Part 1: The Middle Ages 449—1485
Part 2: The English Renaissance 1485—1660 Part 3. The Restoration and 18th Century 1660—1798 Part 4. The Age of Ro
manticism 1798—1832 Part 5. The Victorian Age 1832—1901
Part 6. The Twentieth Century 1901--2000
Part I: The Middle Ages (449—1485) 1. The Origin of the Western Culture ☆ 2. The Early History of England ☆ 3. The Earliest Literature ☆ 4. The Age of Chaucer and His Contribution ☆ 5. Prologue of Canterbury Tales ☆
Part II: The English Renaissance (1485—1660) 1. Renaissance in England ☆ 2. Elizabethan Age and William Shakespeare ☆ 3. Francis Bacon Of Studies ☆ 4. Metaphysical Conceit ☆ 5. To His Coy Mistress ☆ Analysis ☆
Part III. The Restoration and The 18th Century (1660-1798) 1. Neoclassicism and Characteristics ☆ 2. The Augustan Age ☆ Part IV. The Age of Romanticism (1798—1832) Chapter 1. Pre-Romanticism ☆ 1. Thomas Gray ☆ 2. Hongyi Farewell ☆ Chapter 2. Romanticism ☆ 1. Jean-Jacques Rousseau ☆ 2. The Special Qualities of Romanticism ☆ 3. Lake Poets ☆ 4. Sir Walter Scott ☆
Fertile Crescent. Most historians begin their studies of world history with the bronze age empires of mesopotamia. These include the Sumerian, Assyrian, Akkadian and Babylonian empires.
Cradles of human civilization include five places: Mesopotamia ( place between Tigris and Euphrates ), Nile river valley, Indus valley, Yellow river valley and the Aegean Sea.
Aegean civilization is the origin of the whole western civilization once brilliant in Greek culture, ranging from 3000 B.C. to 301 B.C.—the death of Alexander the Great, nearly parallel to the period from Five Rulers to the end of the Zhou Dynasty.
The Middle Ages, in world history, refers to the period from 476 A.D., the fall of the West Roman Empire, to the beginning of the 16th century in Europe, but in England, it started from the beginning of the Anglo-Saxon invasion in 449 and closed at the end of the War of Roses in 1485. The War of Roses refers to the struggle for the English throne between two branches of the English royal family: the House of Lancaster, whose badge was a red rose, and the House of York, whose badge was a white rose. The war lasted for 30 years from 1455 to 1485 (Ming Dynasty). From these wars, English feudalism received its deathblow. The feudal nobility was much weakened. In British literature, the Middle Ages is divided into two periods: The Old English period 449-1066; and Middle English period 1066-1485.
1. The earliest settlers According to the geological times, the first known settlers of Britain were the Iberians, at about 3000 B.C. during the New Stone Age (8000 B.C. — 500 B.C.). They were short, dark and long-headed people, coming to Britain probably from the Iberian Peninsula—now Spain and Portugal. Stonehenge was said to be built at around 2500 B.C. Then came Beaker Folk (2400--1800 B.C.) starting in the late Neolithic running into the early Bronze Age. In our book it is the Celtic-speaking tribes called Britons in about 700 B.C., at about Zhou Dynasty of Chinese history. 2. The formation of the nation (1). The Celts were different groups of ancient people who came originally from Germany and spread through France, Spain and to Britain. They came to Britain after 700 B.C. at about the period of Spring and Autumn in Chinese history. One of the groups was Briton and from this group the people
of Britain grew. Now the Scots, Welsh and Irish are Celts. (2). Anglo-Saxons--Basis of Modern English race The English are Anglo-Saxons of Germanic tribes, including several peoples, such as Goths (Ostrogoths, Visigoths), Burgundy, Vandal, Franks etc. The old Saxon word ―angul‖ or ―ongul‖ means a ―hook‖, so we may think of the first Angles as a hook-man, possibly because of their fishing, more probably because of the shore where they lived, which was bent in a shape of a fishhook, most part now belongs to the territory of Denmark. The name ―saxon‖ from ―seax‖ or ―sax‖, means a short sword, so we may think them as a sword-man, and from the name we could judge sth of the temper of the hardy fighters. The Angles were numerous of the conquering tribes, and from them, the new home was called Anglalond, by gradual changes, it became, firstly Englelend, then, England.
In the mid-5th century, three Teutonic tribes, Jutes, Saxons, and Angles came to Britain. The Jutes came to Britain first And established Kent in 449. Then the Saxons, from northern Germany, established Essex, Sussex and Wessex from the end of the 5th century to the beginning of the 6th century. In the second half of the 6th century, Angles, also came from northern Germany, settled in East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria. These seven principal kingdoms of Kent, Essex, Sussex, Wessex, East Anglia, Mercia and Northumbria have been given the name of Heptarchy (449—828,南北朝隋唐).
(3). The Vikings then came from Denmark before the Normans invaded from France. (4). The Norman came from Scandinavian Peninsula, with the same blood as the Danes. After occupying the province Normandy, the result was totally different from that before, instead of destroying the superior civilization, as the Danes had done before, this time, they intermarried with the native Franks and accepted French ideals and spoke the French language, they rapidly adopted and improved the Roman civilization of the natives that from a rude tribe of heathen Vikings, they had developed, within a single century, into the most polished and intellectual people in all Europe. The union of North and French blood had here produced a race having the best qualities of both—the will power and energy of the one, the eager curiosity and vivid imagination of the other.
3. The Norman Conquest William I of England (1028–1087), William the Conqueror, was Duke of Normandy from 1035 and King of England from 1066 to his death. He invaded England in 1066, leading an army of Normans to defeat the Anglo-Saxon forces and suppressed subsequent English revolts, known as the Norman Conquest. His reign brought Norman culture to England and had an enormous impact on England in the Middle Ages. Such as political changes, changes to English law, changes to the vocabulary of the English language, a programme of building and fortification, and the introduction of continental European feudalism into England. e.g., (1). The bringing of Roman civilization to England. (2). The growth of nationality—a strong centralized government instead of the loose union of Saxon tribes. (3). A romance language—based on Latin.
1. Beowulf It can be justly termed as England’s great national epic, the hero Beowulf, one of the national heroes of the English people. The most important is the fact that it is the earliest literature in epic form. It has three important features of the epic (1). The most striking feature is the use of alliteration. This is the characteristic of all old English verse. (2). The second feature is the use of metaphors and understatements. (3). The third feature of the poem is the mixture of pagan and Christian element.
2. Literature of three matters in French (1). Matters of Greece and Rome It is an endless series of fabulous tales about Alexander the Great (336 B.C. – 323 B.C., end of Zhou Dynasty ) and about the Fall of Troy (1200 B.C. in Ying Dynasty). Alexander the Great (356 B.C.--323 B.C.), was an ancient Greek king of Macedon (336–323 B.C.), one of the most successful military commanders in history and was never defeated in battle. By the time of his death he had conquered most of the world known to the ancient Greeks. After his death in 323 B.C. Alexander’s kingdom was divided up between his four chief generals.
The Hellenistic world settled into four stable power blocks: the Ptolemaic Kingdom of Egypt, the Seleucid Empire in the east, the Kingdom of Pergamon in Asia Minor, and Macedon.
(2). The matter of France Tales centering about Charlemagne (742—814 ) and his peers (in T’ang Dynasty), chief of which is the ―Chanson de Roland‖. It is the most well-known of a group of French epics known as ―La Chanson de Gestes‖. ―Song of Roland‖ tells how, Roland, one of Charlemagne’s twelve paladins, fights in Spain and dies defending a pass in the Pyrenees. Allusive English ―An Oliver for Roland‖. Charlemagne was King of the Franks from 768 and Emperor of the Romans from 800 to his death in 814. His rule is associated with the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church. Usually he is regarded not only as the founding father of both French and German monarchies, but also as a Pater Europae (father of Europe): his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Romans, and the Carolingian renaissance encouraged the formation of a common European identity.
(3). The matter of England It is the tales about their heroes Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. King Arthur is a legendary British leader of the late 5th and early 6th centuries, who led the defence of Britain against Saxon invaders in the early 6th century. The details of Arthur’s story are mainly composed of folklore and literary invention, and his historical existence is debated and disputed by modern historians.
The Age of Chaucer starts in 1340 running to 1400, roughly parallel to Zhu Yuanzhang (1368-1399). Chaucer, known as the Father of English literature, is considered the greatest English poet of the Middle Ages and was the first poet to have been buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. He achieved fame during his lifetime as an author, philosopher. Among his many works, which include The Book of the Duchess, the House of Fame, the Legend of Good Women and Troilus and Criseyde, He is best loved today for The Canterbury Tales.
Chaucer is a crucial figure in developing the legitimacy of the vernacular, Middle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were French and Latin. The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories written in Middle English at the end of the 14th century, mostly in verse, some are in prose. The tales are told as part of a storytelling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together on a journey from Southwark to the shrine of Saint Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. He uses the tales and the descriptions of the characters to paint an ironic and critical portrait of English society at the time, and particularly of the Church. Structurally, the collection bears the influence of The Decameron, which Chaucer is said to have come across during his first diplomatic mission to Italy in 1372. However, Chaucer’s people are different folk, unlike Boccaccio’s fleeing nobles.
Chaucer’s contribution to British literature and language: First, he introduced from France and Italy the rhymed stanzas of various forms to English poetry, that is: 1. the heroic couplet; the rhymed couplet of iambic pentameter, which was to be very important in the 18th century 2. the rhyme royal; a seven-line stanza in iambic pentameter, rhyming ababbcc. 3. the terza rima; three-line stanzas, rhyming aba, bcb, cdc. 4. the octave; eight-line iambic pentameter stanza, rhyming ababbcbc. Second, Chaucer did much in making the dialect of London the foundation for modern English language. He is the first poet who wrote in current English language. His products of much excellent poetry was an important factor in establishing English as the literary language of the century.
When the sweet showers of April fall and shoot 四月甘霖普降， Down through the drought of March to pierce the root 送走干裂三月 Bathing every vein in liquid power 草木沐浴春雨， From which there springs the engendering of the flower, 花开生意盎然。 When also Zephyrus with his sweet breath, 西风吹清香缕缕， Exhales an air in every grove and heath, 田野露芳草绿绿； Upon the tender shoots, and the young sun 碧蓝天空耀红日， His half-course in the sign of the Ram has run, 万道金辉播四方。 And the small fowls are making melody 鸟鸣多清脆， That sleep away the night with open eye 夏夜自迷醉 (So Nature pricks them and their hearts engages) 美丽拨动心弦 Then people long to go on pilgrimage, 人们久望朝圣 And palmers to go seeking out strange strands, 膜拜圣徒灵台 Of far-off saints, hallowed in sundry lands, 云游陌生滨海 And specially, from every shire’s end 信徒来自各地， In England, down to Canterbury they wend, 结伴奔向圣城， To seek holy blissful martyr, quick 朝谢救世恩主， In giving help to them when they were sick. 缅怀大恩大德。
It happened in that season that one day 那是个初夏方临的日子， In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay 我到泰巴旅店投宿歇息； Ready to start upon my pilgrimage 怀着一颗虔诚的赤子心， To Canterbury, full of devout homage, 我准备翌日出发去朝圣。 There came at nightfall to that hostelry 黄昏前后华灯初上时分， Some nine and twenty in a company 旅店院里涌入很多客人； Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall 二十九人来自各行各业， In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all 不期而遇都到旅店过夜。 That toward Canterbury town would ride. 这些香客人人虔心诚意， The rooms and stables spacious were and wide, 次日要骑马去坎特伯雷。 And well we there were eased, and of the best. 客房与马厩宽敞又洁净， And briefly, when the sun had gone to rest, 店主的招待周到而殷勤。 So had I spoken with them, every one, 夕阳刚从地平线上消失， That I was of their fellowship anon, 众人同我已经相互结识； And made agreement that we’d early rise 大家约好鸡鸣就起床, To take the road, as you I will apprise. 迎着熹微晨光把路上。
But none the less, whilst I have time and space, 可是在我叙述故事之前， Before yet farther in this tale I pace, 让我占用诸位一点时间， It seems to me accordant with reason 依我之见似乎还很必要， To inform you of the state of every one 把每人的情况作些介绍。 Of all of these, as it appeared to me, 谈谈他们从事什么行业， And who they were, and what was their degree, 社会地位属于哪个阶层 And even how arrayed there at the inn; 容貌衣着举止又是如何， And with a knight thus will I first begin. 那么我就先把骑士说说。
THE PRIORESS There was also a nun, a prioress, Who, in her smiling, modest was and coy; Her greatest oath was but ―By Saint Eloy!‖ And she was known as Madam Eglantine. Full well she sang the services divine, Intoning through her nose, becomingly; And fair she spoke her French, and fluently, After the school of Stratford-at-the-Bow, For French of Paris was not hers to know.
还有个修女是院长嬷嬷， 满面的笑容诚挚又温和。 她效法圣罗伊从不发誓， 起了个芳名叫玫瑰女士。 礼拜式上歌声动听优美， 鼻音圆润平添一分韵味。 她法语讲的高雅而流畅， 是在斯特拉福学的法语， 地道巴黎法语不会半句。
At table she had been well taught withal, 餐桌规矩她可懂得很不少， And never from her lips let morsels fall, 从她口中一颗饭粒也不掉； Nor dipped her fingers deep in sauce, but ate 手指不会伸进菜汤给沾湿， With so much care the food upon her plate 如何捏着面包她都很在意， That never driblet fell upon her breast. 不让一星半点渣子落胸前， In courtesy she had delight and zest. 她最讲究斯斯文文的用餐。 Her upper lip was always wiped so clean 两片朱唇擦得干干净净， That in her cup was no iota seen 杯口上不留一丝油迹； Of grease, when she had drunk her draught of wine. 饮料喝完后再拿食物 Becomingly she reached for meat to dine. 一举一动都文雅而不俗。 And certainly delighting in good sport, 她的性格开朗,乐乐呵呵， She was right pleasant, amiable- in short. 谈吐风趣，待人温和。 She was at pains to counterfeit the look 学习宫廷礼节用心良苦， Of courtliness, and stately manners took, 举止端庄稳重颇有风度。 And would be held worthy of reverence. 她的行为值得大家仰慕， But, to say something of her moral sense, 一幅善良心肠人人佩服。 She was so charitable and piteous 仁慈宽厚还有恻隐之心， That she would weep if she but saw a mouse 即使见到鼠儿落入陷阱， Caught in a trap, though it were dead or bled. 也会抽抽泣泣伤心落泪；
She had some little dogs, too, that she fed 她养了几只小狗亲自喂， On roasted flesh, or milk and fine white bread. 每天都给面包牛奶烤肉； But sore she’d weep if one of them were dead, 倘若有人用棍猛击小狗， Or if men smote it with a rod to smart: 或是爱犬死了她也要哭， For pity ruled her, and her tender heart. 真是个心软肠柔的妇女。 Right decorous her pleated wimple was; 头巾叠了几褶大方得体， Her nose was fine; her eyes were blue as glass; 鼻子俊俏，眼如琉璃 Her mouth was small and therewith soft and red; 樱桃小口殷红柔软 But certainly she had a fair forehead; 额头漂亮，皱纹不见， It was almost a full span broad, I own, 她的上额足足有一掌宽； For, truth to tell, she was not undergrown. 确实她那苗条的身段， Neat was her cloak, as I was well aware. 身披长袍雅致端庄， Of coral small about her arm she’d bear 一串珊瑚念珠套在左臂， A string of beads and gauded all with green; 绿色的大珠子夹在其间， And therefrom hung a brooch of golden sheen 一枚金质饰针挂在上面， Whereon there was first written a crowned ―A‖, 镂刻着王冕装饰的A And under, Amor vincit omnia. 下方是:爱能征服一切。
Renaissance denotes the gradual enlightenment of the human mind after the darkness of the Middle Ages. The term ―renaissance‖ or ―humanism‖ is often used by many writers to denote the whole transition from the Middle Ages to modern time. Engels treats: ―It was the greatest progressive revolution that mankind has so far experienced, a time which called for giants and produced giants----giants in power of thought, passion, character, in universality and learning‖. Renaissance means ―rebirth‖ (of learning). The period was marked by a reawakening of interest in learning, in the individual and in the world of nature. The revival of learning led scholars back to the culture of Greece and Rome. The rebirth of interest in the individual gave rise to a new appreciation of beauty, and to the creation of great works of art. The renewal of curiosity about the natural world ultimately drew men to discover new lands and new truths.
All in all, the chief characteristic of the Renaissance literature is the expression of secular values with man instead of God as the centre of the universe. 1. It emphasizes the dignity of man, affirms and eulogizes the value of man, which often implies a lessening in the power of God. It describes the intellectual and physical virtue‖ of the human being, and of its place in the creation. 2. It advocates the full expression of individualism and the fulfillment of one’s abilities, against the despotic rule of feudalism. It declares that the purpose of life is the unrestrained and self-sufficient practice of one’s ―virtue‖, the competent and delighted exercise of one’s skill. 3. It affirms the delight of earthly achievement, as well as man’s desire for happiness and pleasure. Its preoccupation is with this life and it exposes the hypocrisy and debauchery of the clergy.
The Renaissance reached England late, it was only near the end of the 15th century that Italian influence came to be important, and it was not until the accession of Henry VIII to the throne in 1509 that a notable Renaissance took place in England. British literature of the Renaissance (1485-1660) may be roughly divided into three stages of development: The first stage, the beginning of English Renaissance, is from 1485 to 1558. The second stage, which lasts from 1558 to 1603 (Ming Dynasty), is called the Elizabethan Age. The third stage (1603-1660) includes the reign of James I (or the Jacobean Period 1603-1625), the reign of Charles I and the time of Puritan Revolution (1640-1660). Many books consider the literature of the third phase separately and term it as the Seventeenth Century.
The Elizabethan Age is generally regarded as the peak of the English Renaissance, and is considered the most creative period in the history of British literature. It is in truth a golden age in English history as well as in British literature. In this age, England rose to be the British Empire, the greatest see power of the world. Francis Drake circumnavigated the Globe (1577-1580) and raised the British flag in regions far across the sea, thus making the beginning of the tradition that ―the sun does not set on the British Empire‖. In 1588(努尔哈赤逐步站稳建州), Spanish ―invincible‖ Armada was defeated. Flushed by the triumph, England rushed forward into an enthusiastic development. Explorations were made and colonies were set in the New World. The age of rapid growth and development marked the beginning of modern capitalist England.
Shakespeare has his sonnet cycle. He wrote a cycle of 154 sonnets, rhymed uniformly in abab cdcd efef gg, apparently written over a long period at the beginning of his career. They seem to fall into two series, one addressed to W.H., evidently a patron (1-126) and the other about a ―dark lady‖ (127-152). For depth of sentiment, of mastery of diction, for perfection of finish, they ―remain the casket which encloses the rarest pearls of Elizabethan poetry‖.
Shakespeare’s Plays Generally speaking, Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, but recently, it is found that ―The Two Noble Kinsmen‖ is coauthored with Fletch, thus, his plays come to 38, the significance is they presented a panorama of English society. The four greatest tragedies: Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, and Macbeth represent the climax of his dramatic power. His tragedies commonly present: 1. a noble figure, caught in a difficult situation. 2. weakness or bias of his nature upon his action, his own fate + that of an entire nation.
His Comedies commonly present: 1. a male of youth, love and ideals of happiness. 2. heroes and heroin usually young men trying to master their own fate, they have strong will to mould their own fate. 3. a general optimistic spirit. e.g. Romeo and Julia, in the end, two families got reconciled.
His historical plays expressed an important idea, that is, the centralized government, national unity in one sovereign. e.g. ―Henry IV‖. His typical character Hamlet: His personality is very indecisive, irresolute, e.g. thinks a lot, hesitate and later becomes a symbol of a person of indecisiveness. But according to psychological approach, Hamlet’s delay is out of the Oedipus Complex.
It is a Roman tragedy by Shakespeare, produced about 1599—1601, chiefly based on Plutarch’s Parallel Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans.
1. Antony’s skill in his speech ―Brutus says this, Brutus says that……‖ It indicates a fallacy of reasoning. Antony firstly arose some suspect in citizen, not denied immediately, so, he is wise indeed! ―most unkindest‖ a double superlative produced the effect of emphasis. 2. Comparison of their speech Brutus’ speech appeals to people’s reason. Antony’s speech appeals to people’s feeling, so the latter is more powerful, more practical and more effective.
3. Stylistic device of Antony
―Friends, Romans, countrymen….‖ It is kept in a good balance, close relation arranged in it and syllables in order. 4. Comparison of their personality Brutus is a nobleman, very idealistic, but made mistakes. Firstly, he didn’t kill Antony. Secondly, he let his audience leave the forum. Thirdly, he let deep impression on Antony for speaking lately. Fourthly, he went away, and let Antony speak. The conclusion is that Brutus is an idealistic nobleman, but not a good politician while Antony is very practical, tactful, even sly, speaking artistic, practical in contrast with Brutus.
Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was an English philosopher, essayist and statesman at the 17th century. He was the youngest son of Sir Nicholas Bacon, Lord Keeper of the Seal and Chancellor. He was educated at Trinity College at Cambridge. At the young age of twenty-three he had already found a seat for himself in the House of Commons. As a politician he went through a complicated experience of rise and fall.
His opposition to Queen Elizabeth’s tax program prevented his political advance. Only with the succession of James I, did his position improve. He was made Attorney General, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal and Lord Chancellor. Once he was accused of accepting bribes. He pleaded guilty, was fined 40000 and imprisoned in the Tower of London. Later the fine and imprisonment were remitted (赦免). However, his political career came to an end. His late years were devoted to writing. Bacon’s major works are The Advancement of Learning (1605), The New Atlantis (1610), The Novum Organum (New Method) (1620), and Essays (1625). Bacon believed that he was born for the service of mankind and he said that he was fitted for nothing so well as the study of truth. The whole basis of his philosophy was practical: to give mankind mastery over the forces of nature by means of scientific discoveries and inventions.
Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment and disposition of business.
For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshaling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament is affectation; to make judgment wholly by their rules is the humor of a scholar.
练达之士最能分别处理细事或一一判别枝节，然纵观统筹、全局策划， 则舍好学深思者莫属。读书费时过多易惰，文采藻饰太盛则矫，全凭条 文断事乃学究故态。
They perfect nature, and are perfected by experience; for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at large, except they the bounded in by experience.
读书补天然之不足，经验又补读书之不足，盖天生才干犹如自然花草， 读书然后知如何修剪移接；而书中所示，如不以经验范之，则又大而无 当。
Crafty men contemn studies, simple men admire them, and wise men use them, for they teach not their own use; but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation.
Read not to contradict and confute, nor to believe and take for granted, nor to find talk and discourse, but to weigh and consider.
Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy and extracts made of them by others, but that would be only in the less important arguments and the meaner sort of books; else distilled books are like common distilled waters， flashy tings.
书有可浅尝者，有可吞食者，少数则须咀嚼消化。换言之，有只须读 其部分者，有只须大体涉猎者，少数则须全读，读时须全神贯注，孜孜 不倦。书亦可请人代读，取其所作摘要，但只限题材较次或价值不高者， 否则书经提炼犹如水经蒸馏，淡而无味矣。
Reading maketh a full man, conferences a ready man, and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit; and if he read little, he had need have more cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.
读书使人充实，讨论使人机智，笔记使人准确。因此不常作笔记者须 记忆特强，不常讨论者须天生聪颖，不常读书者须欺世有术，始能无知 而显有知。
Histories make men wise; poets, witty; the mathematics, subtle; natural philosophy, deep, moral, grave; logic and rhetoric, able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores.
Nay, there is no stond or impediment in the wit but may be wrought out by fit studies, like as disease of the body may
have appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins, shooting for the lungs and breast, gentle walking for the stomach, riding for the head, and the like. So if a man’s wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. If his wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the schoolmen, for they are cymini sectores. If he be not apt to beat over matters and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyer’s cases. So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
人之才智但有滞碍，无不可读适当之书使人顺畅，一如身体百病，皆 可借相宜之运动除之。滚球利睾肾，射箭利胸肺，漫步利肠胃，骑术利 头脑，诸如此类。如智力不集中，可令读数学，盖演题须全神费注，稍 有分散须重演；如不能辨异，可令读经院哲学，盖此辈皆吹毛求疵之人； 如不善求同，不善以物阐证另一物，可令读律师之案卷。如此头脑中凡 有缺陷，皆有特药可医。
Of Studies is the most popular of Bacon’s 58 essays. It discusses the functions and abuses of learning and analyzes what studies chiefly serve for, the different ways adopted by different people to pursue studies, and how studies exert influence over human character. His advice on proper methods of reading is of great help; his ideas about the cultivating of human characters through appropriate studies are really pertinent. This essay impresses the reader with forceful and persuasive argumentation but also by its elegance of style. It is made up of only one paragraph, but its message is compact and precise conveyed with sweeping effect and overwhelming power. The text focuses on one controlling idea---studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. And closely around the focus are five major issues: 1. the proper or improper ways of studies;
2. different men have different ideas about studies; 3. ways of reading; 4. different human characters coined by studying various subjects; 5. the conquest of human defects through effective studies. Bacon’s language is neat and weighty, especially the parallel structures employed throughout this concise essay. The text employs many devices of connectivity, including grammatical devices, lexical cohesion, logical connection, pragmatic and semantic (语意相关的) implication, and even prosodic (韵律或诗法的) associations. Of all the grammatical devices utilized in the text, the most striking are perhaps ellipsis, parallel structure and antithesis. The lexical cohesion of the text is achieved mainly through reiteration and collocation (连语排列), as in the sentence ―Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested‖. These features strike the reader, to some extent, more than collocation in the text.
The ―Metaphysical School‖ is a name given to John Donne and his followers. It’s a phrase of Dr. Johnson’s from Dryden who said of Donne ―that he affected too much the metaphysics‖. Dryden meant that Donne’s poetry was too often labored and intellectual and obscure, concerned too much with philosophy.
―Meta‖ means above, beyond, of a higher logical type. Obviously Metaphysical is aimed at studying sth which is above or beyond its physical form, thus Metaphysical is close to philosophical in meaning. The word ―conceit‖ originally means ―concept‖ or ―idea‖, and later came to mean ―fanciful idea‖. It is in this sense that the word is used in discussion of poems. A conceit is a metaphor or simile, but more elaborate, often extravagant. The difference between them is largely of degree. One appeals mainly to the reader’s five senses and is easier to understand; a conceit appeals mainly to the reader’s intellect and so is difficult to comprehend. A conceit may strike the reader as weird (unearthly) at first glance, but proves appropriate in the end. The use of conceit is especially popular in the 17th century and the metaphysical poetry is characterized by conceit.
To His Coy Mistress Had we but world enough, and time, This coyness, Lady, were no crime We would sit down and think which way To walk and pass our long love’s day. Thou by the Indian Ganges’ side Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years before the Flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart. For, Lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate.
But at my back I always hear Time’s winged chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy beauty shall no more be found, Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song: then worms shall try That long preserved virginity, And your quaint honour turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust: The grave’s a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace.
Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt power Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run.
The form The poem is written in iambic tetrameter and rhymes in couplets. The first part (―Had we...‖) is ten couplets long, the second (―But...‖) six, and the third (―Now therefore...‖) seven.
Theme To His Coy Mistress presents a familiar theme in literature–carpe diem, a term coined by the ancient Roman poet Horace (65-8 B.C.). Generally speaking, love poem at that time has two themes: 1. Love invitation. 2. carpe diem (Latin), meaning to seize the time and enjoying the present.
Structure This poem is couched in the form of an argument in syllogistic structure, going sth like this: 1. If we had all the time in the world, I could have no objection to even an indefinite postponement of your acceptance of my suit. 2. But the fact is we don’t have much time at all; and once this life is gone, all our chances for love are gone. 3. Therefore, the only conclusion is that we should love one another now, while we are young and passionate, and thus seize that pleasures we can in a world, the time is all too short. After all, we know nothing about any future life and have only the grimmest observations of the effects of death. As a matter of fact, it is a specious argument, viewed from the rigorous standpoint of formal logic. The fallacy is called denying the antecedent.
We can see now the poem is a proposition, it sounds graceful, sophisticated, even philosophical. Many allusions in the poem that have to do with the passage of time show Marvell’s religious and classical background. Two have been mentioned: The Flood and the conversion of the Jews. But there are others that continue to impress the reader with the urgency of the speaker’s plea. ―Time’s winged chariot‖ is the traditional metaphor for the vehicle in which the sun, moon, night, and time are represented as pursuing their course. Time’s ―slow-chapped power‖ alludes to the cannibalism of Kronos, who, to prevent ever being overthrown by his own children, devoured all of them as they were born except Zeus. Zeus was hidden, later grew up, and ultimately became chief of the gods himself.
The last couplet: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run. It suggests several possible sources, both biblical and classical. Joshua (Moses’ successor) commanded the sun to stand still so that he could win a battle against the Amorites Zeus bade the sun to stand still in order to lengthen his night of love with Alcmene (mother of Hercules, wife of Amphitryon, king of Thebes), the last mortal woman he embraced. In this example it is, of course, easy to see the appropriateness of the figures to the theme of the poem. The speaker is saying to his mistress that they are human, hence mortal. They can’t stop time. They must instead cause time to pass quickly by doing what is pleasurable. So, despite some rough metaphysical imagery, it manifests for the most part wit, gaiety, charm, polish, and ease of expression.
This period extends from 1660--to 1784, the death of Samuel Johnson, or rather 1798, the publication of Lyrical Ballads. It was the time when the dominant literary theory is neoclassicism. The period began with the Restoration of Charles II, during whose reign the leading literary figure was John Dryden, with whom the neoclassic literature came into being, and concluded with the death of Samuel Johnson. By Johnson’s death, neoclassicism came to a decline and romanticism began to emerge. The last years of the 18th century saw the beginning of romanticism in the works of these pre-romantic poets as Gray, Burns, and Blake. The term ―neoclassicism‖ in the 18th century refers only to the critical, intellectual spirit of many writers, to the fine polish of their heroic couplet or the elegance of their prose. It was also the dominant literary theory. It was initiated by Dryden, culminated in Pope and continued by Johnson.
The 18th century marked the beginning of an intellectual movement in Europe known as the Enlightenment. It was a progressive intellectual movement throughout Western Europe in the 18th and Russia in the 19th centuries. Its beginnings have traditionally been thought to be in France, there emerged such giants as Montesquieu (1689--1755), Diderot (1713--1784), Voltaire (1694--1778), and Rousseau (1712--1778), writing on the eve of the French Revolution of 1789. But recent scholars have traced the sources of much of French Enlightenment back to English writers such as Hobbes, Locke, and Newton. The movement was an expression of the struggle of the bourgeoisie against feudalism. The enlighteners fought against class inequality, stagnation, prejudice and other feudal survivals. The enlightenment was so called because it considered the
chief means for the betterment of the society was the ―enlightenment‖ or ―education‖ of the people. In other words they believed in the power of reason and their watchword was ―common sense‖. That’s why the 18th century in England has often been called ―The Age of Reason‖. Most of the enlightenment thinkers believed that social problem could not be solved by church doctrine or by the power of God but should be solved with human intelligence. Most of the important writers of the 18th century belonged to the enlightenment. In their works they criticized different aspects of contemporary England, discussed social problems and the management of the government, and some even partly defended the interests of laboring masses both in countryside and in cities. The literature of the Enlightenment in England mainly appealed to the middle class readers.
The Chief characteristics are: 1. The neoclassic writers manifested a strong traditionalism, which was clearly shown in their immense respect for classic writers, with a definite purpose to establish a set principles for the most of the major literary genres. Horace (65 B.C.— A.D. 8) did setting laws and rules for poet and poetic writings. He set three major principles: reference, properness, and reason. Reference means not only following tradition, but also inventing, the purpose of it is to learn their expressive methods in literary creation. Properness or decorum is his misinterpretation of Platonic and Aristotelian imitation. Plato and Aristotle refer to imitation of nature, but Horace to the imitation of ancient writers. Reason is a complement of the properness, aiming at the
content which is asked to be plausible, convincing and clarified. Based on the three major principles, Horace set forth the theory of being ―delightful and instructive‖. He also coined the term ―purple patch‖, referring to the extravagant words or phrases which did not contribute to the themes of the works. 2. The neoclassics believed that literature was primarily an ―art‖, which must be perfected by long study and practice. In Horace’s reference principle, he held that poet should follow the tradition, yet must be original from start to the end. As for genius, he opposed to the mystified genius, criticized the poetic mania. He pointed out that genius is a kind of ability of judgment and perceptibility, a perfect expressive ability of comprehension and understanding, not bestowed by Holy Ghost or somewhat unthinkable mania.
Such ability is mainly from the diligent exercise and hard study. 3. The neoclassic regarded poetry as imitation of human life---―a mirror up to nature‖. Not art for art’s sake, but art for humanity’s sake was the ideal of neoclassic humanism. In fact, it is a misunderstanding of Aristotle’s theory of imitation --the organic unity of matter and form. Thus, it led to the emphasis on the form rather than content, and ignored the literary idealization. 4. The neoclassic believed that the poet is the ―maker‖---the maker of the representative images of human actions and of the world, and the purpose is to teach. This comes from French classic aesthetician Boileau whose ―The Art of the Poetry‖ was regarded as the model of classics. Generally speaking, ―respect the reason‖ is the fundamental principle of his aesthetics; ―imitate the nature‖ is his general rule of
literary creation; ―unity of truth, goodness and beauty‖ is his highest artistic idealization. The purpose of art is to teach the society, art should serve for morality. 5. The neoclassics deduced rules from the practice of early masters and invented new rules of their own. But later it appeared a misunderstanding of the three unities of time, place and action from Aristotle’s dramatic theory. Aristotle referred to its inner links, or organic wholeness, later, an Italian, Castlevetro (1505—1571) set the law that time should be within 12 hours, due to this limit, the place should also be strictly set in one place, then, it ensues to limit the action or event.
It refers to the reigns of Queen Anne, King George I, and George II in the first half of the 18th century, ending in the 1740s with the deaths of Pope and Swift (1744 and 1745). The style of English literature produced during this period is called Augustan literature. The name was chosen by the writers themselves, who saw in Pope, Addison, Swift, Johnson, and Burke the modern parallels to Horace, Virgil, Cicero, and all that brilliant company who made Roman literature famous in the days of Augustus. Such as 1. Cicero (106 B.C.—43 B.C.), Roman politician and writer. 2. Virgil (70 B.C.—A.D. 19), Roman poet, wrote great epic ―Aeneid‖—the origin of Roman country. The entire Augustan age’s poetry was dominated by Alexander Pope.
Pre-Romanticism: It is a cultural movement in Europe, started from about the 1740s. A major intellectual precursor of Romanticism was Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He emphasized the free expression of emotion rather than polite restraint in friendship and love, repudiated aristocratic elegance and recognized the virtues of middle-class domestic life, and helped open the public’s eyes to the beauties of nature. Romantic tendencies had appeared long before then, even when neoclassicism was still in its full flower. In England, neoclassical poetry declined in second half of the 18th century, a group of young poets appeared with new ideas, writing a new kind of poetry, poetry of imagination and emotion. This emergence of new themes and modes in poetry ushered the Romantic Revival into England, called PreRomanticism. It was marked by a strong protest against
the bondage of classicism, by recognition of the claims of imagination and emotion, and by a renewed interest in medieval literature. Poets such as Thomas Gray with his ―Elegy‖, Oliver Goldsmith with his ―The deserted Village‖, and their poems, like the chorus of awakening birds from the cold winter of Classicism suggested the dawn of another day. Two other poets, Robert Burns and William Blake, suggested the sunrise. While ―Lyrical Ballads‖ proclaimed the broad daylight of the Romantic Age.
Thomas Gray (1716 – 1771) He was an English poet, classical scholar and professor at Cambridge University. He spent most of his life as a scholar in Cambridge, although he was one of the least productive poets. he is regarded as the predominant poetic figure of the mid-18th century. In 1757, he was offered the post of Poet Laureate, which he refused. Gray was known as one of the ―Graveyard poets‖ of the late 18th century, along with Oliver Goldsmith, William Cowper, and Christopher Smart, sharing ideas about death, mortality, and the finality and sublimity of death. Gray began writing his masterpiece, the Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard in the graveyard of the church in Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, in 1742. The poem was a literary sensation when published in 1751 and has made a lasting contribution to English literature. Its reflective, calm and
stoic tone was greatly admired, and it was pirated, imitated, quoted and translated into Latin and Greek. It is still one of the most popular and most frequently quoted poems in the English language. The Elegy was recognised immediately for its beauty and skill. It contains many outstanding phrases which have entered the common English lexicon, either on their own or as quoted in other works, such as ―The Paths of Glory‖, ―Celestial fire‖, ―Far from the Madding Crowd‖. Gray’s poetic output was small, but his Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard was given high praise by literary historians and critics almost unanimously. This Elegy was regarded as the acme of graveyard poetry, and Gray as the best poet in the ―Graveyard School‖. He is also well known for his phrase: ―where ignorance is bliss, ’tis folly to be wise.‖
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
群牛鸣叫归,迂回过草径， The ploughman homeward plods his weary way, 农夫荷锄犁,倦倦回家门
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, 暮色何苍茫,景物渐迷离
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
四野多寂静,无声亦无风， Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight, 惟有小甲虫,纷飞声嗡嗡
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:
It is the best-known meditative poem, published in 1750. The poem reflects in a village cemetery on the groves of the humble and poor that surrounded him. It ranks high among the most popular English poems in the 18th century. The whole poem is full of the gentle melancholy which marks all the early romantic poetry. It contains altogether 32 quatrains of iambic pentameter, with a rhyme scheme of abab for each stanza. In order to create the atmosphere of melancholy, Gray uses his own techniques. In the first three stanzas, the poet, with great art, selects those natural phenomena which cast additional gloom upon the scene. He presents us a picture of twilight in a country churchyard: the lowing herd, the droning flight of the beetles, the drowsy tinklings from a distant fold, the moping owl in an ivy-mantled tower. All these natural objects, either directly or by contrast, reflect.
the mood of man---romantic melancholy. Here nature is a background for the display of emotion. The poet also chooses some long vowels and diphthongs to create its own melancholic tone which permeates the whole elegy. e.g. ―The curfew tolls the knell of parting day‖ And still a lot such as low, herd, o’er, plea, plow, weary, leave, dark etc. What’s the effect? It speaks the slowing down, which is proper to the stillness of the air and the slow movement of plowman, even to a peaceful emotion, or meditation of the figure. These sounds make the poet meditate upon the lives of the common people who are buried there.
Throughout the whole poem, the author shows his great sympathy for the poor, the lowly and the unrenowned in these graves, while he expresses his unmistakable censure upon the great, the powerful and the wealthy who in their lifetime have contempt for the common people or brought havoc to the country. He stresses the fact that death is inevitably and that everyone is equal before death no matter who is. The poem shares a high artfulness, very fresh because: 1. It’s quite polished in a strict, rigid iambic pentameter. 2. There are a lot of images, besides, the sentiment or feelings were sincere. 3. The expression is quite subtle, graceful. 4. The dominant sentiment is melancholy for melancholy’s sake, not for a criticism of social inequality. So, Johnson once said it ―abounds with images which every bosom must return an echo‖.
芳草碧连天。 晚风拂柳笛声残， 夕阳山外山。 天之涯，地之角， 知交半零落。 一瓢浊酒尽余欢， 今宵别梦寒。
李叔同（1880年－1942年），精 通绘画、音乐、戏剧、书法、篆 刻和诗词，为现代中国著名艺术 家、艺术教育家，1918年于杭州 虎跑寺剃度出家，1942年在福建 泉州开元寺圆寂。弘一法师“二 十文章惊海内”，集诗、词、书 画、篆刻、音乐、戏剧、文学于 一身，在多个领域，开中华文化 艺术之先河，艺术造诣卓越，先 后培养出了名画家丰子恺、音乐 家刘质平等一些文化名人。他把 中国古代的书法艺术推向了极至 ，“朴拙圆满，浑若天成”，鲁 迅、郭沫若等为能得到大师一幅 字为无尚荣耀。一生充满了传奇 色彩，为世人留下了咀嚼不尽的 精神财富，由极致绚丽而归于平 淡，如空谷足音，绝响后世。
《送别》自1914年问世以来，传唱近百年，艺术魅力经久 不衰。弘一法师在俗时为“天涯五好友”之一许幻园创作； 有年冬天，大雪纷飞，当时旧上海是一片凄凉；许幻园站在 门外喊出李叔同和叶子小姐，说：“叔同兄，我家破产了， 咱们后会有期。”说完，挥泪而别，连好友的家门也没进去 。李叔同看着昔日好友远去的背影，在雪里站了整整一个小 时，连叶子小姐多次的叫声，仿佛也没听见。随后，李叔同 返身回到屋内，把门一关，让叶子小姐弹琴，含泪写下： 长亭外，古道边，芳草碧连天……。 《送别》不涉及道德训诫，意蕴悠长，音乐与文学的结合 堪称完美。歌词以长短句结构写成，语言精练，感情真挚， 意境深邃。通过描绘长亭、古道、夕阳、笛声等晚景来衬托 寂静冷落的气氛，恰当地表现了告别友人的离愁情绪。淡淡 的笛音吹出离愁，幽美的歌词写出别绪，首尾呼应，无论是 咏亦或是歌都让人百感交集，道出诗人的感悟：超越红尘。
Romanticism: Romanticism was a movement in literature, music, and art which developed in Europe in the late 18th and early 19th century. Starting from the ideas of Rousseau in France and from the Storm and Stress movement in Germany, it held that classicism failed to express man’s emotional nature and overlooked his profound inner forces. It emphasized individual values and aspirations above those of society. As a reaction to the industrial revolution, it looked to the Middle Ages and to direct contact with nature for inspiration. Literature took the full force of Romanticism. It brought forth a full flowering of literary talents. The leading romantic writers were the first and younger generations in England, Hugo and Sand in France, Heine and Gothe in Germany, Pushkin in Russia. Their works depicted man’s eager search for individual freedom, pure sentiments and ideal beauty.
As a historical period in British literature, this age extends from 1798 to 1832. It was expressed almost entirely in poetry. There are two impetus of the Romantic Movement: 1. The French Revolution The most important impetus was the French Revolution. It began with the storming of Bastille on July 14, 1789. As a result, King Louis XVI was beheaded in 1793, and the monarchy was abolished in France. Soon revolutionary fervour swept all over Europe and it had a most far-reaching effect upon men's thought and was reflected in literature. Almost all the leading writers were in sympathy with and were inspired by the French Revolution. William Hazlitt described the revolution as ―the dawn of a new era‖, denoting that the new poetry of the romantic poet had its origin in the French Revolution.
2. The Industrial Revolution The Industrial Revolution was another impetus that pushed forward the Romantic Movement. During this period, England was experiencing the change from a primarily agricultural society to a modern industrial nation, as a result, the ruling power was shifted from the old aristocracy to the bourgeoisie. In rural areas, the peasants were made landless and homeless by the Enclosure, they had to either pour into the city to earn their livings in factories or remain as hired workers in the countryside. This process was lamented by Goldsmith in his The Deserted Village as early as 1770. working people at that time often lived in extreme poverty and they had to work long hours under hard conditions. Women and children were also employed for tasks which destroyed both the body and spirit.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712 -1778) philosopher, author, political theorist, one of the greatest figures of the French enlightenment. His writings had a great influence on the leaders of the French Revolution and American Revolution as well as the romantic generation. He glorified human nature and attacked social inequality. He favored a theory of social contract as the key to human freedom. He is also noted for his famous work ―The Confession‖ (1764-1770).
His aesthetical view is different from the ordinary enlighteners who thought that men could attain a new way of moral value and aesthetical value by means of cultivating and developing men’s sublime aesthetic interest. He denied any links between art and morality, and opposed that men could rely on art to improve the social condition, to develop men’s spiritual ideology. In Discourse on the Arts and Sciences (1750), Rousseau argued that the advancement of art and science had not been beneficial to mankind. He proposed that the progress of knowledge had made governments more powerful, and crushed individual liberty. He concluded that material progress had actually undermined the possibility of sincere friendship, replacing it with jealousy, fear and suspicion. The first part of the Discourse is largely an historical survey. Using specific examples, Rousseau shows how
societies in which the arts and sciences flourished more often than not saw the decline of morality and virtue. He notes that it was after philosophy and the arts flourished that ancient Egypt fell. Similarly, ancient Greece was once founded on notions of heroic virtue, but after the arts and sciences progressed, it became a society based on luxury and leisure. The one exception to this, according to Rousseau, was Sparta, which he praises for pushing the artists and scientists from its walls. Sparta is in stark contrast to Athens, which was the heart of good taste, elegance, and philosophy. The second part of the First Discourse is an examination of the arts and sciences themselves, and the dangers they bring. First, Rousseau claims that the arts and sciences are born from our vices: ―Astronomy was born from superstition; eloquence from ambition, hate, flattery, and falsehood; geometry from avarice, physics from vain curiosity; all, even
moral philosophy, from human pride.‖ Rousseau argues that they create a false sense of need for luxury, so that science becomes simply a means for making our lives easier and more pleasurable, but not morally better. He held that science, literature, and art are the most vicious enemies to the morality, moreover, science stimulated men’s desire and it is the source / cause of the slavery. In short, all that make men civilized from the uncivilized are all catastrophes, Like Spartans, he held the victory of the war as the value standard, meanwhile, glorified ―the noble savage‖. Like Spartans, Rousseau looked at the victory of the war as the value standard and preferred the noble savages. In his ―Discourse on Inequality‖, he believed that man is born goodnatured, yet the social system spoiled them. This idea is completely contradictory to the doctrines of original sin and religious salvation. The cause of such inequality lies in the
system of private possession, to remove the trouble, it is necessary to throw away the civilization and let man’s original nature emerge, for it is good in origin. Rousseau advocated the conscience and regarded it as a right guide, in anyway, he thought that one could also be virtuous without knowledge, for our natural emotion can direct us to meet the public requirement, while reason stimulated man’s selfishness, so that, if we wanted a pure morality, we shall only follow our emotion, not reason. Rousseau hacked out a new way, that is, a new aesthetic interest, challenging the reason with passion, the civilization with nature. Thus, he was regarded as the founder and father of romanticism. He advocated a real art which could express the actual feeling of laboring class.
Romanticism favored innovation over traditionalism in the materials, forms, and style of literature. It has the following prominent characteristics which distinquish it from the neoclassical literature. 1. The spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings. In the preface to Lyrical Ballads, Wordsworth described good poetry as ―the spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling‖. In neoclassical theory, poetry was primarily an ―Art‖, and it must be perfected by long study and practice. While Wordsworth emphasized on the emotion and untrammelled imagination. He held that the writing of a poem may be preceded by reflection and followed by second thoughts and revisions, and yet, if a poem is to be genuine, the immediate act of composition must be spontaneous, namely, arising from impulse and free from all the rules and conventions of
his neoclassical predecessors. Keats wrote: ―If poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to the tree, it had better not come at all‖. Blake insisted that he wrote from ―Inspiration and Vision‖. Shelley also maintained that it is ―an error to assert that the finest passage of poetry are produced by labor and study‖, he suggested that they are the products of an unconscious creativity. 2. The creation of a world of imagination. Turning away from the crisp ―wit‖ of the 18th century, the romantic poets found undiscovered countries in their own imaginations. Shelley and Blake described a poem as the poet’s imaginative vision. Coleridge also introduced into English criticism an organic theory of the imaginative process, describing a great work of literature as a selforiginating and self-organizing process which begins with a seedlike idea in the poet’s imagination. By vivid imagination,
the romantic writers were capable of fantastic dream worlds, thus much of romantic literature has magical or miraculous effects. 3. The return to nature for material. Romantic writers took the world of nature as a persistent subject of their poetry and described it with an accuracy of observation unprecedented in earlier writers. This was in marked contrast to neoclassical writers, who confined themselves largely to the clubs and drawing-rooms and to the social and political life to London. It is a mistake if romantic poetry was regarded as a synonymous with natural poetry. In romantic poetry, the natural scene is not presented for its own sake, but serves as a stimulus to thought, therefore, in fact, romantic poems are meditative. In addition, romantic poems often fill the natural scene with human life, passion, and expressiveness, or give
them symbolic meanings. Take lines of Blake as example: To see a World in a Frain of Sand And Heaven in a Wild Flower Hold infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour 4. Sympathy with the humble and glorification of the commonplace. Romanticism was marked by intense human sympathy and by a consequent understanding of the human heart, which neoclassicism had lacked. Roamntic writers sympathized with the poor and cried against oppression. Romanticism also glorified the commonplace. Hazlitt commented that the aim of Lyrical Ballads was ―to choose incidents and situations from common life‖, and to use ―a selection of language really spoken by men‖. Such a serious treatment of lovely subjects in common language violated
the basic neoclassical rule, which asserted that serious genres should deal with high subjects in an appropriately elevated style and polished language. Unlike the neoclasscists, romantic writers turned to describe humble people, daily life, trivial things, and familiar matters. Sometimes, not only the humble but also the ignominous could be found in romantic poetry. For instance, Wordsworth’s poems were crowded with convicts, female vagrants, gypsies, idiot boys and mad mothers, as well as peasants, peddlers, and village barbers. 5. Emphasis upon the expression of individual genius. The romantic period is also an age of radical individualism. Emphasis was not placed on what human beings possessed in common but on the individual. Man was no longer viewed as limited being in a strictly ordered and essentially unchanging world, but having infinite potentialities and creative power. The Romantic Movement was the expression of individual
genius, it was marked by strong reaction and protest against the bondage of rules. In consequence, the literature of romanticism was as varied as the character and moods of the different writers. For example, when we read Pope, we have a general impression of samness as if all his polished and refined poems were made in the same machine; but in the works of the best romantics, there is endless variety. They experimented boldly in poetic language, versification and design instead of following the ―established rule‖. 6. The return to Milton and Elizabethans for literary models. Romantic writers looked back to the Renaissance poets as their masters instead of Dryden, Pope or Johnson. They held Shakespeare and Milton as the inspiration, no romantic writers were not influenced by these great poets. 7. The interest in old stories and medieval romances.
In addition to everyday things of their contemporary world, they also took great interest in the supernatural, ―the far away and the long age‖. They drew materials from the old legends, myths, folktales, especially the chivalry and high adventures of the Middle Ages, and restored them into vivid and beautiful passions of new ideas and feelings. Writers such as Coleridge and Keats not only choose stories of far off ages, but also wrote at times in the form of the medieval ballad. The romantic writers turned from the actual world to the past or imaginary worlds, because there were no boundaries to confine them. 8. A sense of melancholy and loneliness. In the works of the romantics, the gloomy mood of melancholy and loneliness can often be sensed because of the frustration of their efforts in revolting against the established code and convention.
To most romantics, poetry was the hope of the world. Shelley wrote that poets were the prophets of future and the unacknowledged legislators of mankind. Keats sought steadily for perfect beauty and perfect truth, expressed in perfect poetry. Such high hopes of ideal attainment, however, could hardly be realized. The consequent disappointment led to a kind of melancholy that underlies much romantic poetry. Shelley said: ―Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts‖. Keats also learned that melancholy sprang from knowing that beauty ―must die‖. 9. The rebellious spirit. Most of the romantic writers were rebels against society or social conventions. The first generation deliberately isolated themselves from society to live near nature, and wrote poems about nature, about common people, and about supernatural dreams, trying to find a substitute for the ugly industrial life
that caused such hardships on working people. The second generation were even more radical, they openly sang for revolutions, spoke for the working people, and wished for a better world. Byron and Shelley themselves were revolutionaries in their desire for liberty for the individual. Because the two generations faced the society in different ways, Gorky divided them into the passive and the active romantic school.
The Lake Poets
It refers to a group of English poets, the first generation of Romantics, Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey. They were called ―Lake Poets‖ because they had lived in close association in the mountainous Lake District of Cumberland and Westmorland in the northwest of England at the beginning of the 19th century. They are regarded as one group also because of their community of literary and social outlook. They traversed the same path in politics and poetry, beginning as radicals and closing as conservatives.
William Wordsworth (1770–1850) was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with the 1798 joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth was Britain’s Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850, his masterpiece is generally considered to be The Prelude, a semiautobiographical poem of his early years which he revised and expanded a number of times. Preface to Lyrical Ballads is called the ―manifesto‖ of English Romantic criticism. 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 feelings: it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility‖.
The Romantic Age produced two major novelists, Jane Austen and Sir Walter Scott. Only Scott belonged to this age both in time and spirit, while Austen stayed serenely within the culture and literary traditions of the neoclassical past and at the same time anticipated the realistic novels of the next age. Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time. Scott was the first English-language author to have a truly international career in his lifetime, with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America. His novels and poetry are still read, and many remain classics of both English-language
literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of The Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian. Sir Walter Scott was and still is a much admired Scottish poet and novelist. His chief contribution to literature is the historical novels, of which he is considered the father and a great master. Classification of His Novels Scott’s historical novels covered a long period of time, ranging from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. They may be conveniently divided into three groups according to the subject matter: 1. The group on Scottish history. It’s the earliest and largest group of his novels dealing with Scottish history. Such as Waverley, Guy Mannering, Rob Roy, and The Heart of Midlothian.
2. The group on English history. This group covers different historical periods, from the medieval days of feudalism (Ivanhoe, 1819), through the years of Tudor rule (Kenilworth, 1821) and Stuart rule. Of this group the most important and the best known is Ivanhoe full of realistic description of the life of feudal England. 3. The group on the history of European countries. Among this group, the most significant is Quentin Durward which attracts readers very much. Literary Significance: Scott’s historical novels combine a romantic atmosphere with a realistic depiction of historical background, thus paved the way for some of the best works of Dickens and Thackeray. His literary career also marks the transition from romanticism to realism in British literature of the 19th century.
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