Background to Literature between 1700 and 1745
- emergence of a new reading public, including upper-class women and the prosperous middle-class of both sexes
- rise of popular periodical essays, miscellaneous collections of verse and prose, newspapers and later magazines
> demands of popular taste, seen as a coarsening and corruption of the arts, are balanced by attempts to make classical literature available in translations: e.g. Alexander Pope's translations of Homer
- the dominant mode, modern times are often satirized by the use of classical forms and myths
> Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock (1714) exposes the frivolity of fashionable London by rendering the idle upper-class characters as epic heroes
> Jonathan Swift's The Battle of the Books (1704) mocks the moderns by using epic similes
> John Gay's Trivia, or the Art of Walking the Streets of London (1716) describes his tour of the city in the form of mock georgics
- attempts to achieve the ideal style with the ease and poise of well-bred urbane conversation
> dominated by essayists: Joseph Addison, Sir Richard Steele
- the Restoration comedy of manners is replaced by sentimental comedy, dealing with high moral sentiments, making the goodness triumph over vice and moving the audience to tears rather than laughter
> e.g. Richard Steele's The Conscious Lovers (1722) features a man who would rather accept dishonour than to fight a duel with a friend
> in contrast John Gay's Beggar's Opera (1728) resists the sentimental mode in favour of a cynical tone
- the courtly sonnets and lyrics are out of fashion, replaced by descriptive and didactic verse, along with the popular genres of the ballad, hymn and burlesque
- an elegant simplicity: a new restraint, clarity, regularity and good sense contrasting to John Donne's metaphysical poetry or John Milton's bold storming of heaven
> John Dryden's search to create love poetry that engages the hearts of readers instead of perplexing them with philosophical speculation as John Donne's love poetry did
- nature: represented as the universal and permanent element in human experience, while human nature was held to be uniform, human beings were known to be infinitely varied
> Alexander Pope's praise of Shakespeare's characters as 'Nature herself', each of his characters being 'as much an individual as those in life itself', so that it is 'impossible to find any two alike'
- poetic diction: personification ('Ace of Hearts steps forth'), periphrasis (a roundabout way of avoiding homely words, e.g. 'finny tribes' for fish), stock phrases ('shining sword'), forcing English sentences into Latin syntax
- heroic couplet: typically a complete statement in rhymed iambic pentameter closed by a punctuation mark, often with a caesura enforced by the length of the pentameter line
> Alexander Pope brought the heroic couplet to perfection
- blank verse: unrhymed iambic pentameter not closed in couplets, typically used for philosophical, descriptive, meditative poems, for epics and for drama
> James Thomson's Seasons (1726 - 1730) use blank verse for poetry of natural description
PředmětBritská literatura 3.
SemestrZimní semestr 2008/09.
StatusPovinná přednáška pro III. blok.
Abrams, M. H., ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 7th ed. Vol. 1. New York: Norton, 1999.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.