The 18th Century English Literature The 18th Century English Literature
The Age of Reason
The Age of Enlightenment
The Augustan Period
I. Some special terms: I. Some special terms:
The Age of Augustus The Age of Augustus
ththII. Historical Background of the 18 Century II. Historical Background of the 18 Century
• The “glorious” or “bloodless” revolution of 1688
• The Industrial Revolution
ththIII. Traits of the 18 C. Literature III. Traits of the 18 C. Literature
• a) classicism, 2) romanticism, 3) the beginning of the modern novel
IV. General Literary Features
• decline of Elizabethan tradition
• emergence of classical features:
a. lack of interest in real nature;
b. emphasis on the use of exact forms & words;
c. emphasis on balance & polish;
g. concerned with minute details, domestic details
e. popularity of heroic couplet;
f. poverty of lyrics
• importance of prose
• vogue of the French comedy
• abundance of satire in prose and verse
• growth of political and periodical literature
The great age of prose in English The great age of prose in English
• The literary representative figures are: Joseph Addison, Richard Steele, Jonathan
Swift, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, John Dryden, Alexander
Pope, Oliver Goldsmith
Alexander Pope Alexander Pope
• A professional poet
• Refined, skillful and sophisticated writer
• A great satirist and critic, though traditional and conventional in politics and
• Isolated from the normal career of life
• Translate Homer and Latin poetry
• Write essays in verse form
• Write in heroic couplets in iambic pentameters
The Rape of the Lock (1721) The Rape of the Lock (1721)
• A satire on the follies of his society
• Positive satire: man is a rational being and can improve and progress. c.f. Swift’s
• A mock epic divided into cantos
th• Use of persona “I”, also a distinctive feature of the 18 cent. novel.
• Use rhyming couplets, iambic pentameters, verse paragraphs instead of stanzas • Adopt specific epic devices: a. the statement of what the poet is going to sing. b.
use the muses
Daniel Defoe Daniel Defoe
His Representative Work: His Representative Work:
• Robinson Crusoe (1719): his masterpiece, for which he was regarded as the forerunner or father of the modern novel.
• Qualities of Robinson Crusoe:
Plot: fictional but based on facts
Character: an economic, strong-willed, resourceful man, religious & mindful
of his own profit, capable of work, energetic, persistent
theme: glorifies human labor, labor is a source of pride & happiness
The Periodical Press The Periodical Press
; Periodicals after the Restoration:
; London Gazette in 1666
; The Daily Courant in 1702
; The Tatler in 1709
; The Spectator in 1711
Joseph Addison (1672-1719) Joseph Addison (1672-1719) th; a distinguished conversationalist, a delightful essayist in early 18 cent. English
; educated in Oxford
; his father was rector
; had a long career in English politics as a Whig and in which he held many offices, including Secretary of Ireland and Secretary of State.
; He died in London at the age of forty-seven.
; remembered chiefly for his prose mastery.
; As Samuel Johnson wrote, “Whoever wishes to attain an English style, familiar
but not coarse, and elegant but not ostentatious, must give his days and nights to
the study of Addison.”
; His literary greatness rests upon his essays appearing in
; The Tatler (42 essays)
; The Spectator (274 essays)
; The Guardian (53 essays)
; Features of his Essays:
; uniform length
; miscellaneous subjects
; general literary level
; moral and social purposes
Quotes by Addison Quotes by Addison
; The greatest sweetener of human life is friendship. To raise this to the highest pitch of enjoyment, is a secret which but few discover.
; Talking with a friend is nothing else but thinking aloud.
; Man is distinguished from all other creatures by the faculty of laughter. ; If you wish success in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother and hope your guardian genius.
; Three grand essentials to happiness in this life are something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.
RICHARD STEELE(1672-1729) RICHARD STEELE(1672-1729)
; Essayist, playwright, and politician,
; born in Dublin, Ireland.
; studied at Oxford, and joined the army, but gave it up to become a writer. ; wrote three successful comedies
; in 1707 became editor of the London Gazette
; best known for the satirical, political, and moral essays in the periodicals the Tatler
(1709-1711), and the Spectator (1711-1712), He co-founded the latter with
; exposed the affectations, conceits, vices, and corruptions of all levels of society to the derision of humorous satire and comedic caricature--the beginnings of the modern novel.
Quotes by Richard Steele Quotes by Richard Steele
; A woman seldom writes her mind but in her postscript. ; Fire and swords are slow engines of destruction, compared to the tongue of a Gossip.
; Reading is to the mind what exercising is to the body. ; Nothing can atone for the lack of modesty; without which beauty is ungraceful and
; A healthy old fellow, who is not a fool, is the happiest creature living.
Jonathan Swift Jonathan Swift
His works His works
• The Battle of Books (1704)
• A Tale of Tub (1704)
• Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
• A Modest Proposal (1729)
Gulliver’s Travels Gulliver’s Travels
• Four parts: a collection of tales tied together by Gulliver • As a novel
• As a satire
• As a travel book
• As a children book
• As an allegory.
What is Satire What is Satire
th• A common form of the 18 Century, basically the ridiculing of any objects through laughter which will soften the blow
• Different types and degrees: light or harsh
• 2 types of classical satire: Juvenal and Horace
Juvenalian Satire: violent & ferocious, harsher, bitter, misanthropic, consumed
with indignation, disbelieve much in man’s mental power
Horacian Satire: witty & teasing, tolerant, urbane, amused, believe in man’s mental power
About Gulliver’s Travels About Gulliver’s Travels
• The work has 4 different voyages:
Book I: an accident as a result of carelessness or misfortune
Book II: through cowardice of Gulliver, left alone on the island
Book III: captured & abandoned by pirates intentionally
Book IV: left to starve on an Island
Misfortune—cowardice—intentional evil—viciousness of abandoning of man
Content of Gulliver’s Travels Content of Gulliver’s Travels
• Book I: about Liliputians in Liliput, being morally trivial and full of pride. • Book II: about the giants in Brobdingnag in the sense of magnanimity & grandeur, goodness & decency.
• Book III: about pseudo-philosophers & scientists in Laputa to attack the absurdities of the theoretical & abstract reasoning in economics, science & politics. • Book IV: about the country of the Houyhnhnms endowed with reason in the contrast with the Yahoos, beasts in the shape of men.
As a political & social satire As a political & social satire
; actually a biting work of political and social satire
; parodying popular travelogues of his day in creating this story of travels to imaginary foreign lands.
; In these fantastic tales, Swift satirizes the political events in England and Ireland in his day, English values and institutions.
; He ridicules academics, scientists, and Enlightenment thinkers who value rationalism above all else, and finally, he targets the human condition itself. A Modest Proposal A Modest Proposal
; A satirical essay depicting the horrific conditions of Ireland and the lives of the Irish people in 1729.
; Swift creates a fictional persona because by hiding his true identity he is able to convince the readers of the significance of Ireland’s problem and allow them to see truth and reality.
; The persona is an Irishman, intelligent, sound and serious. He appears to be a brute and a monster for proposing something evil and immoral very calmly as if it is normal to consume the flesh of another human being.
; What makes his proposal to be even more depraved is that he proposes to eat the babies.
; The persona justifies his proposal with numerous reasons:
; preventing voluntary abortions and infanticide
; preventing the loss of money for…
Use of irony Use of irony
; The title itself is ironic.
; It ridicules the Irish.
; If the proposal were put into effect, it would help establish love and care in families between family members.
; The author implies that cannibalism sounds like the most practicable solution. ; Wit and sarcasm play a critical role in awakening the Irish to the physical existence of their corrupted and debauched environment.
; By using verbal irony, Swift wishes to wake up the Irish people as well as Irish authorities from the inactive, passive and corrupted state, to take action to solve their problems.
; Generally, irony makes visible a contrast between appearance and reality. ; It exposes and underscores a contrast between
; what is and what seems to be
; what is and what ought to be
; what is and what one wishes to be
; what is and what one expects to be
Types of Irony Types of Irony
; Verbal irony
; the most common form. people say the opposite of what they mean.
; Two basic forms: understatement (不完全陈述;and overstatement
; purpose: for emphasis, showing one’s mental wit.
; the most bitter and destructive form of verbal irony. Used to condemn people by pretending to praise them
; Oh, you’re a real angel. You’re the noble and upright man who wouldn’t think
of dirtying his pure little hands with company business. But all along, behind
our backs, you were just as greedy and ruthless as the rest of us. ; Situational irony
; the situation differs from what common sense indicates it is, will be, or ought to
be. It results from what most people expect.
; In Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, the townspeople regard the minister
Arthur Dimmesdale as sanctified and angelic when in fact he shamefully
hides his adultery with Hester Prynne, allowing her to take all the blame. ; Attitudinal irony
; results from what one person expects. An individual thinks that reality is one
way when, in fact, it is a very different way.
; Naïve characters who think that everyone is upright and that everything will
turn out for the best, when in fact people they encounter treat them unfairly
and events are hurtful.
; Dramatic irony:
; occurs in plays when a character states or hears something that means more to
the audience than to the character.
; The reader has the foreknowledge of coming events, while the character do not.
; Oedipus Rex
The Romantic Revival The Romantic Revival
• a strong protest against the bondage of criticism • a recognition of the claims of passion & emotion • a renewed interest in medieval literature • In England, this movement showed itself in the trend of Pre-Romanticism in poetry
represented by William Blake & Robert Burns Robert Burns Robert Burns
The Poetry of Robert Burns The Poetry of Robert Burns
• Songs written in the Scottish dialect on various subjects • Songs of love & friendship with a spirit of romanticism • Songs of patriotism
• Poems on the theme of revolution
• Satiric poems
Features of Burn’s Poetry Features of Burn’s Poetry
• Very Scottish as the national poet of Scotland • A poet of the peasants & of the people
• Having wide knowledge & excellent mastery of the old song tradition
• Simple, humorous, direct & optimistic
William Blake William Blake
Major Works of William Blake Major Works of William Blake
• Poetical Sketches (1783)
• Songs of Innocence (1789)
• The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
• Songs of Experience (1794)
His “Prophetic Books” His “Prophetic Books”
; The Book of Thel (1789)
; The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790)
; The Book of Urizen (1794)
; America (1793)
; Milton (1804-8)
; Jerusalem (1804-20)
; Blake expressed his lifelong concern with the struggle of the soul to free its natural energies from reason and organized religion.
Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience Songs of Innocence, Songs of Experience
• The best of Blake’s short poems
• Songs of Innocence contains poems for children, depicting the happy condition of a child before it knows anything about the pains of existence.
• Songs of Experience is much maturer. The themes are about evil, great misery and pain of the people’s life
Features of Blake’s Poems Features of Blake’s Poems
• Very musical
• Using illustrations
Blake’s Position in English Literature Blake’s Position in English Literature
; Blake is a symbolist and sometimes called a mystic.
; The whole temper of Blake’s genius is essentially opposed to the classical tradition
of that age.
; He identifies classicism with formalism. As he puts it, the writers of the classical school “knew enough of artifice, but little of art”.
; His poetry displays the characteristics of the romantic spirit, according to which natural sentiment and individual originality are essential to literary creation. ; Blake’s revolutionary passion came near to that of Shelley. There is strong likeness between Shelley and Blake:
; The imagery and symbolism as well as the underlying spirit of Shelley’s
; For these reasons, Blake is called a Pre-Romantic or forerunner of the Romantic poetry of the 19th century.
A Brief Sum-up of the Course A Brief Sum-up of the Course
; Before Shakespeare
; Old English Literature
; Beowulf: a national epic
; Sir Gawain and the Green Knight: Romances (Anglo-Saxon Period)
; Geoffrey Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales: The Prologue
; Popular Ballades
; The Renaissance: The Elizabethan Age (16th century) ; William Shakespeare: Sonnets and Plays
; Christopher Marlowe: Doctor Faustus
; Francis Bacon: Essays
(The beginning of Modern English literature. The rebirth of classical Greek and
Latin literature: learned, civilized, broadminded, progressive, enlightened, and
; The Restoration Literature (17th century)
; The Metaphysical School (the use of conceit and wit, paradox, original,
intellectual, inventive images)
; John Donne
; Restoration Literature
; John Milton: Paradise Lost
; John Bunyan: The Pilgrim’s Progress
; The Cavalier Poets (the carpe-diem theme)
; The Age of Enlightenment (The Age of Reason, of Augustus, of Prose, with
stress on power of reason, mind against power of passion)
; Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock
; Daniel Defoe: Robinson Crusoe
; Jonathan Swift: A Modest Proposal
; The Age of Enlightenment (The Age of Reason, of Augustus, of Prose, with
stress on power of reason, mind against power of passion)
; Joseph Addison
; Richard Steele
; Robert Burns: A Red, Red Rose
; William Blake: London, The Chimney Sweeper, Tyger