British Romantic Novel and Essay.
T h e R o m a n t i c N o v e l
T h e G o t h i c N o v e l :
< the term derived from the frequent setting of Gothic novels in a gloomy Middle Age castle
- inaugurated by Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (1764) > flourished in the closing y. of 18th c.
- reacted against comfort and security, political stability, and commercial progress by resisting the rule of reason
- Edmund Burke: (a) the sublime related to vastness, infinity, and astonishment; i.e. wild and mountainous scenery in nature, castle ruins and medieval cathedrals in architecture, (b) modified danger and pain produce a ‘delightful horror’ < infl. by Aristotle’s tragedy as an evocation of pity and fear to purge of these emotions: J. Milton’s Paradise Lost and W. Shakespeare’s tragedies
- subject = exploitation of mystery and terror, supernatural phenomena, dark and irrational side of human nature, perverse impulses, etc.
- protagonist = homme fatal, i.e. a villain torturing oth. because being himself tortured by an unspeakable guilt; with elements of diabolism, sensuality, and sadistic perversion: Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Undolpho (1794) and The Italian (1797), and Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk (1794)
- setting = somewhere in the past, in sullen landscapes and decaying mansions with dark dungeons, secret passages, and stealthy ghosts
- Gothicism in poetry: S. T. Coleridge’s Christabel; J. Keat’s Eve of St. Agnes; G. G. Byron’s hero-villains; and P. B. Shelley’s interest in the fantastic, the macabre, and in the unconscious mind, incl. incest
T h e N o v e l o f P u r p o s e :
- propagated the new social and political theories
- frequently with Gothic elements
> William Godwin’s Caleb Williams (1794), conc. with the persecution by a wealthy squire of his young secretary revealing evidence that the squire has committed murder <=> the lower class as a subject to power of the upper class
> M. Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), conc. with a fabricated monster <=> the moral distortion imposed on an individual rejected by society because of his diverging from the norm
> M. Edgeworth’s Castle Rackrent (1800), anticipated the Br. regional novel and the Br. historical novel
T h e N o v e l o f M a n n e r s :
- J. Austen
T h e H i s t o r i c a l R o m a n c e :
- W. Scott
T h e R o m a n t i c E s s a y
- the Enlightenment > an explosion of potential readership
- reviews = issued 4x yearly; publ. lit. essays and essays on contemporary issues
- magazines = a monthly; publ. more miscellaneous materials
- the ‘familiar essay’ = a commentary on a non-technical subject written in a relaxed and intimate manner; often autobiog., reminiscent, and self-analytic
- the essayists incl. C. Lamb, W. Hazlitt, and Thomas De Quincey
Abrams, Meyer Howard, ed. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1993.
Barnard, Robert. Stručné dějiny anglické literatury. Praha: Brána, 1997.
Sanders, Andrew. The Short Oxford History of English Literature. New York: Clarendon Press, 1994.