Romanticism and victorianism in english literature topics




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part of the English Romantic Movement

  • “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”

    • it is called the ‘manifesto’ of English Romantic criticism

    • Wordsworth calls his poem ‘experimental’

    • in it, Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the “real language of men” and which avoids the poetic diction of much eighteenth-century poetry

    • Wordsworth also gives his famous definition of poetry: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recollected in tranquillity”

  • Wordsworth: Tintern Abbey

  • Coleridge: The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


    His unique

    • new approach, attitude to the nature

    • his objection to the overstylized poetic diction

    • subject matter  humble people, rural environments

    • lots of autobiographical elements

    • his personality and poetry were deeply influenced by his love of nature – esp. by the sights and scenes of the Lake Country

    • he displayed a high seriousness tempered with tenderness and a love of simplicity



    1793 – “Descriptive Sketches”

    • one of his first two poem (the other: An Evening Walk)

    • travel poem

    • it describes Wordsworth’s observations during a walking tour through the Alps in the summer of 1790 – when the French were celebrating the first anniversary of the Fall of Bastille

    • the concluding section describes the promise of the French Revolution in terms that enjoin biblical millennialism with the Roman poet Virgil’s fourth eclogue – which envisions the return of the primeval golden age

    • influences of other poets

    • wanted to show the free, simple, happy life of Swiss


    The Lyrical Ballads”

    • first published in 1798  the beginning of Romanticism

    • joint publication with Coleridge  23 poems (19 – Wordsworth, 4 – Coleridge)

    • helped launch the Romantic Age in English literature

    • part of the English Romantic Movement

    • firstly the poems were anonymous

    • 1798 – Advertisement, 1800 – Preface

      • 2nd edition – under the name of Wordsworth

      • later 2 other editions

    • “Preface to the Lyrical Ballads”

      • wanted to find out – poetic diction as problematic area

      • it is called the ‘manifesto’ of English Romantic criticism

      • Wordsworth calls his poem ‘experimental’

      • in it, Wordsworth discusses what he sees as the elements of a new type of poetry, one based on the “real language of men” and which avoids the poetic diction of much eighteenth-century poetry

      • Wordsworth also gives his famous definition of poetry: “the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings from emotions recollected in tranquillity”

    • title

      • combination of two contrast thing

      • primitive simplicity combined with rural environments

    • wanted to approach the language of common people

      • poor, weak people – condition of common people

      • they can feel deep

    • man’s relationship with nature

    • neglected groups of people (old men, women ...), people living outside of the society

    • who is a poet? what is his role?

    • decorum – neoclassic rule  he rejected this hierarchy

    • thematic groups

      • supernatural

      • human suffering (“The Thorne”)

      • children’s psychology

      • that celebrate nature (“Tintern Abbey”)

        • the inward states of the mind

        • combined with the description of the nature

    • Coleridge – poetic faith: “willing suspension of disbelief for the moment”

    Tintern Abbey” (1798)

    • the last poem in Lyrical Ballads

      • it is a poem of re-visitation

      • both to the central themes of the Advertisement, and to nature itself

    • Tintern Abbey – an abbey in Welsh

    • subject: the thoughts, reflections, memories of the individual mind

    • nature has a spiritual dimension

    • Wordsworth’s conviction that nature influences the conduct of one person towards another

    • a refection upon the importance of nature to the poet and the way in which his relationship with nature has changed since boyhood

    • it is written in blank verse

    • the poem takes place in the poet’s mind

    • he emphasis in the beginning of “five years have passed...” and constantly using the word “again”  shows that time is important for this poem

    • Lines 1-24  revisiting the natural beauty of the Wye area filed the poet with “tranquil restoration”

    • Line 37  by sublime, Wordsworth means a type of divine creativity / inspiration

    • Lines 35-49  Wordsworth goes on to say that the gifts given to him by the abbey have in themselves given him another gift, one that is even more sublime; nature itself has relieved Wordsworth of a giant burden; this burden is the questioning of God / religion / purpose of life


    1799-1801. Lucy Poems

    • a group of five lyrics

    • there is no clear evidence that the figure of Lucy represents any actual person

    • the growth of the poet’s love for a pure young girl, a child of nature, then she dies


    1807. Resolution and Independence (sometimes known as The Leech-Gatherer)

    • based on an actual meeting with an old leech-gatherer

    • the poet, travelling across the moor, meets the leech-gatherer

    • another solitary figure: resolute and independent

    • a sense of awe and spiritual humility before a man who in social terms is of no account

    • Wordsworth receives a lesson in humility from him

    • a particular incident is narrated which prompts moral generalizations about life


    1807. Immortality Ode

    • “Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood”

    • the record of the profit and loss of growing up

    • naive freshness of the child’s awareness  more sober vision of the man

    • the childhood vision is succeeded by an adult state

    • youth is the period of wisdom and true insight

    • laments the loss of the visionary power of youth: nature no longer appears to the poet as it did in his youth

    • the poem shows his uneasy recognition that his imagination was leaving him



    1814. The Excursion

    • a poem in 9 books

    • a long didactic poem, intended to be the middle part of the three-part philosophical poem “The Recluse”

    • four main characters: the poet, the Wanderer, the Wanderer, the Solitary, the Pastor

      • the Solitary is a disillusioned wanderer who takes a cynical view of his society, sunk into despair, misanthropic

      • the Wanderer retreats from society into solitary contemplation

      • the Pastor offers the consolations of virtue and faith


    The Prelude, or Growth of a Poet’s Mind

    • completed in 1805 but he continued to revise the poem throughout his life

    • published after his death in 1850

    • consists of 14 books

    • intended as an introduction to “The Recluse”, a philosophical poem on Man, Nature, Society

    • “The Recluse”: unfulfilled, only part of the project was completed (The Excursion)

    • a long autobiographical account of his own development

    • a unique poetic autobiography, an account of inner growth

    • maps the growth of his consciousness

    • traces the events of his early life (childhood, school time, his time at Cambridge, residence in London, in revolutionary France)

    • various episodes which demonstrate the interaction between himself (his growing mind) and nature

    • his environment was shaping his consciousness

    • the meaning and moral implications of his experiences

    • first two books: childhood

    • a poem of self-discovery and self-analysis

    • comprehension of the meaning and significance of his early experiences came only with adult reflection and meditation

    • a sublime moment: Book XIII (1-116)

      • he went on a walking tour of North Wales

      • Wordsworth describes how he, with some friends, set out to climb Snowdon by moonlight

      • at first the mountain was covered in thick fog, but at last they burst throughout the mist into brilliant moonlight

      • the moon is shining brightly overhead, illuminating a sea of mist below him

      • the process of climbing out of the mist into the moonlight is a symbolic, illuminating one

      • the climbing of the mountain parallels the ascent of the mind to a new peak of imaginative vision

      • landscape of clouds, mountaintops under the moon: transformed

      • “it appeared to me / The perfect image of a mighty mind”

      • he describes the human mind with the image of the mountain, all but its moonlit summit shrouded in mist

      • the tiny illuminated area of consciousness is surrounded by the “huge sea of mist” concealing what Wordsworth called “an underpresence” (what we would call unconscious/subconscious)

      • the view fro Snowdon was transfigured by the moon

      • the imagination has a similar capacity to impose order and unity upon the external world

      • people with a highly developed imagination see into the hidden life of things

      • “higher minds” = creative capacity

      • stimulated by the sensory world to see beyond it

      • a realm beyond sensuous reality

      • he celebrates the God-like imagination of the creative mind

      • the imagination interacts with the external world, transfigures it, enables us to perceive invisible realities

      • to perceive the power behind nature’s visible forms




    • another characteristically Romantic idea: “The Child is father of the Man” (a line from his poem “My heart leaps up when I behold”)

      • the authority of age disappears

      • youth becomes the fount of wisdom

      • youth is richer in wisdom and insight than age



    6.

    ^ SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE


    1772-1834

    • English poet, critic, philosopher

    • one of the founders of the Romantic Movement in England

    • one of the Lake Poets

    • ((külön))


    18th century – poet - imitative

    • role of the poet is like the role of God (creative work)

    • imagination

      • primary

        • perceives the world, imagination becomes active and creative

        • every act of perception becomes an act of creation

        • God’s creation is repeated in the human mind

        • objective reality  subjectivity

      • secondary

        • dissolves things

        • after: recreates them, change, unite

        • synthesis

        • re-express certain things

      • fancy

        • lowest level

        • no appreciate it

        • putting images, memories, impressions juxtapose, without changing them


    Poetry

    • long poems (e.g. “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”, “Christabel”)

    • he is one of the most important figures in English poetry

    • his poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age

    • known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet

    • Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice

    • idea of “Conversational Poetry”

    • he is one of the most important figures in English poetry

    • his poems directly and deeply influenced all the major poets of the age

    • known by his contemporaries as a meticulous craftsman who was more rigorous in his careful reworking of his poems than any other poet

    • Southey and Wordsworth were dependent on his professional advice

      • his influence on Wordsworth is particularly important  many critics have credited Coleridge with the idea of “Conversational Poetry”  for which Wordsworth became so famous – may have originated almost entirely in Coleridge’s mind

      • the idea of utilizing common, everyday language to express profound poetic images and ideas

    • he was equally important to poetry as a critic


    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”

    • its words have given the English language the metaphor of an albatross around one’s neck

    • the quotation of “water, water everywhere, nor any drop to drink”

    • the phrase “a sadder and a wiser man”

    • crime, guilt, suffering, atonement

    • spiritual adventure, discovery

    • about fear, loneliness, punishment

    • ballad style

    • gothic elements (death...)

    • nature, the 4 elements

    • questions and answers

    • prose gloss

    • sudden beginning

    • compulsion to share his tale

    • trying to interpret his own story

    • limited experience

    • “glittering eye” – 2x  hypnotic power, mesmerize

    • contrast between the man who stay at home + who goes to an expedition

      • sophisticated world  alien, supernatural

    • personify natural forces  human feelings

    • duel character

    • beauty associated with cold

    • albatross was shot down  ~ the land, the known world


    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (lapról)

    • visual descriptions reflecting states of mind

    • geographical journey + into the strange worlds of the mind

    • Wedding Guest (WG): ordinary figure, limited experience, the man who stays at home

    • a gulf of experience between the Mariner (M) and the WG

    • hypnotic powers of the M: “glittering eye” (line 13), “bright-eyed” (20)

    • natural forces personified (feelings, motives assigned to them): the storm-blast described as “tyrannous”, “chased us” (42, 44)

    • killing = transgression, violation of a great sanctity; a thoughtless act, no premeditation, unexplained

    • crew involved, their participation “ ‘Twas right, said they, such birds to slay” (101)

    • ship’s motionlessness = paralysis of the will

    • claustrophobic, airless

    • monstrous prehuman mud creatures “slimy things” (125)

    • the bird as a Christian emblem

    • to assuage their own guilty feelings (141-2): “Instead of the cross, the Albatross/About my neck was hung”

    • ritualistic moment: scapegoat

    • Part III: transition from the natural to the supernatural

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