General Background to Literature from 1660 to 1790
1659: Abdication of Richard Cromwell
1660: Return of Charles Stuart to England and his restoration to the English throne as Charles II
1666: The Great Fire of London
1673: The Test Act excluded Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics from public life
> Samuel Butler's caricature of Presbyterians and Independents in Hudibras (1663)
1678: The Popish Plot supposedly planned the murder of Protestants by their Catholic foes
- the House of Commons attempted to force Charles II to exclude his Catholic brother James from succession to the throne, but the King reacted by dissolving the Parliament
> John Dryden's portrayal of the tumultuous period in Absalom and Achitophel (1681)
- two opposing political parties emerged: the conservative Tories (represented by the landed gentry and country clergy) who supported the Crown and the Anglican Church, and the progressive Whigs (merchants, financiers, low-church clergymen) who supported commerce
1685: Reign of the Catholic James II
1688 - 89: The Glorious Revolution: deposition of James II and accession of the Protestant Dutchman William of Orange
- emergence of Jacobites, especially in Scotland, who supported James II, his son the Old Pretender and his grandson the Bonnie Prince Charlie as the legitimate rules of Britain
1702 - 14: Reign of Queen Anne
1707: Act of Union unites Scotland and England, which thus become Great Britain
1714 - 60: Rule by House of Hanover: George I (reign 1714 - 27) and George II (reign 1727 - 60)
- neither of the German kings took interest in British affairs, the ministers gain more importance
1721 - 42: Prime Minister Robert Walpole
> John Gay's Beggar's Opera (1728), Henry Fielding's Jonathan Wild (1743) and Alexander Pope's Dunciad (1728) criticize the Prime Minister's controlling of the House of Commons by buying off its members
1745: The Jacobite Rising, an unsuccessful campaign attempting to restore the Stuart kings to the throne
1760 - 1820: Reign of George II
Society and Philosophy
- the nation grew increasingly prosperous through an aggressive marked economy, newly annexed colonies, a lucrative slave trade, the beginnings of industrialism etc.
> common interests linked the British Isles: Ireland produced Jonathan Swift, Edmund Burke, Richard Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith, Scotland produced James Thomson, David Hume and James Boswell
- Scepticism: pessimistic view of human nature
> Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan (1651) emphasizes the predatory passions in human nature and society
- Empiricism: all knowledge derives from experience, but our senses do not report the world accurately, therefore it is impossible to achieve a reliable knowledge
> Thomas Hobbes (1588 - 1679), John Locke (1632 - 1704), George Berkeley (1685 - 1753), David Hume (1711 - 1776)
> Alexander Pope's An Essay on Man (1734) warns among others against human presumption
- Sentimentalism: the doctrine of natural goodness of man produced a cult of sensibility and rise of philanthropy
> Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712 - 1778)
- Methodism: an evangelical revival brining the gospel to common people, warning them they were all sinners and damned, unless they accepted the amazing grace of salvation through faith
> John Wesley (1703 - 1791), Charles Wesley (1707 - 1788), George Whitefield (1714 - 1770)
- Augustan: an analogy of post-civil war England to Augustan Rome, the age of stability after the civil war that followed the assassination of Caesar
- Neoclassical: re-creations and translations of classical Greek and Roman literature; holding to the tradition of the classical literary principles, e.g. the genres of epic, tragedy, comedy, pastoral, satire or ode
< influenced by French literature as well as French fashions which were brought over to England by Charles II
(1) Restoration Literature 1660 - 1700, i.e. from the Restoration to the death of Dryden: an effort to bring a new refinement according to sound critical principles of what is fitting and right
(2) Literature of the First Half of the 18th Century, i.e. from 1700 to the deaths of Pope in 1744 and Swift in 1745: a special satirical attention to what is unfitting and wrong
(3) Literature of the Second Half of the 18th Century, i.e. from 1745 to the death of Johnson in 1784 and the publication of Cowper's The Task in 1785: confrontation of the old principles with revolutionary ideas
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.