1.1. Aims of the unit.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
2. A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE EIGHTEENTH -CENTURY GREAT BRITAIN : 17TH
2.1. The seventeenth century: the Stuart Age (1603- 1713),
2.2.1. Social and political background.
2.2.2. Cultural and scientific background.
2.2.3. Literary background: the Restoration.
3. THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY GREAT BRITAIN: SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND POLITICAL BODY; CULTURAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL EVENTS. GREATEST EIGHTEENTH- CENTURY NOVELISTS .
3.1. The eighteenth-century Great Britain: a general overview.
3.1.1. Social, economic and political background.
3.1.2. Scientific and technological background.
3.1.3. Cultural and literary background.
3.2. The eighteenth-century literature: greatest writers .
3.2.1. The Enlightment: the Age of Pope (1680-1740).
220.127.116.11. Poetry: main poets.
18.104.22.168. Drama: main dramatists.
22.214.171.124. Prose: main novelists .
126.96.36.199.1. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).
188.8.131.52.2. Joseph Addison (1672-1719).
184.108.40.206.3. Sir Richard Steele (1672- 1729).
220.127.116.11.4. Daniel Defoe (c.1659-1731).
18.104.22.168.5. John Arbuthnot (1667- 1735).
22.214.171.124.6. Lord Bolingbroke (1678 – 1751).
126.96.36.199.7. George Berkeley (1685 -1753).
188.8.131.52.8. Lady Mary Wortley (1689-1762).
3.2.2. The Rise of the novel: the Age of Johnson (1740- 1788).
184.108.40.206. Poetry: main poets.
220.127.116.11. Drama: main dramatists.
18.104.22.168. Prose: main writers.
22.214.171.124.1.1. Samuel Richardson (1689- 1761).
126.96.36.199.1.2. Henry Fielding (1707- 1754).
188.8.131.52.1.3. Tobias Smollett (1721 -1771).
184.108.40.206.1.4. Laurence Sterne (1713 -1768).
220.127.116.11.3. Prose writers.
3.2.3. The late eighteeenth century : the pre – Romantic period (1788 -1820 ).
18.104.22.168. The Gothic novel: t error novelists.
22.214.171.124.1. Horace Walpole (1717- 1797).
126.96.36.199.2. William Beckford (1759-1844).
188.8.131.52.3. Mrs Ann Radcliffe (1764 -1823).
184.108.40.206.4. Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775- 1818).
4. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS IN LANGUAGE TEACHING.
1.1. Aims of the unit.
The present unit, Unit 45, aims to provide a useful introduction to the various relationships between the imaginative literature of eighteenth-century Great Britain and changing social, economic, political, cultural and technological conditions within this period, namely by reviewing the main socioeconomic developments, political body, and the main cultural and technological events . In addition, we shall analyse the rise of the novel in the second half of the century by approaching the greatest eighteenth -century writers and their works, which reflected the already mentioned conditions namely in the Augustan Age (c.1700 to 1790).
In fact, this body of writing (eighteenth century literature in England) was both shaped by and reflected the prevailing ideologies of the day (and also previous days) which, following Speck (1998), means that this is an account of literary activity in which social, economic, cultural, technogical and political allegiances are placed very much to the fore. Therefore, we shall present our study in five main chapters.
Chapter 2 namely provides a historical background for the eighteenth-century Great Britain by tracing back to the seventeenth century. So, we shall review the seventeenth century as the Age of the Stuarts (1603-1713), also called the Jacobean Era and the age of Cromwell and the Restoration, under the rule of James I (1603-1625), Charles I (1625- 1649), Cromwell (1649-1660), Charles II (1660-1685), James VII and II (1685-1689), William of Orange and Mary II (1689-1707) and Queen Anne (from 1707 onwards). Hence we shall review (a) the social and political background regarding the changes that crisis, civil wars, the Commonwealth and the Restoration established; (b) the cultural and technological background; and (c) the literary background regarding drama, poetry, and prose so as to establish the starting point for our analysis of the eighteenth century England.
Chapter 3 provides an overview of the eighteenth-century Great Britain with the aim of going further into its main literary productions and, in particular, to its greatest novelists. This period coincides to a great extent with the Augustean Age (1714-1790), and only in the last decade it is related to the Romantics (1790-1837). So, following Speck (1998), this means to provide an account of literary activity in which social, economic, cultural, technogical and political allegiances are placed very much to the fore. This is reflected in the organization of the unit, in which the
literary activity will be divided into three main periods: 1680-1740, 1740- 1788 and 1788-1820,
which closely reflect the main changing conditions of the eighteenth century at all levels.
So, in order to analyse these links we shall examine (1) a general overview of the eighteenth- century Great Britain regarding (a) social, economic and political background, (b) scientific and technological background, and (c) cultural and literary background in Great Britain. Then we shall approach the (2) eighteenth-century literature in terms of main writers during the main periods in Augustan Age (1714-1790) and the earlier years of the nineteenth century (1790-1837). Hence the Augustan Age will be divided into three main per iods: (a) 1680-1740, which relates to the Enlightenment, the Age of Pope (1700-c.1750) and the starting point for a profound change in literature mode, the novel. In this section we shall approach the different literary forms and its main literary figures and works, thus (i) poetry and main poets, (ii) drama and main dramatists, and (iii) prose and main novelists; (b) 1740-1788, which is related to the rise of the novel and the Age of Johnson, also known as the Age of Transition. Here we explore (i) poetry and main poets, which are approached in two blocks: first, main transitional poets and second, the New School poets; (ii) drama and main dramatists, and (iii) prose and main writers, to be approached as first, novelists, second, historians, and third, miscellaneous prose writers; and (c) 1788-1820, which relates to the late eighteenth century and the pre-Romantic period, in which we examine (i) the Gothic novel and its main terror novelists.
Chapter 4 will be devoted to the main educational implications in language teaching regarding the introduction of this issue in the classroom setting. Chapter 5 will offer a conclusion to broadly overview our present study, and Chapter 6 will include all the bibliographical references used to develop this account of discourse analysis strategies.
1.2. Notes on bibliography.
An influential introduction to the historical and literary background of the Augustan Age is based on Thoorens, Panorama de las literaturas Daimon: Inglaterra y América del Norte. Gran Bretaña y Estados Unidos de América (1969); White, The Horizon Concise History of England. American Heritage (1971); Brissenden, Henry Fielding. Joseph Andrews (1977); Wells, The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare Studies (1986); Rogers, The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature (1987); Albert, A History of English Literature (1990); Sanders, The Short Oxford
History of English Literature (1996); Speck, Literature and Society in Eighteenth-Century England:
Ideology Politics and Culture (1998); Alexander, A History of English Literature (2000); Ward & Trent, The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (2000); Ward & Trent, The Cambridge History of English and American Literature (2000); Allan Neilson, Lectures on the Harvard Classics (2001); and Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (2001).
Other sources on literary background are the following three network links, such as www.bartleby.com, www.geocities.com and www.bbc.com; also, the Encyclopedia Encarta (1997) and The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia (2003). The background for educational implications is based on the theory of communicative competence and communicative approaches to language teaching are provided by the most complete record of current publications within the educational framework is provided by the guidelines in B.O.E. (2004) for both E.S.O. and Bachillerato; and the
Council of Europe, Modern Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. A Common European
Framework of reference (1998).
2. A HISTORICAL BACKGROUND FOR THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY GREAT BRITAIN:
Thus, Chapter 2 namely provides a historical background for the eighteenth-century Great Britain by tracing back to the seventeenth century. First, we shall review (1) the seventeenth century as the Age of the Stuarts (1603-1713), also called the Jacobean Era and the age of Cromwell and the Restoration, under the rule of James I (1603-1625), Charles I (1625- 1649), Cromwell (1649-1660), Charles II (1660-1685), James VII and II (1685-1689), William of Orange and Mary II (1689-1707) and Queen Anne (from 1707 onwards). Hence we shall review (a) the social and political background regarding the changes that crisis, civil wars, the Commonwealth and the Restoration established; (b) the cultural and technological background; and finally, (c) the literary background regarding drama, poetry, and prose so as to establish the starting point for our analysis of the eighteenth century England.
2.1. The seventeenth century: the Stuart Age (1603-1713).
The seventeenth century has its starting point in the death of Elizabeth I (1603) and the accession of James I to the crown. This period, known as the Stuart Age (1603-1713) and also called the Jacobean Era, the age of Cromwell and the Restoration, is characterized by crisis, civil wars, the Commonwealth and the Restoration.
2.2.1. Social, political and economic background.
The social and political background is to be framed upon the Stuart succession line, thus under the rule of James I (1603-1625); his son, Charles I (1625-1642), who ruled until civil war broke out in
1642; then Cromwell (1642-1660), until monarchy was restored by Charles II (1660-1685); this was followed by his brother, James II (1685-1689) who, in 1668, fled before his invading son- in- law, the Dutchman William of Orange became William III. Then William and Mary II (1689-1707) were succeeded by Mary’s sister, Queen Anne (1702-1713).
This period is traditionally divided into two by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 and the temporary overthrow of the monarchy. Yet, although 1642 is considered to be a starting point in this period , there are other key events and key figures which (directly and indirectly) would prepare the ground for us to understand the general conditions of the eighteenth century, and in particular, of the literary situation (regarding the supression of theatre and the rise of the novel) . Thus, these key events are headed by:
1. The figure of James VI, King of Scots (son of Mary, Queen of Scots), who succeeded as James I, King of England is considered to be the starting point of this period (1603-1625). Therefore, he achieved that two crowns were unified, but not the governments of England and Scotland. So, to mark the union of the crowns, a new symbol was designed superimposing the red cross of St George on the white cross of St Andrew. Yet, a closer union of the nations parliaments was rejected by the commons and abandoned after 1607. Eventually, compromise between the crown and Parliament finally achieved a balanced government and the two kingdoms of England and Scotland became joined in the 1707 Act of Union.
One of James I’s first acts of foreign policy was to bring the long war with Spain to an end.
Although this greatly helped the English treasury and also James’s reputation (as rex pacificus), the policy was, in part, unpopular because peace meant that both the English and the Dutch had to acknowledge the Spanish claim to a monopoly of trade between their own South American colonies and the rest of the world.
2. Another key event took place in 1620 with the sailing of the Mayflower in August 1620 from the Port of Plymouth to the New World. On board there was a group known as the Pilgrim Fathers, who were attempting to escape religious persecution in England. Before they landed in North America on 21 December in Massachusetts (although they had been aiming for Virginia), they wrote a declaration called the Covenant, which is considered to be a draft of the Constitution of the United States.
3. Charles I (1625-1649); James I’s son, became King of Great Britain and Ireland on his father’s death from 1625 to 1642, but soon friction between the throne and Parliame nt began almost at once. The Parliaments of 1625 and 1626 refused to grant funds to the King without redress for their grievances, but Charles, unable to work with Parliament, responded by dissolving the parliaments and ordering a forced loan. For eleven years, Charles ruled without parliament, a period described as ‘the Eleven Years’ Tyranny’, which led to civil war and his eventual judicial execution in 1649 (called a ‘regicide’).
4. This is the reason why we may note that in the succession line, there is an eighteen-year interval between reigns (1642- 1660), called Interregnum, when first Parliament and Oliver Cromwell established themselves as rulers of England. Yet, this execution changed England in such a way that after Charles and Cromwell, any regime, monarchical or republican was not trusted. Cromwell, a Puritan leader of the Parliamentary side of the Civil War, declared England a republic, or the so-called ‘Commonwealth’, in 1649 until the collapse of Cromwell’s Commonwealth and the restoration of Charles II in 1660.
5. Hence In 1660, parliament accepted the restoration of the monarchy along with Charles II’s promise in the form of the ‘Declaration of Breda’ so as to establish a general amnesty and freedom of conscience. Charles (1660-85), who was already King in Scotland since 1651, was proclaimed King of England on 8 May 1660. Charles’s desire to become absolute caused him to favour Catholicism for his subjects as most consistent with absolute
monarchy, but his plans to restore Catholicism in Britain led to war with the Netherlands
between 1672-74, in support of Louis XIV of France. Yet, after 1660, Christianity was less explicit in polite writing. On his part, Charles II concealed his Catholicism and, when his brother James II tried to restore an absolute monarchy, it was his Catholic appointments that were unacceptable (Alexander, 2000).
6. Moreover, shortly afterwards, a devastating plague (The Black Death) swept through the country in 1665. Already early in the century, the population would already have been weakened by an exceptionally hard winter during which the River Thames had frozen. In spring that year, parishes began to report deaths attributable to the bubonic plague . By November 1665, when the epidemic ceased in the cold weather, the lives of over 100,000 people had been lost.
7. In addition, the Black Death was followed by the Great Fire of London and, as a result, all levels of society were affected, thus population, economy, government and, for our purposes, literature, too. In September 1666, a fire broke out at night in a baker’s shop and quickly became uncontrollable due to a high wind. The fire lasted four days and destroyed two thirds of the city within the walls, so the heritage of centuries was reduced to ashes.
8. Regarding economic changes in the late seventeenth century, one of the most relevant events was the foundation of the Bank of England in 1694. As mentioned above , the continental wars of James II (1685-1689) and William of Orange, known as William III (1689-1707), were really expensive. As a result, England was forced to raise a considerable national debt. In 1694, the Scotsman William Paterson founded the Bank of England to assist the crown by managing the public debt, and eventually it became the national reserve for the British Isles. Yet, in 1697, any further joint-stock banks were forbidden just to secure its position of prominence in England.
9. London society also underwent changes, for instance, “tea, coffee and chocolate were drunk in places of public recreation, and horse-racing became a fixture in a social calendar. It became ‘civilized’ for men to be agreeable, not to converse on religion and politics, and to speak gallantly of the fair sex”(Alenxander, 2000:154).
All these events contributed to the most influential change of the seventeenth century, that of
population. Whereas for the first half of the century the population continued to grow and, as a result. there was pressure on food resources, land and jobs, and increased price inflation, the late seventeenth century saw the easing, if not the disappearance of these problems. Family-planning habits started to change and new methods of farming increased dramatically. From the 1670s, England became an exporter as opposed to a net importer of grain. The seventeenth century is also probably the first in English history in which more people emigrated than immigrated, although there was a massive influx of the Protestant Huguenots in 1685, following persecution in France (from previous years of tyranny).
2.2.2. Cultural and scientific background.
The seventeenth-century cultural and scientific background is namely represented by the artistic and scientific developments that took place under royal patronage throughout the century. Thus, despite his problems with Parliament, Charles I was a great patron of the Arts and Sciences, and in 1628 he took an intense interest in the research of physiology when a correct explanation of how blood circulated was supplied by William Harvey (1578-1657). As a result, Harvey became a tutor for Charles’s sons and probably made substantial contribution to Charles II’’s life-long interest in scientific affairs.
As seen, Charles II was also a a patron of the arts and science, and both flourished following his succession to the throne. Actually, the Royal Society was founded under his royal patronage by a group of Oxford men, among whom Robert Boyle (1627-1691) demonstrated that the volume of gases varied in precisely inverse proportion to the pressure upon them. Other scientists of this century included Isaac Newton (1642-1727), who made many discoveries (including the law of gravity) and laid the foundations of physics as a modern discipline, and Edmund Halley, the Astronomer Royal, (1656-1742). Hence the foundation of the Royal Observatory of Greenwich in
1675. Finally, with respect to architecture, it is relevant to mention the foundation of Eddystone Rock Lighthouse (1699), which was the first high-seas lighthouse to be built round the British coast.
2.2.3. Literary background: the Restor ation.
Yet, how do all these events relate to the eighteenth-century England? In fact, they are reflected in the literature of the time through the different genres, that is, drama, poetry and prose which were produced under the period of Restoration. In fact, the seventeenth century, known as the Stuart Age, is also called the Jacobean Era, the age of Cromwell and the Restoration . Hence we may divide this period into two: first, by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 and the temporary overthrow of the monarchy under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, and second, when Charles II returned to the throne and established the Restoration period.
Hence we can talk about different literary conditions under the rule of Cromwell and the Restoration since the former showed a Puritan attitude against Renaissance culture and manners whereas the latter inaugurated a new temper and a cultural style which lasted into the eighteenth century. Actually, with the return of Charles II as King in 1660, new models of poetry and drama came in from France, where the court had been in exile. Later on in James’ I reign, high ideals had combined with daring wit and language, but the religious and political extremism of the mid- century broke that combination.
In literature the Restoration was a period of novelty, change and refoundation rather than of great writing. Following Alexander (2000:156), “if the Restoration period produced no writer of the first rank, it gave secular literature new importance. The civil, secular, social culture of the Restoration period is often called Augustan, since its writers saw parallels between the restored monarchy and the peace restored by the Emperor Augustus after vivil war and the assassination of Caesar had ended the Roman republic.”
It is relevant to bear in mind that those who had remained in England during the Commonwealth had faced years of strict moral repression, and those who fled to France had acquired some of the decadence bred across the channel. In combination, these two forces created a nation of wealthy, witty, amoral hedonists, whose theatre reflected their lifestyles. Thus was born the Restoration Tragedy and the Comedy of Manners.
Yet, in the Restoration period, it is relevant to say that that Restoration verse, prose and stage comedy were marked by worldly scepticism clearly shown in the works of Bunyan, Milton and Dryden. In fact, the only works worth mentioning from these forty years (1660-1700) to have been
read in every generation since are Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress (1678-1679), some poems by
John Dryden , and the better Restoration comedies. Let us examine the different genres within this period.
First of all, regarding drama, it is worth mentioning that this is one of the most affected genres by the English Civil War in 1642 and the figure of Cromwell, since one of the first acts after the Civil War was to order the closing all the theatres in London for the sake of purity. Yet, when Charles II returned, he gave literature chances and the theatres opened again, determined to reject Puritan earnestness. As a result, the king’s friends came back from France with a more secular, sceptical and civilized tone, and above all, neo-classical ideas. Hence Charles patronized the Royal Sociey, the Royal Observatory, the theatre and the opera, and soon the Restoration Tragedy and the Comedy of Manners were born.
o Regarding comedy, that is, Comedy of Manners, it is worth mentioning that the audience got a true picture of themselves for the first time since this world of class and manners is peopled by stock characters (i.e. the rake, the fop, the country gentleman, bitter ex-mistresses, randy young men, witty young women). This world is represented with a veneer of decorum where the language is sharp and witty, and the story lines multiple and convoluted, combining to hilariously cynical effects. In fact, restoration comedy remains a popular form of entertainment. We must focus on the fact that the audience of the restoration was upper class since theatre became really expensive, and only the nobles could pay the price. The plays were oriented
toward this specific audience, so the absence of lower classes is not surprising. The
theatre prospered and became a place to be seen.
Among the main comedy writers in the first half of the century were Thomas Dekker (c.1570-1632) with The Shoemaker’s Holiday (1599); Thomas Deloney in The Gentle Craft (1597); Thomas Middleton (1580-1627) with A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1624); Sir Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) with his highly theatrical Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), making fun of simplicity; and Thomas Carew’s Coelum Britannicum (1634).
Among Restoration plays, we find Sir George Etherege’s Love in a Tub (1664), or
Sir Fopling Flutter (1676); John Dryden’s The Indian Queen (1664), Marriage à-
la–Mode (1672), The Conquest of Granada (1669), All for Love (1678); William
Wycherley’s Love in a Wood (1671), The Country Wife (1675), The Plain Dealer (1676); George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham’s The Rehersal (1672); Aphra Behn’s The Rover (1677); Thomas Otway’s Venice Preserv’d (1682); Sir John Vanburgh’s The Relapse (1696); William Congreve’s Love for Love (1695), The Way of the World (1700), which is a classic intrigue of manners, love, money and marriage; and George Farquhar’s The Recruiting Office (1706), The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707).
o On the other hand, Restoration tragedies were broad, sweeping tales of great heroism since the aristocracy liked to picture themselves in these far off lands, being so noble and eloquent. The acting style was high and grandiose in the foreground, with spectacular scenery behind. In addition, the language was heavily poetic, entirely composed of rhyming couplets, and know as ‘the heroic couplet’. Yet, the ‘heroic’ tragedy of the Restoration has not last well up to now whereas comedy is often staged today.
The main Jacobean (or Stuart) dramatists up to 1642 include John Webster (c.1578- c.1632) with The White Devil (1609) and The Duchess of Malfi (1612); Thomas Middleton with The Revenger’s Tragedy (1607) and The Changeling (1622); Sir Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) with The Fatal Dowry (1618), A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1625); and John Ford (1586-1639) with Tis Pity She’s A Whore (1633), among many others (George Chapman, Thomas Heywood, John Marston, Cyril Tourneur, John Fle tcher, Philip Massinger). Restoration dramatists are included in the list mentioned above (valid for both comedy and tragedy).
Secondly, poetry in this century came from the Court, the Church, and the gentry of the theatre. Hence the first half of the century (to 1642) flourished under the names of: Ben Jonson (1572- 1637), a professional poet as well as playwright, whose clarity, edge and economy behind his writing produced one of his most famous poems Works (1616); also, we find metaphysical poets (Henry King, George Herbert, Thomas Carew, Henry Crashaw, John Cleveland, Abrahan Cowley, Andrew Marvell, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne), devotional poets such as George Herbert (1593-1633) whose poems are homely in imagery and simple in language, and Henry Vaughan (1621-95), Herbert’s disciple, among others;
and cavaliers poets who wrote with a gallant secular verse (Sir John Suckling, Sir Richard
Lovelace, Andrw Marvell); and finally, John Milton (1608-1674), whose late work was aimed to a spiritual élite. Among his most famous works are Lycidas (1637), an ambitious pastoral elegy for a Cambridge contemporary, and Paradise Lost (1667), which was adapted from a drama called Adam Unparadis’d (1642). Milton turned from poetry to reforming prose at the Civil War and toughened his argumentative powers.
Finally, prose is namely represented in the Restoration period by John Dryden, the Royal Society of London’s me mbers, and John Locke. In the first half of the century one of the main prose works was the Duke of Buckingham’s The Rehearsal (1672), which was a huge successful prose burlesque of the theatrical conventions of the time. One of his targets was John Dryden, who was considered as a social inferior by Buckingham and other writers.
o When Royalist politics and religion lost favour in the 1680s, John Dryden (1631-
1700) turned from poetry to satire, and then to translation. He wrote in every kind, but posterity has liked best the non-dramatic work of his later career: his satire, his prose and his Virgil. Among his works we include the most representative of his career: Works (1697) and Fables, Ancient and Modern (1700).
o Also, the Royal Society of London, which was the nursery of English science, had
members who helped in the production of prose (i.e. Wren, Boyle, Hooke, Locke and Newton). There is much pleasurable minor prose, for instance, Izaak Walton’s Lives (1665), the diaries of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn, the Memoirs of Colonel Hutchinson by his daughter Lucy, the account of the assassination of Buckingham in John Aubrey’s Brief Lives. Also, we find other new forms such as brief biographies.
o Finally, we shall approach the figure of John Locke (1632-1704) as one of the most important writers in British cultural history, since his epistemology and psychology became part of the common sense of the eighteenth century. He was an Oxford academic who published after 1689, when he formulated an empirical philosophy
which derived knowledge from experience and a theory of government as a contract between governor and the governed. One of his most famous works is Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690), which held that the human mind at birth is as a white paper, without any ideas.
With this background in mind, we are ready now to examine e ighteenth-century Great Britain, and
understand certain events closely related to previous historical period.
3. THE EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY GREAT BRITAIN: SOCIOECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND POLITICAL BODY; CULTURAL AND TECHNOLOGICAL EVENTS. GREATEST EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY NOVELISTS.
In this chapter, we shall provide an overview of the eighteenth-century Great Britain with the aim of going further into its main literary productions and, in particular, to its greatest novelists. This period coincides to a great extent with the Augustean Age (1714-1790), and only in the last decade it is related to the Romantics (1790-1837). So, following Speck (1998), this means to provide an account of literary activity in which social, economic, cultural, technogical and political allegiances are placed very much to the fore. This is reflected in the organization of the unit, in which the literary activity will be divided into three main periods: 1680-1740, 1740- 1788 and 1788-1820, which closely reflect the main changing conditions of the eighteenth century at all levels.
As we may observe, the Augustean Age do not follow a chronological clear-cut division of time (1700 to 1800), but the period of active literary work enters the eighteenth century within the last decade, marking the beginning of the Romantic Age. As Thoorens (1969:99) claims, it is not useful to divide the history of English literature in clear -cut chronological periods (1700-1800) because it might lead us to false paralelisms between historical and literary events. Instead, we shall focus on the development of history and literature in different periods on the basis of the most outstanding literary hallmarks.
So, in order to analyse these links we shall examine (1) a general overview of the eighteenth- century Great Britain regarding (a) social, economic and political background, (b) scientific and technological background, and (c) cultural and literary background in Great Britain. Then we shall approach the (2) eighteenth-century literature in terms of main writers during the main periods in Augustan Age (1714-1790) and the earlier years of the nineteenth century (1790-1837). Hence the Augustan Age will be divided into three main periods: (a) 1680-1740 , which relates to the Enlightenment, the Age of Pope (1700-c.1750) and the starting point for a profound change in
literature mode, the novel. In this section we shall approach the different literary forms and its main
literary figures and works, thus (i) poetry and main poets, (ii) drama and main dramatists, and (iii) prose and main novelists; (b) 1740-1788, which is related to the rise of the novel and the Age of Johnson, also known as the Age of Transition. Here we explore (i) poetry and main poets, which are approached in two blocks: first, main transitional poets and second, the New School poets; (ii) drama and main dramatists, and (iii) prose and main writers, to be approached as first, novelists, second, historians, and third, miscellaneous prose writers; and (c) 1788-1820, which relates to the late eighteenth century and the pre-Romantic period, in which we examine (i) the Gothic novel and its main terror novelists.
3.1. The eighteenth-century Great Britain: a general overview.
Following Alexander (2000:173), “the course of the 18th century presents a broad contrast to the disruption and change of t he 17th . A desire for rational agreement, and an increasing confidence, mark literary culture for a century after 1688. There were cross-currents, exclusions and developments: the novel arrived in the 1740s, and Augustanism was increasingly in dialogue with other modes.
England and her empire within the British Isles prospered by improvements in agriculture and industry, and by trade with her overseas empire, at first commercial, then territorial. In 1740 the Scottish poet James Thomson exhorted Britannia to rule, and especially to ‘rule the waves’. Having contained Louis XIV in Europe and eclipsed Holland, Britannia defeated France in India and North America, and domianted the far South Pacific. With more leisure at home, literature gained a reading public , and through the book trade, periodicals, salosn and libraries reached beyond the Church, the gentrey and the professions, and beyond London, Dublin and Edinburgh. Yet most of the population (nine million, by the end of the century) could not read.
Much of the religion of a rational Church of England settled into duties, social and private, though there was the evangelical revival known as Methodism. Disenters and Catholics had civil disabilities, but were tolerated: Dissenters with condescension, Catholics with mistrust. Toleration was extended to Jews (expelled from England in 1290) and atheists.”
3.1.1. Social, economic and political background.
The social, economic and political background is to be framed upon the Georgian succession line, thus under the rule of Queen Anne (1701-1714); her German cousin, which became George I (1714-
1727); George II (1727- 1760), George III (1760-1820) , king of Great Britain and Ireland; and his son, George IV (1820-1830), who was succeeded by his brother, William IV.
As stated above, in the last decade of the seventeenth century (1689),William III took the crown in joint sovereignty with his wife Mary. Since William favoured foreign policy, om 1701 he entered England into the League of Augsburg which later became known as The Grand Alliance and consequently, he was involved in the War of the Spanish Succession. After eight years of war, William was able to hold the alliance together. In contrast to his ability to handle foreign affairs, William had trouble holding down the fort at home, where a majority of reforms were brought
about by Parliament, such as the passing of the Bill of Rights and the freedom of the press.
When he died in 1701, England and Scotland were unified under Mary’s sister Anne (1702-1714). She was the second daughter of King James, but Protestant. Events in her reign included the War of Spanish Succession, Marlborough’s victories at Blenheim, Ramilies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet, the replacement of the Tories with a Whig government in 1703. Yet, the most important event took place in 1707, the Act of Union where she presided over the union of the parliaments of Scotland and England into the parliament of Great Britain (1 May 1707). Controversially the Scots had been forced into the union through a variety of English measures and legislation but received, in return, a
bribe of £398,0851 .
Following the Encyclopedia Encarta (1997), “the social, economic and political situation in Great Britain was just about to change with the death of Queen Anne in 1714. Sinc e she had no children2 , she was succeeded by her German cousin George, and the monarchy moved from the House of Stuart to the House of Hannover. When George came to England in 1714, he was made unpopular
1 In response to the unpopular union, a French fleet brought the son and Catholic heir of King James to the
Firth of Forth in an attempt to raise a rebellion in 1708 . Poor weather meant that the French forces were unable to land and the ships were driven away from shore. No Jacobite rising in any real sense took place, despite the propitious timing.
2 Anne had seventeen children during her life but not one survived to succeed her.
replace him with James II’s son James Edward Stuart, or The Great Pretender, but were
unsuccessful. Politically, George favored Whigs arguing that Tories were loyal to the Stuart cause. His head for foreign affairs led to the formation of the Triple Alliance. With the aid of his ministers, he was able to strengthen the House of Hannover in Great Britain.”
Eventually, following Encarta (1997), “George I was succeeded by his son George II. George II’s interest concerned Hannover rather than Great Britain and during the war of the Austrian Succession, he subordinated the interests of England to those of Germany. Although Britain felt cheated by his attitude, he remained popular with his participation in the Battle of Dettingen in Bavaria in 1743. With the advice of his wife and ministers, Britain was able to progress materially. The final years of his reign were considerably marked by the suppression of the last major Jacobite rebellion, and his prosecution of the Seven Years’ War. He was succeeded by his son George III on October 25, 1760”. On his death (1820), his son George IV officially took the throne in 1820. The
most outstanding event in his reign was the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act, which he
opposed. He died in 1830, and was succeeded by his brother, William IV. Yet, let us examine the most outstanding turning points throughout the century regarding political, economical and social events.
Politically, the Georgian period is regarded as a period of confrontation, first, with the Jacobite rebellions and, as the eighteenth century progressed, the theatres of war expanded and Britain became involved in conflicts with India, her American colonies and continental Europe. Because of its financial, naval and military strength, the British government tended to prevail.
In economic terms, 1720 is a turning points since the South Sea Company is set up with the aim of challenging the financial strength of the Bank of England and the East India Company by providing loans for the government to support the national debt. This company had the monopoly on trade with all Spanish territories, South America and the West Coast of North America. Yet, the Bank of England was obliged to exchange relatively high denomination banknotes on demand for gold, and consequently, the suspension of this obligation (1797- 1821) led to the issuing of the first £1 banknotes.
Also, in 1735, the Turnpike Trusts (already set up in 1706), led to serious outbreaks of rioting in 1735 and again in 1750, in which toll- gates and houses were destroyed, largely because the population objected to paying tolls for travel on roads which had previously
been free. However, the Turnpike Trusts were a success, and the money raised was used in
part to finance the building of new and better roads.
Also, the Georgian period was a one of change since the very infrastructure of Britain was changing and Britain became the world’s first modern society. This new dynasty on the throne brought about agricultural developments which were followed by industrial innovation and this, in turn, led to urbanisation and the need for better communications.
With these changes, population also changed in terms of increasing rate of population and increased wealth. Actually, in 1801 the first British Census, which was introduced to help the government understand the country and better utilise the population in times of war, estimated a population of nearly nine million in England and Wales whereas in Scotland, the figure was a little over 1,600,000. Yet, Ireland was not included until 1821, when her population was over 6,800,000 (www.bbc.com) .
3.1.2. Scientific and technological background.
The eighteenth-century scientific and technological background is namely represented by the scie ntific developments that took place under royal patronage of the Georgian succession line. During the course of the eighteenth century, a variety of inventions allowed for greater mechanisation to be applied to the industry and this led in turn to the industrial structure changing to a factory-based system. These inventions were the basis for the increased productivity of the textile industry throughout Britain and this century was to witness the beginnings of an industrial
revolution in Britain which was to change the world from 1750 on.
In 1712 we find the most significant invention of the Industrial Revolution: the steam engine. This was originally invented for draining mines, but was rapidly put to use in factories and later on the railways. The first successful engine was built in 1712 by Thomas Newcomen and developed over the next ninety years by James Watt and Richard Trevithick.
In 1733, John Kay invented the Flying Shuttle so as to vowe broader pieces of cloth at a quicker rate.
From the 1750s on, the designs of coaches and wagons were also improved by the new
steel spring, and speeds increased, reducing the average time for a journey from
London to Edinburgh from twelve to four days.
Due to the high cost of horse-drawn road transport, the numerous slow-flowing rivers of England had been the main transport for heavy goods. To increase the capacity of the water system, new canals were designed and built, such as the Bridgewater Canal (1759-61), the Grand Trunk Canal (1766- 77), and the Grand Junction Ca nal between London and Birmingham (1805).
In 1764, James Hargreaves invented the Spinning Jenny so as to produce more than one thread at a time .
In 1769, Richard Arkwright invented the water frame, which allowed cotton to be spun for the first time).
In 1779, Samuel Compton’s Mule allowed the spinning of finer cloths.
In 1786, Edmund Cartwright’s Power Loom completed the mechanisation of the weaving process.
Throughout the nineteenth century, the British canal network was expanded until the building of the Manchester Ship Canal (in 1894).
The sudden acceleration of technical and economic development that begun in Britain
in the second half of the eighteenth century had changed the lives of a large proportion of the population by the nineteenth century. Machinery and manufacturing made possible by technical advances such as the steam engine came to dominate the traditional agrarian economy.
Exploitation of new, rich coal and ore reserves kept raw material costs down and the repositioning of factories near these reserves (and near population centres) slowly transferred the balance of political power from the landowner to the industrial capitalist (while creating an urban working class).
3.1.3. Cultural and literary background.
The eighteenth-century cultural and literary background is reflected in the following events which we shall classify into, first, cultural, and then, literary. First, regarding cultural events we find:
The Calendar reform in England in 1752 was already recognised in Scotland since 1600 on
New Year’s Day after a decree from James VI. Because calendrical reform in the sixteenth century had been advocated by the Pope, Protestant England had refused to comply. Only in
1752 were the Gregorian reforms of 1582 fully accepted in Britain (and the American colonies). Consequently, New Year’s Day was decreed to be 1 January and not 25 March and eleven days were removed from the calendar (3-13 September 1752) to ensure that Britain was co-ordinated with most of the rest of Europe.
Another great cultural event was the foundation of the British Museum on 5 April 1753. The Museum houses a number of important and varied collections, the first of which were donated in the 1750s. The Museum was instituted in 1759 and expanded in 1822 to include the Royal Library, that is, the basis for the collection of the British Library. Now housed in Bloomsbury, the Museum continues to be free to the public and houses the national collection of treasures such as the Elgin Marbles as well as a National Copyright Library at St Pancras.
Another relevant event has to do with overseas exploration and the name of James Cook in the Pacific. As we know, interests in the wider world expanded through the eighteenth century and in 1768, James Cook undertook the first of three voyages to the Pacific, surveying New Zealand, modern Australia, Tahiti and Hawaii. His second voyage (1773) made him the first Britain to reach Antarctica, and his third voyage (1778-1779) led him to discover and name island groups in the South Pacific, such as the Sandwich Islands. Unfortunately, Cook was killed on Hawai on 14 February 1779.
Regarding the literary background of the eighteenth century, we shall overview how Georgian literature dealt with art, music and a variety of genres throught the century. Thus the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries saw a wide variety of authors who produced a flourishing scholarly and popula r works that we still consider ‘classics’, for example, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719), Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature (1739), Johnson’s Dictionary (1755), Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776), Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776). Yet, the turn of the century saw artists such as Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (1811), Scott’s Waverley Novels (1814 onwards), Shelley’s Franken stein (1818) and Tennyson’s Lady of Shalot (1832).
Musically, the period started with Handel regularly composing and performing in London and ended with Mendelsson’s Fingal’s Cave likewise being performed to a metropolitan audience. Other
works such as Ru le Britannia , God save the King and Auld Lang Syne also date from this period. In
1823, the Royal Academy of Music opened in London.
According to Alexander (2000:173), “the status of literature is shown by periodicals which carried out essays on civilized neutral topics, including literature itself; by the sums subscribed for editions of Prior and Pope and Johnson’s Dictionary as a monument to English letters; by Gothic fiction
where the neo-classicism prevails until mid-century, and art imitates reality. Hence much 18th –
century literature has a polite or aristocratic tone, but its authors were largely middle -class, as were its readers. The art of letters had social prestige, and poets found patrons among the nobility, who also wrote. Congreve, Prior and Addison rose high in society, and so, despite his disadvantages, did Pope”.
“Fiction was less polite and more commercial than poetry, and in Johnson’s Dictionary , the prose writer most cited is Samuel Richardson, a joiner’s son who became a printer and fin ally a novelist. Johnson himself was a bookseller’s son. The pioneer realist, Daniel Defoe, was a hack journalist who lived by his pen. Defoe and Richardson had a concern with individual consciousness, which
evolved out of the Protestant anxiety about personal salvation, found in John Bunyan (17th century).
Defoe and Richardson were Dissenters. Henry Fielding, an Anglican, scorned Richardson’s concern with inwardness and attacked social abuses” (2000:174).
3.2. The eighteenth-century literature: greatest writers.
With this general background in mind, next section will be devoted to analyse the main literary productions and its development in the eighteenth-century literature (namely poetry, drama and prose) and, in particular, some of the greatest novelists of the period and their masterpieces within three different periods which, approximately, coincides with (1) the Enlightenment and the Age of Pope (1680-1740), (2) the rise of the novel and the Age of Transition, also known as the Age of Johnson (1740-1788), and (3) the return to nature and the pre-Romanticism period (1788-1820). According to Speck (1998), “a new emergent class division in society also had a determinative impact on literature” and consequently, the chronological structure also reflects the country division was the most important one in politics and public debate in the central decades of the eighteenth century.
3.2.1. The Enlightenment : the Age of Pope (1680-1740).
Following Alexander (2000:174), “the Enlightenment is a name given by historians of ideas to a phase succeeding the Renaissance and followed by Romanticism. The Enlightenment believed in the universal authority of Reason, and in its ability to understand and explain, it favoured toleration and moderation in religion.” Enlightenment searched for the rational perfection of man although among English writers scepticism rarely reached to the Deism of anticlericals.
Yet, this period coincides with the Age of Pope (1700-1750) in the production of literary work and marks the beginning of a new literary movement (the novel) to be fully achieved in next period. In this period poetry and prose are to be fully developed whereas drama had nothing of any merit . So we shall examine the main poets, dramatists and prose-writers in this period (Albert, 1990).
220.127.116.11. Poetry: main poets.
In this period the triumph of classicism is fully represented in poetry, which is developed by means of (1) lyric, which almost disappears (although the best pieces of the period are to be found in Prior, Gay and Ramsay); (2) the ode, which also survives feebly in the Pindaric form, namely developed by Pope and Lady Winchilsea; (3) the satiric type, which is more common, of high quality and tends to be lighter, brighter, and more cynical whose best example is Pope’s Dunciad, a personal satire. Satire also spread to other forms of verse such as the heroic couplet (Swift, Prior and Gay poems); (4) also, narrative poetry, which contains the best works of the period together with a slight revival of the ballad (Pope, Gay, Prior); and finally, (5) the Pastoral, which was highly famous among formal compositions.
Among the most popular poets we namely find Alexander Pope (1688-1744), followed by Mattew
Prior (1664-1721), John Gay (1685-1732), Edward Young (1683-1765), Sir Samuel Garth (1661-
1719), Lady Winchilsea (1661-1720), Ambrose Philips (1675-1749), Thomas Parnell (1679- 1718)
and Allan Ramsay (1686-1758).
We shall mention at least one of their ma sterpieces, respectively: Pope’s The Rape of Lock (1712), which is a gentle and good- humoured satire where he combined a humorous, delicate epic treatment of the trivial theme with a good deal of satire on the weaknesses of the fair sex and on society
manners in general; Prior’s Solomon on the Vanity of the World (1718), Gay’s The Beggar’s Opera
(1728), which is a parody of the Italian Opera, popular in London since 1705; Young’s The Complaint, or Night Thoughts on Life, Death, and Immortality (1742), which is a poem in blank verse; Garth’s The Dispensary (1699), which deals with a long-defunct squabble between physicians and apothecaries and was written in the heroic couplet; Lady Winchilsea’s The Prodigy (1706), which is a Pindaric ode; Philips’s The Distressed Mother (1712) which is one of his best tragedies; Parnell’s The Hermit (1710), whic h is written in heroic couplets; and Ramsay’s The Evergreen (1724), which is a collection of early vernacular poetry.
18.104.22.168. Drama: main dramatists.
As stated above, drama production was not so fruitful as poetry or prose because of previous events (see seventeenth-century literary background). So the main works in this period are Ambrose Philips’s The Distressed Mother (1712) (among other two tragedies); Addison’s Cato , in tragedy; and Steele’s The Beggar’s Opera , which is a comedy play regarded as a survival of the Restoration type and the only advance in drama.
22.214.171.124. Prose: main novelists.
In this period we observe the prominence of prose namely characterized by the rise of periodical literature. Hence we find the rise of the press, the essay, prose narrative and miscellaneours prose. Thus:
(1) the rise of the periodical press, which traces back to the first periodical publication in Europe, the Gazetta (1536) in Venice. Later on, newssheets were published in the Elizabethan England, followed by the publication of the first regular English journal in
1622 by Thomas Archer and Nicholas Bourne. Political passions which led to the Civil War
were reflected in a kind of journalistic writing, which in 1641, gave way to the Diurnalls and home news. Yet, in 1659 Cromwell suppressed the licensed press (with the exception of the official organ, the weekly The Publick Intelligencer ), but in 1682 the freedom of the Press was restored and large numbers of periodicals appeared in different fashions. Hence The Daily Courant (1702), Defoe’s Review (1704) (a Whig organ) and its opponent The
Examiner (a Tory paper); Steele’s The Tatler (1709), The Spectator (1711) and The
Plebeian (1719) as an early example of the political periodical.
(2) The rise of the essay refers to the development of writing productions which “must be short, unmethodical, and written in a style that is literary, easy, and elegant” (Albert, 1990:218). Again, the English essay traces back to the Elizabethan Age under the work of Lodge, Lyly, and Greene, among others. Hence Sidney’s Apologie for Poetrie (1595), Francis Bacon, who is regarded as the first real essayist in English; Cowley’s Of Myself and The Garden ; Dryden’s Essay of Dramatick Poesie (1668), Locke’s An Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690); and Temple’s Essay of Poetry (1685). More recently, Addison’s The Tatler (1709) and Steele’s The Spectator (1711).
(3) Prose narrative, still under the influence of allegory, is namely reflected in Swift’s Gulliver Travels and Addison’s The Vision of Mirza, among others. Yet, fiction is given prominence in the novels of Defoe and, in particular, in his work Robinson Crusoe.
(4) Finally, miscellaneous prose is namely regarded as a large body of religious, political, and philosophical work. In political and religious prose-writing Swift is the most relevant figure, but we may find other authors such as Bolingbroke (political), Berkeley (philosophical) and Steele (religious).
Regarding prose style , the most outstanding feature is the emergence of the middle style, “pure without scrupulosity, and exact without apparent elaboration; always equable, and always easy, without glowing words or pointed sentences” (Albert, 1990:220). It is a prose suitable for miscellaneous purposes, that is, for newspapers, political or religious works, as well as for essays, for history and biography.
Among the main novelists or prose-writers we include Jonathan Swift (1667- 1745), Joseph Addison
(1672-1719), Sir Richard Steele (1672- 1729), Daniel Defoe (c.1659-1731), John Arbuthnot (1667-
1735), Lord Bolingbroke (1678-1751), George Berkeley (1685-1753), and Lady Mary Wortley (1689-1762), whose literary productions are framed (more or less) within this period. Note that this period coincides with the days of Alexander Pope, and hence it is referred to as the Age of Alexander Pope (Alexander, 2000).
126.96.36.199.1. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745).
Jonathan Swift followed Addison although he did not get so soon into journalism. He was born of English parents in Dublin and after his father’s death he had a frustrating career. He was educated alonside William Congreve and at Trinity College. When he came to England, he became a secretary to Sir William Temple, statesman, author and proponent of naturalness in garden design. With no success, he returned to Ireland but soon visited London again. “He left the Whigs over their failure to support the Church against Dissent. In 1713 he became Dean of Dublin’s St Patrick’s Cathedral and lived in Dublin in indignant opposition to the Whig government in Lodon, defending Ireland and teh Anglican Church. He gave one-third of his income to the usually Catholic poor” (Alexander, 2000:178).
Regarding his style, Swift attained to a mastery of English prose and maintained and excellent level of excellence. He held up to satirical review under the claims of ancient and modern authors in The Battle of Books (1704), where he gives a half allegorical mock-heroic setting; A Tale of a Tub (1704), a religious allegory on three men, is regarded as Swift’s best work since each man stands for the Roman Catholic Church (Peter), the Dissenters (Jack) and the Anglican and Lutheran Churches (Martin).
Usually his works were anonymous as in the Drapier’s Letters (1724), which successfully prevented and English currency fraud in Ireland. But in his lasting works he argues from an absurd premise, as in The Examiner and Meditations on a Broomstick (1710), An Argument to Prove that the Abolishing of christianity in England may, as things now stand, be attended with some inconveniences, and perhaps not produce those may good effects proposed thereby (1711); likewise, A Modest Proposal for Correcting the English Language (1717) and so on. Other works were A Short View of the State of Ireland (1728), A Modest Proposal (1729), Conversation (1738), and Verses on the Death of Dr Swift (1739).
Yet, his masterpiece, Gulliver’s Travels (1726) shows the moral as well as economic advantages of the age. He exposes the inhumanity of emerging forms of rational simplification by simplifying them even further. Hence his book takes new perspectives to logical conclusions under the figure of Captain Gulliver, who records his voyages to the lands of the tiny people, of the giants, of experimental scientists and of horses. Gulliver’s Travels is one of the practical self-reliant seamen through whom Britannia had begun to rule the waves. As a result, the reader can identify with the
hero, whose common sense gets him through his adventures. Gulliver is a masterpiece of comic
188.8.131.52.2. Joseph Addison (1672-1719).
Joseph Addison was the son of the Dean of Lichfield and was educated at the Charterhouse. He went to Oxford and he was Under-Secretary of State (MP). Then he fell with the Whigs who marked him out as a future literary prop of their faction. Yet, the misfortunes of the Whigs led him to poverty. Then he turned his writing to journalism and play-writing and it was in this period that he wrote the poem The Campaign which brought him fame and fortune. Yet, in 1715 he returned with the Whigs. He was also Chief Secretary for Ireland and married the Countless of Warwick, retired with a pension of 1500 pounds. He was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1719.
Under his literary production, his poetry is represented by The Campaign (1704), which gave him a reputation as one of the major poets of the age. Regarding drama, he produced the tragedy of Cato (1703), the opera Rosamond (1707), which was a failure and the prose comedy, The Drummer (1715) which added nothing to his reputation. In prose, he relayed the excesses of fashion and enthusiasm to the new middle class in a style which Johnson thought ‘the model of the middle style’. He was even praised by Dryden for his Latin poems. Earlier works are The Spectator (1711) which is quite critical and maintains a mock-pomp throughout the work. He also wrote a classical tragedy, Cato (1713), which expressed a ruling-class interest in principle and nobility. Other mature works followed, such as Irene (1736) and Dialogues on the Usefulness of Ancient Medals (1743), which is a verse tribute to the victory at Blenheim.
184.108.40.206.3. Sir Richard Steele (1672-1729).
Like Addison, he was educated at the Charterhouse and then went to Oxford, leaving without taking a degree. He was a cadet in the army and after that, he decided to take politics. He became a member of Parliament and wrote for the Whigs. As he had an impetuous personality, he was expelled from the House of Commons. Then he became a Tory and quarrelled with Addison on private and public grounds.
In drama, he wrote some prose comedies, such as The Funeral (1701), The Lying Lover (1703), The
Tender Husband (1705), and The Conscious Lovers (1722). These works were followed by Restoration comedies but he focused on sentimental comedy. Regarding his prose, he was namely an essayist. Fertile in ideas, he produced The Tatler (1709), The Spectator (1711), and several other short-lived periodicals, such as The Guardian (1713), The Englishman (1713), The Reader (1714), and The Plebeian (1719). His essays are regarded as frankly didactic .
220.127.116.11.4. Daniel Defoe (c.1659-1731).
Daniel Defoe’s life is still undetermined in his earlier years. It is known he was born in London as the son of a London butcher called Foe and was expert in acceptable truths. He is said to have become a soldier, travelled much, failed as a retail hosier, welcomed William III to London, been to prison and worked as a spy before becoming a ‘vogage writer’, a writer who makes you see. When he took to journalism, he worked for both the Whigs and the Tories, by whom he was quite often employed in obscure and questionable work.
He was namely a prose-writer who focused on political writings and prose-fiction. Firstly, among his political writings, we shall mention several political tracts and pamphlets which appeared in his own journal, The Review (1704), regarded as the forerunner of The Tatler and The Spectator. Among his chief publications are The Shortest Way with Dissenters (1702), written in rough verses which are more remarkable for their vigour than for their elegance where he brought upon him official wrath and caused him to be fined, imprisoned and pilloried; but the best known of this class is The True -Born Englishman (1701), where Defoe advocated the contrary of his own view, leaving his irony and his views in his back pocket by means of a fair command of irony and invective. Also, The Apparition of Mrs Veal (1706), The History of the Union of Great Britain (1709).
Secondly, regarding his fiction, his main works were produced in the latter part of his life, at an incredible speed. First came the so popular, Robinson Crusoe (1719), where he states a fleetingly spiritual story in which God’s guides men in a modern type, for instance, godfearing within reason, enterprising and being self-reliant; then Duncan Campbell, Memoirs of a Cavalier and Captain Singleton, all three books in 1720; other popular masterpieces are Moll Flanders (1722), A Journal of the Plague Year (1722) and Colonel Jack (1722).
His later romances of adventures, Roxana (1724), A New Voyage round the World (1725) and Tour
Thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain (1726), introduced the picaresque into English fiction. In his roguish fiction, opportunists survive the bruises on their consciences. They are not studies in religious self-deception, but on being prosperous and penitent, since penitence leads to success.
18.104.22.168.5. John Arbuthnot (1667-1735).
John Arbuthnot was born in Kincardineshire in Scotland and studied medicine at Oxford. He spent the latter part of his life in London, where he met Pope and Swift. His prose style is witty and lively, and with many pointed allusions. This is reflected in his writings , which are namely political, and include the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus (1709) and The Art of Political Lying (1712).
22.214.171.124.6. Lord Bolingbroke (1678-1751).
Lord Bolingbroke is regarded as one of the chief political figures of the period. Aged 26, he was Secretary for War in the Tory Government and was, therefore, involved in Jacobite plots. Hence he was compelled to flee to France and permitted to return to England in 1725. Yet, ten years later he had to return to France again and after seven years exile, he finally came back to his native land. His works are written with lucidity, vigour and vices of the rethorician.
126.96.36.199.7. George Berkeley (1685-1753).
George Berkeley was born in Ireland and educated in Dublin. Having taken holy orders, he went to London in 1713) and met Swift and other wits. He was then appointed a dean, and then was made Bishop of Cloyne in 1734. His charitable, enterprising and noble mind let him write with much charm on a diversity of scientific, philosophical, and metaphysical subjects. He wrote with delightful ease, disdaining ornament or affectation, and his command of gentle irony is capable and sure. Among his most popular works are The Principles of Human Knowledge (1710), a study of the human mind; Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713), and Alciphron, or The Minute Philosopher (1732).
188.8.131.52.8. Lady Mary Wortley (1689-1762).
Lady Mary Wortley’s birth, beauty and wit made her a darling of society and, in addition, her career and writing illustrated her age. She was independent and learned and is best remembered for her letters, in which she wrote political prose and a play, but also because of her verse. There are not many works left, but her ballad The Lover is known because it coolly advocates extramarital discrimination.
3.2.2. The rise of the novel (1740- 1788) : the Age of Johnson.
The rise of the novel takes place in the eighteenth century from the 1740s to the 1790s and coincides with the so-called Age of Johnson, also known as the Age of Transition. The rise of the novel was the hallmark that changed the way novels were written in many different ways, not only in how they were written and what went into them, but how readers perceived them. This section will look into the eighteenth century novel and how it changed from previous literature. As seen before, the closing of theatres in the seventeenth century led to a progressive interest in prose. Actually, “coming out of the Renaissance and Jacobean ages, the novel was characterized by “realism”, with the term “novel” not really being used until the end of the eighteenth century. By rejecting traditional plots the novel distinguished itself out from any other previous form of literature, making individual experience the replacement for collective tradition.
The eighteenth century was definitely a time of massive change for literature. Not only had the way of writing been drastically altered, but the amount of reading done by the public altered as well, bringing about a resurgence of reading, not only in the upper classes, but also in the all the classes. The novel revolutionized the eighteenth century and brought about a new way of thinking. By today’s standards, it might not seem like much was done, but in the history of things, the eighteenth century novel is probably one of the biggest things to ever happen to the progression of literature throughout the years.
Following Watt (2001), “the novel is the form of literature which most fully reflects this individualist and innovating reorientation. Previous literature forms had reflected the general tendency of their cultures to make conformity to traditional practice the major test of truth: the plots
of classical and Renaissance epic, for example, were based on past history or fable, and the merits
of the author’s treatment were judged largely according to a view of literary decorum derived from the accepted models in the genre. This literary traditionalism was first and most fully challenged by the novel, whose primary criterion was truth to individual experience, which is always unique and therefore new. The novel is thus the logical literary vehicle of a culture which, in the last few centuries, has set an unprecedented value on originality, on the novel.”
184.108.40.206. Poetry: main poets.
This period is an age of unrest for all types of literature forms due to the French Revolution (1789) which affects not only France, but all Europe. In England, this uneasiness was particularly decisive for poetry since it changed gradually and gave way to the new wave of Romanticism which was, unquestionably, getting closer. So the main symptoms of the coming change were (1) the decline of the heroic couplet in favour of a large number of other poetical forms; (2) the free use of the Pindaric ode , classical and ruled-free, was a useful medium for the transitioanl age in the middle of the century; (3) the revival of the ballad, which was due to renewed interest in the older kinds of literature, being more lively and often humorous; (4) the prominence of descriptive and narrative poems, in which the heroic couplet is quickened and transformed by a real sympathy for nature and the poor; (5) finally, there is the rise of the lyric, which after struggling with its bonds, became free and successful.
The main poets of this period are to be included in two different groups: first, main transitional poets, which include other transitional poets, and poets who belonged to the New School, and a group of other New School poets. So, the first group include s namely James Thomson (1700- 1748) and Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), and also other poets such as Thomas Gray (1716-1771), William Collins (1721-1759), William Cowper (1731- 1800), George Crabbe (1754-1832), Mark Akenside (1721-1770), Christopher Smart (1722-1771), William Shenstone (1714-63), Charles Churchill (1731-1764), and Robert Blair (1699-1746). The second group, the New School of poets, namely includes Robert burns (1759-1796), William Blake (1757- 1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772- 1834), as well as other poets such as James Macpherson (1736-1796), Thomas Chatterton (1752-1770) and Robert Fergusson (1750-1774).
Again, we shall just mention the most representative poets and one of their masterpieces, so within
the first group we find Thomson’s The Seasons (1730), a blank-verse poem; Goldsmith’s The Deserted Village (1770), which deals with memories of his childhood; Gray’s Pindaric Odes (1757); Collins’s Persian Eclogues (1742), devoted to Persian scenes and characters in Oriental settings; (1721-1759), Cowper’s Olney Hymns (1779), notable for their direct sincerity; Crabbe ’s The Library (1781), Akenside’s An Epistle to Curio (1744), Smart’s A Song to David (1773), Shenstone’s The Schoolmistress (1742), Churchill’s The Rosciad (1761), and finally, Blair’s The Grave (1743), which is a long blank-verse poem of meditation on man’s morality.
Within the second group, we find Burns’s Poems (1786), which gave him fame and reputation in his earlier years; Blake’s Poetical Sketches (1783), which is a series of imitative poems in the manner of Shakespeare, Milton, and Spenser, and Songs of Innocence (1789), which are short lyrics embodying Blake’s view of the original state of human society, symbolized in the joy and happiness of the children (1757- 1827); Wordsworth’s Lyrical Ballads (1798), which were written in combination with Coleridge; other less relevant poets and works are Macpherson’s Fingal (1762) and Temora (1763), which are translations of the poems of an ancient Celtic bard called Ossian; Chatterton’s The Rowley Poems (1768), which were a collection of poems quiet archaic in style and spelling; and finally, Fergusson’s The Farmer’s Ingle (1772), which is a short descriptive piece dealing with Scottish life.
220.127.116.11. Drama: main dramatists.
Drama in this period was characterized by its poverty.The age was simply not a dramatic one for the plays that the age produced, with the exceptions of a few notable examples of comedy, are hardly worth noticing. So, in an age which is unac countably poor in drama, only two playwrights achieve excellence. The first one has already been mentioned, Goldsmith and his comedies, and the second, and the most brilliant, is Richard Brinsley Sheridan.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751- 1816) was born in Dublin and was the son of an actor-manager. He was educated at Harrow . At the age of twenty-three he wrote his first play, The Rivals (1774), which had an enormous success, and by the time he was twenty-nine he had written his last, The Critic (1779). In between he wrote the farce St Patrick’s Day: or, The Scheming Lieutenant (1775); an operatic play The Duenna (1775), which was really successful; A Trip to Scarborough (1776);
and his best play, The School for Scandal (1777), whose dialogue was brilliant. His plots are
ingenious and effective, though they depend largely on a stagy complexity of intrigue. Yet, his plays were remarkable for their vivacity and charm.
18.104.22.168. Prose: main writers.
During this period, prose was of great importance. Prose writing is namely characterized by (1) the rise of the novel, where we may find two main classes: fictional prose narratives (tale, romance, novel) and non-fictional (historical, biography). Non-fiction is a library classification for a specific type of prose which at the top end becomes more majestic and oratorical. Literature today neglects most non-fictional prose, although history can be well written (as can literary criticism), but formal oratory has decayed.
Already the age of Elizabeth saw the rise of the prose romance, and those prose styles developed into (a) the picaresque novel in the Augustan Age (derived from the Spanish word ‘picaro’). Another type that came into favour was (b) the heroic romance, which was based on French romances. This class of fiction was the elegant variety of the grosser picaresque novel, and it was much duler, too. We also find (2) the rise of the historical work, whose main requirements are for the serious historians to know about the subject and to have maturity of judgement. The general advance in knowledge and the research intonational affairs which were the features of eighteenth century soon brought the study of history into prominence.
Moreover, we include (3) the rise of letter-writing, which “became very popular during this period and also flourished into the nineteenth, when the institution of the penny post made letter-writing a convenience and not an art” (Albert, 1990:280). Then we highlight (4) the publication of periodical essays , which showed no important development in this century. Finally, (5) miscellanous prose versed within political, religious and philosophical writings.
Hence when dealing with the main writers in prose, we shall distinguish three main groups: novelists, historians , and prose writers (miscellanous). Within the first group we shall include Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) and Henry Fielding (1707-1754) as the most representative novelists, and other writers such as Tobias Smollett (1721-71), Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), Horace Walpole (1717-1797), and three terror novelists: William Beckford (1759-1844), Mrs Ann
Radcliffe (1764-1823), and Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775- 1818); Henry Mackenzie (1745-1831),
Frances Burney (1752-1840). The second group will introduce the historians Edward Gibbon
(1737-1794), David Hume (1711- 1776), William Robertson (1721-1793) and James Boswell (1740-
1795). Finally, prose writers include Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Adam Smith (1723-1790), William Paley (1743-1805), The Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), William Godwin (1756-1836), and Gilbert White (1720-1793).
The main novelists to be mentioned are Samuel Richardson (1689-1761), Henry Fielding (1707-
1754), Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) and Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
22.214.171.124.1.1. Samuel Richardson (1689- 1761).
Samuel Richardson was born in Derbyshire. He was the son of a joiner, by whom he was apprenticed to a London printer. Hence he was a printer, and became a master-printer to the King, and produced the journals at the House of Commons. He was also a publisher, bookseller and author. He wrote courtesy books on how to behave in society including letter-writing (the thank-you letter, the condolence), to sample familiar letters for more complex social situations. Hence he had the idea of his masterpiece Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded (1740), in which a young servant’s accounts in letters and a journal of the attempts is used to isolate and seduce her rich master (Mr B.). The epistolary form of the first English novel sounds artificial, yet the effect is immediate. His next novel was on the same line, Familiar Letters (1741).
The 18th century social order is a shock to modern readers, to whom the reward of becoming Mrs B. seems a very earthly one. Fielding’s version has a prudential subtitle, Shamela , which hides a young prostitute where her vartue is a sham designed to put up her price. His next work, Clarissa (1747-
1748) showed an astonishing advance since it is a mature and complex society novel, epistolary, with several correspondents. The heroince and her oppressor are more interesting than in Pamela . After that, he wrote The History of Sir Charles Grandison (1753).
His style is characterized (1) by showing a moral purpose due to the embodiment of the religious earnestness of the rising Puritan middle class; (2) by the length of his books, which were extremely
long, partly because of the adoption of the epistolary method; (3) by his use of minute detail, both
of character and incident; (4) his great ability in showing characterization, by means of which he highlighted the psychological insight of human motives and feelings of lower-middle classes; (5) this sentimental style; and finally, (6), his over-deliberate style, which lacked distinction.
126.96.36.199.1.2. Henry Fielding (1707-1754).
“Henry Fielding was born at Sharpham Park, near Glastonbury. He was educated privately at first and then at Eton. Then he went to London where, in 1728, he published a satirical poem, The Masquerade, and a comedy. From 1728 to 1729 he was a student of literature at Leyden University, returning to London in the autumn of the latter year. Betwen then and 1737 he wrote some twenty- five dramatic pieces including comedies, adaptations of Molière, farces, ballad operas, burlesques, and a series of topical satires. After this, he embarked on a career in the law and was called to the Bar in 1740, but he had little success as a barrister. In 1734 he married Charlotte Cradock, the model for Sophie Western and also for the heroine of his last novel.” In 1748 he wass commissioned as a Justice of the Peace for Westminstter, and later, between 1749 and 1752 he wrote a good deal on urgent legal and social problems. Some mature works followed this date until he died in 8 October 1754 in Lisbon (Brissenden, 1977).
The European novel was highly influenced by Richardson’s psychology and he deserves credit also for stimulating the work of Henry Fielding into fiction in such a way that Fielding, as mentioned before, found Pamela so sanctimonious that he began a second burlesque of it, Joseph Andrews (1742). Although now primarily known as a novelist, Fielding was a major dramatist. His plays were witty, satirical, comical, topical and realistic.
Among his best-known works are Fielding’s parody An Apology for the Life of Mrs Shamela Andrews (1741), which treated the chastity of Richardson’s heroine as a debasement of Christian virtue to calculation; The Opposition: a vision (1741) is a satiric pamphlet agains Walpole; in 1742 he published The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews, And of his Friend Mr Abraham Adams. Written in Imitation of the Manner of Cervantes; it was followed by The Life of Mr Johathan Wild the Great (1743), a satiric novel which alluded again to Sir Robert Walpole; The True Patriot (1745-1746) and The Jacobite’s Journal (1748) in defence of the ruling Hanoverians; the novel Tom Jones (1749), Amelia (1751), written during a time when Fielding became
increasingly involved with legal affairs; and finally, his Enquiry into the Causes of the Late
Increase of Robbers (1751) was followed by A Proposal for Making Ef fectual Provision of the Poor
188.8.131.52.1.3. Tobias Smollett (1721-1771).
Tobias Smollett (1721- 1771) was a much-travelled Scottish surgeon based in London, whose boldly drawn caricatures of public life have the hectic action of the animated cartoon. He translated the picaresque Le Sage and the witty anti-romance of Cervantes. He also sketched types and comments on social mores with little coherent stories. Among his most famous works we find a Complete History of England and, besides the novels, Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), Roderick Random (1748), Adventures of Ferdinand and Count Rathom (1753), and the gentler Humphry
184.108.40.206.1.4. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768).
Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) was born at Clonnel and was educated at Cambridge. He took orders and obtained a living in Yorshire (1738). There he became a country clergyman who was the most singular of the four fathers of the English novel since he breaks all conventional expectations. He combined fiction’s realism and chronology. He is best remembered by his two novels: The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy, which was begun in 1760 and finished in 1767; and A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768). They are made up of Sterne’s peculiar combination of pathos and humour.
The main historians to be included in this section are Edward Gibbon (1737- 1794). David Hume (1711-1776), William Robertson (1721-1793), and James Boswell (1740-1795). Yet, we shall only mention the author and his most representative work or works. Thus Gibbon’s A History of Switzerland (1770), The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776), and his Autobiography (1788) in his latter years; Hume’s The History of England (between 1754 and 1761), which was
written in six volumes; Robertson’s The History of Scotland during the Reigns of Queen Mary and
of James VI until his Accession to the Crown of England (1759), The History of Charles V (1769), and The History of America (1771); and finally, Boswell’s The Life of Samuel Johnson (1791).
220.127.116.11.3. Prose writers.
Among other prose writers we shall approach Edmund Burke (1729-1797), Adam Smith (1723-
1790), the Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773), and William Godwin (1756-1836). Among his most popular works we find Burke’s political works On American Taxation (1774) and Conciliation with the Colonies (1775); Smith’s The Wealth of the Nations (1776); The Earl of Chesterfield’s Letters to his Son (shortly after his death) which were extremely diabolical, cynical and immoral. (1694-
1773); and Godwin’s Political Justice (1793) and his novel Caleb Williams (1794), which reveal
the spread of the revolutionary doctrines.
3.2.3. The late eighteeenth century: the pre-Romantic period (1788-1820).
The late eighteeenth century is related to a special sensibility which is closely connected with a pre- Romantic period and the Gothic novel, which announced the closing of the century and the beginning of the Romantic period (1790-1837). First instances of this kind of literature are given both fiction and non-fictional literature, but we shall namely develop this section by examining (1) the Gothic novel and its main novelists, which were specialized in terror novel: Horace Walpole (1717-1797), William Beckford (1759-1844), Mrs Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818), among other writers. Note that these novelists are usually framed within the nineteenth century. Their presence in this section is to justify the final years of the eighteenth century.
18.104.22.168. The Gothic novel: terror novelists.
The first instances of Gothic novel indicate the beginning of the Romantic period with the mode of
‘terror novel’. It is related to a fresh treatment of Romantic themes in poems and in supernatural
stories, legends, and the more colourful periods of history, especially the Middle Ages. Hence we
shall have a look at the main terror novelists and their works, thus Horace Walpole (1717-1797), William Beckford (1759-1844), Mrs Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823), and Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818).
22.214.171.124.1. Horace Walpole (1717-1797).
He was the son of Sir Robert Walpole, the famous Whig minister. He touched several kinds of literature, but his novel was namely gothic . Hence his Castle of Otranto: a Gothic Story (1764), which was the first of the productions of a large school, called the ‘terror school’. This novel was said to be the translation of a sixteenth-century Italian work which described a ghostly castle, in which there were walking skeletons, pictures, and other strange incidents. His style worked on the ghostly machinery, which was interpreted as a return to the romantic elements of mystery and fear.
126.96.36.199.2. William Beckford (1759-1844).
William Beckford was a man of immense wealth and crazy habits. His novels are associated with mystery and impressiveness, mostly taken from The Arabian Nights. Among his most famous novels we shall mention Vathek (1786), in which the central figure is a colossal creature, like a vampire. Beckford shows in this work his magnificence of imagination which has been considered as the best oriental tale in English.
188.8.131.52.3. Mrs Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823).
Mrs Radcliffe was the most popular of the terror novelists. Her success relied on a uniform plot, which involved mysterious manuscripts, haunted castles, clanking chains, and cloaked and saturnine strangers. At the end of all the horrors she rather spoils the effect by giving away the secret. Among her novels we find A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), and the most popular of them, The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794). She is said to be the queen of Gothic.
184.108.40.206.4. Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775-1818).
Finally, Matthew Gregory Lewis is “perhaps the crudest of the terror school, and only one book of his, The Monk (1795), is worth recording. Lewis, who is lavish with his horrors, does not try to explain them. His imaginatio n is grimmer and fiercer than that of any of the other writers of the same class, and his book is probably the ‘creepiest’ of its kind (Albert, 1990:264).
4. EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS IN LANGUAGE TEACHING.
Literature, and therefore, literary language is one of the most salient aspect of educational activity. In classrooms all kinds of literary language (poetry, drama, novel, prose, periodicals –newspapers, pamphlets-), either spoken or written, is going on for most of the time. Yet, handling literary productions in the past makes relevant the analysis of ‘literature in the Augustan period’ and, in particular, the rise of one of the most relevant literary forms for students: the novel, as well as letters, newspapers, essays, and so on. Hence it makes sense to examine relevant figures such as of Pope (poetry), Swift, Defoe , Richardson, Fielding (novel), Gibbon (history), and Walpole and Radcliffe (terror novel).
Currently, action research groups attempt to bring about change in classroom learning and teaching through a focus on literary production under two premises. First, because they believe learning is an integral aspect of any form of activity and second, because education at all levels must be conceived in terms of literature. The basis for these assumptions is to be found in an attempt, through the use of various modes of literary genres, to develop understanding of students’ shared but diverse social and physical environment.
Learning involves a process of transformation of participation itself which ha s far reaching implications on the role of the teacher in the teaching- learning relationship. This means that literary genres are an analytic tool and that teachers need to identify the potential contributions and potential limitations of them before we can make good use of the genre analysis techniques: poems, comedies, historical accounts, tragicomedies and romances. We must bear in mind that most students will continue their studies at university and there, they will have to handle successfully all kind of genres, especially the non-fiction ones within a worlwide framework.
But how do Augustan literature tie in with the new curriculum? Augustan literature may be
approached in linguistic terms, regarding form and function (morphology, lexis, structure, form) and also from a cross-curricular perspective (Sociology, History, English, French, Spanish Language and Literature). Spanish students are expected to know about the British culture and its influence in Europe since students are required to know about the culture and history of its own language. So, Augustan literature is easily approached by means of the subjects of History, Language and Literature by establishing a paralelism with the Spanish one (age, literature forms, events).
In addition, one of the objectives of teaching the English language is to provide good models of almost any kind of literary productions for future studies. Following van Ek & Trim (2001), ‘the learners can perform, within the limits of the resources available to them, those writing (and oral) tasks which adult citizens in general may wish, or be called upon, to carry out in their private capacity or as members of the general public’ when dealing with their future regarding personal and professional life.
Moreover, nowadays new technologies may provide a new direction to language teaching as they set more appropriate context for students to experience the target culture. Present-day approaches deal with a communicative competence model in which first, there is an emphasis on significance over form, and secondly, motivation and involvement are enhanced by means of new technologies. Hence literary productions may be approched in terms of films and drama representations in class, among others, and in this case, by means of books (novels: historical, terror, descriptive), paper (essays), among others.
The success partly lies in the way the language becomes real to the users, feeling themselves really in the language. Some of this motivational force is brought about by intervening in authentic communicative events. Otherwise, we have to recreate as much as possible the whole cultural environment in the classroom. This is to be achieved within the framework of the European Council (1998) and, in particular, the Spanish Educational System which establishes a common reference framework for the teaching of foreign languages where students are intended to carry out several communication tasks with specific communicative goals, for instance, how to produce a literary text (oral or written): writing a chapter of a novel, a terror story, a poem, acting out in a theatre play, representing a film scene orally, and so on.
Analytic interpretation of texts in all genres should become part of every literary student’s basic
competence (B.O.E., 2002). There are hidden influences at work beneath the textual surface: these may be sociocultural, inter and intratextual. The literary student has to discover these, and wherever necessary apply them in further examination. The main aims that our currently educational system focuses on are mostly sociocultural, to facilitate the study of cultural themes, as our students must be aware of their current social reality within the European framework.
To conclude with, the present unit, Unit 45, has aimed to provide a relevant framework for the imaginative literature of eighteenth -century Great Britain in terms of changing social, economic, political, cultural and technological conditions within this period, namely by reviewing the main socioeconomic developments, political body, and the main cultural and technological events . In addition, we have analysed the relevance of the rise of the novel in the second half of the century since it marked a hallmark in that century. By approaching the greatest eighteenth -century writers and their works, we have intended to provide a general overview of the Augustan Age and its literary production, which still reflects their prevailing ideologies at present.
We consider worth including a historical background for the eighteenth-century Great Britain since many of its most important events had their explanation in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The literary background of the Augustean Age (1714-1790), namely regarding drama, poetry, and prose help us to get an organized scheme of the evolution of these literary form, which are, in turn, a reflection of the main social, economic, cultural, technogical and political events in that period. Hence, figures such as Cromwell, Pope, Johnson or Walpole make us think about turning points in the History of Great Britain, as well as historical events, such as the execution of Charles I (1649 ), the French Revolution (1789) or the Black Death (1665) that lead us to the explanation of literary development.
A general overvie w of the eighteenth-century Great Britain regarding social, economic and political background, scientific and te chnological background, and cultural and literary background in Great Britain take us to a close analysis of how literature developed in Augustan Age (1714-1790) and the earlier years of the nineteenth century (1790-1837). We have namely focused on three periods: (a)
1680- 1740, which relates to the Enlightenment, the Age of Pope (1700-c.1750) and the starting
point for a profound change in literature mode, the novel. Secondly, the period between 1740 and
1788, which is related to the rise of the novel and the Age of Johnson, also known as the Age of Transition; and the period between 1788 and 1820, which relates to the late eighteenth century and the pre-Romantic period. In each section we have examined the main literary forms: poetry, drama and prose in terms of authors and their works.
Therefore, we shall underline again the relevance of the novel within this period. Following Watt (2001), “the novel is the form of literature which most fully reflects this individualist and innovating reorientation. Previous literature forms had reflected the general tendency of their cultures to make conformity to traditional practice the major test of truth: the plots of classical and Renaissance epic, for example, were based on past history or fable, and the merits of the author’s treatment were judged largely according to a view of literary decorum derived from the accepted models in the genre. This literary traditionalism was first and most fully challenged by the novel, whose primary criterion was truth to individual experience.”
According to Watt (2001) the novel was namely “begun by Defoe, Richardson and Fielding” and adds that “Richardson and Fielding saw themselves as founders of a new kind of writing, and that both viewed their work involving a break with the old-fashioned romances; but neither they nor their contemporaries provide us with the kind of characterization of the new genre that we need”. Yet, the term ‘novel’ was not fully established until the end of the eighteenth century. On the other hand, Watt considers that “Defoe and Richardson are the first great writers in our literature who did not take plots from mythology, history, legend or previous literature.
In this they differ from Chaucer, Spenser, Shakespeare and Milton, for instance, who, like the writers of Greece and Rome, habitually used tradition plots; and who did so, in the last analysis, because they accepted the general premise of their times”. Therefore, “after Defoe, Richardson and Fielding in their very different ways continued what was to become the novel’s usual practice, the use of non-traditional plots, either wholly invented or based in part on a contemporary incident” (2001:15)
So far, we have attempted to provide the reader in this presentation with a linguistic, historical and cultural background on the vast amount of literature productions in Augustan Age, and its further developments up to the nineteenth century. This information is relevant for language learners, even
2nd year Bachillerato students, who do not automatically establish similiarities between British and
Spanish literary works. So, el arners need to have these associations brought to their attention in
cross-curricular settings. As we have seen, understanding how literature genres developed into the ones we know today is important to students, who are expected to be aware of the richness of English literature.
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