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Lecture 6

Victorian period in English literature

In the minds of many, Queen Victoria personified the spirit of nineteenth-century England: she was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Empress of India, and mother of nine children; her monarchy was a model of respectability, self-righteousness, conservatism, and the domestic virtues.By the middle of the nineteenth century, England dominated the world. Many English people were acutely conscious of their success and self-confidently pleased by it.

For hundreds of years English politics had been the playground of the aristocrats. The newly powerful middle class now demanded a share in governing, and got it in the Reform Bill of 1832 which gave them the right to vote and hold elective office.

The working class was without any political power at all, and in times of economic hardship, particularly in the late 1830's and early 1840's, England, for all of its power and success, came perilously close to a working-class revolution. A boom in the market saved the country, labor unions grew slowly but steadily, and by 1867 the British were ready, with the Second Reform Bill, to let some of the workers vote.The Victorian compromise between public concerns and private urge did not last long. By the 1860's and 1870's a rebellious new generation of writers began to break away from the conventions of mid-century.

Early Victorian literature includes some of the greatest and most popular novels ever written. Most novelists of the period wrote long works with numerous characters. In many instances, the authors included actual events of the day in their tales.

The novels of Charles Dickens are noted for their colorful - and sometimes eccentric - characters. In "Oliver Twist" (1837- 1839) and "David Copperfield" (1849-1850), Dickens described the lives of children made miserable by cruel or thoughtless adults.

William Makepeace Thackeray created a masterpiece of Victorian fiction in "Vanity Fair" (1847-1848). The story follows the lives of many characters at different levels of English society during the early 1800's.

The novels of the three Bronte sisters - Emily, Charlotte, and Anne - have many romantic elements. The novels are known especially for their psychologically tormented heroes and heroines.

Later Victorian literature. During the late 1800's, a pessimistic tone appeared in much of the best Victorian poetry and prose. Lord Tennyson discussed the intellectual and religious problems of the time in his long poem "In Memoriam" (1850). Matthew Arnold described his doubts about modern life in such short poems as "The Scholar-Gypsy" (1853) and "Dover Beach" (1867). Arnold's most important literary achievements are his critical essays on culture, literature, religion, and society. Many of these essays were collected in "Culture and Anarchy" (1869).

English drama was reborn near the end of the Victorian Age. From the late 1700's to the late 1800's, almost no important dramas were produced in England. But by 1900, a number of playwrights had revived the English theater both with witty comedies and with realistic dramas about social problems of the time.

Oscar Wilde recalled the glittering Restoration comedy of manners in "Lady Windermere's Fan" (1892) and "The Importance of Being Earnest" (1895). George Bernard Shaw wrote witty plays, but he was primarily interested in exposing the faults he saw in society.

6.5. William Makepeace Thackeray

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811-1863), was one of the great novelists of the English Victorian Age. His "Vanity Fair" is one of the finest and best-known novels in English literature. Thackeray wrote in a colorful, lively style, with a simple vocabulary and clearly structured sentences. These qualities, combined with his honest view of life give him an important place in the history of realistic literature.

6.6. Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (1812-1870), was a great English novelist and one of the most popular writers of all time. His best-known books include "A Christmas Carol", "David Copperfield", "Great Expectations", "Oliver Twist", "The Pickwick Papers", and "A Tale of Two Cities".

Dickens was also a wonderfully inventive comic artist. The warmth and humor of his personality appear in all his works. Perhaps in no other large body of fiction does the reader receive so strong and agreeable an impression of the person behind the story.

Dickens' books

Dickens wrote 20 novels (including 5 short Christmas books), and many sketches, travel books, and other non-fiction works. Not all of his books were best sellers, but the most popular ones broke all sales records for the time. Most of his novels were published in sections.

6.7. Sisters Bronte

Bronte sisters were three sisters who became famous novelists -Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848), and Anne (1820- 1849). Their lives and works are associated with the lonely moors of Yorkshire, England, where they were bom.

Their works. Charlotte Bronte's famous novel "Jane Eyre" (1847) is largely autobiographical. Through the heroine, Charlotte relived the hated boarding school life and her experiences as a governess in a large house. Rochester, the hero and master of the house, is fictional. "Jane Eyre" was enormously successful, but many readers were shocked that Rochester, who tried to make Jane his mistress, should be rewarded by marrying her. Some readers were also shocked because Jane wanted to be regarded as a thinking and independent person, rather than as a weak female.

Emily Bronte wrote only one novel, "Wuthering Heights" (1847), a romantic masterpiece. The work was not as popular as "Jane Eyre", and was even more strongly condemned for its brutality, its lack of conventional morality, and its glorification of romantic passion.

Anne Bronte was the mildest and most patient of the sisters. Both her novels, "Agnes Grey" (1847) and "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (1848), can be seen as less violent versions of "Jane Eyre".

6.7. Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carroll was the pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-1898), an English author. Carroll wrote two of the most famous books in English literature - "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and its continuation, "Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There

"Alice in Wonderland" tells about the adventures of a little girl in a make-believe world under the ground. Alice lands in this "wonderland" after she falls down a hole while following a rabbit. She meets many strange characters, including the Cheshire Cat, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts, and the Mock Turtle. "Alice in Wonderland" became so well known that the names of some of its characters are part of everyday speech. For example, we hear about people who "grin like a Cheshire Cat" or who are as "mad as a March Hare".

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32 Кб, 9 марта 2014 в 20:13 - Россия, Москва, МЭГУ, 2014 г., doc
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