English literature II i romantic literature (1780-1832)

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In the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century the industrial revolution was continuing. New technological inventions led to a faster pace of life. The living standard rose for the middle class but workers in big cities lived in almost inhuman conditions. In this time of revolutionary changes, the romantic movement brought a counter reaction. Passion was emphasized over reason, imagination and inspiration over logic.

Pre-Romantic Poetry

The Pre-romantics were a group of poets who represented a bridge between Classicism and Romanticism. The main pre-romantic poets were Robert Burns andWilliam Blake.

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

Was a typical folk singer and composer of folk songs and poems.Through his literary works, he became the greatest song writer in Britain and one of the world´s famous lyric writers. He also became the national poet of Scotland. The strongest themes of his lyrics are protests against society´s injustices. He often wrote about real experiences and real people.

^ The Jolly Beggars/ Veselí žebráci.

William Blake (1757-1827)

Blake had great imagination, was a self-learner in poetry, but was very well educated and talented.

Songs of Innosence /Písničky nevinnosti

Songs of Experience /Písničky zkušenosti

^ Romanticism and the Lake Poets

Nature, the human soul and spirit were being seen anew. Romanticism was an artistic expression of man´s feelings of newfound freedom. It included a rich development of metaphors and symbols. The Romantics looked for beauty in man.

´Lake Poets´ - William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge and Robert Southey – are spoken of as the first generation of romantic poets.

^ Romantic Revolt Poets

The new generation of romantic poets ( Byron, Shelley and Keats /ki:ts/ ) left London for Greece and Italy.

Lord George Gordon Byron (1788-1824)

His poetry is full of intense feelings such as love, satirical anger. Later his feelings extended to English workers, oppressed people. This made him a respected poet and a leader of the young romantic generation.

^ Childe Harold´s Pilgrimage /Childe Haroldova pouť describes his two-year travel.

Byron was a fighter for justice, he left England for Italy, then led an expedition to Greece to fight against Turkish occupants. There he died of malaria.

Don Juan – his original work and masterpiece. Byron´s revolutionary ideas against oppression and despotism became an inspiration to many greatest poets who followed him.


^ Percy Bysshe Shelley a lyric poet who influenced many later writers, for example Thomas Hardy and George Bernard Shaw.

Queen Mab

John Keats (1795-1821)

Differed from Byron and Shelley in having a lower class background, but shared their anti-church and anti-monarchy ideals. His literary career lasted only 5 years. He died of tuberculosis in Italy at the age of 25. He wrote poetry, sonnets and superb letters.

^ Romantic Prose

The greatest romantic novelists were Walter Scott with his historical novels, and Jane Austen with her domestic novels /s románem rodinného života/.

Horace Walpole and Other Gothic Writers

Horace Walpole was the founder of the Gothic novel, which was characterized by sensational and exotic stories from the Middle Ages and supernatural beasts and events. The Gothic novel responded to the contemporary reality of capitalism and colonialism through an escape into fantasy.

^ Sir Walter Scott

His first true historical novel was Waverley about Scottish manners and customs. His most famous work , Ivanhoe takes place in the medieval age of knights under the reign of King Richard the Lion-Hearted. Scott was ispired by Shakespeare in this themes.

^ Jane Austen (1775-1817)

Is usually considered the first great woman novelist. She lived in the country, her novels take place in higher middle class or nobility in the country, where life is orderly and prosperous, and biggest events are visits, games, balls and weddings.

^ Sense and Sensibility shows the conflict between the Enlightenment cult of reason and the new cult of feelings.

Northanger Abbey

Pride and Prejudice pictures both the pride and the prejudice in a man and a woman, and shows the resulting conflict between reason and feelings.


Mansfield Park/Mansfieldské sídlo

Persuasion/ Přemlouvání


The reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) was a time of climax for the British Empire. The living standard of everyone rose as a result of the wealth. The British people acquired a new feeling of national pride, self-confidence. The second half of the 19th century brought reforms in education. New universities were founded. Towards the end of the century, state primary schools were built and free education became compulsory for all children. In response to the changes and the great rise to power that Britain had experienced, self-consciousness and introspection (vědomí vlastního já a sebepozorování) were reflected in literature. Other trends in literature included two kinds of counter-reaction to the rapid industrialization and its accompanying social problems. The aesthetic movement –art for art´s sake (umění pro umění) – Oscar Wilde and critical realistic novelists, on the other hand. During Queen Victoria´s


Reign, two significant works were published. Charles Darwin´s Origin of Species helped to undermine traditional religious beliefs and values. Marx and Engels, who at that time lived in London, published their Communist Manifesto, which later led to workers´revolutions throughout Europe. The desire for a socially just society led many writers to entertain the idea of a socialist system (G.B.Shaw, H.G.Wells and others.) In 1906 the Labour Party became an official party in Parliament and the significant opposition to Liberals was formed.

In response to the negative, dehumanizing forces in the world, the Romantics resorted to idealizations, escapes, nostalgia, or individual protests. The events were also expressed in an objective and true picturing of reality – realism. In addition, people hoped reality could be changed, hence critical realism. The social novel became the main genre. The most significant critical realists include Charles Dickens, William M. Thackeray, Elizabeth Gaskell, The Bronte Sisters and others.

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) found ispiration for his novels in his own experiences. His father got into debt and the whole family was placed in a jail.

^ Sketches by ´BOZ´- his pseudonym

Some of his novels were written as monthly installments in a magazine, for example

The Pickwick Papers /Kronika Pickwickova klubu/

Oliver Twist – the cruel fate of a poor orphan – one of the hundreds of thousands in England.

^ American Notes

A Christmas Carol /Vánoční koleda

David Copperfield – a fictional autobiography, the whole story is told by David in the first person

Bleak House /Ponurý dům

A Tale of Two Cities

/Povídka o dvou městech

^ Great Expectations /Nadějné vyhlídky

Dickens´s strength and greatness is in expressing his bitterness against society´s injusticies through humour, satire, and irony.

William Makepeace Thackeray

Came from a wealthy family and attacked especially the snobbish rich and the aristocracy.

^ The Memoirs of Barry Lyndon /Barry Lyndon

Vanity Fair /Jarmark marnosti is subtitled ´a novel without a hero´. It´s really hard to find one person not corrupted by the pursuit of money, prestige, position, and the good life. He was too much a part of it to rebel against it and therefore he described it with bitter irony and sarcasm.

^ Mrs. Perkins´s Ball and The Rose and the King are sad stories, shorter works.

The Bronte Sisters

Charlotte (1816-1855), Emily (1818-1848), and Anne (1820-1849)

Charlotte´s most successful novel became Jane Eyre which is largely autobiographical. It describes the life of a poor and unattractive girl, Jane, who is brought up by a cruel aunt and sent to a harsh school. She later takes a job in a rich man´s home who falls in love with her. When she finds he has a wife, she leaves. In the end, the mad wife sets fire, is herself killed in the flames, and her husband is blinded. Upon learning this, Jane returns and marries him. The novel supported the equality between men and women and female dignity regardless of class.


Emily became famous with her work ^ Wuthering Heights/ Na větrné hůrce, a romantic masterpiece which is the story of passion, love and revenge.

Anne wrote Agnes Grey/Anežka Greyová and

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall/ Nájemce z Wildfell Hall a shocking account of a marriage with a man who has got severe alcohol problem.

At the turn of the 19th century, literary streams such as aestheticism emphasized artistic beauty over the ugliness of capitalistic industrialization, the violence and hypocrisy of the rulling class. The principles of this so called aesthetic movement were that art should serve only itself, and that its only goal was to arouse feelings of beauty, enjoyment, and hapiness. Oscar Wilde was the most remarkable person among aestheticians. Finally, despite the condition of society, much of Victorian literature contains humorous or comic elements. ( Dickens, Thackeray, Lewis Carroll, Jerome K. Jerome etc.)

^ Lewis Carroll Alice´s Adventures in Wonderland / Alenka v říši divů

Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There / Za zrcadlem

Jerome K. Jerome – Three Men in a Boat

Three Men on a Bummel /Tři muži na toulkách

George Eliot – built on the objectively realistic style of Jane Austen with precise characterizations and ironical or gently satirical undertones.

Thomas Hardy – first successful novel Far from the Madding Crowd, best-known are

his tragic novels –^ Tess of the D´Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure/Neblahý Juda etc.

In the last thirty years of his life, Hardy wrote and published a vast amount of poetry.

Robert Louis Stevenson – travelled a lot, but suffered from poor health.

Treasure Island

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde / Podivný případ dr. Jekylla a pana Hyda which traces the good and evil side of human nature in one person.

^ Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

Wilde´s personal life pictured the motto´art for art´s sake´ . He purposely tried to shock the bourgeoisie and protest against Puritan hypocrisy. He was punished by two years jail with hard labour for his homosexual relationship. It led to his downfall, he died fairly young, broken, without money. Wilde´s writing is varied, and original, full of freshness, wit, and imagination. He wrote poems, short stories and fairy tales.

^ The Happy Prince and Other Tales

The ballad of the Reading Gaol /džeil//Balada o žaláři v Readingu

He wrote only one novel: The Picture of Dorian Gray. The theme is similar to Stevenson´s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – the good and evil of human nature. The novel is full of hidden symbols and meanings. He also wrote a number of plays: A Woman of No Importance /Bezvýznamná žena, The Importance of Being Earnest/ Jak je důležité míti Filipa, and An Ideal Husband/ Ideální manžel. His comedies reaped great success with their ironical and satirical look at the high London society.

Victorian Poetry

Elizabeth Barrett Browning Sonnets from the Portuguese


Robert Browning – The Ring and the Book


The death of Queen Victoria confirmed that a franker and less inhibited era had begun. During the Edwardian period, many of the Victorian ideals of morality, spiritual values, hard

work and a sense of responsibility slowly disappeared. The living standard increased for many, but not for workers and the lower classes. Women demanded voting rights and finally

received them in 1918.

Between 1908 and 1914, the spirit of modernism started taking root. It led to the rejection of traditional forms and introduction of experimentation. London and other European cities became full of new thoughts and ideas of the American writer Ezra Pound and others. Modernism celebrated man´s freedom from the bontage of tradition, superstition, and religion. World War I, however, rudely finished this excitement by making the Anglo-American modernists painfully aware of the great difference between their ideals and the chaos of the time.

At the beginning of the 20th century, several writers continued to write realistic novels and plays of social criticism. These were ^ Arnold Bennet, John Galsworthy and Somerset Maugham/mo:m/.

Other important prose writers of this period are Joseph Conrad who wrote psychological novels, H.G.Wells who became famous for science-fiction works and G.K. Chesterton who wrote detective stories. Significant contributions were also made by Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930), best known for his Sherlock Holmes detective stories.

Arnold Bennet – Grand Babylon Hotel

The Old Wives´Tale/Povídačky etc.

John Galsworthy – The Man of Property/ Vlastník, later became part of the trilogy The Forsyte Saga. The sequels are In Chancery/V pasti and To Let/ K pronajmutí.

Joseph Conrad – came from a Polish family, spent a lot of years travelling to many parts of the world.

The Nigger of the ´ Narcissus´

Lord Jim

Heart of Darkness


E.M. Forster /Edward Morgan Forster/ (1879-1970)

A Passage to India/Cesta do Indie

H.G.Wells /Herbert George Wells/ (1866-1946)

G.K.Chesterton /Gilbert Keith Chesterton/ (1874-1936)

Henry James (1843-1916) was an American, but decided to live permanently in England. Mentioned in American Literature

^ The Portrait of a Lady


Poets of the Early 1900s.

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) – discussed as a novelist, wrote nearly one thousand poems.

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) – born in India, spent much of his adult life there. He wrote poems and short stories.

^ The Jungle Book

The Second Jungle Book

The first English writer to receive The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907.

Early 20th- Century Drama

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born in Dublin, settled in London and became a self-learner by spending much of his time in the British Museum library. Shaw became a tireless critic of capitalism.

Social comedies Widower´s Houses/ Vdovcovy domy

Mrs. Warren´s Profession/ Živnost paní Warrenové


Pygmalion etc.

After Shakespeare, Shaw created the most significant and entertaining English drama. Shaw won The Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

William Butler Yeats/jeits/ ! (1865-1939) influential Irish playwright and poet. He wrote his plays mainly in verse. In 1923, Yeats won The Nobel Prize for Literature.

J.M. Synge/John Millington Synge/sin/ (1871-1909) wrote prose and plays about farmers, shepherds and fishermen. Like other Irish writers of his time, he dealt with heroism .

The Playboy of the Western World

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