19th century literature
МИНИСТЕРСТВО ОБРАЗОВАНИЯ И
НАУКИ РЕСПУБЛИКИ КАЗАХСТАН КАСПИЙСКИЙ
Институт педагогических технологий
Кафедра «Иностранные языки»
ЦИТиДО Рег. №00005 01.04.02013г.
По дисциплине: Литература страны изучаемого языка
Выполнила: ст.гр. ПД-11-6 СУЗ
Проверила: Дальмуханова Д.К.
19th century literature
Main article: Romanticism
Various dates are given for the Romantic period in British literature. Here the publishing of Lyrical Ballads in 1798 is taken as the beginning and the start of Queen Victoria's reign in 1837 as its end, even though, for example, William Wordsworth lived until 1850 and William Blake published before 1798.
The Romantic movement in English literature had its beginnings in the pre-Romantic poets, James Thomson (1700–48), Edward Young (1683-1765), Thomas Gray (1716–71), Robert Blair (1699-1746), James Macpherson (1736–96), Thomas Chatterton (1752–70), William Cowper (1731-1800), etc., the Gothic novel and the novel of sensibility. Significant foreign influences were the Germans Goethe, Schiller and August Wilhelm Schlegel and French philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78). Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757) was another important influence.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was another pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a cultural icon in Scotland. As well as making original compositions, Burns also collected folk songs from across Scotland, often revising or adapting them. His Poems, chiefly in the Scottish Dialect was published in 1786. Among poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world are, "Auld Lang Syne"; "A Red, Red Rose"; "A Man's A Man for A' That"; "To a Louse"; "To a Mouse"; "The Battle of Sherramuir"; "Tam o' Shanter" and "Ae Fond Kiss".
The changing landscape of Britain brought about by the steam engine has two major outcomes: the boom of industrialism with the expansion of the city, and the consequent depopulation of the countryside as a result of the enclosures. Most peasants poured into the city to work in the new factories. This abrupt change is revealed by the change of meaning in five key words: industry (once meaning "creativity"), democracy (once disparagingly used as "mob rule"), class (from now also used with a social connotation), art (once just meaning "craft"), culture (once only belonging to farming). But the poor condition of workers, the new class-conflicts and the pollution of the environment causes a reaction to urbanism and industrialisation prompting poets to rediscover the beauty and value of nature. Mother earth is seen as the only source of wisdom, the only solution to the ugliness caused by machines.
William Blake is considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age
The poet, painter, and printmaker William Blake (1757-1827) was one of the first of the Romantic poets. Although Blake was largely unrecognised during his lifetime, he is now considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age. Considered mad by contemporaries for his idiosyncratic views, Blake is held in high regard by later critics for his expressiveness and creativity, and for the philosophical and mystical undercurrents within his work. Among his most important works are Songs of Innocence (1789) and Songs of Experience (1794) "and profound and difficult 'prophecies' " such as Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793), The First Book of Urizen (1794), Milton (1804–?11]), and "Jerusalem: the Emanation of the Giant Albion" (1804–?20).
Among the earliest Romantics were the Lake Poets, a small group of friends, including William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Robert Southey (1774-1843) and journalist Thomas de Quincey (1785-1859). The early Romantic Poets brought a new emotionalism and introspection, and their emergence is marked by the first romantic manifesto in English literature, the "Preface" to Lyrical Ballads (1798). In it Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the "real language of men" and which avoids the poetic diction of much 18th century poetry. Here, Wordsworth gives his famous definition of poetry, as "the spontaneous overflow of powerful emotions recollected in tranquility" which "takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility." The poems in Lyrical Ballads were mostly by Wordsworth, although Coleridge contributed the long "Rime of the Ancient Mariner", a tragic ballad about the survival of one sailor through a series of supernatural events on his voyage through the south seas which involves the slaying of an albatross. Coleridge is also especially remembered for "Kubla Khan", "Frost at Midnight", "Dejection: an Ode", "Chistabel" and 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. Coleridge and Wordsworth, along with Carlyle, were a major influence, through Emerson, on American transcendentalism. Coleridge and Wordsworth, however, understood romanticism in two entirely different ways: while Coleridge sought to make the supernatural "real", Wordsworth sought to stir the imagination of readers through his down-to-earth characters taken from real life, in "The Idiot Boy", for example, or the beauty of nature, especially the Lake District. Among Wordsworth's most important poems, are "Michael", "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey", "Resolution and Independence", "Ode: Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood" and the long, autobiographical, epic The Prelude. The Prelude was begun in 1799 but published posthumously in 1850.
The second generation of Romantic poets includes Lord Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) and John Keats (1795-1821). Byron, however, was still influenced by 18th-century satirists and was, perhaps the least 'romantic' of the three. His amours with a number of prominent but married ladies was also a way to voice his dissent on the hypocrisy of a high society that was only apparently religious but in fact largely libertine, the same that had derided him for being physically impaired. His first trip to Europe resulted in the first two cantos of Childe Harold's Pilgrimage (1812), a mock-heroic epic of a young man's adventures in Europe but also a sharp satire against London society. Despite Childe Harold's success on his return to England, accompanied by the publication of The Corsair (1813) his alleged incestuous affair with his half-sister Augusta Leigh in 1816 actually forced him to leave England for good and seek asylum on the continent. Here he joined Percy Bysshe Shelley, his wife Mary, with his secretary John William Polidori on the shores of Lake Geneva during the 'year without a summer' of 1816. Polidori's The Vampyre was published in 1819, creating the literary vampire genre. His short story was inspired by the life of Lord Byron and his poem The Giaour (1813).
Shelley is perhaps best known for poems such as Ozymandias, Ode to the West Wind, To a Skylark, Music, When Soft Voices Die, The Cloud and The Masque of Anarchy and Adonaïs, an elegy written on the death of Keats. Shelley's early profession of atheism, in the tract "The Necessity of Atheism", led to his expulsion from Oxford and branded him as a radical agitator and thinker, setting an early pattern of marginalization and ostracism from the intellectual and political circles of his time. His close circle of admirers, however, included the most progressive thinkers of the day, including his future father-in-law, philosopher William Godwin. Shelley became an idol of the next three or four generations of poets, including important Victorian and Pre-Raphaelite poets such as Robert Browning, and Dante Gabriel Rosetti. Shelley's influential poem The Masque of Anarchy (1819) calls for nonviolence in protest and political action. It is perhaps the first modern statement of the principle of nonviolent protest. Mahatma Gandhi's passive resistance was influenced and inspired by Shelley's verse, and Gandhi would often quote the poem to vast audiences.
The plot for Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1818) is said to have come from a nightmare she had during stormy nights on Lake Geneva in the company of Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori. Her idea of making a body with human parts stolen from different corpses and then animating it with electricity was perhaps influenced by Alessandro Volta's invention and Luigi Galvani's experiments with dead frogs. Frankenstein's chilling tale also suggests modern organ transplants, tissue regeneration, reminding us of the moral issues raised by today's medicine. But the creature of Frankenstein is incredibly romantic as well. Although "the monster" is intelligent, good and loving, he is shunned by everyone because of his ugliness and deformity, and the desperation and envy that result from social exclusion turn him against the very man who created him.
John Keats did not share Byron's and Shelley's extremely revolutionary ideals, but his cult of pantheism is as important as Shelley's. Keats was in love with the ancient stones of the Parthenon that Lord Elgin had brought to England from Greece (also known as the Elgin Marbles). He celebrates ancient Greece: the beauty of free, youthful love couples here with that of classical art. Keats's great attention to art, especially in his "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1818) is quite new in romanticism, and it inspired Walter Pater's and then Oscar Wilde's belief in the absolute value of art as independent from aesthetics.
Another important poet in this period was John Clare (1793-1864), Clare was the son of a farm labourer, who came to be known for his celebratory representations of the English countryside and his lamentation for the changes taking place in rural England. His poetry underwent a major re-evaluation in the late 20th century and he is often now considered to be among the most important 19th-century poets. His biographer Jonathan Bate states that Clare was "the greatest labouring-class poet that England has ever produced. No one has ever written more powerfully of nature, of a rural childhood, and of the alienated and unstable self".
One of the most popular novelist of the era was Sir Walter Scott, whose grand historical romances inspired a generation of painters, composers, and writers throughout Europe. Scott's novel-writing career was launched in 1814 with Waverley, often called the first historical novel, and was followed by Ivanhoe. His popularity in England and further abroad did much to form the modern stereotype of Scottish culture. Other novels by Scott which contributed to the image of him as a Scottish patriot include Rob Roy.
Jane Austen's works critique the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and are part of the transition to 19th century realism. Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlight the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security. Austen brings to light the hardships women faced, who usually did not inherit money, could not work and where their only chance in life depended on the man they married. She reveals not only the difficulties women faced in her day, but also what was expected of men and of the careers they had to follow. This she does with wit and humour and with endings where all characters, good or bad, receive exactly what they deserve. Her work brought her little personal fame and only a few positive reviews during her lifetime, but the publication in 1869 of her nephew's A Memoir of Jane Austen introduced her to a wider public, and by the 1940s she had become accepted as a major writer. The second half of the 20th century saw a proliferation of Austen scholarship and the emergence of a Janeite fan culture. Austen's works include Pride and Prejudice (1813) Sense and Sensibility (1811), Mansfield Park, Persuasion and Emma.
The Last of the Mohicans
Illustration from 1896 edition,
by J.T. Merrill
At this time in America the prolific and popular novelist James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) began publishing his historical romances of frontier and Indian life, to create a unique form of American literature. Cooper is best remembered for his numerous sea-stories and the historical novels known as the Leatherstocking Tales. Among his most famous works is the novel The Last of the Mohicans (1826). Later, in the middle of the 19th century, there was a significant Romantic movement in American literature, which, though highly original, was influenced by British and European Romanticism. The years 1850-1855 were particularly significant, with the publishing of Ralph Waldo Emerson's Representative Men, Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter and The House of Seven Gables, Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Henry David Thoreau's Walden, and Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass.
Victorian literature (1837-1901)
Main article: Victorian literature
Also American literature (sections 4-6)
The Victorian novel
Main article: Victorian literature
It was in the Victorian era (1837–1901) that the novel became the leading literary genre in English. Another important fact is the number of women novelists who were successful in the 19th century, even though they often had to use a masculine pseudonym. The majority of readers were of course women. At the beginning of the 19th century most novels were published in three volumes. However, monthly serialization was revived with the publication of Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers in twenty parts between April 1836 and November 1837. Demand was high for each episode to introduce some new element, whether it was a plot twist or a new character, so as to maintain the readers' interest. Both Dickens and Thackeray frequently published this way.
The 1830s and 1840s saw the rise of social novel, also known as social problem novel, that "arose out of the social and political upheavals which followed the Reform Act of 1832". This was in many ways a reaction to rapid industrialization, and the social, political and economic issues associated with it, and was a means of commenting on abuses of government and industry and the suffering of the poor, who were not profiting from England's economic prosperity. Stories of the working class poor were directed toward middle class to help create sympathy and promote change. An early example is Charles Dickens' Oliver Twist (1837-8). Charles Dickens emerged on the literary scene in the 1830s with the two novels already mentioned. Dickens wrote vividly about London life and struggles of the poor, but in a good-humoured fashion, accessible to readers of all classes. One of his most popular works to this day is A Christmas Carol (1843). In more recent years Dickens has been most admired for his later novels, such as Dombey and Son (1846-8), Great Expectations (1860-1),Bleak House (1852-3) and Little Dorrit (1855-7) and Our Mutual Friend (1864-5). An early rival to Dickens was William Makepeace Thackeray, who during the Victorian period ranked second only to him, but he is now much less read and is known almost exclusively for Vanity Fair (1847). In that novel he satirizes whole swaths of humanity while retaining a light touch. It features his most memorable character, the engagingly roguish Becky Sharp. The Brontë sisters were other significant novelists in the 1840s and 1850s. Their novels caused a sensation when they were first published but were subsequently accepted as classics. They had written compulsively from early childhood and were first published, at their own expense, in 1846 as poets under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis and Acton Bell. The sisters returned to prose, producing a novel each the following year: Charlotte's Jane Eyre, Emily's Wuthering Heights and Anne's Agnes Grey. Later, Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) and Charlotte's Villette (1853) were published. Elizabeth Gaskell was also a successful writer and first novel, Mary Barton, was published anonymously in 1848. Gaskell's North and South contrasts the lifestyle in the industrial north of England with the wealthier south. Even though her writing conforms to Victorian conventions, Gaskell usually frames her stories as critiques of contemporary attitudes: her early works focused on factory work in the Midlands. She always emphasised the role of women, with complex narratives and dynamic female characters. Anthony Trollope's (1815–82) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of his best-loved works are set in the imaginary county of Barsetshire, including The Warden (1855) and Barchester Towers (1857). He also wrote perceptive novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical matters, including The Way with Live Now (1875). Trollope's novels portrayed the lives of the landowning and professional classes of early Victorian England. George Eliot's (Mary Ann Evans (1819–80), first novel Adam Bede was published in 1859. Her works, especially Middlemarch 1871-2), are important examples of literary realism, and are admired for their combination of high Victorian literary detail combined with an intellectual breadth that removes them from the narrow geographic confines they often depict.
H. G. Wells studying in London, taken c. 1890
An interest in rural matters and the changing social and economic situation of the countryside is seen in the novels of Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). A Victorian realist, in the tradition of George Eliot, he was also influenced both in his novels and poetry by Romanticism, especially by William Wordsworth. Charles Darwin is another important influence on Thomas Hardy. Like Charles Dickens he was also highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focussed more on a declining rural society. While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898, so that initially he gained fame as the author of such novels as, Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895). He ceased writing novels following adverse criticism of this last novel. In novels such as The Mayor of Casterbridge and Tess of the d'Urbervilles Hardy attempts to create modern works in the genre of tragedy, that are modelled on the Greek drama, especially Aeschylus and Sophocles, though in prose, not poetry, fiction, not a play, and with characters of low social standing, not nobility. Another significant late 19th century novelist is George Robert Gissing (1857-1903) who published 23 novels between 1880 and 1903. His best known novel is New Grub Street (1891). Important developments occurred in genre fiction in this era.
Although pre-dated by John Ruskin's The King of the Golden River in 1841, the history of the modern fantasy genre is generally said to begin with George MacDonald, the influential author of The Princess and the Goblin and Phantastes (1858). William Morris was a popular English poet who also wrote several fantasy novels during the latter part of the 19th century. Wilkie Collins' epistolary novel The Moonstone (1868), is generally considered the first detective novel in the English language, while The Woman in White is regarded as one of the finest sensation novels. H. G. Wells's (1866-1946) writing career began in the 1890s with science fiction novels like The Time Machine (1895), and The War of the Worlds (1898) which describes an invasion of late Victorian England by Martians, and Wells is seen, along with Frenchman Jules Verne (1828-1905), as a major figure in the development of the science fiction genre. He also wrote realistic fiction about the lower middle class in novels like Kipps (1905) and The History of Mr Polly (1910).
By the mid-19th-century, the pre-eminence of literature from the British Isles began to be challenged by writers from the former American colonies. This included one of the creators of the new genre of the short story, and inventor of the detective story Edgar Allan Poe (1809–49). Among the significant American novelists were Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–64), Herman Melville (1819–91), and Mark Twain (1835-1910). The essayists Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–82) and Henry David Thoreau (1817–62) are also included in the Canon of major writers.
In 1837, the young Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) collected some of his stories as Twice-Told Tales, a volume rich in symbolism and occult incidents. Hawthorne went on to write full-length "romances", quasi-allegorical novels that explore such themes as guilt, pride, and emotional repression in his native New England. His masterpiece, The Scarlet Letter (1850), is the stark drama of a woman cast out of her community for committing adultery. Hawthorne's fiction had a profound impact on his friend Herman Melville (1819–1891), who first made a name for himself by turning material from his seafaring days into exotic and sensational sea narrative novels. Inspired by Hawthorne's focus on allegories and dark psychology, Melville went on to write romances replete with philosophical speculation. In Moby-Dick (1851), an adventurous whaling voyage becomes the vehicle for examining such themes as obsession, the nature of evil, and human struggle against the elements. In another important work, the short novel Billy Budd, Melville dramatizes the conflicting claims of duty and compassion on board a ship in time of war. His books sold poorly, and he had been long forgotten by the time of his death, but Melville was rediscovered in the early decades of the 20th century.
The premier ghost story writer of the 19th century was Sheridan Le Fanu. His works include the macabre mystery novel Uncle Silas (1865), and his Gothic novella Carmilla (1872), tells the story of a young woman's susceptibility to the attentions of a female vampire. Bram Stoker's horror story Dracula (1897), belongs to a number of literary genres, including vampire literature, horror fiction, gothic novel and invasion literature.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Scotland of Irish parents but his Sherlock Holmes stories have typified a fog-filled London for readers worldwide
Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is a brilliant London-based "consulting detective", famous for his intellectual prowess. Conan Doyle wrote four novels and fifty-six short stories featuring Holmes, from 1880 up to 1907, with a final case in 1914. All but four Conan Doyle stories are narrated by Holmes' friend, assistant, and biographer, Dr. Watson. The Lost World literary genre was inspired by real stories of archaeological discoveries by imperial adventurers. H. Rider Haggard wrote one of the earliest examples, King Solomon's Mines, in 1885. Contemporary European politics and diplomatic manoeuvrings informed Anthony Hope's swashbuckling Ruritanian adventure novel The Prisoner of Zenda (1894). An important forerunner of modernist literature, Joseph Conrad published the novel Heart of Darkness in 1899. A symbolic story within a story, or frame narrative, about an Englishman Marlow's journey to the Belgian Congo.
Literature for children developed as a separate genre. Some works become internationally known, such as those of Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass. Adventure novels, such as those of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–94), are generally classified as for children. Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), depicts the dual personality of a kind and intelligent physician who turns into a psychopathic monster after imbibing a drug intended to separate good from evil in a personality. His Kidnapped (1886) is a fast-paced historical novel set in the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, and Treasure Island 1883, is the classic pirate adventure. At the end of the Victorian era and leading into the Edwardian era, Beatrix Potter was an author and illustrator, best known for her children’s books, which featured animal characters. In her thirties, Potter published the highly successful children's book The Tale of Peter Rabbit in 1902. Potter eventually went on to published 23 children's books and become a wealthly woman.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
The leading poets during the Victorian period were Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), Robert Browning (1812–89), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–61), and Matthew Arnold (1822–88). The poetry of this period was heavily influenced by the Romantics, but also went off in its own directions. Particularly notable was the development of the dramatic monologue, a form used by many poets in this period, but perfected by Browning. Literary criticism in the 20th century gradually drew attention to the links between Victorian poetry and modernism.
Tennyson was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign. He was described by T. S. Eliot, as "the greatest master of metrics as well as melancholia", and as having "the finest ear of any English poet since Milton". Browning main achievement was in dramatic monologues such as "My Last Duchess", "Andrea del Sarto" and "The Bishop Orders his Tomb", which were published in his two-volume Men and Women in 1855. In his introduction to the Oxford University Press edition of Browning's Poems 1833-1864, Ian Jack comments, that Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Ezra Pound and T S Eliot "all learned from Browning's exploration of the possibilities of dramatic poetry and of colloquial idiom". Tennyson was also a pioneer in the use of the dramatic monologue, in "The Lotus-Eaters" (1833), "Ulysses" (1842), and '"Tithonus" (1860). While Elizabeth Barrett Browning was the wife of Robert Browning she had established her reputation as a major poet before she met him. Her most famous work is the sequence of 44 sonnets "Sonnets from the Portuguese" published in Poems (1850). Matthew Arnold's reputation as a poet has declined in recent years and he is best remembered now for his critical works, like Culture and Anarchy (1869), and his 1867 poem "Dover Beach". This poem depicts a nightmarish world from which the old religious verities have receded. It is sometimes held up as an early, if not the first, example of the modern sensibility. The influence of William Wordsworth, both in ideas and in diction, is unmistakable in Arnold's best poetry, and Arnold has been seen as a bridge between Romanticism and Modernism, because of his use of symbolic landscapes was typical of the Romantic era, while his skeptical and pessimistic perspective was typical of the Modern era.
Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882) was a poet, illustrator, painter and translator. He founded the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood in 1848 with William Holman Hunt and John Everett Millais, and was later to be the main inspiration for a second generation of artists and writers influenced by the movement, most notably William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. Rossetti's art was characterised by its sensuality and its medieval revivalism. Poetry and image are closely entwined in Rossetti's work and he frequently wrote sonnets to accompany his pictures. He also illustrated poems by his sister Christina Rossetti such as Goblin Market.
While Arthur Clough (1819–61) was a more minor figure of this era, he has been described as "a fine poet whose experiments in extending the range of literary language and subject were ahead of his time".
Towards the end of the 19th century, English poets began to take an interest in French Symbolism and Victorian poetry entered a decadent fin-de-siècle phase. Two groups of poets emerged, the Yellow Book poets who adhered to the tenets of Aestheticism, including Algernon Charles Swinburne, Oscar Wilde and Arthur Symons and the Rhymers' Club group, that included Ernest Dowson, Lionel Johnson and Irishman William Butler Yeats. Yeats went on to become an important modernist in the 20th century. Also in the 1890s A. E. Housman published at his own expense A Shropshire Lad, a cycle of 63 poems, because he could not find a publisher. At first selling slowly, it rapidly became a lasting success, and its appeal to English musicians had helped to make it widely known before World War I, when its themes struck a powerful chord with English readers. A Shropshire Lad has been in print continuously since May 1896. The poems are pervaded by deep pessimism and preoccupation with death, without religious consolation. Housman wrote most of them while living in Highgate, London, before ever visiting that part of Shropshire (about thirty miles from his birthplace), which he presented in an idealised pastoral light, as his 'land of lost content'.
The nonsense verse of Edward Lear, along with the novels and poems of Lewis Carroll, is regarded as a precursor of surrealism. In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularise the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed. Lewis Carrroll's most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the Snark" and "Jabberwocky".
Writers of comic verse included the dramatist, librettist, poet and illustrator W. S. Gilbert(1836-1911), who is best known for his fourteen comic operas produced in collaboration with the composer Sir Arthur Sullivan, of which the most famous include H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance and one of the most frequently performed works in the history of musical theatre, The Mikado.
In the 21st century two Victorian poets who published little in the 19th century, Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) and Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844–89), are now regarded as major poets. While Hardy first established his reputation the late 19th century with novels, he also wrote poetry throughout his career. However he did not publish his first collection until 1898, so that he tends to be treated as a 20th century poet. Hopkins Poems were published posthumously by Robert Bridges in 1918. Hopkins' poem "The Wreck of the Deutschland", written in 1875, first introduced what Hopkins called "sprung rhythm." As well as developing new rhythmic effects, Hopkins "was also very interested in ways of rejuvenating poetic language" and frequently "employed compound and unusual word combinations". Several 20th century poets, including W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, and American Charles Wright, "turned to his work for its inventiveness and rich aural patterning".
America also produced major poets in the 19th century, such as Emily Dickinson (1830–86) and Walt Whitman (1819–92). America's two greatest 19th century poets could hardly have been more different in temperament and style. Walt Whitman (1819–1892) was a working man, a traveler, a self-appointed nurse during the American Civil War (1861–1865), and a poetic innovator. His major work was Leaves of Grass, in which he uses a free-flowing verse and lines of irregular length to depict the all-inclusiveness of American democracy. Whitman was also a poet of the body, or "the body electric," as he called it. In Studies in Classic American Literature, the English novelist D. H. Lawrence wrote that Whitman "was the first to smash the old moral conception that the soul of man is something 'superior' and 'above' the flesh". Emily Dickinson (1830–1886), on the other hand, lived the sheltered life of a genteel, unmarried woman in small-town Amherst, Massachusetts. Within its formal structure, her poetry is ingenious, witty, exquisitely wrought, and psychologically penetrating. Her work was unconventional for its day, and little of it was published during her lifetime. Many of her poems dwell on death, often with a mischievous twist. One, "Because I could not stop for Death", begins, "He kindly stopped for me." The opening of another Dickinson poem toys with her position as a woman in a male-dominated society and an unrecognized poet: "I'm nobody! Who are you? / Are you nobody too?"
A change came in the Victorian era with a profusion on the London stage of farces, musical burlesques, extravaganzas and comic operas that competed with productions of Shakespeare's plays and serious drama by dramatists like of James Planché and Thomas William Robertson. In 1855, the German Reed Entertainments began a process of elevating the level of (formerly risqué) musical theatre in Britain that culminated in the famous series of comic operas by Gilbert and Sullivan and were followed by the 1890s with the first Edwardian musical comedies. The length of runs in the theatre changed rapidly during the Victorian period. As transportation improved, poverty in London diminished, and street lighting made for safer travel at night, the number of potential patrons for the growing number of theatres increased enormously. Plays could run longer and still draw in the audiences, leading to better profits and improved production values. The first play to achieve 500 consecutive performances was the London comedy Our Boys, opening in 1875. Its astonishing new record of 1,362 performances was bested in 1892 by Charley's Aunt. Several of Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operas broke the 500-performance barrier, beginning with H.M.S. Pinafore in 1878, and Alfred Cellier and B. C. Stephenson's 1886 hit, Dorothy, ran for 931 performances. After W. S. Gilbert, Oscar Wilde became the leading poet and dramatist of the late Victorian period. Wilde's plays, in particular, stand apart from the many now forgotten plays of Victorian times and have a much closer relationship to those of the Edwardian dramatists such as Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), whose career began in the last decade of the 19th century, Wilde's 1895 comic masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, holds an ironic mirror to the aristocracy and displays a mastery of wit and paradoxical wisdom.
English literature since 1901
Main article: Modernist literature
A major British lyric poet of the first decades of the 20th century was Thomas Hardy (1840-1928). Though not a modernist Hardy was is an important transitional figure between the Victorian era and the 20th-century. A major novelists of the late 19th-century, Hardy lived well into the third decade of the 20th-century, but because of the adverse criticism of his last novel, Jude the Obscure, in 1895, from that time Hardy concentrated on publishing poetry. On the other hand another significant late 19th-century novelist, Henry James (1843-1916), continued to publish major works into the 20th-century. James had lived in Europe since 1875 and became a British citizen, but this was only in 1915, and he was born in America and spent his formative years there. Another immigrant, Polish-born modernist novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) published his first important work, Heart of Darkness in 1899 and Lord Jim in 1900. The American exponent of Naturalism Theodore Dreiser's (1871-1945) Sister Carrie was also published in 1900. However, the Victorian Gerard Manley Hopkins's (1844–89) highly original poetry was not published until 1918, long after his death, while another major modernist poet, Irishman W. B. Yeats's (1865-1939), career began late in the Victorian era. Yeats was one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms. Yeats was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival. In 1923 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman so honoured Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers who completed their greatest works after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).
But while modernism was to become an important literary movement in the early decades of the new century, there were also many fine writers who, like Thomas Hardy, were not modernists. Irish playwrights George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) and J.M. Synge (1871-1909) were influential in British drama. Shaw's career began in the last decade of the 19th-century, while Synge's plays belong to the first decade of the 20th-century. Synge's most famous play, The Playboy of the Western World, "caused outrage and riots when it was first performed" in Dublin in 1907. George Bernard Shaw turned the Edwardian theatre into an arena for debate about important political and social issues, like marriage, class, "the morality of armaments and war" and the rights of women. An important dramatist in the 1920s, and later, was Irishman Sean O'Casey (1880-1964). Also in the 1920s and later Noël Coward (1899-1973) achieved enduring success as a playwright, publishing more than 50 plays from his teens onwards. Many of his works, such as Hay Fever (1925), Private Lives (1930), Design for Living (1932), Present Laughter (1942) and Blithe Spirit (1941), have remained in the regular theatre repertoire. In the 1930s W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood co-authored verse dramas, of which The Ascent of F6 (1936) is the most notable, that owed much to Bertolt Brecht. T. S. Eliot had begun this attempt to revive poetic drama with Sweeney Agonistes in 1932, and this was followed by The Rock (1934), Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and Family Reunion (1939). There were three further plays after the war. Novelists, who are not considered modernists, include: Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) who was also a successful poet; H. G. Wells (1866-1946); John Galsworthy (1867-1933), (Nobel Prize in Literature, 1932) whose works include a sequence of novels, collectively called The Forsyte Saga (1906–21); Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) author of The Old Wives' Tale (1908); G. K. Chesterton (1874-1936); and E.M. Forster's (1879-1970), though Forster's work is "frequently regarded as containing both modernist and Victorian elements". H. G. Wells was a prolific author who is now best known for his science fiction novels. His most notable science fiction works include The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau all written in the 1890s. Other novels include Kipps (1905) and Mr Polly (1910). Forster's most famous work, A Passage to India 1924, reflected challenges to imperialism, while his earlier novels, such as A Room with a View(1908) and Howards End (1910), examined the restrictions and hypocrisy of Edwardian society in England. The most popular British writer of the early years of the 20th century was arguably Rudyard Kipling, a highly versatile writer of novels, short stories and poems, and to date the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature (1907). Kipling's works include The Jungle Books (1894-5), The Man Who Would Be King and Kim (1901), while his inspirational poem "If—" (1895) is a national favourite and a memorable evocation of Victorian stoicism. Kipling's reputation declined during his lifetime, but more recently postcolonial studies has "rekindled an intense interest in his work, viewing it as both symptomatic and critical of imperialist attitudes". Strongly influenced by his Christian faith, G. K. Chesterton was a prolific and hugely influential writer with a diverse output. His best-known character is the priest-detective Father Brown, who appeared only in short stories, while The Man Who Was Thursday published in 1908 is arguably his best-known novel. Of his nonfiction, Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906) has received some of the broadest-based praise.
The Georgian poets like Rupert Brooke (1887 -1915), Walter de la Mare (1873 – 1956), John Masefield (1878 - 1967, Poet Laureate from 1930) maintained a more conservative approach to poetry by combining romanticism, sentimentality and hedonism, sandwiched as they were between the Victorian era, with its strict classicism, and Modernism, with its strident rejection of pure aestheticism. Edward Thomas (1878 - 1917) is sometimes treated as another Georgian poet. Thomas enlisted in 1915 and is one of the First World War poets along with Wilfred Owen (1893 -1918), Rupert Brooke (1887 -1915), Isaac Rosenberg (1890 -1917), Edmund Blunden (1896 -1974) and Siegfried Sassoon (1886 -1967). In Parenthesis, a modernist epic poem by David Jones (1895 -1974) first published in 1937, is probably the best known contribution from Wales to the literature of the First World War.
English literary modernism developed out of a general sense of disillusionment with Victorian era attitudes of certainty, conservatism, and belief in the idea of objective truth. The movement was influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin (1809–82) (On Origin of Species) (1859), Ernst Mach (1838-1916), Henri Bergson (1859-1941), Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), James G. Frazer (1854-1941), Karl Marx (1818–83) (Das Kapital, 1867), and the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), among others. The continental art movements of Impressionism, and later Cubism, were also important inspirations for modernist writers. Important literary precursors of modernism, were: Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821–81) (Crime and Punishment (1866), The Brothers Karamazov (1880); Walt Whitman (1819–92) (Leaves of Grass) (1855–91); Charles Baudelaire (1821–67) (Les Fleurs du mal), Rimbaud (1854–91) (Illuminations, 1874); August Strindberg (1849–1912), especially his later plays.
James Joyce, 1918
Among important early modernists were the American poets T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) and Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Eliot became a British citizen in 1927 but was born and educated in America. His most famous works are: "Prufrock" (1915), The Wasteland (1921) and Four Quartets (1935–42). Ezra Pound was not only a major poet, first publishing part of The Cantos in 1917, but an important mentor for other poets, most significantly in his editorial advice for Eliot's poem The Wasteland. Other important American poets writing early in the 20th-century were William Carlos Williams (1883-1963), Robert Frost (1874-1963), who published his first collection in England in 1913, and H.D. (1886-1961). Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), an American expatriate living in Paris, famous for her line "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," was also an important literary force during this time period. American poet Marianne Moore (1887-1972) published from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Among novelist important early figures were Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957), whose novel Pointed Roof (1915), is one of the earliest example of the stream of consciousness technique and D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930), who published The Rainbow in 1915, though it was immediately seized by the police. Then in 1922 Irishman James Joyce's important modernist novel Ulysses appeared. Ulysses has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement". Set during one day in Dublin, in it Joyce creates parallels with Homer's epic poem the Odyssey. William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury (1929) is another significant modernist novel, that uses the stream of consciousness technique.
The modernist movement continued through the 1920s and 1930s and beyond. During the period between the World Wars, American drama came to maturity, thanks in large part to the works of Eugene O'Neill (1888-1953). O'Neill's experiments with theatrical form and his use of both Naturalist and Expressionist techniques had a major influence on American dramatists. His best-known plays include Anna Christie (Pulitzer Prize 1922), Desire Under the Elms (1924), Strange Interlude (Pulitzer Prize 1928), Mourning Becomes Electra (1931). In poetry Hart Crane published The Bridge in 1930 and E. E. Cummings and Wallace Stevens were publishing from the 1920s until the 1950s. Similarly William Faulkner continued to publish until the 1950s and was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1949. However, not all those writing in these years were modernists, this includes Americans novelists Theodore Dreiser, Dos Passos, Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald (The Great Gatsby 1925), and John Steinbeck.
Important British writers between the World Wars, include the Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978), who began publishing in the 1920s, and novelists Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), E. M. Forster (1879-1970) (A Passage to India, 1924), Evelyn Waugh (1903–66), P. G. Wodehouse (1881-1975) (who was not a modernist) and D. H. Lawrence. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover was published privately in Florence in 1928, though the unexpurgated version was not published in Britain until 1959. Woolf was an influential feminist, and a major stylistic innovator associated with the stream-of-consciousness technique in novels like Mrs Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927). Her 1929 essay A Room of One's Own contains her famous dictum; "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction". An important development, beginning really in the 1930s and 1940s was a tradition of working class novels that were actually written by writers who had a working-class background. Among these were coal miner Jack Jones, James Hanley, whose father was a stoker and who also went to sea as a young man, and other coal miner authors' Lewis Jones from South Wales and Harold Heslop from County Durham.
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) published his famous dystopia Brave New World in 1932, the same year as John Cowper Powys's A Glastonbury Romance. Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer then appeared in 1934, though it was banned for many years in both Britain and America. Samuel Beckett (1906–89) published his first major work, the novel Murphy in 1938. This same year Graham Greene's (1904–91) first major novel Brighton Rock was published. Then in 1939 James Joyce's published Finnegans Wake. In this work Joyce creates a special language to express the consciousness of a character who is dreaming. It was also in 1939 that another Irish modernist, W. B. Yeats, died. British poet W. H. Auden was another significant modernists in the 1930s.
1940 to the 21st Century
Though some have seen modernism ending by around 1939, with regard to English literature, "When (if) modernism petered out and postmodernism began has been contested almost as hotly as when the transition from Victorianism to modernism occurred". In fact a number of modernists were still living and publishing in the 1950s and 1960, including T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Dorothy Richardson, and Ezra Pound. Furthermore Basil Bunting, born in 1901, published little until Briggflatts in 1965 and French-resident, Irishman Samuel Beckett, born in 1906, continued to produce significant works until the 1980s, including Waiting for Godot (1953), Happy Days (1961), Rockaby (1981), though some view him as a post-modernist.
Among British writers in the 1940s and 1950s were novelist Graham Greene whose works span the 1930s to the 1980s and poet Dylan Thomas, while Evelyn Waugh, W.H. Auden and T. S. Eliot continued publishing significant work. In 1947 Malcolm Lowry published Under the Volcano, while George Orwell's satire of totalitarianism, 1984, was published in 1949. One of the most influential novels of the immediate post-war period was William Cooper's naturalistic Scenes from Provincial Life, a conscious rejection of the modernist tradition. Graham Greene was a convert to Catholicism and his novels explore the ambivalent moral and political issues of the modern world. Notable for an ability to combine serious literary acclaim with broad popularity, his novels include Brighton Rock (1938), The Power and the Glory (1940), The Heart of the Matter (1948), A Burnt-Out Case (1961), and The Human Factor (1978). Other novelists writing in the 1950s and later were: Anthony Powell whose twelve-volume cycle of novels A Dance to the Music of Time, is a comic examination of movements and manners, power and passivity in English political, cultural and military life in the mid-20th century; comic novelist Kingsley Amis is best known for his academic satire Lucky Jim (1954); Nobel Prize laureate William Golding's allegorical novel Lord of the Flies 1954, explores how culture created by man fails, using as an example a group of British schoolboys marooned on a deserted island who try to govern themselves, but with disastrous results. Philosopher Iris Murdoch was a prolific writer of novels throughout the second half of the 20th century, that deal especially with sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious, including Under the Net (1954), The Black Prince (1973) and The Green Knight (1993). Scottish writer Muriel Spark pushed the boundaries of realism in her novels. Her first, The Comforters (1957) concerns a woman who becomes aware that she is a character in a novel; The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), at times takes the reader briefly into the distant future, to see the various fates that befall its characters. Anthony Burgess is especially remembered for his dystopian novel A Clockwork Orange (1962), set in the not-too-distant future, which was made into a film by Stanley Kubrick in 1971. In the entirely different genre of Gothic fantasy Mervyn Peake (1911–68) published his highly successful Gormenghast trilogy between 1946 and 1959.
Doris Lessing from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), published her first novel The Grass is Singing in 1950, after immigrating to England. She initially wrote about her African experiences. Lessing soon became a dominant presence in the English literary scene, frequently publishing right through the century, and won the nobel prize for literature in 2007. Other works by her include a sequence of five novels collectively called Children of Violence (1952–69), The Golden Notebook (1962), The Good Terrorist (1985), and a sequence of five science fiction novels the Canopus in Argos: Archives (1979–1983). Indeed from 1950 on a significant number of major writers came from countries that had over the centuries been settled by the British, other than America which had been producing significant writers from at least the Victorian period. There had of course been a few important works in English prior to 1950 from the then British Empire. Olive Schreiner's famous novel The Story of an African Farm was published in 1883 and New Zealander Katherine Mansfield published her first collection of short stories, In a German Pension, in 1911. The first major novelist, writing in English, from the Indian sub-continent, R. K. Narayan, began publishing in England in the 1930s, thanks to the encouragement of English novelist Graham Greene. Caribbean writer Jean Rhys's writing career began as early as 1928, though her most famous work, Wide Sargasso Sea, was not published until 1966. Alan Paton's famous Cry, the Beloved Country dates from 1948.
Doris Lessing, Cologne, 2006
From Nigeria a number of writers have achieved an international reputation for works in English, including novelist Chinua Achebe, who published Things Fall Apart in 1958, as well as playwright Wole Soyinka and novelist Buchi Emecheta. Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1986, as did South African novelist Nadine Gordimer in 1995. Other South African writers in English are novelist J.M. Coetzee (Nobel Prize 2003) and playwright Athol Fugard. Kenya's most internationally renown author is Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o who has written novels, plays and short stories in English. Poet Derek Walcott, from St Lucia in the Caribbean, was another Nobel Prize winner in 1992. Two Irishmen and an Australian were also winners in the period after 1940: novelist and playwright, Samuel Beckett (1969); poet Seamus Heaney (1995), who though he was British, from Northern Ireland], emigrated to the Irish Republic; Patrick White (1973) a major novelist in this period, whose first work was published in 1939. Another noteworthy Australian writer at the end of this period is poet Les Murray. Northern Ireland has also produced other major poets, including Paul Muldoon and Derek Mahon. While Scotland has in the late 20th-century produced several important novelists, including James Kelman who like Samuel Beckett can create humour out of the most grim situations. How Late it Was, How Late, 1994, won the Booker Prize that year; A. L. Kennedy whose 2007 novel Day was named Book of the Year in the Costa Book Awards. In 2007 she won the Austrian State Prize for European Literature; Alasdair Gray whose Lanark: A Life in Four Books (1981) is a dystopian fantasy set in his home town Glasgow.
Among Canadian writers who have achieved an international reputation, are novelist and poet Margaret Atwood, poet, song writer and novelist Leonard Cohen, short story writer Alice Munro, and more recently poet Anne Carson. Another admired Canadian novelist and poet is Michael Ondaatje, who was born in Sri Lanka.
An important cultural movement in the British theatre which developed in the late 1950s and early 1960s was Kitchen sink realism (or "kitchen sink drama"), a term coined to describe art (the term itself derives from an expressionist painting by John Bratby), novels, film and television plays. The term angry young men was often applied members of this artistic movement. It used a style of social realism which depicts the domestic lives of the working class, to explore social issues and political issues. The drawing room plays of the post war period, typical of dramatists like Terence Rattigan and Noël Coward were challenged in the 1950s by these Angry Young Men, in plays like John Osborne's Look Back in Anger (1956). Arnold Wesker and Nell Dunn also brought social concerns to the stage.
Again In the 1950s, the absurdist play Waiting for Godot (1955) (originally En attendant Godot, 1952), by the French resident, Irishman Samuel Beckett profoundly affected British drama. The Theatre of the Absurd influenced Harold Pinter (1930-), (The Birthday Party, 1958), whose works are often characterised by menace or claustrophobia. Beckett also influenced Tom Stoppard (1937-) (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead,1966). Stoppard's works are however also notable for their high-spirited wit and the great range of intellectual issues which he tackles in different plays. Both Pinter and Stoppard continued to have new plays produced into the 1990s. Michael Frayn (1933- ) is among other playwrights noted for their use of language and ideas. He is also a novelist.
Other Important playwrights whose careers began later in the century are: Caryl Churchill (Top Girls, 1982) and Alan Ayckbourn (Absurd Person Singular, 1972).
An important new element in the world of British drama, from the beginnings of radio in the 1920s, was the commissioning of plays, or the adaption of existing plays, by BBC radio. This was especially important in the1950s and 1960s (and from the 1960s for television). Many major British playwrights in fact, either effectively began their careers with the BBC, or had works adapted for radio. Most of playwright Caryl Churchill's early experiences with professional drama production were as a radio playwright and, starting in 1962 with The Ants, there were nine productions with BBC radio drama up until 1973 when her stage work began to be recognised at the Royal Court Theatre. Joe Orton's dramatic debut in 1963 was the radio play The Ruffian on the Stair, which was broadcast on 31 August 1964. Tom Stoppard's "first professional production was in the fifteen minute Just Before Midnight programme on BBC Radio, which showcased new dramatists". John Mortimer made his radio debut as a dramatist in 1955, with his adaptation of his own novel Like Men Betrayed for the BBC Light Programme. But he made his debut as an original playwright with The Dock Brief, starring Michael Hordern as a hapless barrister, first broadcast in 1957 on BBC Radio's Third Programme, later televised with the same cast, and subsequently presented in a double bill with What Shall We Tell Caroline? at the Lyric Hammersmith in April 1958, before transferring to the Garrick Theatre. Mortimer is most famous for Rumpole of the Bailey a British television series which starred Leo McKern as Horace Rumpole, an aging London barrister who defends any and all clients. It has been spun off into a series of short stories, novels, and radio programmes.
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