Set 4 c forms & style


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Set 4 c forms & style

  1. 1. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Literatura Inglesa I THE VICTORIAN AGE THE DEVELOPMENT OF LITERARY FORMS The Victorian epoch was exceedingly productive of literary work of a high quality, but, except in the novel, the amount of actual innovation is by no means great. Writers were as a rule content to work upon former models, and the improvements they did achieve were often dubious and unimportant. 1. Poetry, a) The lyrical output is very large and varied, as a glance through the works of the poets already mentioned will show. In form there is little of fresh interest. Tennyson was content to follow the methods of Keats, though Browning's complicated forms and Swinburne's long musical lines were more freely used by them than by any previous writers. b) In descriptive and narrative poetry there is a greater advance to chronicle. In subject – for example, in the poems of Browning and Morris – there is great variety, embracing many climes and periods; in method there is much diversity, ranging from the cultured elegance of Tennyson's English landscapes to the bold impressionism of the poems of Whitman. The PreRaphaelite school, also, united several features which had not been seen before in combination. These were a fondness for medieval themes treated in an unconventional manner, a richly coloured pictorial effect, and a studied and melodious simplicity. The works of Rossetti, Morris, and Swinburne provide many examples of this development of poetry. On the whole we can say that the Victorians were strongest on the descriptive side of poetry, which agreed with the more meditative habits of the period, as contrasted with the warmer and more lyrical emotions of the previous age. There were many attempts at purely narrative poetry, with interesting results. Tennyson thought of reviving the epic, but in him the epical impulse was not sufficiently strong, and his great narrative poem was produced as smaller fragments which he called idylls. Browning's Ring and the Book is curious, for it can be called a psychological epic – a narrative in which emotion removes action from the 1
  2. 2. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Literatura Inglesa I chief place. In this class of poetry The Earthly Paradise of William Morris is a return to the old romantic tale as we find it in the works of Chaucer. 2. Drama. Several of the major poets of the period wrote tragedy on the lines of the accepted models. Few of these attained to real distinction; they were rather the conscientious efforts of men who were striving to succeed in the impossible task of really reviving the poetical drama. Of them all, Swinburne's tragedies, especially those concerned with Mary Queen of Scots, possess the greatest warmth and energy; and Browning's earlier plays, before he overdeveloped his style, have sincerity and sometimes real dramatic power. As for comedy, it was almost wholly neglected as a purely literary form. A development to be noticed is the popularity of the dramatic monologue. In Ulysses, Tithonus, and other pieces Tennyson achieved some of his most successful results; and Browning's host of monologues, wide in range and striking in detail, are perhaps his greatest contribution to literature. The method common to this kind of monologue was to take some character and make him reveal his inmost self in his own words. 3. Prose, a) By the middle of the nineteenth century the novel, as a species of literature, had thrust itself into the first rank. We shall therefore consider it first. In the novels of Thackeray and Dickens the various qualities of the domestic novel are gathered together and carried a stage forward. Dickens was a social reformer, and yet did much to idealize the England of his day, and to depict the life of the lower and middle classes with imagination and humour. As a satirist and an observer of manners Thackeray easily excels his contemporaries. With the Bronte sisters the romantic impulse was fully felt in the novel, to which they gave new intensity of passion, greater depth of intuitive sympathy, and a profound interest in the struggles of the individual soul. In this they were followed by George Eliot, who showed a closeness of application to the mental, processes of her characters that was carried further in the work of Meredith, and has led to the 'psychological' novels of the present day. In Esmond the historical novel made an advance. Here Thackeray was not content to master the history of the period he described; he sought to reproduce also the language and atmosphere. This is an 2
  3. 3. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Literatura Inglesa I extremely difficult thing to achieve, and is possible only in novels dealing with a limited period of time, but Thackeray scored a remarkable success. b) The development of the short story, as a separate species of literature, will be touched upon in the next chapter. c) In the case of the essay we have to note the expansion of the literary type into the treatise-in-little. This method was made popular by Macaulay, and continued by Carlyle, Symonds, Pater, and many others. Of the miscellaneous essayists, both Dickens, in some parts of The Uncommercial Traveller, and Thackeray, in The Roundabout Papers, successfully practised the shorter Addisonian type; and this again was enlarged and made more pretentious by Ruskin, Pater, and Stevenson. d) The lecture becomes a prominent literary species for a time. Carlyle, Thackeray, Dickens, and many others both in England and America published lectures in Oxford. Earlier critics like Hazlitt and Coleridge had done so; but, almost for the first time, Ruskin gave a distinct style and manner to the lecture. e) The historians are strongly represented. Carlyle and Macaulay, in spite of their great industry and real care for history, have now fallen behind in the race as historians, and survive chiefly as stylists.The new method that arose was typified in the solid and valuable work of William Stubbs (1825-1901), Edward A. Freeman (1823-92), and Samuel R. Gardiner (1829-1902). These historians avoided die charms of literary style, concentrated upon some aspect of history, and, basing their results upon patient research into original authorities, produced valuable additions to human knowledge. f) We have already noticed that in this period the scientific treatise attained to literary rank. We may mention as early examples of this type Sir Thomas Browne's curious treatise on Urne Buriall, Burton's The Anatomy of Melancholy, and the graceful essays of Berkeley. THE DEVELOPMENT OF LITERARY STYLE With such an amount of writing as characterizes this age it is quite certain that both in prose and poetry a wide range of style will be observable. 3
  4. 4. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Literatura Inglesa I 1. Poetry. In the case of poetry the more ornate style was represented in Tennyson, who developed artistic schemes of vowel-music, alliteration, and other devices in a manner quite unprecedented. The Pre-Raphaelites carried the method still further. In diction they were simpler than Tennyson, but their vocabulary was more archaic and their mass of detail more highly coloured. The style of Browning was to a certain extent a protest against this aureate diction. He substituted for it simplicity and a heady speed, especially in his earlier lyrics; his more mature obscurity was merely an effect of his eager imagination and reckless impetuosity. Matthew Arnold, in addition, was too classical in style to care for overdeveloped picturesqueness, and wrote with a studied simplicity. On the whole, however, we can say that the average poetical style of this period, as a natural reaction against the simpler methods of the period immediately preceding, was ornate rather than simple. 2. Prose. With regard to prose, the greater proportion by far is written in the middle style, the established medium in journalism, in all manner of miscellaneous work, and in the majority of the novels. Outside this mass of middle prose, the style of Ruskin stands highest in the scale of ornateness; of a like kind are the scholarly elegance of Pater and the mannered dictions of Meredith and Stevenson. The style of Carlyle and that of Macaulay are both peculiar brands of the middle style, Macaulay's being hard, clear, and racy, and Carlyle s gruff and tempestuous, with an occasional passage of soothing beauty. Of the simpler writers there is a large number, among whom many novelists find a place. We have space here to refer only to the easy-going journalistic manner of Dickens and to the subacid flavour of the prose of Thackeray. We add a specimen of Stevenson's prose style. This style, which in its' mannered precision is typical of many modern prose styles, is noteworthy on account of its careful selection of epithet, its clear-cut expressiveness, and its delicate rhythm. But Hermiston was not all of one piece. He was, besides, a mighty toper; he could sit at wine until the day dawned, and pass directly from the table to the Bench with a steady hand and a clear head. Beyond the third bottle, he showed the plebeian in a larger print; the low, gross accent, the low, foul mirth, grew broader and commoner; he became less formidable, and infinitely more disgusting. Now, the boy had inherited from Jean Rutherford a shivering delicacy, unequally mated with potential violence. In the playing-fields, and amongst his own companions, he repaid a coarse expression with a blow; at his father's 4
  5. 5. Instituto de Estudios Superiores Belén PROFESORADO EN INGLÉS Literatura Inglesa I table (when the time came for him to join these revels) he turned pale and sickened in silence. Of all the guests whom he there encountered, he had toleration for only one: David Keith Carnegie, Lord Glenalmond. Lord Glenalmond was tall and emaciated, with long features and long delicate hands. He was often compared with the statue of Forbes of Culloden in the Parliament House; and his blue eye, at more than sixty, preserved some of the fire of youth. His exquisite disparity with any of his fellow-guests, his appearance, as of an artist and an aristocrat stranded in rude company, rivetted the boy's attention; and as curiosity and interest are the things in the world that are the most immediately and certainly rewarded, Lord Glenalmond was attracted by the boy Weir of Hermiston. SOURCE  ALBERT, Edward: History of English Literature. Revised by J. A. Stone. 5th Edition Oxford University Press, England - 1979. pp. 426 - 431 5