rapture all thy trembling strings.
From Helicon's harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take:
The laughing flowers that round them blow
Drink life and fragrance as they flow.
Now the rich stream of Music winds along,
Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong,
Thro' verdant vales, and Ceres' golden reign;
Now rolling down the steep amain,
Headlong, impetuous, see it pour;
The rocks and nodding groves re-bellow to the roar.
Thomas Gray, "The Progress of Poesy", a Pindaric ode.
A poem in praise of a remarkable individual; in Pindar, usually a sporting victor, but the form is adapted by English poets to celebrate all kinds of people/events
Pindaric odes were performed with a chorus and dancers, and often composed to celebrate athletic victories. They contain a formal opening, or strophe, of complex metrical structure, followed by an antistrophe, which mirrors the opening, and an epode, the final closing section of a different length and composed with a different metrical structure.
e.g. Gray's "The Bard" and "The Progress of Poesy"
The Horatian ode, named for the Roman poet Horace, is generally more tranquil and contemplative than the Pindaric ode. Less formal, less ceremonious, and better suited to quiet reading than theatrical production, the Horatian ode typically uses a regular, recurrent stanza pattern.
e.g. Marvell's Ode on Cromwell's Return from Ireland
Robert Blair (1699-1746)
Blair published only three poems. One was a commemoration of his father-in-law and another was a translation. His reputation rests entirely on his third work, The Grave (1743), which is a poem written in blank verse on the subject of death and the graveyard. Significant chiefly as one of the "graveyard poets" (in the event I'm asked to distinguish them from other authors and his name comes up)
A group of English poets who all lived in the Lake District of England at the turn of the nineteenth century. As a group, they followed no single "school" of thought or literary practice then known, although their works were uniformly disparaged by the Edinburgh Review. They are considered part of the Romantic Movement. The three main figures of what has become known as the Lakes School are William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Robert Southey. They were associated with several other poets and writers, including Dorothy Wordsworth, Charles Lloyd, Hartley Coleridge, John Wilson, and Thomas De Quincey.
William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
Major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads.
Other GRE-friendly works: the Lucy poems, Tintern Abbey, The (unfinished) Prelude, Ode: Intimations of Immortality
The principal object, then, proposed in these Poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life, and to relate or describe them, throughout, as far as was possible in a selection of language really used by men, and, at the same time, to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination, whereby ordinary things should be presented to the mind in an unusual aspect; and, further, and above all, to make these incidents and situations interesting by tracing in them, truly though not ostentatiously, the primary laws of our nature: chiefly, as far as regards the manner in which we associate ideas in a state of excitement. Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language; because in that condition of life our elementary feelings coexist in a state of greater simplicity, and, consequently, may be more accurately contemplated, and more forcibly communicated; because the manners of rural life germinate from those elementary feelings, and, from the necessary character of rural occupations, are more easily comprehended, and are more durable; and, lastly, because in that condition the passions of men are incorporated with the beautiful and permanent forms of nature.
Wordsworth's Preface to Lyrical Ballads (1800), a central work of Romantic literary theory. In the Preface, Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the constituents of a new type of poetry, one based on the "real language of men" and which avoids the poetic diction of much eighteenth-century poetry. Wordsworth also gives his famous definition of poetry in the Preface as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recollected in tranquility."
Five poems by Wordsworth that trace the life and death of the enigmatic Lucy, a young country girl. W is attempting to capture the lived experience of a person of no (conventional) importance
A slumber did my spirit seal;
I had no human fears:
She seemed a thing that could not feel
The touch of earthly years.
No motion has she now, no force;
She neither hears nor sees;
Rolled round in earth's diurnal course,
With rocks, and stones, and trees.
Wordsworth, "A slumber did my spirit seal", one of the Lucy poems
For nature then
(The coarser pleasures of my boyish days,
And their glad animal movements all gone by)
To me was all in all. -- I cannot paint
What then I was. The sounding cataract
Haunted me like a passion: the tall rock,
The mountain, and the deep and gloomy wood,
Their colours and their forms, were then to me
An appetite; a feeling and a love,
That had no need of a remoter charm,
By thought supplied, nor any interest
Unborrowed from the eye.
Wordsworth, Tintern Abbey (in the Lyrical Ballads, 1798). Be sure to distinguish the autobiographical form of this piece from The Prelude. W dwells on the difference between his more cultured but more alienated present and the pure nature-worship of his childhood, which colours his experience of seeing the titular abbey and the rural landscape more generally
The Prelude (1805)
Wordsworth. An epic poem in blank verse on Wordsworth's childhood and the development of his mind, in his own words. Content-wise it's hard to distinguish, but look for ruminations on childhood mischief, the worship of nature, etc.
Ye Presences of Nature in the sky
And on the earth! Ye Visions of the hills!
And Souls of lonely places! can I think
A vulgar hope was yours when ye employed
Such ministry, when ye, through many a year
Haunting me thus among my boyish sports,
On caves and trees, upon the woods and hills,
Impressed, upon all forms, the characters
Of danger or desire; and thus did make
The surface of the universal earth,
With triumph and delight, with hope and fear,
Work like a sea?
The Prelude (1805)
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 hearts away, a sordid boon !
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon ;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers ;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune ;
It moves us not. - Great God ! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn ;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn ;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea ;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
Wordsworth, "The World Is Too Much with Us"
John Keats (1795-1821)
One of the principal poets in the English Romantic movement, who endured major criticism during his lifetime and was posthumously defended by figures like Shelley, who helps raise his status.
Works: On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer, Ode upon a Grecian Urn, Ode to a Nightingale, Ode on Melancholy, Endymion, The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame Sans Merci, Hyperion, Cristabel
Keats. Criticized by many, including the author himself; like many epic poems in English (including John Dryden's translations of Virgil and Alexander Pope's translations of Homer), it is written in rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter (also known as heroic couplets).
"A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness"
In this epic, Keats takes the tale of Endymion, the shepherd who falls in love with Selene, the moon goddess, and adds the details to their story. It starts by painting a rustic scene of trees, rivers, herders, and sheep. They gather around an alter and pray to Pan, god of shepherds and flocks. As the youths sing and dance, the elder men sit and talk about how life would be like in the shades of Elysium. However, Endymion is trancelike, participating in none of their discourse. His sister takes him away and brings him to her resting place where he sleeps. After he wakes, he tells Peona of his encounter with Selene, and how much he loved her.
"The Eve of St. Agnes" (1819)
A long poem by Keats, written immediately after Keats met Fanny Brawne, who would eventually become his fiancée in October 1819. The basis of the poem is the superstition that a woman would see her future husband if she performed a certain ritual on the eve of Saint Agnes. If she were to go to bed without looking behind her back, her future partner would appear in a dream, eat with her and kiss her. In his original version, Keats emphasised the sensuality but his publishers persuaded him to change the wording so as to avoid a controversy. The main characters are Madeline and Porphyro. Porphyro sings to her "La Belle Dame sans Merci."
ST. AGNES' Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.
"La Belle Dame sans Merci" (1819)
Ballad by John Keats, part of the larger "Eve of St. Agnes".
O what can ail thee Knight at arms,
Alone and palely loitering ?
The sedge has withered from the Lake
And no birds sing!
"The Mansion of Many Apartments"
A theory of the poet John Keats, who thought that people were capable of different levels of thought. People who did not consider the world around them remained in the thoughtless chamber. Even though the door to move on to the next "apartment" was open, they had no desire to think any deeper:
"I compare human life to a large Mansion of Many Apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors the rest being as yet shut upon me - The first we step into we call the infant or thoughtless Chamber, in which we remain as long as we do not think - We remain there a long while, and notwithstanding the doors of the second Chamber remain wide open, showing a bright appearance, we care not to hasten to it; but are at length imperceptibly impelled by awakening of the thinking principle - within us - we no sooner get into the second Chamber, which I shall call the Chamber of Maiden-Thought, than we become intoxicated with the light and the atmosphere, we see nothing but pleasant wonders, and think of delaying there for ever in delight."
In Keats' own words:
"I had not a dispute but a disquisition with Dilke, on various subjects; several things dovetailed in my mind, & at once it struck me, what quality went to form a Man of Achievement especially in literature & which Shakespeare possessed so enormously - I mean Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason"
Keats' 1819 Odes
The first five poems were written during the spring, "Ode on a Grecian Urn", "Ode on Indolence", "Ode on Melancholy", "Ode to a Nightingale", and "Ode to Psyche", while "To Autumn" was composed in autumn. Keats pioneered a new structure in which the scene setting and grandiosity of Pindar is toned down. The odes are primarily in pentameter lines, but the rhyme scheme varies
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on :
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
Though winning near the goal-yet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn (1819). Note the use of interlocking and half-rhymes.
No, no go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.
Keats, Ode on Melancholy (1819).
Darkling I listen ; and for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call'd him soft names in many a musèd rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath ;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy !
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain -
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Keats, Ode to a Nightingale (1819).
MUCH have I travell'd in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 5
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken; 10
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise—
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
Keats, On First Looking Into Chapman's Homer (1816).
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
English poet and a leading figure in the Romantic movement. Among Byron's best-known works are the brief poems "She Walks in Beauty", "When We Two Parted", and "So, we'll go no more a roving", in addition to the narrative poems Childe Harold's Pilgrimage and Don Juan. He travelled to fight against the Ottoman Empire in the Greek War of Independence, for which Greeks revere him as a national hero. He died at 36 years old from a fever contracted while in Missolonghi in Greece. Byron was celebrated in life for aristocratic excesses including huge debts, numerous love affairs, rumours of a scandalous incestuous liaison with his half-sister, and self-imposed exile.
An idealised but flawed character whose attributes include:
* being a rebel
* having a distaste for social institutions
* being an exile
* expressing a lack of respect for rank and privilege
* having great talent
* hiding an unsavoury past
* being highly passionate
* ultimately, being self-destructive
Not only is the character a frequent part of his work, Byron's own life could cast him as a Byronic hero. The literary history of the Byronic hero in English can be traced from Milton, especially Milton's interpretation of Lucifer as having justified complaint against God. One of Byron's most popular works in his lifetime, the closet play "Manfred," was loosely modeled on Goethe's anti-hero, Faust. Byron's influence was manifested by many authors and artists of the Romantic movement during the 19th century and beyond. An example of such a hero is Heathcliff from Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.
One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impair'd the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.
And on that cheek, and o'er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
Lord Byron, "She Walks in Beauty..." (1814).
Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812-18)
Long narrative poem by Lord Byron, describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks for distraction in foreign lands.
Structure (on which ETS is likely to test):
The poem has four cantos written in Spenserian stanzas, which consist of eight iambic pentameter lines followed by one alexandrine (a twelve syllable iambic line), and has rhyme pattern ABABBCBCC.
The poem contains elements thought to be autobiographical, as Byron generated some of the storyline from experience gained during his travels through Portugal, the Mediterranean and Aegean Sea between 1809 and 1811. In a wider sense, it is an expression of the melancholy and disillusionment felt by a generation weary of the wars of the post-Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras. Contains one of the early instances of the Byronic hero.
Don Juan (1819-24)
Byron's long satiric poem based on the legend of Don Juan, which Byron reverses, portraying Juan not as a womanizer but as someone easily seduced by women. It is a variation on the epic form; Byron himself called it an "Epic Satire". The poem is in eight line iambic pentameter with the rhyme scheme ab ab ab cc - often the last rhyming couplet is used for a humor comic line or humorous bathos. This rhyme scheme is known as ottava rima.
Byron; the dramatic poem contains supernatural elements, in keeping with the popularity of the ghost story in England at the time. It is a typical example of a Romantic closet drama.
Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)
One of the major English Romantic poets most famous for such classic anthology verse works as "Ozymandias", Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy. His major works, however, are long visionary poems which included Queen Mab (later reworked as The Daemon of the World), Alastor, The Revolt of Islam, Adonaïs and the unfinished work The Triumph of Life. The Cenci (1819) and Prometheus Unbound (1820) were dramatic plays in five and four acts respectively. Shelley is also known for his often radical philosophical viewpoints, and several of his works were suppressed upon/before publication
Pastoral elegy written for John Keats in Spenserian stanzas. Contrast the poem with Keats imagining his own death in "Ode to a Nightingale"
I weep for Adonais--he is dead!
Oh, weep for Adonais! though our tears
Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
And teach them thine own sorrow, say: "With me
Died Adonais; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!"
Shelley, Adonais (1821)
Mont Blanc (1816)
An ode by the Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, composed during his journey to the Chamonix Valley in Switzerland. The poem is a 144-line natural ode divided into five stanzas and written in irregular rhyme. Central image is of the titular mountain, the highest in Europe and a figure of the sublimity of nature
The everlasting universe of things
Flows through the mind, and rolls its rapid waves,
Now dark--now glittering--now reflecting gloom--
Now lending splendour, where from secret springs
The source of human thought its tribute brings
Of waters--with a sound but half its own,
Such as a feeble brook will oft assume,
In the wild woods, among the mountains lone,
Where waterfalls around it leap for ever,
Where woods and winds contend, and a vast river
Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.
Shelley, "Mont Blanc" (1816)
"Ode to the West Wind"
Shelley's poem Ode to the West Wind consists of five cantos written in terza rima. Each canto consists of four tercets (ABA, BCB, CDC, DED) and a rhyming couplet (EE). The Ode is written in iambic pentameter.
The poem begins with three cantos describing the wind's effects upon earth, air, and ocean. The last two cantos are Shelley speaking directly to the wind, asking for its power, to lift him like a leaf, a cloud or a wave and make him its companion in its wanderings. He asks the wind to take his thoughts and spread them all over the world so that the youth are awoken with his ideas. The poem ends with an optimistic note which is that if winter days are here then spring is not very far.
Make me thy lyre, even as the forest is:
What if my leaves are falling like its own!
The tumult of thy mighty harmonies
Will take from both a deep, autumnal tone,
Sweet though in sadness. Be thou, Spirit fierce,
My spirit! Be thou me, impetuous one!
Drive my dead thoughts over the universe
Like wither'd leaves to quicken a new birth!
And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguish'd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
Be through my lips to unawaken'd earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Shelley, "Ode to the West Wind" (1819), composed on the same trip as Mont Blanc.
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said:—Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
Shelley, "Ozymandias" (1818). An Italian sonnet on the transitory nature of things (all except poetry!).
Poet of Nature, thou hast wept to know
That things depart which never may return:
Childhood and youth, friendship, and love's first glow,
Have fled like sweet dreams, leaving thee to mourn.
These common woes I feel. One loss is mine
Which thou too feel'st, yet I alone deplore.
Thou wert as a lone star whose light did shine
On some frail bark in winter's midnight roar:
Thou hast like to a rock-built refuge stood
Above the blind and battling multitude:
In honoured poverty thy voice did weave
Songs consecrate to truth and liberty.
Deserting these, thou leavest me to grieve,
Thus having been, that thou shouldst cease to be.
Shelley, "To Wordsworth"
HAIL to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert—
That from heaven or near it
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art. 5
Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest,
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.
Shelley, "To a Skylark" (1820). Identify Shelley by his interest in how Natural things are just manifestations of a deeper and intrinsically poetic divinity
Prometheus Unbound (1820)
Unfinished closet drama by Shelley celebrating Prometheus as a rebel against the gods--part of his larger anti-authoritarian project
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets (as well as coauthor of the Lyrical Ballads!). He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as for his major prose work Biographia Literaria. His critical work, especially on Shakespeare, was highly influential, and he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture.
But thou, my babe! shalt wander like a breeze
By lakes and sandy shores, beneath the crags
Of ancient mountain, and beneath the clouds,
Which image in their bulk both lakes and shores
And mountain crags: so shalt thou see and hear
The lovely shapes and sounds intelligible
Of that eternal language, which thy God
Utters, who from eternity doth teach
Himself in all, and all things in himself.
Great universal Teacher! he shall mould
Thy spirit, and by giving make it ask.
Coleridge, "Frost at Midnight" (1798). Note the poet's deism showing through
Biographia Literaria (1817)
Coleridge's thesis is that the imagination is the supreme faculty of the human intellect, and its cultivation is both a prerequisite and the aim of poetry. For him, "imagination" is the process of keenly perceiving the phenomena of the world and self, and then re-expressing phenomena through the creative faculties of the poet's whole being, the mind and the soul, the rational and the irrational.
Be sure not to confuse this work with Addison's "Pleasures of Imagination"--know this one by C's use of capitals for IMAGINATION and FANCY:
"The IMAGINATION, then, I consider either as
primary, or secondary. The primary IMAGINATION
I hold to be the living power and prime
agent of all human perception, and as a repetition
in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in
the infinite I AM. The secondary I consider as an
echo of the former, coexisting with the conscious
will, yet still as identical with the primary in the
kind of its agency, and differing only in degree,
and in the mode of its operation."
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail:
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Coleridge, Kubla Khan (1797). Note this work was left unfinished by the arrival of a Person from Porlock
The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew,
The furrow followed free:
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea.
Coleridge, "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" (1798). Note the unusual and recognizable metre.
Coleridge divides the poem into seven parts. Most of the stanzas in the poem have four lines; several have five or six lines. In the four-line stanzas, the second and fourth lines usually rhyme. In the five- and six-line stanzas, the second or third line usually rhymes with the final line. The meter alternates between iambic tetrameter (with four feet per line) and iambic trimeter (with three feet per line)
Figures: the Mariner, Death, Life-in-Death, the Albatross, the Sea
William Blake (1757-1827)
English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Major works: Songs of Innocence and Experience, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, The Four Zoas, Visions of the Daughters of Albion. Look for relatively simplistic, even childlike diction, structure, and imagery (a feature of the more ETS-beloved Songs)
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-3)
A series of texts written in imitation of biblical prophecy but expressing Blake's own intensely personal Romantic and revolutionary beliefs. Like his other books, it was published as printed sheets from etched plates containing prose, poetry, and illustrations.Though Blake was influenced by his grand and mystical cosmic conception, Swedenborg's conventional moral structures and his Manichean view of good and evil led Blake to express a deliberately depolarized and unified vision of the cosmos in which the material world and physical desire are equally part of the divine order, hence, a marriage of heaven and hell. The book is written in prose, except for the opening "Argument" and the "Song of Liberty". The book describes the poet's visit to Hell, a device adopted by Blake from Dante's Inferno and Milton's Paradise Lost.
All Bibles or sacred codes, have been the causes of the following Errors.
1. That Man has two real existing principles Viz: a Body & a Soul.
2. That Energy, call'd Evil, is alone from the Body, & that Reason, call'd Good, is alone from the Soul.
3. That God will torment Man in Eternity for following his Energies.
But the following Contraries to these are True.
1. Man has no Body distinct from his Soul; for that call'd Body is a portion of Soul discern'd by the five Senses, the chief inlets of Soul in this age.
2. Energy is the only life and is from the Body and Reason is the bound or outward circumference of Energy.
3. Energy is Eternal Delight.
Blake, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-3). The second set of views are spoken by the Devil, informing the speaker's own view
"Visions of the Daughters of Albion" (1793)
Blake. The central action of Visions of the Daughters of Albion is clear. The maiden Oothoon, accepting love, goes fearlessly to her lover Theotormon, but her happiness is short-lived. She is raped by a figure of violence, Bromion, but worse, Theotormon thereafter regards her as defiled; in his jealousy he ties Oothoon and Bromion back to back, and it is with this unmoving scene that the poem concludes. A bitter commentary on the puritanical and stifling Judeo-Christian model of marriage dominant in Blake's time
I cry, Love! Love! Love! Happy, happy love, free as the mountain wind!
Can that be love that drinks another as a sponge drinks water,
That clouds with jealousy his nights, with weepings all the day,
To spin a web of age around him, grey and hoary, dark,
Till his eyes sicken at the fruit that hangs before his sight?
Such is self-love that envies all, a creeping skeleton
With lamplike eyes watching around the frozen marriage bed.
Blake, "Visions of the Daughters of Albion" (1793)--spoken by Oothoon on the hypocrisy of Theotormon
I wander thro' each charter'd street,
Near where the charter'd Thames does flow,
And mark in every face I meet
Marks of weakness, marks of woe.
In every cry of every Man,
In every Infant's cry of fear,
In every voice, in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear.
How the Chimney-sweeper's cry
Every black'ning Church appalls ;
And the hapless Soldier's sigh
Runs in blood down Palace walls.
But most thro' midnight streets I hear
How the youthful Harlot's curse
Blasts the new-born Infant's tear,
And blights with plagues the Marriage hearse.
Nought loves another as itself,
Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
A greater than itself to know.
'And, father, how can I love you
Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
That picks up crumbs around the door.'
The Priest sat by and heard the child;
In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
And all admired his priestly care.
And standing on the altar high,
'Lo, what a fiend is here!' said he:
'One who sets reason up for judge
Of our most holy mystery.'
The weeping child could not be heard,
The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
And bound him in an iron chain,
And burned him in a holy place
Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
Are such things done on Albion's shore?
Blake, "A Little Boy Lost" (from Songs of Experience)
'Twas on a Holy Thursday, their innocent faces clean,
The children walking two and two, in red and blue and green,
Grey headed beadles walk'd before, with wands as white as snow,
Till into the high dome of Paul's they like Thames' waters flow.
Oh what a multitude they seem'd, these flowers of London town!
Seated in companies they sit with radiance all their own.
The hum of multitudes was there, but multitudes of lambs,
Thousands of little boys and girls raising their innocent hands.
Now like a mighty wind they raise to heaven the voice of song,
Or like harmonious thunderings the seats of Heaven among.
Beneath them sit the aged men, wise guardians of the poor;
Then cherish pity, lest you drive an angel from your door.
Blake, "Holy Thursday" (from Songs of Innocence)
Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.
Christina Rossetti, "Remember"
Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844 - 1889)
Gerard Manley Hopkins was a British Victorian poet and Jesuit priest. Much of Hopkins' historical importance has to do with the changes he brought to the form of poetry. Traditional rhythmic structure is based on repeating groups of two or three syllables, with the stressed syllable falling in the same place on each repetition. Hopkins called this structure running rhythm, and though he wrote some of his early verse in running rhythm he became fascinated with the older rhythmic structure of the Anglo-Saxon tradition, of which Beowulf is the most famous example. Hopkins called this rhythmic structure sprung rhythm. Sprung rhythm is structured around feet with a variable number of syllables, generally between one and four syllables per foot, with the stress always falling on the first syllable in a foot.
I CAUGHT this morning morning's minion, king-
dom of daylight's dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding
Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing!
Hopkins, "The Windhover" (1918)--the bird is often read as an image of Christ
Glory be to God for dappled things -
For skies of couple-colour as a brindled cow;
For rose-moles in all stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoals chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced - fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Hopkins, "Pied Beauty" (1877; pub. 1918). Note that this is a curtal sonnet (an eleven-line (or, more accurately, ten-and-a-half-line) sonnet, but rather than the first eleven lines of a standard sonnet it consists of precisely ¾ of the structure of a Petrarchan sonnet shrunk proportionally. The octave of a sonnet becomes a sestet and the sestet a quatrain plus an additional "tail piece." That is, the first eight lines of a sonnet are translated into the first six lines of a curtal sonnet and the last six lines of a sonnet are translated into the last four and a half lines of a curtal sonnet)
NOT, I'll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist—slack they may be—these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.
But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?
Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.
Cheer whom though? the hero whose heaven-handling flung me, fóot tród
Me? or me that fought him? O which one? is it each one? That night, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.
Hopkins, "Carrion Comfort" (1918).
MÁRGARÉT, áre you gríeving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leáves, líke the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Áh! ás the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By and by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep and know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sórrow's spríngs áre the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What heart heard of, ghost guessed:
It ís the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.
Hopkins, "Spring and Fall" (1918)
Tell me now in what hidden way is
Lady Flora the lovely Roman?
Where's Hipparchia, and where is Thais,
Neither of them the fairer woman?
Where is Echo, beheld of no man,
Only heard on river and mere,--
She whose beauty was more than human? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?
Where's Héloise, the learned nun,
For whose sake Abeillard, I ween,
Lost manhood and put priesthood on?
(From Love he won such dule and teen!)
And where, I pray you, is the Queen
Who willed that Buridan should steer
Sewed in a sack's mouth down the Seine? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?
White Queen Blanche, like a queen of lilies,
With a voice like any mermaiden,--
Bertha Broadfoot, Beatrice, Alice,
And Ermengarde the lady of Maine,--
And that good Joan whom Englishmen
At Rouen doomed and burned her there,--
Mother of God, where are they then? . . .
But where are the snows of yester-year?
Nay, never ask this week, fair lord,
Where they are gone, nor yet this year,
Save with this much for an overword,--
But where are the snows of yester-year?
DG Rossetti, "THE BALLAD OF DEAD LADIES" (translation of a poem by François Villon (1431-1489))
Irish Literary Revival
The Celtic Revival, also known as the Irish Literary Revival, was begun by Lady Gregory, Edward Martyn and William Butler Yeats in Ireland in 1896. The Revival stimulated new appreciation of traditional Irish literature, written in the spirit of Irish culture, as distinct from English culture. Figures such as Yeats, J.M. Synge and Sean O'Casey wrote many plays and articles about the political state of Ireland at the time. These were connected with another great symbol of the literary revival, The Abbey Theatre, which served as the stage for many new Irish writers and playwrights of the time.
J.M. Synge (1871-1909)
Irish playwright, poet, prose writer, travel writer and collector of folklore. He was a key figure in the Irish Literary Revival and was one of the cofounders of the Abbey Theatre. He is best known for his play The Playboy of the Western World, which caused riots in Dublin during its opening run at the Abbey Theatre.
Although he came from an Anglo-Irish background, Synge's writings are mainly concerned with the world of the Roman Catholic peasants of rural Ireland and with what he saw as the essential paganism of their world view.
Most famous for The Playboy of the Western World (1907) and The Shadow of the Glen (1905)
The Playboy of the Western World (1907)
J. M. Synge. An unflattering portrayal of the working class Irish. It is set in a cottage in County Mayo (on the North-West coast of Ireland) during the early 1900s. It tells the story of Christy Mahon, a young man supposedly running away having killed his father. Christy arrives at the cottage, and the locals are more interested in vicariously enjoying his story than in condemning his morality.
Old Mahon, Christy's father, a squatter
Michael James Flaherty, a publican
Margaret Flaherty, called Pegeen Mike, Michael's daughter, and the bar-maid
Shawn Keogh, Pegeen's fiance
Widow Quinn, a widow of about thirty
Philly Cullen and Jimmy Farrell, farmers
Sara Tansey, Susan Brady, Honor Blake, and Nelly, village girls
Sean O'Casey (1880-1964)
A committed socialist, he was the first Irish playwright of note to write about the Dublin working classes. His plays are particularly noted for his sympathetic treatment of his female characters.
Most famous work was The Plough and the Stars (1926), which dealt with the impact of the Irish Civil War on the working class poor of the city. The play is one-third of his well known "Dublin Trilogy" - the other two being The Shadow of a Gunman (1923) and Juno and the Paycock (1924). It was misinterpreted by the Abbey audience as being anti-nationalist and resulted in scenes reminiscent of the riots that greeted Synge's The Playboy of the Western World in 1907.
Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)
Oscar Wilde was an Anglo-Irish playwright, novelist, poet, short story writer and Freemason. One of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day, known for his barbed and clever wit, he suffered a dramatic downfall and was imprisoned after being convicted in a famous trial for gross indecency (homosexual acts).
Works: The Importance of Being Earnest, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Ballad of Reading Gaol
The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890)
Wilde. In his preface to this, the only novel that he ever wrote, Wilde remarked "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all."
The novel begins with Lord Henry Wotton observing the artist Basil Hallward painting the portrait of a handsome, young man named Dorian Gray in his London studio. Dorian arrives to sit for the artist, and Lord Henry tells him that youth is the only thing worth having, and that Dorian will soon age and lose his beauty. Once the portrait is finished, Dorian looks at it and wishes that he would stay like the picture, and it will bear his age for him.
Under the influence of Lord Henry, Dorian begins an exploration of his senses. He begins by discovering a brilliant actress, Sibyl Vane, who performs Shakespeare in a dingy theatre. Dorian approaches her, and very soon, proposes marriage to her. Sibyl, who only knows Dorian as "Prince Charming", rushes home to tell her sceptical mother and brother. Her brother tells her that if Dorian harms her, he shall kill him. Dorian invites Basil and Lord Henry to see Sibyl perform in Romeo and Juliet. Sibyl, whose only knowledge of love was through the theatre, loses all her abilities after experiencing true love with Dorian, and performs very badly. Dorian rejects her, saying that her beauty was in her art. Once he returns to his apartment, Dorian notices that Basil's portrait of him has changed. The smile on his mouth has become crueller and less friendly. Dorian realises that his wish has come true, and the portrait is bearing his sins. The next morning, Dorian decides to reconcile with Sibyl, but Lord Henry arrives to say that Sibyl has killed herself by swallowing prussic acid.
Dorian accepts his fate, and over the next eighteen years indulges in the seven deadly sins, under the influence of a "poisonous" French novel given to him by Lord Henry, probably Joris-Karl Huysmans's À rebours (Against the Grain). One day, Basil arrives to question Dorian about rumours of his indulgences. Dorian does not deny the debauchery, and endeavours to show Basil his soul. He takes Basil to the portrait, which is revealed to have become montrously ugly under Dorian's sins. Dorian blames the artist for his fate, and stabs him to death. He then blackmails an old friend into destroying the body.
Dorian seeks escape from the deed he has done in an opium parlour. After being rejected by the proprietor, who calls him by the name "Prince Charming", he leaves. Sibyl Vane's brother, who is in the parlour, recognises the name, and follows him. He attempts to kill Dorian, but is deceived when Dorian tells him that he would have been too young to have been involved with his sister. The sailor goes back to the opium den, where the woman tells him that Dorian has never aged for the past eighteen years.
At a shooting party at a country house, Dorian sees the brother stalking the grounds. However, an accident occurs during the shooting and the brother is shot. After returning to London Dorian informs Lord Henry that he will be good from now on, and has started by not eloping with a vicar's daughter. At his apartment, he wonders if the portrait would have changed, now that he has changed his ways. He unveils the portrait to see that it has got worse: there is blood on his hands. He has been vain in imagining that he could redeem himself. In a fit of rage, he picks up the knife that killed Basil Hallward, and plunges it into the painting. His servants send for the police, who find a bloated, ugly old man with a knife in his heart, and the portrait of Dorian, as beautiful as he was eighteen years ago.
The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)
Wilde. Algernon, a wealthy young Londoner, pretends to have a friend named Bunbury who lives in the country and frequently is in ill health. Whenever Algernon wants to avoid an unwelcome social obligation, or just get away for the weekend, he makes an ostensible visit to his "sick friend." He calls this practice "Bunburying."
Algernon's real-life best friend lives in the country but makes frequent visits to London. This friend's name is Ernest...or so Algernon thinks. When Ernest leaves his silver cigarette case at Algernon's rooms he finds an inscription in it that claims that it is "From little Cecily to her dear Uncle Jack". This forces Ernest to eventually disclose that his visits to the city are also examples of "Bunburying," much to Algernon's delight.
In the country, "Ernest" goes by his real name, John Worthing, and pretends that he has a wastrel brother named Ernest, who lives in London. When honest John comes to the city, he assumes the name, and behaviour, of the profligate Ernest. In the country John assumes and more serious attitude for the benefit of Cecily, who is his ward.
John himself wishes to marry Gwendolen, who is Algernon's cousin, but runs into a few problems. First, Gwendolen seems to love him only because she believes his name is Ernest, which she thinks is the most beautiful name in the world. Second, Gwendolen's mother is the terrifying Lady Bracknell. Lady Bracknell is horrified when she learns that John is a foundling who was discovered in a handbag at a railway station.
John's description of Cecily appeals to Algernon who resolves to meet her. Algernon soon gets the idea to visit John in the country, pretending that he is the mysterious brother "Ernest." Unfortunately, unknown to Algernon, John has decided to give up his Bunburying, and to do this he has announced the tragic death of Ernest.
A series of comic misunderstandings follows, as Algernon-as-Ernest visits the country (as a dead man, as far as the hosts are aware), and John shows up in his mourning clothes. There he encounters John's ward, Cecily, who believes herself in love with Ernest - the non-existent brother she has never met. After Lady Bracknell arrives, it is discovered that John is a nephew of Lady Bracknell who was lost by Miss Prism, Cecily's governess, who was then working for Lady Bracknell's sister. It is also discovered that John's real name is Ernest. It is suggested at the end of the play that Ernest/John will marry Gwendolyn and Algernon will marry Cecily.
The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1897)
Written after Wilde's release from jail, in France. The poem is written in memory of "C.T.W." who died in Reading prison in July 1896 and it traces the feelings of an imprisoned man towards a fellow inmate who is to be hanged. They are "like two doomed ships that pass in storm", and Wilde creates a solemn funereal tone in his rhyme made sad and familiar by certain repeated phrases ("each man kills the thing he loves", "the little tent of blue/ Which prisoners call the sky"). The narrator's emotions are filtered through an uncertainty about the law that has condemned them although he is certain that they are joined together in sin. There is a longing for the outside, innocence and crucially beauty, the last of which is undermined in the latrine-like cells.
G.B. Shaw (1856-1950)
Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60 plays. Nearly all his writings address prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy which makes their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege.
Works: Mrs. Warren's Profession, Major Barbara, Arms and the Man, Caesar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion
Shaw used Pygmalion, the mythological sculptor who fell in love with his creation Galatea, as the basis for his play. It is the story of Professor Henry Higgins, a professor of phonetics, who wagers that he can turn a Cockney flower girl, Eliza Doolittle, into the toast of London society merely by teaching her how to speak with an upper-class accent. In the process, he becomes fond of her and attempts to direct her future, but she rejects his domineering ways and marries a young aristocrat.
Arms and the Man (1894)
Shaw's Arms and the Man is a comedy, the title of which comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid: "Arma virumque canto" (Of arms and the man I sing). Shaw's plays often point out the hypocrisy or worthlessness of Victorian values, and Arms and the Man is no exception. Its satirical target is the people who think war is "glorious" or "noble."The play takes place during the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian War. Its heroine, Raina, is a young Bulgarian woman engaged to one of the heroes of that war, whom she idealizes. One night, a Swiss voluntary soldier to the Serbian army bursts into her bedroom and begs her to hide him, so that he is not killed. Raina complies, though she thinks the man a coward, especially when he tells her that he doesn't carry rifle cartridges, but chocolates. During the course of the play, Raina comes to realize the hollowness of her romantic idea and her fiancé's values, and the true nobility of the "chocolate-cream soldier."
Man and Superman (1902)
Shaw. This title comes from Nietzsche's philosophical ideas about the "Superman." The plot centers around John Tanner, author of "The Revolutionist's Handbook and Pocket Companion" and a confirmed bachelor, and the lovely Ann's persistent efforts to make him marry her. Ann is referred to as "The Life Force" and represents Shaw's view that in every culture, it's the women who force the men to marry them, rather than the men taking the initiative.
Major Barbara (1905)
The story is about an officer in The Salvation Army, Major Barbara Undershaft, who becomes disillusioned by social ills and the willingness of her Christian denomination to accept money from armament manufacturers, which includes her own father.
Mrs. Warren's Profession (1905)
The story centers on the relationship between Mrs. Warren, a prostitute, described by Shaw as "on the whole, a genial and fairly presentable old blackguard of a woman," and her daughter, Vivie. More than about prostitution, the play explores the conflicts of the new women of the Victorian times - the middle-class girls who wanted greater social independence in work and education.
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
An Irish playwright, novelist and poet. Beckett's work is stark, fundamentally minimalist, and deeply pessimistic about human nature and the human condition, although the pessimism is mitigated by a great and often wicked sense of humor. His later work explores his themes in an increasingly cryptic and attenuated style.
Works: Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Krapp's Last Tape, Play
Waiting for Godot (1953)
The play is in two acts. The plot concerns Vladimir (also called Didi) and Estragon (also called Gogo), who arrive at a pre-specified roadside location in order to await the arrival of Godot. Vladimir and Estragon appear to be tramps: their clothes are ragged and do not fit. They pass the time in conversation, and sometimes in conflict. Estragon complains of his ill-fitting boots, and Vladimir struts about stiff-legged due to a painful bladder condition. They make vague allusions to the nature of their circumstances and to the reasons for meeting Godot, but the audience never learns who Godot is or why he is important. They are soon interrupted by the arrival of Pozzo, a cruel but lyrically gifted man who claims to own the land they stand on, and his servant Lucky, whom he appears to control by means of a lengthy rope. Pozzo sits down to feast on chicken, and afterwards throws the bones to the two tramps. He entertains them by directing Lucky to perform a lively dance, and then deliver an ex tempore lecture on the theories of Bishop Berkeley. After Pozzo and Lucky depart, a boy arrives with a message he says is from Godot that he will not be coming today, but will come tomorrow. The second act follows a similar pattern to the first, but when Pozzo and Lucky arrive, Pozzo has inexplicably gone blind and Lucky has gone mute. Again the boy arrives and announces that Godot will not appear, also confessing that Godot beats him and makes him sleep in a barn. The much quoted ending of the play might be said to sum up the stasis of the whole work:
Vladimir: Well, shall we go?
Estragon: Yes, let's go.
They do not move.
Happy Days (1961)
Beckett. Winnie, the main character, is buried up to her waist in a tall mound of sand. She has a bag full of interesting artifacts, including a comb, a toothbrush and a revolver, which she strokes and pats lovingly. The harsh ringing of a bell demarcates waking and sleeping hours. Winnie is content with her existence: "Ah well, what matter, that's what I always say, it will have been a happy day after all, another happy day."
Her husband Willie is nearby, behind Winnie and moving on all fours. Winnie is unable to move, but Willie occasionally comes out and even reads the paper beside his wife (but not facing the stage).
In the second act, Winnie is now buried up to her head. She continues to speak, but can no longer reach her bag. At the conclusion of the play Willie crawls up to her, dressed immaculately. Winnie looks lovingly down at Willie, singing a song from the music box she examined in the first act.
Hamm - unable to stand and blind
Clov - servant of Hamm; unable to sit.
Nagg - Hamm's father; has no legs and lives in a dustbin.
Nell - Hamm's mother; has no legs and lives in a dustbin next to Nagg's.
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
English poet and critic, widely regarded as among the most influential and important writers of the 20th century. He spent the first part of his life in the United Kingdom, but emigrated to the United States of America in 1939, becoming an American citizen in 1946. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature.After his death, some of his poems, notably "Funeral Blues" ("Stop all the clocks") and "September 1, 1939", became widely known through films, broadcasts and popular media.
Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.
But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.
What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.
Auden, "In Memory of W.B. Yeats". The last two lines are particularly often quoted
The Sea and the Mirror (1944)
A long poem by W.H. Auden, a series of dramatic monologues spoken by the characters in Shakespeare's play after the end of the play itself.
The poem itself is in three parts with a short introduction, where the "so good, so great, so dead author" is asked to take a curtain call, and being unable to do so, Caliban stands in his place to take the questions.
The first section is a meditation on the dramatic arts, in various personifications, the Muse for the dramatic arts, Caliban as the Real World, and Ariel as the Poetic world.
The second section is an address to Shakespeare on behalf of his characters, reflecting on the "Journey of Life" -- " the down-at-heels disillusioned figure" and the desire for either personal or artistic freedom, with the disastrous results if either is attained.
The third section is a meditation on the paradox of life and art, with mutually exclusive goals, where the closer to Art you come, the farther from Life you go, and vice versa. The section ends with a coda of sorts, with the paradox is resolved through faith in "the Wholly Other Life".
About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
W.H. Auden, "Musée des Beaux Arts" (1938). Cf. William Carlos Williams' more spare treatment of the same painting
Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.
Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill (1945)
A.E. Housman (1859-1936)
English poet and classical scholar, now best known for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad (1896). Some of the better-known poems in the book are "To an Athlete Dying Young", "Loveliest of Trees, the Cherry Now" and "When I Was One-and-Twenty".
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.
When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
A.E. Housman, "When I Was One and Twenty", from A Shropshire Lad (1896)
The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,
And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Today, the road all runners come,
Shoulder-high we bring you home,
And set you at your threshold down,
Townsman of a stiller town.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away
From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Eyes the shady night has shut
Cannot see the record cut,
And silence sounds no worse than cheers
After earth has stopped the ears:
Now you will not swell the rout
Of lads that wore their honors out,
Runners whom renown outran
And the name died before the man.
So set, before its echoes fade,
The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
And hold to the low lintel up
The still-defended challenge-cup.
And round the early-laureled head
Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
And find unwithered on its curls
The garland briefer than a girl's
A.E. Housman, "To an Athlete Dying Young", from A Shropshire Lad (1896)
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Irish poet, dramatist, mystic and public figure of Anglo-Irish Protestant Ancestry, one of the driving forces behind the Irish Literary Revival and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre. Yeats also served as an Irish Senator. Draws heavily on the Irish landscape and on the country's native mythology, with a marked turn toward contemporary social issues in his later years.
Know: The Second Coming, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, The Wild Swans at Coole, Sailing to Byzantium, Leda and the Swan
And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a-glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.
I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear the water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.
Yeats, "The Lake Isle of Innisfree".
I have looked upon those brilliant creatures,
And now my heart is sore.
All's changed since I, hearing at twilight,
The first time on this shore,
The bell-beat of their wings above my head,
Trod with a lighter tread.
Unwearied still, lover by lover,
They paddle in the cold
Companionable streams or climb the air;
Their hearts have not grown old;
Passion or conquest, wander where they will,
Attend upon them still.
Yeats, "The Wild Swans at Coole"
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another's arms, birds in the trees
- Those dying generations - at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.
Yeats, "Sailing to Byzantium"
A sudden blow: the great wings beating still
Above the staggering girl, her thighs caressed
By his dark webs, her nape caught in his bill,
He holds her helpless breast upon his breast.
How can those terrified vague fingers push
The feathered glory from her loosening thighs?
How can anybody, laid in that white rush,
But feel the strange heart beating where it lies?
A shudder in the loins, engenders there
The broken wall, the burning roof and tower
And Agamemnon dead.
Being so caught up,
So mastered by the brute blood of the air,
Did she put on his knowledge with his power
Before the indifferent beak could let her drop?
Yeats, "Leda and the Swan"
D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)
English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic whose collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation.
Novel: Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love, Lady Chatterley's Lover
Short Story: Odour of Chrysanthemums, The Virgin and the Gipsy, The Rocking-Horse Winner
The Rainbow (1915)
D.H. Lawrence. The novel ollows three generations of the Brangwen family, focusing in particular on the sexual dynamics of its characters: Ursula, Gudrun, Alfred, Tom Brangwen
Lawrence's frank treatment of sexual desire and the power plays within relationships as a natural and even spiritual force of life, though perhaps tame by modern standards, caused The Rainbow to be prosecuted in an obscenity trial in late 1915, as a result of which all copies were seized and burnt.
Women in Love (1920)
Lawrence's sequel to The Rainbow (1915), following the continuing loves and lives of the Brangwen sisters, Gudrun and Ursula. Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, pursues a destructive relationship with Gerald Crich, an industrialist. Lawrence contrasts this pair with the love that develops between Ursula and Rupert Birkin, an alienated intellectual who articulates many opinions associated with the author. The novel ranges over the whole of British society at the time of the First World War and eventually ends high up in the snows of the European Alps.
"The Odour of Chrysanthemums"
In this story, Lawrence's main character awaits her husband's return from work in the mines, but he has been suffocated in a cave-in. The woman reflects on her unhappy marriage.
"The Horse Dealer's Daughter"
This story by Lawrence is about a girl named Mabel who tries to commit suicide by drowning herself in a pond. A young doctor, Joe Ferguson, saves her. She then believes that he loves her. Although this idea never occurred to Joe, he begins to find that he indeed loves her. However, Mabel thinks she is "too awful" to be loved, and finds that when Joe declares over and over that he wants her and that he loves her, she is more scared about that than of Joe not wanting her.
Sons and Lovers (1913)
Lawrence. It tells the story of Paul Morel, a young man and a budding artist. This autobiographical novel is a brilliant evocation of life in a working class mining community.
NB especially setting: Hell Row, The Bottoms, Greenhill Lane
Gertrude Morel - The first protagonist of the novel. She becomes unhappy with her husband Walter and devotes herself to her children.
Paul Morel - Paul Morel takes over from his mother as the protagonist in the second half of the book. After his brother William's death, Paul becomes his mother's favorite and struggles throughout the novel to balance his love for her with his relationships with other women.
Walter Morel - Gertrude's husband, a coal miner.
William Morel - Their first son, who is Mrs. Morel's favorite until he falls ill and dies.
Annie Morel - Paul's older sister. When their mother lies dying toward the end of the novel, she and Paul decide to give her an overdose of morphia pills.
E.M. Forster (1879-1970)
English novelist, short story writer, essayist and librettist. He is known best for his ironic and well-plotted novels examining class difference and hypocrisy in early 20th-century British society. Forster's humanistic impulse toward understanding and sympathy may be aptly summed up in the epigraph to his 1910 novel Howards End: "Only connect."
Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)
The Longest Journey (1907)
A Room with a View (1908)
Howards End (1910)
A Passage to India (1924)
Maurice (written in 1913-14, published posthumously in 1971)
"The Curate's Friend"
"The Road from Colonus"
"The Life to Come"
"What I Believe" (a defence of secular humanism)
Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)
On a journey to Tuscany with her young friend and travelling companion Caroline Abbott, widowed Lilia Herriton falls in love with both Italy and a handsome Italian much younger than herself, and decides to stay. Furious, her dead husband's family send Lilia's brother-in-law and his sister to Italy to prevent a misalliance, but they arrive too late. Lilia marries the Italian and in due course becomes pregnant again. When she dies giving birth to her child, the Herritons consider it both their right and their duty to travel to Monteriano to obtain custody of the infant so that he can be raised as an Englishman.
A Room with a View (1908)
A Room with a View tells the story of a young Englishwoman whose encounter with a handsome young man in Florence may interfere with her marriage plans.
Howards End (1910)
~Margaret, Helen, and Tibby Schlegel
~Charles, Paul and Evie Wilcox
On the one hand are the Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, and their brother Tibby, who care about civilized living, music, literature, and conversation with their friends; on the other, the Wilcoxes, Henry and his children Charles, Paul, and Evie, who are concerned with the business side of life and distrust emotions and imagination. Helen Schlegel is drawn to the Wilcox family, falls briefly in and out of love with Paul Wilcox, and thereafter reacts away from them.
Margaret becomes more deeply involved. She is stimulated by the very differences of their way of life and acknowledges the debt of intellectuals to the men of affairs who guarantee stability, whose virtues of 'neatness, decision and obedience ... keep the soul from becoming sloppy'. She marries Henry Wilcox, to the consternation of both families, and her love and steadiness of purpose are tested by the ensuing strains and misunderstandings. Her marriage cracks but does not break. In the end, torn between her sister and her husband, she succeeds in bridging the mistrust that divides them. Howards End, where the story begins and ends, is the house that belonged to Henry Wilcox's first wife, and is a symbol of human dignity and endurance.
A Passage to India (1924)
~The Marabar Caves
A Passage to India deals with the tensions between natives of India and British colonials when a white woman, Adela Quested, accuses a native man, Dr. Aziz, of attempted rape. The accusation takes place after Adela's unidentified traumatic experience while touring a local natural attraction, the Marabar Caves. The ensuing court trial increases the racial tension between the Indians and the British, threatening to tear apart the colonial society of Chandrapore, India.
"The Road from Colonus" (1911)
Mr. Lucas, an Englishman, is growing old. He has always wanted to visit Greece and has finally achieved this, accompanied by his unmarried daughter, Ethel, who will, it has been assumed, dedicate her life to taking care of him in his old age. In Greece, Mr. Lucas becomes restless and resistant to the idea of an expected passive, peaceful death from old age. He wants to "die fighting." Something mysterious happens: he finds a great old hollow tree from which a spring of water flows. He climbs into the tree and experiences an epiphany: he suddenly sees all things as "intelligible and good."
But when the rest of his party find him, he is oddly repelled by them. He does not feel that anyone can share the revelation he has experienced, and he becomes afraid that if he leaves the place he will lose the feeling himself. He decides not to leave, and says he plans to stay at an inn near the old tree, but the others are horrified, and force him to leave with them.
Back in England, some time later, Ethel is now about to be married. Mr. Lucas has become a perpetually disgruntled old man, complaining about everything (especially the sound of water in the plumbing--the mystical Greek spring has been reduced to this annoyance--he says, "there's nothing I dislike more than running water"). His sister, Julia, whom he hates, is going to take care of him once Ethel is married.
Then a gift arrives from a friend in Greece, wrapped in a Greek newspaper. In it Ethel reads the news that on the night they left, the old tree was blown down, and fell on the family who kept the inn nearby, killing them all. Ethel is upset, and says how lucky it was that they hadn't stayed there that night, calling it a "marvellous deliverance," but Mr. Lucas dismisses the story without interest. He no longer cares.
"What I Believe"
In this essay Forster outlines his creed as a secular humanist.
E.M. Forster starts out by saying that he does not believe in creeds; but there are so many around that one has to formulate creed of one's own in self defence. Three values are important to Forster: tolerance, good temper and sympathy.
Forster cautiously welcomes democracy for two reasons:
* It places importance on the individual (at least more than authoritarian regimes)
* It allows criticism
Forster goes on to argue that, although the state ultimately rests on force, the intervals between the use of force are what makes life worth living. Some people may call the absence of force decadence; Forster prefers to call it civilization.
Aspects of the Novel (1927)
The major idea to come out of this book of criticism by Forster is the idea of "flat" characters and "round" characters. Forster believed that Dickens was a strong writer of both types (Mr. Micawber v. Pip, for instance). By using examples from classic texts, he highlights the seven universal aspects of the novel: story, characters, plot, fantasy, prophecy, pattern, and rhythm.
Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
Polish novelist who wrote in English, after settling in England. He wrote stories and novels, predominantly with a nautical setting. While some of his works have a strain of romanticism, he is viewed as a precursor of modernist literature.
Works: Nostromo, Heart of Darkness, Lord Jim, The Secret Agent
Conrad. Set in the South American country of Costaguana (a fictional nation, though its geography as described in the book closely matches real-life Colombia). Costaguana has a long history of tyranny, revolution and warfare, but has recently experienced a period of stability under the dictator Ribiera.
Charles Gould is a native Costaguanero of English descent who owns an important silver-mining concession near the key port of Sulaco. He is tired of the political instability in Costaguana and its concomitant corruption, and uses his wealth to support Ribiera's government, which he believes will finally bring stability to the country after years of misrule and tyranny by self-serving dictators. Instead, Gould's refurbished silver mine and the wealth it has generated inspires a new round of revolutions and self-proclaimed warlords, plunging Costaguana into chaos. Among others, the revolutionary Montero invades Sulaco; Gould, adamant that his silver should not become spoil for his enemies, orders Nostromo, the trusted "capataz de los cargadores" (head longshoreman) of Sulaco, to hide it on an offshore island.
Nostromo is an Italian expatriate who has risen to his position through his daring exploits. ("Nostromo" is Italian for "shipmate" or "boatswain", but the name could also be considered a corruption of the Italian phrase "nostro uomo," meaning "our man.") Nostromo's real name is Giovanni Battista Fidanza — Fidanza meaning "trust" in archaic Italian.
The exploit does not bring Nostromo the fame he had hoped for, and he feels slighted and used. Feeling that he has risked his life for nothing, he is consumed by resentment, which leads to his corruption and ultimate destruction, for he has kept secret the true fate of the silver after all others believed it lost at sea. In recovering the silver for himself, he is shot and killed, mistaken for a trespasser, by the father of his fiancée, the keeper of the lighthouse on the island of Great Isabel.
Heart of Darkness (1902)
This highly symbolic story is actually a story within a story, or frame tale, narrated by a man named Marlow to colleagues at an evening gathering. It details an incident earlier in Marlow's life, a visit up the Congo River to investigate the work of Kurtz, a Belgian trader in ivory in the Congo Free State.
Due to Kurtz's ailing condition, Marlow and his crew take him aboard their ship themselves and depart. Kurtz is lodged in Marlow's pilot-house and Marlow begins to see that Kurtz, although skeletal due to his failing health, is every bit as grandiose as previously described, especially with regards to the enthralling tone of his speech. However, Marlow finds himself disappointed with Kurtz's childish schemes for fame and fortune.
During the journey, Kurtz undergoes a serious change, becoming increasingly depressed and losing hope. He gives Marlow a collection of papers and a photograph for safekeeping, as both witnessed the manager going through Kurtz's belongings. The photograph is of a beautiful young woman whom Marlow correctly assumes is Kurtz's fiancée, or as Marlow calls her, "his Intended." His dying words are "The Horror! The Horror!," perhaps his own reflection on the terrible actions he took in his life.
Marlow later returns to Europe and is confronted by many people seeking objects and thoughts of Kurtz. Marlow visits Kurtz's fiancée about a year later; she is still in mourning and strongly maintains naïve notions of his virtue. When she asks him about Kurtz's death and his final words, Marlow is unable to tell her the truth, instead telling her that he died with her name upon his lips.
Lord Jim (1900)
Jim (his surname is never disclosed), a young British seaman, becomes first mate on the Patna, a ship full of pilgrims travelling to Mecca for the hajj. Jim joins his captain and other crew members in abandoning the ship and its passengers. A few days later, they are picked up by a British ship. However, the Patna and its passengers are later also saved, and the reprehensible actions of the crew are exposed. The other participants evade the judicial court of inquiry, leaving Jim to the court alone. The court strips him of his navigation command certificate for his dereliction of duty. Jim is angry with himself, both for his moment of weakness, and for missing an opportunity to be a 'hero'.
At the trial, he meets Marlow, a sea captain, who in spite of his initial misgivings over what he sees as Jim's moral unsoundness, comes to befriend him, for he is "one of us". Jim tries to remain incognito, but whenever the opprobrium of the Patna incident catches up with him, he abandons his place and moves further east.
At length, Marlow's friend Stein suggests placing Jim as his factor in Patusan, where Jim's past can remain hidden. While living on the island he acquires the title 'Tuan' ('Lord'). Here, Jim wins the respect of the people and becomes their leader by relieving them from the predations of the bandit Sherif Ali and protecting them from the corrupt local Malay chief, Rajah Tunku Allang. Jim wins the love of Jewel, a woman of mixed race, and is "satisfied... nearly". The end comes a few years later, when the town is attacked by the marauder "Gentleman" Brown. Although Brown and his gang are driven off, Dain Waris, the son of the leader of the Bugis community, is slain. Jim returns to Doramin, the Bugis leader, and willingly takes a fatal bullet in the chest from him as retribution for the death of his son.
The Secret Agent: A Simple Tale (1907)
Mr. Adolf Verloc: a secret agent who owns a shop in the Soho region of London. He is tasked by his superiors with destroying Greenwich by means of a bomb. He is part of an anarchist organization that creates pamphlets under the heading The Future of the Proletariat. He is married to Winnie, and lives with his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brother-in-law, Stevie.
Mrs. Winnie Verloc: Verloc's wife. She cares for her brother Stevie, who has an unknown mental disability. She is younger than her husband and thinks of what may have happened if she had married her original love, rather than choosing to marry the successful Verloc. A loyal wife, she becomes incensed upon learning of the death of her brother due to her husband's plotting, and kills him with a knife in the heart. She dies, presumably by drowning herself to avoid the gallows.
Stevie: Winnie 's brother is very sensitive and is disturbed by notions of violence or hardship. His sister cares for him, and Stevie passes most of his time drawing numerous circles on pieces of paper. He is implicated in Verloc's attempt to bomb Greenwich, although the degree of his complicity is not known.
Chief Inspector Heat: a policeman who is dealing with the explosion at Greenwich. An astute man who uses a clue found at the scene of the crime to trace events back to Verloc's home. Although he informs his superior what he is planning to do with regards to the case, he is not aware that the Assistant Commissioner is acting without his knowledge.
The Assistant Commissioner: of a higher rank than the Chief Inspector, he uses the knowledge gained from Heat to pursue matters personally. He informs his superior, Sir Ethelred, of his intentions, and tracks down Verloc before Heat can.
Comrade Alexander Ossipon: an ex-medical student and friend of Verloc, and another anarchist.
Karl Yundt: a friend of Verloc, and another anarchist.
Michaelis: a friend of Verloc, and another anarchist.
The Professor: another anarchist, who specialises in explosives.
Mother is putting my new secondhand clothes in order. She prays now, she says, that I may learn in my own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels. Amen. So be it. Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race
Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
INELUCTABLE MODALITY of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot. Snotgreen, bluesilver, rust: coloured signs. Limits of the diaphane. But he adds: in bodies. Then he was aware of them bodies before of them coloured. How? By knocking his sconce against them, sure. Go easy. Bald he was and a millionaire, maestro di color che sanno. Limit of the diaphane in. Why in? Diaphane, adiaphane. If you can put your five fingers through it it is a gate, if not a door. Shut your eyes and see.
Joyce, Ulysses (from Stephen's musings on the beach). Don't let the oddness of the language fool you into thinking this is Finnegans Wake!
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
British-born American poet. Born in Ilford, Essex, England, her mother was Welsh, and her father was an Anglican parson who had immigrated from Germany, and had been raised a Hasidic Jew before converting to Christianity. Her first book of poetry, The Double Image, was published in 1946.
The world is
not with us enough.
O taste and see
the subway Bible poster said,
meaning The Lord, meaning
if anything all that lives
to the imagination's tongue,
grief, mercy, language,
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street, plum, quince,
living in the orchard and being
hungry, and plucking
"O Taste and See", Denise Levertov
John Fowles (b. 1926)
British post-modernist. The publishing and international success of his first novel, The Collector, has ended his teaching career and started his literary career. Among his other significant works are the novels The Magus and The French Lieutenant's Woman. The Aristos, his most well-known non-fiction work, is a collection of philosophical reflections.
Kingsley Amis (1922-95)
Amis is chiefly known as a comedic novelist of mid- to late-20th century British life, but his literary work extended into many genres - poetry, essays and criticism, short stories, food and drink writing, anthologies, and a number of novels in genres such as science fiction and mystery. Most famous for Lucky Jim (1954)
Lucky Jim (1954)
Lucky Jim is set sometime around 1950 and follows the exploits of the titular protagonist James Dixon, a reluctant lecturer at an English university. It exemplifies the use of a precise but plain-spoken narrative voice.
Dixon is not particularly dedicated to his job, having taken it because he feels that he'd be no use as a schoolteacher and unable to obtain work in any other field. Having made a particularly bad impression he is concerned about being fired, and seeks to gain approval by maintaining good relations with his superior, the tedious Professor Welch, and by attempting to get his article on historical shipbuilding methods published. Jim is largely without tact and prudence, character traits exagerated by his difficulty in accepting the pretension of Welch and others.
The novel culminates in Jim's speech on "Merrye England," which he gives in order to please Welch. The speech goes horribly wrong as Jim uncontrollably begins to mock Welch and everything else he hates while giving the speech; he finally goes into convulsions and passes out. Welch, of course, fires Jim. However, a wealthy Scottish business man who seems to have a tacit respect for Jim's individuality and attitude towards pretension give Jim a good job in London that pays much better than his lecturing position. Jim finally has the last laugh as Christine, who had been engaged to Welch's son, decides to assume a relationship with him in London. The end of the book has Jim and Christine bumping into the Welchs on the street; Jim can't withhold from walking right up to them with Christine on his arm and exploding in laughter.
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
English poet and novelist. His first book of poetry, The North Ship, was published in 1945, followed by two novels, Jill (1946) and A Girl in Winter (1947), but he came to prominence in 1955 with the publication of his second collection of poems, The Less Deceived, followed by The Whitsun Weddings (1964) and High Windows (1974).
Larkin's early work shows the influence of Yeats, but his later poetic identity was influenced mainly by Thomas Hardy. He is well-known for his use of slang and coarse language in his poetry, partly balanced by a similarly antique word choice. With fine use of enjambement and rhyme, his poetry is highly structured, but never rigid. Death was a recurring theme and subject of his poetry, Aubade being an example of this. The Less Deceived, published in 1955, marked Larkin as an up-and-coming poet. He was for a time associated with The Movement.
I work all day, and get half-drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I shall myself die.
Larkin, "Aubade" (1977). Death is a common theme of Larkin's work--look for it
Loneliness clarifies. Here silence stands
Like heat. Here leaves unnoticed thicken,
Hidden weeds flower, neglected waters quicken,
Luminously-peopled air ascends;
And past the poppies bluish neutral distance
Ends the land suddenly beyond a beach
Of shapes and shingle. Here is unfenced existence:
Facing the sun, untalkative, out of reach.
Larkin, "Here". NB the "very English" alienation critics ascribe to Larkin.
Gabriel García Márquez (b. 1928)
Colombian novelist, journalist, publisher, political activist, and Nobel laureate in literature. Born in the town of Aracataca in the department of Magdalena, he has lived mostly in Mexico and Europe and currently spends much of his time in Mexico City. Widely credited with introducing the global public to magical realism, he has secured both significant critical acclaim and widespread commercial success. Most famous for One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967) and Love in the Time of Cholera (1985)
One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967)
First line!: "Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice"
Follows the multi-generational story of the Buendía family, whose patriarch, José Arcadio Buendía, founds the town of Macondo, the metaphoric Colombia. The non-linear story is narrated via different time frames, a technique derived from the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges (as in The Garden of Forking Paths).
All of the events of One Hundred Years of Solitude take place in the fictional Colombian village of Macondo. The town is founded by José Arcadio Buendía, a strong-willed and impulsive leader who becomes deeply interested in the mysteries of the universe when a band of gypsies visits Macondo, led by the recurring Melquíades. As the town grows, the fledgling government of the country takes an interest in Macondo's affairs, but they are held back by José Arcadio Buendía.
Civil war breaks out in the land, and Macondo soon takes a role in the war, sending a militia led by Colonel Aureliano Buendía, José Arcadio Buendía's son, to fight against the conservative regime. While the colonel is gone, José Arcadio Buendia goes insane and must be tied to a tree. Arcadio, his illegitimate grandchild, takes leadership of the town but soon becomes a brutal dictator. The Conservatives capture the town, and Arcadio is shot by a firing squad.
The wars continue, with Colonel Aureliano narrowly avoiding death multiple times, until, weary of the meaningless fighting, he arranges a peace treaty that will last until the end of the novel. After the treaty is signed, Aureliano shoots himself in the chest, but survives. The town develops into a sprawling center of activity as foreigners arrive by the thousands. The foreigners begin a banana plantation near Macondo. The town prospers until a strike arises at the banana plantation. The national army is called in, and the protesting workers are gunned down and thrown into the ocean. At this time, Úrsula, the impossibly ancient widow of José Arcadio Buendía, remarks that "it was as if time was going in a circle".
After the banana worker massacre, the town is saturated by heavy rains that last for almost five years. Úrsula says that she is waiting for the rains to stop so that she can die at last. The last member of the Buendía line, named Aureliano Babilonia (originally referred to as Aureliano Buendía, before he discovers through Melquíades' parchments that Babilonia is his paternal surname), is born at this time. When the rains stop, Úrsula dies at last, and Macondo is left desolated.
Aureliano Babilonia is finally left in solitude at the crumbling Buendía house, where he studies the parchments of Melquíades, who has appeared as a ghost to him. He gives up on this task to have a love affair with his aunt, though he is unsure whether they are related. When she dies in childbirth and his son (who is born with a pig's tail) is eaten by ants, Aureliano is finally able to decipher the parchments. The house, and the town, disintegrate into a whirlwind as he translates the parchments, on which is contained the entire history of the Buendía family, as predicted by Melquíades. As he finishes translating, the entire town is obliterated from the world.
an aesthetic style or genre of fiction in which magical elements blend with the real world. The story explains these magical elements as real occurrences, presented in a straightforward manner that places the "real" and the "fantastic" in the same stream of thought. Although it is most commonly used as a literary genre, Magic Realism also applies to film and the visual arts.
Authors: Kafka, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, British Indian writer Salman Rushdie, African American novelist Toni Morrison, English author Louis de Bernières and English feminist writer Angela Carter
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848)(1820-49)
Anne Bronte (1820-49). Story of a woman escaping from her abusive husband with her son and taking refuge in a house on the moors, where she is drawn into the local gossip and intrigues of a farming community.
Helen Huntingdon, Arthur Huntingdon, little Arthur, Gilbert Markham, Frederick Lawrence, Peggy Maxwell, Lord Lowborough, Ralph Hattersley, Eliza Millward,
Agnes Grey (1847)
Anne Bronte (1820-49). Agnes Grey is the daughter of a minister, whose family comes to financial ruin. Desperate to earn money to care for herself, she takes one of the few jobs allowed to respectable women in the early Victorian era, as a governess to the children of the wealthy. In working with two different families, the Bloomfields and the Murrays, she comes to learn about the troubles that face a young woman who must try to rein in unruly, spoiled children for a living, and about the ability of wealth and status to destroy social values. After her father's death Agnes opens a small school with her mother and finds happiness with a man who loves her for herself. By the end of the novel they have three children, Edward, Agnes and Mary.
Maya Angelou (1928-)
Angelou is best known for her series of autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences; she is also an established poet, having read "The Pulse of Morning" at Clinton's 1993 inauguration. The first and most highly acclaimed, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), tells of her first seventeen years, and brought her international recognition and acclaim.
Robert Burns (1759-96)
Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a "light" Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these his political or civil commentary is often at its most blunt. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement.
Auld Lang Syne, To a Mouse, A Man's A Man for A' That, Ae Fond Kiss, Scots Wha Hae, Tam O'Shanter, Halloween, The Battle of Sherramuir
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave-we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.
Burns, "A Man's a Man for A' That" (1975). Note the Scots dialect and the theme of social justice
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neibors, neibors, meet;
As market days are wearing late,
And folk begin to tak the gate,
While we sit bousing at the nappy,
An' getting fou and unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps and stiles,
That lie between us and our hame,
Where sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gathering her brows like gathering storm,
Nursing her wrath to keep it warm.
Burns, "Tam o' Shanter" (1790). The title character stays out drinking too late, must ride home through the Ayrshire countryside in the dark and encounters a Black Mass at the church; the devils chase him but he manages to cross the bridge just in time, though his mare's tail is pulled off by a witch
Albert Camus (1913-60)
French pied-noir (Algerian-born European) author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. He wrote in his essay "The Rebel" that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom. Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label.
The Stranger (L'Étranger, often translated as The Outsider) (1942)
The Plague (La Peste) (1947)
The Fall (La Chute) (1956)
A Happy Death (La Mort heureuse) (written 1936-1938, published posthumously 1971)
The First Man (Le premier homme) (incomplete, published posthumously 1995)
The Myth of Sisyphus (Le Mythe de Sisyphe) (1942)
The Rebel (L'Homme révolté) (1951)
The Myth of Sisyphus (1942)
Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man's futile search for meaning, unity, and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values. Does the realization of the absurd require suicide? Camus answers: "No. It requires revolt." He then outlines several approaches to the absurd life. The final chapter compares the absurdity of man's life with the situation of Sisyphus, a figure of Greek mythology who was condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. The essay concludes, "The struggle itself [...] is enough to fill a man's heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy."
The Stranger (1942)
Camus. The title character is Meursault, an Algerian ("a citizen of France domiciled in North Africa, a man of the Mediterranean, an homme du midi yet one who hardly partakes of the traditional Mediterranean culture") who seemingly irrationally kills an Arab man whom he recognises in French Algiers. The story is divided into two parts: Meursault's first-person narrative view before and after the murder, respectively.
It was as if I had waited all this time for this moment and for the first light of this dawn to be vindicated. Nothing, nothing mattered, and I knew why. So did he. Throughout the whole absurd life I'd lived, a dark wind had been rising toward me from somewhere deep in my future, across years that were still to come, and as it passed, this wind leveled whatever was offered to me at the time, in years no more real than the ones I was living.
Camus, The Stranger (1942)
Hart Crane (1899-1932)
American poet. Finding both inspiration and provocation in the poetry of T. S. Eliot, Crane wrote modernist poetry that was difficult, highly stylized, and ambitious in its scope. In his most ambitious work, The Bridge, Crane sought to write an epic poem, in the vein of The Waste Land, that expressed a more optimistic view of modern, urban culture than the one that he found in Eliot's work.
The Bridge, White Buildings (a collection of shorter works)
The Bridge (1930)
A 'modernist epic' poem by Hart Crane describing the Brooklyn Bridge. NB that ETS might put this poem alongside other works that describe architecture--to identify, try looking for the meter (iambic pentameter abcb)
Also look for subject matter: the bridge is a harp, a threshhold, etc., and the content may be related to American myth (settling New York, the Powhatan and Pocahontas, etc.)
"O harp and altar, of the fury fused . . . "
"Terrific threshold of the prophet's pledge . . . "
"Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars . . . "
Hart Crane, "The Bridge" (1930). This image of a "harp" (stringed suspension) will help with identification
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City's fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year . . .
O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies' dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.
Hart Crane, "The Bridge" (1930)
A cultural movement that spanned the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, it was known as the "New Negro Movement", named after the 1925 anthology by Alain Locke. Though it was centered in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, many French-speaking black writers from African and Caribbean colonies who lived in Paris were also influenced by the Harlem Renaissance.
Arna Bontemps — God Sends Sunday (1931), Black Thunder (1936)
Countee Cullen — One Way to Heaven (1932)
Jessie Redmon Fauset — There is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1928), The Chinaberry Tree (1931), Comedy, American Style (1933)
Rudolph Fisher — The Walls of Jericho (1928), The Conjure-Man Dies (1932)
Langston Hughes — Not Without Laughter (1930)
Zora Neale Hurston — Jonah's Gourd Vine (1934), Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)
Nella Larsen — Quicksand (1928), Passing (1929)
Claude McKay — Home to Harlem (1927), Banjo (1929), Gingertown (1931), Banana Bottom (1933)
George Schuyler — Black No More (1931), Slaves Today (1931)
Wallace Thurman — The Blacker the Berry (1929), Infants of the Spring (1932), Interne (1932)
Jean Toomer — Cane (1923)
Carl Van Vechten — N*gger Heaven (1926)
Langston Hughes, Mulatto, produced on Broadway. Hughes also helped to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater
Zora Neale Hurston, author of the play Color Struck
Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, James Weldon Johnson, Claude McKay
W. E. B. Du Bois
John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
American artist and novelist associated with modernism and the Lost Generation.
His major work is the celebrated U.S.A. trilogy, comprising The 42nd Parallel (1930), Nineteen Nineteen or 1919 (1932), and The Big Money (1936). Dos Passos used experimental techniques in these novels, incorporating newspaper clippings, autobiography, biography and fictional realism to paint a vast landscape of American culture during the first decades of the 20th century.
Mac (Fainy McCreary) - A wandering printer, train-hopping newspaperman, and a crusader for the working man
Janey Williams - A young stenographer from Washington, Dc (assistant to Moorehouse)
Eleanor Stoddard - Works in Chicago at a laceshop
J. Ward Moorehouse - A marketing man
Charley Anderson - A mechanic
Eveline Hutchins - Artist and interior decorator
Mary Fench - Journalist and labor activist
Margo Dowling - Actress/entertainer
Joe Williams - A sailor, brother of Janey Williams
E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)
American poet, painter, essayist, author, and playwright, most easily recognizable for his lower-case, largely unpunctuated short poems and for the transcendentalist leanings of his personal philosophy. Though predominantly writing in free verse, many of his poems are sonnets, albeit often with a modern twist, and he occasionally made use of the blues form and acrostics. Spent much of his young life in Paris, drawing on surrealism, dadaism, and the imagistic experiments of Amy Lowell
who used to
ride a watersmooth-silver
and break onetwothreefourfive pigeonsjustlikethat
he was a handsome man
and what i want to know is
how do you like your blueeyed boy
e.e. cummings, "Buffalo Bill's" (1920)
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did
Women and men (both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain
e.e. cummings, "anyone lived in a pretty how town" (1940)
W. E. B. Du Bois
American sociologist, historian, civil rights activist, Pan-Africanist, author and editor. Du Bois and his supporters opposed the Atlanta Compromise, an agreement crafted by Booker T. Washington which provided that Southern blacks would work and submit to white political rule, while Southern whites guaranteed that blacks would receive basic educational and economic opportunities. Instead, Du Bois insisted on full civil rights and increased political representation, which he believed would be brought about by the African-American intellectual elite. He referred to this group as the talented tenth and believed that African Americans needed the chances for advanced education to develop its leadership.
The Souls of Black Folk (v. important)
Black Reconstruction in America
The Souls of Black Folk (1903)
A series of essays by WEB Du Bois focusing on racial and social issues in America.
Chapter I lays out an overview of Du Bois's thesis for the book. It says that the blacks of the South need the right to vote, a good education, and to be treated with equality and justice. It also defines his term double consciousness: "It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity."
The second chapter, "The Dawn of Freedom" covers the history of the Freedman's Bureau during reconstruction.
Chapters III through VI focus on education. It is here that Du Bois argues against Booker T. Washington's idea of focusing solely on industrial education for black men. He also advocates the addition of a classical education to establish leaders and educators in the black community.
Chapters VII through X are sociological studies of the black community. Du Bois investigates the influence that segregation and discrimination have had on the black people. He argues that much of the negative stereotypes of blacks as lazy, violent, and simple-minded are results of the treatment from white people.The final chapters of the book are devoted to narratives of individuals. "Chapter XI: Of the Passing of the First-Born" tells the story of Du Bois's own son and his untimely death. In the next chapter, the life of Alexander Crummell is a short biography of a black priest in the Episcopal Church. "Chapter XIII: Of the Coming of John" is the fictional account of a boy from Georgia who goes off to college and, on his return is rejected by both his black community and the white patricians of his town. The last chapter is about Negro music and makes reference to the short musical passages at the beginning of each of the other chapters.
A term invented by WEB Du Bois to describe an individual whose identity is divided into several facets.
African Americans in particular struggle with a multi-faceted conception of self. This results from African slaves being torn away from their homeland and struggling to now define themselves as African American, even though they are not treated the same as other Americans. It also results from having to see themselves not only through their own eyes but through the eyes of the whites who for centuries had legal control over their lives; they are thus constantly aware of how much their own sense of identity and value conflicts with the identity and value imposed upon them by white America.
It is a peculiar sensation, this double-consciousness, this sense of always looking at one's self through the eyes of others, of measuring one's soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity. One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body, whose dogged strength alone keeps it from being torn asunder.
WEB Du Bois, "The Souls of Black Folk" (1903)
George Gascoigne (1535-77)
English poet, soldier, artist, and unsuccessful courtier. He is considered the most important poet of the early Elizabethan era, following Sir Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey and leading to the emergence of Philip Sidney.
His most noted works include A Discourse of the Adventures of Master FJ (1573), an account of courtly sexual intrigue and one of the earliest English prose fictions; The Supposes, (performed in 1566, printed in 1573), an early translation of Ariosto and the first comedy written in English prose, which was used by Shakespeare as a source for The Taming of the Shrew; the frequently anthologised short poem "Gascoignes wodmanship" (1573); and "Certayne Notes of Instruction concerning the making of verse or ryme in English" (1575), the first essay on English versification.
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935)
American sociologist, novelist, writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, and a lecturer for social reform. She was a utopian feminist during a time when her accomplishments were exceptional for women, and she served as a role model for future generations of feminists because of her unorthodox concepts and lifestyle. Her best remembered work today is her semi-autobiographical short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1892) which she wrote after a severe bout of postpartum psychosis.
Allen Ginsberg (1926-97)
Ginsberg is best known for his epic poem "Howl" (1956), in which he celebrated his fellow "angel-headed hipsters" and harshly denounced what he saw as the destructive forces of capitalism and conformity in the United States. This poem is one of the classic poems of the Beat Generation. Look for repetitive line openings ("who did x / who did y" or "Moloch / Moloch") to identify this one.
and who therefore ran through the icy streets obsessed with a sudden flash of the alchemy of the use of the ellipse the catalog the meter & the vibrating plane,
who dreamt and made incarnate gaps in Time & Space through images juxtaposed, and trapped the archangel of the soulbetween 2 visual images and joined the elemental verbs and set the noun and dash of consciousness together jumping with sensation of Pater Omnipotens Aeterna Deus
to recreate the syntax and measure of poor human prose and stand before you speechless and intelligent and shaking with shame, rejected yet confessing out the soul to conform to the rhythm of thought in his naked and endless head,
the madman bum and angel beat in Time, unknown, yet putting down here what might be left to say in time come after death,
Ginsberg, "Howl" (1956)
Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864)
English writer and poet. His best known works were the prose Imaginary Conversations, and the poem Rose Aylmer, but the critical acclaim he received from contemporary poets and reviewers was not matched by public popularity.
Works: Imaginary Conversations (1824-9) is six volumes of imaginary conversations between personalities of classical Greece and Rome: poets and authors; statesmen and women; and fortunate and unfortunate individuals
I cannot lead thee where of a certainty thou mayest always find it; but I will tell thee what it is. Truth is a point; the subtilest and finest; harder than adamant; never to be broken, worn away, or blunted. Its only bad quality is, that it is sure to hurt those who touch it; and likely to draw blood, perhaps the life-blood, of those who press earnestly upon it. Let us away from this narrow lane skirted with hemlock, and pursue our road again through the wind and dust toward the great man and the powerful. Him I would call the powerful one who controls the storms of his mind, and turns to good account the worst accidents of his fortune. The great man, I was going on to demonstrate, is somewhat more. He must be able to do this, and he must have an intellect which puts into motion the intellect of others.
Socrates, then, was your great man.
He was indeed; nor can all thou hast attributed to him ever make me think the contrary. I wish he could have kept a little more at home, and have thought it as well worth his while to converse with his own children as with others.
Imaginary Conversations (1824-9), Walter Savage Landor (between Diogenes and Plato
Hugh Latimer (c. 1487-1555)
Reformation preacher burned at the stake under the reign of Mary I. Rumoured to have said, to fellow priest Nicholas Ridley as the two were burned: "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out"
Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957)
English painter and author. He was a co-founder of the Vorticist movement in art, and edited the literary magazine of the Vorticists, BLAST (a British offshoot of Cubism). His novels include his pre-World War I-era novel Tarr (set in Paris), and The Human Age, a trilogy comprising The Childermass (1928), Monstre Gai and Malign Fiesta (both 1955), set in the afterworld. Time and Western Man (1927) is a cultural and philosophical discussion that includes penetrating critiques of James Joyce, Gertrude Stein and Ezra Pound that are still read.
Malcolm Lowry (1909-57)
English poet and novelist who was best known for his novel Under the Volcano (1947). This semi-autobiographical novel tells the story of Geoffrey Firmin, an alcoholic British consul in the small Mexican town of Quauhnahuac (the Aztec name of Cuernavaca), on the Day of the Dead, November 2, 1938. The book takes its name from Popocatepetl and Iztaccihuatl, the twin volcanos near where Lowry lived.
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
American lyrical poet, playwright and feminist who often wrote sonnets.
"First Fig" (1920)
"I, Being Born a Woman and Distressed"
"Euclid Alone Has Looked on Beauty Bare" (1922)
"The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver"
My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
It gives a lovely light.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "First Fig" (1920)
The world stands out on either side
No wider than the heart is wide;
Above the world is stretched the sky,—
No higher than the soul is high.
The heart can push the sea and land
Farther away on either hand;
The soul can split the sky in two,
And let the face of God shine through.
But East and West will pinch the heart
That can not keep them pushed apart;
And he whose soul is flat—the sky
Will cave in on him by and by.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, "Renascence" (1917). A long poem in modern dialect and iambic tetrameter is likely to be this one
Rainier Maria Rilke (1875-1926)
Among English-language readers, his best-known work is the Duino Elegies; his two most famous prose works are the Letters to a Young Poet and the semi-autobiographical Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
Figures from Greek mythology (e.g. Apollo, Hermes, Orpheus) recur as motifs in his poems and are depicted in original interpretations (e.g. in the poem Orpheus. Eurydice. Hermes, Rilke's Eurydice, numbed and dazed by death, does not recognize her lover Orpheus, who descended to hell to recover her). Other recurring figures in Rilke's poems are angels, roses and a character of a poet and his creative work.
Rilke often worked with metaphors, metonymy and contradictions (e.g. in his epitaph, the rose is a symbol of sleep - rose petals are reminiscent of closed eyelids).
Every Angel is terror. And yet,
ah, knowing you, I invoke you, almost deadly
birds of the soul. Where are the days of Tobias,
when one of the most radiant of you stood at the simple threshold,
disguised somewhat for the journey and already no longer awesome
(Like a youth, to the youth looking out curiously).
Let the Archangel now, the dangerous one, from behind the stars,
take a single step down and toward us: our own heart,
beating on high would beat us down. What are you?
Rilke, The Duino Elegies 2 (1912-22)
Arthur Rimbaud (1854-91)
A French poet. Born in Charleville, Ardennes, he produced his works while still in his late teens—Victor Hugo described him at the time as "an infant Shakespeare"—and he gave up creative writing altogether before the age of 20. As part of the decadent movement, Rimbaud influenced modern literature, music, and arts, and prefigured surrealism.
Le Soleil Était Encore Chaud (1866)
Poésies (c. 1869-1873)
Le bateau ivre (1871)
The Drunken Boat (1871)
"Le Bateau ivre" ("The Drunken Boat") is a 100-line verse-poem written by Arthur Rimbaud, then aged 16, in the summer of 1871 at his childhood home in Charleville in Northern France. Rimbaud included the poem in a letter he sent to Paul Verlaine in September 1871 to introduce himself to Verlaine. Shortly afterwards, he joined Verlaine in Paris and became his lover.
The poem is arranged in a series of 25 alexandrine quatrains with an a/b/a/b rhyme-scheme. It is woven around the delirious visions of the eponymous boat, swamped and lost at sea. It was considered revolutionary in its use of imagery and symbolism.
Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)
English poet, playwright, novelist, and critic. He invented the roundel form, and wrote several novels. His poetic works include: Atalanta in Calydon (1865), Poems and Ballads (1866), Songs before Sunrise (1871), Poems and Ballads Second Series, (1878) Tristram of Lyonesse (1882), Poems and Ballads Third Series (1889), and the novel Lesbia Brandon (published posthumously in 1952).
A roundel (not to be confused with the rondel) is a form of verse used in English language poetry devised by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909). It is a variation of the French rondeau form. It makes use of refrains, repeated according to a certain stylized pattern. A roundel consists of nine lines each having the same number of syllables, plus a refrain after the third line and after the last line. The refrain must be identical with the beginning of the first line: it may be a half-line, and rhymes with the second line. It has three stanzas and its rhyme scheme is as follows: A B A R ; B A B ; A B A R ; where R is the refrain. Also taken up by S' friend Christina Rossetti.
The little eyes that never knew
Light other than of dawning skies,
What new life now lights up anew
The little eyes?
"Hymn to Proserpine" (1866)
This poem by Swinburne is addressed to the goddess Proserpina, the Roman equivalent of Persephone.
The epigraph at the beginning of the poem is the phrase Vicisti, Galilaee, Latin for "You have conquered, O Galilean", the apocryphal dying words of the Emperor Julian. He had tried to reverse the official endorsement of Christianity by the Roman Empire. The poem is cast in the form of a lament by a person professing the paganism of classical antiquity and lamenting its passing, and expresses regret at the rise of Christianity. Lines 35 and 36 express this best:
Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Mark Twain (1835-1910)
American author and humorist, most famous for the novels and stories The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1889), as well as for a popular series of lecture tours, travelogues (The Innocents Abroad, 1869), and humour columns
THE sun was up so high when I waked that I judged it was after eight o'clock. I laid there in the grass and the cool shade thinking about things, and feeling rested and ruther comfortable and satisfied. I could see the sun out at one or two holes, but mostly it was big trees all about, and gloomy in there amongst them. There was freckled places on the ground where the light sifted down through the leaves, and the freckled places swapped about a little, showing there was a little breeze up there. A couple of squirrels set on a limb and jabbered at me very friendly.
I was powerful lazy and comfortable--didn't want to get up and cook breakfast. Well, I was dozing off again when I thinks I hears a deep sound of "boom!" away up the river. I rouses up, and rests on my elbow and listens; pretty soon I hears it again. I hopped up, and went and looked out at a hole in the leaves, and I see a bunch of smoke laying on the water a long ways up--about abreast the ferry. And there was the ferryboat full of people floating along down. I knowed what was the matter now. "Boom!" I see the white smoke squirt out of the ferryboat's side. You see, they was firing cannon over the water, trying to make my carcass come to the top.
Twain, Huckleberry Finn (1885). Look for the Southern dialect and first-person voice
The minister gave out his text and droned along monotonously through an argument that was so prosy that many a head by and by began to nod -- and yet it was an argument that dealt in limitless fire and brimstone and thinned the predestined elect down to a company so small as to be hardly worth the saving. Tom counted the pages of the sermon; after church he always knew how many pages there had been, but he seldom knew anything else about the discourse. However, this time he was really interested for a little while. The minister made a grand and moving picture of the assembling together of the world's hosts at the millennium when the lion and the lamb should lie down together and a little child should lead them. But the pathos, the lesson, the moral of the great spectacle were lost upon the boy; he only thought of the conspicuousness of the principal character before the on-looking nations; his face lit with the thought, and he said to himself that he wished he could be that child, if it was a tame lion.
Twain, Tom Sawyer (1876)
Rupert Brooke (1887-1915)
English poet known for his idealistic war sonnets written during the First World War, especially "The Soldier".
If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Brooke, "The Soldier" (1914). One of Brooke's idealistic war sonnets (note the Italian octet and sestet)
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
English poet and soldier, one of the leading poets of the First World War. His shocking, realistic war poetry on the horrors of trenches and gas warfare was heavily influenced by his friend Siegfried Sassoon and stood in stark contrast to both the public perception of war at the time, and to the confidently patriotic verse written by earlier war poets such as Rupert Brooke. Among his best-known works - most of which were published posthumously - are "Dulce et Decorum Est", "Insensibility", "Anthem for Doomed Youth", "Futility" and "Strange Meeting".
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares(2) we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest(3) began to trudge.
Wilfred Own, "Dulce et Decorum Est" (1917, published posthumously in 1920)
Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)
English poet, author and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's view, were responsible for a vainglorious war. He later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the "Sherston Trilogy".
Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
And one arm bent across your sullen cold
Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadow'd from the candle's guttering gold;
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head....
You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.
Sassoon, "The Dug-Out" (1919)
Lewis Carroll (1832-98)
English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the Snark" and "Jabberwocky", all examples of the genre of literary nonsense. He is noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy
I've heard it said
That but to see him in the first surprise
Of widower and father, nursing me,
Unmothered little child of four years old,
His large man's hands afraid to touch my curls,
As if the gold would tarnish,-his grave lips
Contriving such a miserable smile,
As if he knew needs must, or I should die,
And yet 'twas hard,-would almost make the stones
Cry out for pity.
E.B. Browning, "Aurora Leigh". Note the first-person tone and the citation of Shakespeare (Titus)