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Lecture 4

THE AGE OF REASON (1650-1780)

THE AGE OF REASON (1650-1780)

An Intellectual Revolution

The phrase "Age of Reason" describes an emphasis in attitudes and beliefs. People may not have been more reasonable between 1650 and 1780 than at any other time, but during that period great claims were made for reason and for what it might achieve. This attitude can be seen most clearly in the way the people of the period thought about nature.

In the new scientific method which Newton practiced, one began with an analysis of all the facts relevant to a phenomenon, then developed an explanation, formulated that explanation mathematically, and finally tested it by experimentWhile this new way of looking at nature resolved old fears and anxieties, it also created problems

The Restoration

In England the Age of Reason begins with the final rejection of the Puritans and religious extremism. On May 29, 1660, Charles Stuart, long an exile in France, finally returned to London as Charles П. In accepting his return the English people, exhausted with twenty years of religious and political strife, restored the old monarchy and the old church.

A writer's life during the Restoration was not easy. First, there was the problem of money. A writer could not yet make a living through the sale of his books. An aristocratic patron was still the usual source of extra income. Second, literary fashion was changing. Restoration readers were no longer interested in the complicated syntax and lofty themes of Elizabethan prose. Their new interest in science required a prose style using "... a close, naked, natural way of speaking...". In the end poetry too shifted from the intensely personal subject matter and the complex imagery of the Metaphysical poets to a poetry about public issues written in plainspoken, reasoned English, and frequently in the newly popular heroic couplet, whose formality and order seemed in tune with the era.

The Augustans

The writers of the era of Queen Anne and George I styled theirs the Augustan Age because they saw a parallel between the new political and social stability of their day and Rome under Caesar Augustus. Hoping to equal the literary achievements of the Romans, the English Augustans wrote epics, satires, elegies, and tragedies just as their Roman predecessors had, and exercised great care in paralleling the form and content of their work with that of "the ancients". This did not inhibit their brilliance or their vigor. For one thing, much Augustan literature is written from a middleclass point of view. The bitter satire of Swift's "Modest Proposal", the gentler moral persuasion of "The Spectator", even Johnson's defiant letter to Lord Chesterfield are all directed against aristocrats.

5.2. Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), was an English novelist and journalist. He wrote "Robinson Crusoe", one of the first English novels and one of the most popular adventure stories in Western literature. Some critics have called Defoe the father of the English novel. Others rate him as much less important. But he was one of the great masters of realistic narrative long before such writers as Theodore Dreiser and Ernest Hemingway.

His writings. Defoe is unique in the quantity and variety of his works. It is difficult to tell how many works he produced, because most were published anonymously. The latest estimate is almost 550, including works of poetry, theology, economics, and geography.

For most readers today, Defoe is known primarily as a novelist. However, this was really a minor part of his writing, and not the part that gave him the most pride. Defoe's two most famous novels are "Robinson Crusoe" (1719) and "Moll Flanders" (1722).

"Robinson Crusoe" is the story of a man marooned on an island. It is a memorable adventure story and a study of what it is like to be truly alone. It is also a success story, because Crusoe's hard work, inventiveness, and ability to take advantage of others turns his island into a successful colony.

"Moll Flanders" has been generally accepted as Defoe's best example of a genuine novel. Moll Flanders, the heroine, is a thief and a prostitute. Although her surroundings differ from those of Robinson Crusoe, there are basic similarities between the two characters. They both seem like real persons determined to get ahead and gain security. And eventually they both repent of their sins, and end very prosperously.

5.3. Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), an English author, wrote "Gulliver's Travels" (1726), a masterpiece of comic literature. Swift is called a great satirist because of his ability to ridicule customs, ideas, and actions he considered silly or harmful. His satire is often bitter, but it is also delightfully humorous. Swift was deeply concerned about the welfare and behavior of the people of his time, especially the welfare of the Irish and the behavior of the English toward Ireland. Swift was a Protestant churchman who became a hero in Roman Catholic Ireland.

Swift's other works. "A Modest Proposal" (1729) is probably Swift's second best-known work. In this essay, Swift pretends to urge that Irish babies be killed, sold, and eaten. They would be as well off, says Swift bitterly, as those Irish who grow up in poverty under British rule. Swift hoped this outrageous suggestion would shock the Irish people into taking sensible steps to improve their condition. He had in mind such steps as the earlier refusal of the Irish to allow the British to arrange for Irish copper coins. The Irish rejected these coins because it was widely believed that the coins would be debased. Swift's series of "Drapier's Letters" (1724) actually forced a change in British policy on this matter.

"A Tale of a Tub" (1704), on the surface, is a story of three brothers arguing over their father's last will. But it is actually a clever attack on certain religious beliefs and on humanity's false pride in its knowledge.

In "The Battle of the Books" (1704), a lighter work, Swift imagines old and new books in a library waging war on each other. This work reflected a real quarrel between scholars who boasted of being modern and scholars who believed the wisdom of the ancient thinkers could not be bettered.

Swift could be very playful. He loved riddles, jokes, and hoaxes. One of his best literary pranks was the "Bickerstaff Papers" (1708- 1709). In this work, he invented an astrologer named Isaac Bickerstaff to ridicule John Partridge, a popular astrologer and almanac writer of the time. Swift satirized Partridge by publishing his own improbable predictions, including a prediction of Partridge's own death. Swift then published a notice that Partridge had died, which many people believed.

Swift wrote a great deal of poetry and light verse. Much of his poetry is humorous, and it is often sharply satirical as well. But many of his poems, both comic and serious, show his deep affection for his friends.

5.4. Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding (1707-1754), an English author, wrote "The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" (1749), one of the world's great novels. The book is an exciting, humorous story of an orphan and his adventures. Although it begins when Tom is a baby, most of the story concerns the hero as a young man. Tom's many adventures include a variety of love affairs, ranging from passing encounters to his true love for Sophia Western.

In "Tom Jones", Fielding did more than create a humorous adventure story. He skillfully incorporated the plot's many twists into unified structure, beginning each of the novel's 18 boob- (chapters) with a brilliant and related essay. He filled his story with unforgettable characters whom he described in a sophisticated and lively style. These qualities greatly influenced later novelists, as did Fielding's realistic, basically unsentimental attitude toward life. Fielding ridiculed hypocrites and selfish people but avoided a preaching tone. His tongue-in-cheek irony makes Tom Jones an outstanding satire on society.

Fielding's novel "Joseph Andrews" (1742) is a parody (mock imitation) of "Pamela", Samuel Richardson's serious novel about the rewards of a virtuous life. "The Life of Jonathan Wild the Great" (1743) is fictional, but its criminal hero was a real person whom Fielding treated ironically to contrast "greatness" with "goodness".

Fielding's last novel, "Amelia" (1751), is a relatively sober work. It attacks social evils more directly than Tom Jones does. However, "Amelia" is less successful as a novel.

Early in his career, Fielding supported himself by writing plays. The most enjoyable is "The Tragedy of Tragedies"; or, "The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great" (1730-1731), a burlesque of English heroic drama. "Pasquin" (1736) and "The Historical Register for The Year 1736" (1737) attack Prime Minister Robert Walpole. These satires helped bring about the Licensing Act of 1737, which resulted in strict control and censorship of the London theater.

Fielding was also an excellent journalist and essayist. In 1752, he published the "Covent Garden Journal", a satirical review of society and literature of his time that appeared twice a week. His "Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon", published in 1755 after his death, describes a trip he made to Portugal.

Fielding was born near Glastonbury in Somerset. He attended Eton College and then studied law. He became a justice of the peace in 1748. Throughout his life, Fielding fought for social and legal reforms, both as a writer and as a magistrate.

5.5. Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), was an Irish dramatist and politician. During his brief writing career, he produced several sparkling comedies. In later life, he was a brilliant speaker in (lie British Parliament.

Sheridan was born in Dublin. While in his early 20's, Sheridan wrote "The Rivals" (1775). This comedy has a memorable character named Mrs. Malaprop who is a genius at using words incorectly as when she says, "Illiterate him, I say, quite from your memory". "The School for Scandal" (1777), Sheridan's finest play, is one of the great comedies of English drama. With glittering wit, it exposes society people who love malicious gossip. It also contrast a careless but kind young man, Charles Surface, with his scheming and selfish brother Joseph. "The Critic" (1779), a short satiric play, wittily attacked theatrical fashions. Sheridan's other plays include the farce "St. Patrick's Day" (1775) and a comic op-era, "The Duenna" (1775). He adapted Sir John Vanbrugh's com-edy "The Relapse" (1696) into "A Trip to Scarborough" (1777).

In 1780, Sheridan was elected to Parliament, and until 1812, he devoted himself to politics. A gifted orator, Sheridan made a memorable speech in the trial of Warren Hastings in 1788. In 1799, Sheridan wrote his last full-length play, "Pizarro", a political tragedy adapted from the German play "Die Spanier in Peru". A man of great charm and wit, Sheridan lived a busy social life among the rich and the powerful. He is best remembered for his witty plays, but he spent little of his life as a writer.

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36 Кб, 9 марта 2014 в 20:14 - Россия, Москва, МЭГУ, 2014 г., doc
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