Transcript The Age of Reason
The Age of Reason
1. Historical Background 2. Literature of the Period 3.The main characteristics of the 18th Century Literature 4. Some Lesser Writers 2020/4/25 2
1. The Tories and the Whigs greatly influenced the country.
The Whigs The glorious revolution The parliament The Tories
After the Glorious Revolution, the monarch was deprived of ruling power and Parliament took its place and became the actual leader of the country. The Tories and the Whigs, though representing the interest of different strata, both supported commerce and the policy of moderation and tolerance. The two parties rivaled with each other for seats in the House of Commons, and for 40 years the Whig was the party in office, passing many acts in the interests of the moneyed class. 2020/4/25 4
2. England developed into a powerful naval country. During the reign of Queen Anne, George I, George II, and George III, England fought wars with France, the greatest enemy of it of the day. These wars included the War of Queen Anne in which England fought with France over the succession of the Spanish Crown, the War of Austrian Succession and the Seven Years' War with France. Through those wars, England became the most powerful naval country in Europe. 2020/4/25 5
Seven Years' War
3. The ascent of the bourgeoisie cultural life underwent remarkable changes. A. The flourish of political writings B. The growth of newspapers C. Coffeehouse 2020/4/25 7
The Spectator & The Tatler
4. The ruling class had desire as well as power to put the “ newly-seized ” country into order. In the 18th century, the bourgeois class had seized the ruling power of the country. As all new ruling classes would do, the bourgeois class thought that it was time to set up their new rules, both political and moral, social and literary. As a secularized class who had suffered much from the past feudalism, the bourgeois class thought it necessary to enlighten the world with the light of modern philosophical and artistic ideas. So they put great emphasis on reason, morality, education, equality and science while they were striving to clear away the feudal remnants. 2020/4/25 9
5. The development of science and technology promoted the development of literature of this century. Isaac Newton's famous law of gravitation helped people to get rid of the medieval conception that was guided by divine will and thus did much in bringing about people's belief in science and reason.
2020/4/25 John Locke proved the function of reason and its relationship with senses and truth. He also contributed a lot to helping people to have firm belief in reason. 11
6. The French influence also played an important part in completing the whole picture of the 18th century English literature. The very literary trend known as classicism first originated in France during the reign of Louis XIV when France was the most powerful country of the world.
2. Literature of the Period
（ 1 ） The Dominant Ideology in the Literary Field. The 18th century England is also known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. So the idea of Enlightenment prevailed the whole 18th century. The Enlightenment Movement 2020/4/25 13
French Enlighteners : 2020/4/25
Montesquieu 14 Diderot
Enlighteners in England: John Dryden Alexander Pope Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele Jonathan Swift Daniel Defoe Henry Fielding Samuel Richardson Richard Brinsley Sheridan 2020/4/25 15
In the field of literature, the Enlightenment Movement brought about a revival of interest in the old classical works. This tendency is known as neoclassicism. According to the neoclassicists, all forms of literature should be moulded after the classical works of the ancient Greek and Roman writers and those of the contemporary French ones. They believed that order, logic, restrained emotion and accuracy should be the most important elements of artistic creation, and that literature should be judged in terms of its service, mainly moralization and entertainment to human beings. This belief led to seeking proportion, unity, harmony and grace in literary works. Thus the aim of literary creation was to delight, instruct and correct human beings, primarily as social animals. 2020/4/25 16
Cicero Virgil 2020/4/25 17
The characteristics of neoclassicism can be summed up as follows: A. An Interest in Fixed Rules Prose : precise, direct, smooth and flexible; poetry : lyrical, epical, didactic, satiric or dramatic, Drama : write in Heroic Couplets; observe the three unities of time, space and action followed regularity in construction create type characters instead of individuals 2020/4/25 18
B. An emphasis on Reason Neoclassicists emphasized reason rather than emotion, form rather than content. They took great pains to repress emotions and enthusiasm as found in the works of Elizabethan Age and to use precise and elegant methods of expression. 2020/4/25 19
C. An Aim to Instruct As reason was stressed, most of the writings of the age were didactic and satirical, and their aim was to entertain, instruct and correct human beings, who were thought by the neoclassicists as ignorant and in need of education. Accordingly, elegance, correctness, appropriateness and restraint were preferred in literary writings. 2020/4/25 20
D. An Interest in Urbanity Neoclassicist literature is almost exclusively a kind of “ town ” literature, catering to the interest of the “ society ” in great cities. The humbler aspects of life are neglected and this “ town ” literature shows little love for nature, landscape or country people. 2020/4/25 21
E. A Revolt against Subjectivity An important characteristic of neoclassicism is its objectivity.
The neoclassical period witnessed the flourish of English poetry in the classical style The poetic techniques and classical graces such as order, appropriate form, unified structure, clear, precise and simple language, which flourished in this period, have become a permanent heritage. 2020/4/25 22
. The Development of Modern English Novels
The mid-century witnessed the rise and development of a new literary form — modern English novel. Contrary to the traditional romance of aristocrats, modern English novels give a realistic presentation of life of the common English people. This is the most significant phenomenon in the history of the development of English literature in the 18th century. It is a natural product of the Industrial Revolution and a symbol of the growing importance and strength of the English middle class. Among the pioneers of modernist novels were Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson, Henry Fielding, Laurence Sterne, Tobias George Smollett and Oliver Goldsmith. 2020/4/25 23
The novels written by Defoe, Swift, Fielding and Smollett in a sense are realistic novels as well as English travel novels. Those by Lawrence Sterne and Oliver Goldsmith can be classified as novels of Sentimentalism. And Sterne was a pioneer of modernism, for he used many modernistic writing techniques in his
. Samuel Richardson was famous for his psycho-analytical novel
and for his epistolary technique employed in his
2020/4/25 Defoe Swift Fielding Smollett 25
Realistic novels Travel novels
2020/4/25 Lawrence Sterne Oliver Goldsmith Richardson 26
English Drama and Prose of the 18th Century
Drama Prose 2020/4/25 Richard Brinsley Sheridan Oliver Goldsmith Jonathan Swift
A Modest Proposal
In the theatrical world, Richard Brinsley Sheridan was the leading figure among a host of playwrights. He and Oliver Goldsmith were both famous for their comedies of manners. Sheridan's
The School for Scandal
She Stoops to Conquer
are the best representatives of English comedies of manners. In the prosaic field, those witty and satirical proses by Jonathan Swift are especially worth mentioning. Swift's
A Modest Proposal
is generally regarded as the best model of satire in the whole English literary history.
natural and spontaneous in thought and language.
emotions and sentiments man interest in nature as well as natural relations between man and
The Novelists: Oliver Goldsmith and Lawrence Sterne The poets :Thomas Gray and George Grabbe. 2020/4/25 29
James Thomson William Collins William Cowper Robert Burns William Blake
The flourish of the Gothic novels
. The Gothic novels were mostly stories of mystery and horror which take place in some haunted or dilapidated Middle Age castles and were written profusely by both male and female writers.
The Castle of Otranto
(1765) by Horace Walpole,
The Mysteries of Udolpho
Radcliffe, (1794) and
(1797) by Mrs. Ann
The Champion of Virtue, a Gothic Story
(1777) by Clara Reeve,
(1796) by M. G. Lewis became very popular.
3. The main characteristics of the 18th Century Literature
1. Reason is the key word in understanding English literature in the 18th century . The 18th century is also called the Age of Reason. Neoclassicism in which reason played an important role dominated almost all the 18th century. So reason is the key word in understanding the 18th century English literature. Reason is the key note of neoclassicism: the modern novelists such as Fielding, Defoe and Swift showed the importance of reason either in the process of their main characters' self-education or in getting rid of the young follies resulted from the lack of reason. Sentimental and Romantic writings can be taken as a kind of expression of the writers' dissatisfaction with and revolt against the exclusive emphasis on reason and thus represent a revival of the interest in emotions and sentiments. 2020/4/25 31
2. The 18th century saw the flourish of various forms of literature.
As literary trend is concerned, neoclassicism reached its climax in this century; Sentimentalism came into being and became mature in the last few decades; the last decade of the 18th century also witnessed the forerunners of Romanticism. As literary forms or genres are concerned, poetry flourished, modern novels came into beings and developed and other forms of literature such as periodical essays and comedies of manners also came into beings and developed in the Age of Reason.
4. Some Lesser Writers
Samuel Richardson(1689 ～ 1761 ) one of the founders of modern English novels 33
1. Life 2.Works
Samuel Richardson was born in Derbyshire in 1689. Little is known about his education. He may have attended Christ's Hospital or Merchant Taylors' School. He married twice and had 12 children. After 1706 he worked for several years as a compositor and corrector in a London printing office. In 1719 he became the proprietor of his own printing firm in Fleet Street (and afterwards in Salisburg Court). In 1736 ～ 37, he became the printer of the
of the House of Commons, of the
and in 1738, the printer of the
. In 1754 he became Master of the Stationers' Company. In 1760 he bought half the patent of “ law printer to his majesty. ” He died on July 4, 1761. 2020/4/25 35
The History of Charles Grandison
Story 2020/4/25 36
consists, like them, entirely of letters and journals, of which Richardson presents himself as the “ editor. ” He believed he had hit upon “ a new species of writing ” but he was not the inventor of the epistolary novels, several of which already existed in English and French. He did, however, raise the form to a level hitherto unknown, and transformed it to display his own particular skills. 2020/4/25 37
Story 2020/4/25 38
Samuel Johnson (1709 ～ 1784) the last great neoclassicist after Pope in the 18th century 2020/4/25 39
Samuel Johnson (1709 ～ 1784) was born in Richfield, son of a book-seller. The boy was sent to the Richfield Grammar School where he remained for 8 years and acquired a solid foundation in Latin. In 1728 he went to Oxford and studied there, on and off, until 1731 when his father died and he had to quit the university without taking a degree. In 1735 he married a rich old widow. In hope of establishing himself in society, Johnson first made a futile attempt to set up a school and then went to London to try his fortune as a literary adventurer. The years between 1737 and 1755 were very difficult for him: he did translations, wrote poems, essays and accounts of parliamentary debates for the book-sellers and edited magazines, but earned no more than enough to maintain a meager living. It was only after the publication of his
that his financial status took a turn for the better. And in 1762 the government gave him a special pension which freed him from the burden of “ writing for a living. ” So during the last twenty years of his life he could talk about and comment on literature and literary men in his famous Literary Club, where he was surrounded with respect by the elite of the literary circles. 2020/4/25 40
Johnson was an energetic and versatile writer . He had a hand in all the different branches of literary activities. He was a poet, dramatist, prose romancer, biographer, essayist, critic, lexicographer and publicist. His chief works include poems: London (1738), and
The Vanity of Human Wishes
(1749); a romance: The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia (1759); a tragedy: Irene (1749); several hundred essays which appeared in the two periodicals under his editorship —
; and literary criticism as found in the preface to his edition of Shakespeare and in his comments on 52 poets in
Lives of the Poets
(1779 ～ 1781). As a lexicographer, Johnson distinguished himself as the author of the first English dictionary by an Englishman —
A Dictionary of the English Language
(1755), a gigantic task which Johnson undertook single-handedly and finished in over seven years. 2020/4/25 41
Johnson was the last great neoclassicist enlightener in the later eighteenth century . He was very much concerned with the theme of the vanity of human wishes and almost all of his major writings bear this theme. He tried to awaken men to this folly and hoped to cure them of it through his writings. In literary creation and criticism, he was rather conservative, openly showing his dislike for much of the newly rising form of literature and his fondness for those writings which carried a lot of moralizing and philosophizing. He insisted that a writer must adhere to universal truth and experience,
Nature; he must please, but he must also instruct; he must not offend against religion or promote immorality; and he must let himself be guided by old principles. Like Pope, he was particularly fond of moralizing and didacticism. So, it is understandable that he was rather pleased with Richardson's
but was contemptuous of Fielding's
. 2020/4/25 42
Johnson's style is typically neoclassical, but it is at the opposite extreme from Swift's simplicity or Addison's neatness. His language is characteristically general, often Latinate and frequently polysyllabic. His sentences are long and well structured, interwoven with parallel words and phrases. However, no matter how complex his sentences are, the thought is always clearly expressed; and though he tends to use “ learned words, ” they are always accurately used.