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LECTURE I. From aristeia (heroic deeds) to aristobios (Christian good life).

Structure of Beowulf.
1. (Lines 1 - 85). The genealogy (thula) of the Danish dynasty from Scyld Scefind to Hrothgar.
II. (Lines 86 - 1887). Beowulf's fight with Grendel and his mother.
III. (Lines 1888 - 2199). Beowulf's return to Hygelac, king of the Geats.
IV. (Lines 2200 - 3182). Beowulf's reign, fight with the dragon, death and burial.

Historical background.
The GEATS (Geatas or Wederas).
King Hrethel's son, Herebeald, is accidentally killed by his brother, Haethcyn. Haethcyn succeeds to
his heartbroken father as king. He is killed by Ongentheow, king of the Swedes, who is killed, in his
turn, in a battle of retaliation into which the Geats are led by Haetcyn's brother, Hygelac, the king of
the Geats at the time of the action in the first, second, and third part of the poem. Hygelac gets killed in
a war with the Franks, and, as Beowulf, Hrethel's grandson, refuses the crown in favour of Heardred,
Hygelac's son and successor, Heardred becomes king. He is killed by Onela, king of the Swedes,
because he had offered shelter to Eanmund and Eadgils, after their unsuccessful revolt against the
usurper Swedish king. Beowulf succeeds to Heardred.
The SWEDES (Sweon or Scylfingas). Ongentheow is the earliest mentioned king. After his death at
the hands of Wulf and Eofor, two Geats, his son, Ohthere, becomes king. After his death, Onela, his
brother, usurps the rights to succession of Eanmund and Eadgils, Ohthere's sons. He invades the
Geats, because the two princes had taken refuge there, and kills Heardred, their host and protector. In
this campaign, Eanmund is killed by Weohstan, Wiglaf's father, a Waegmunding in the service of the
Swedish king. Beowulf invades Sweden, kills Onela, allowing Eadgils, the rightful heir to the Swedish
throne, to succeed. He also allows Wiglaf, Weohstan's son, to get back the land that had been
confiscated from his father for having killed Eanmund, the right successor.
The DANES (Dene, Scyldingas). As the poem initially strikes the "Redeemer" theme, the thula begins
with Scyld Scefing, a glorious king, who had brought the Danes fame and prosperity after a period of
"dire distress". His son too, Beow, is sent by God "to comfort the Danes". Healfdene and Hrothgar
follow in straight descent. Hrothgar sees Beowulf as a godsend, the expected Redeemer from
Grendel's plunderings. Beowulf's victory over the monster is accompanied by the "fitting tale" of
Heremod, who, unlike Beowulf, had fallen into the power of fiends, and had been defeated battling
with giants, bringing much misery on his people's heads. This is the condition of the Swedes before
the providential arrival of Scyld as a "a waif", brought to the shore on a ship loaded with treasures.

Optional essay topic: "Christian Refurbishing of Pagan Germanic Matter in Beowulf."


Optional research theme:
Beowulf is one more "paradigmatic medieval historical narrative" (see the course-book, pp. 32-34),
casting the plot into the scheme of salvation. The beginning is an example of typological encoding:
the foundation of the Danes' historical hearth under Hrothgar, through the building of the centre of their
social life, Heorot, the mead-hall. The creation and destruction of Heorot are slotted within sacred
history: God making the universe and the fall through Cain. The connection between "heaven and
earth" is realised by Grendel, Cain's descendant.
Knowing of his imminent death, Beowulf asks Wiglaf (his only subject who had stood by him, out of
gratitude, in the same way as Beowulf had helped Hrothgar, because he had settled his father's,
Ecgtheow's, debt by payment) to bring him the "priceless, shimmering stones" the dragon had been
hoarding. He says: "once I/ have set eyes on such a store, it will be/ more easy for me to die, to
abandon/ the life and land that have so long been mine."
Why, do you think, does Beowulf feel comforted at the sight of the gems, although he's going to lose
them together with his life ? Can you find an allegorical correlative of the gems in The Revelation
which might serve as an explanation ?

3. Geoffrey Chaucer

1. In the religious plays and in the romances, the making of the chivalrous knight or of the pious
Chrsitian identity is depersonalized and transcendental or transhistorical. In the late 14th c. William
Langland, John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer historicize the self. It is located within a hierarchical
society, and inflected according to class, rank, education, etc.
Langland is more orthodox in his handling of the estates satire convention, while, in Chaucer, the
characters pull away from their strict hierarchical and stereotyped location, subverting it through self-
fashioning (the self-constructed identity).

2. The "endless knot" of the legitimating company includes, in Dante's Commedia, Homer, Horace,
Ovid, Lucan, Virgil - and Dante. In Le Roman de la Rose, Tibullus, Gallus, Catullus, Ovid, Guillaume
de Lorris - and Jean de Meun. The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer says his
company consists of "a reve, and a miller,/ a somnour, and a pardoner also,/ A maunciple, and myself.
"

Essay topic: How do Virgilian shadows reflect on genre ?

2. Morton W. Bloomfield: The pilgrimage is a key metaphor for life from the religious sphere. We are
all pilgrims on the way to the heavenly city, and every journey, but especially a religious one reflects
the basic pattern of existence. We are all homeless, exiled from paradise, looking for a return to our
true home which is heaven, of which the earthly paradise was the foreshadowing.

Ruth Mohl: Characteristics of an estates satire:

1. an enumeration of the estates or social and occupational classes.


2. a lament over the shortcomings of the estates; each fails in its duty to the rest.
3. the divine oridnation of the estates and the necessity of being satisfied with one's station.
4. suggestion of remedies for restoring the estates to the right ways.

Essay topic: Decide whether The General Prologue fits into the "pilgrimage" religious form or in that
of the estates satire.

Bibliography:
Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays. Edited by A.C. Cawley, J.M. Dent.(Orion Publishing Group,
1974)
Peter Davison, Popular Appeal in English Drama to 1850. (Macmillan, 1982).
The Cambridge Chaucer Companion. Edited by Piero Boitani and Jill Mann. (Cambridge University
Press.)
Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canbterbury Tales. Edited by Lee Patterson (Oxford, 2007).

4. Geofrey Chaucer (II)


- The medieval frame of mind expressed in the pilgrimage motif maps out a movement of the soul from
physical rebirth - of vegetation, in spring - towards spiritual redemption, from secular to religious, and,
in point of genre, from reverdie to negative reverdie. For instance, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
opens in the reverdie genre and closes with the Parson's sermon on the seven deadly sins, preaching
the denial of the body, the sublimation of its natural heat, desires and fertility: et invenetis refrigerium
animabus vestris. The reformed Christian's tree consists of the "stations" on the way to Salvation:
contrition, confession, Love of God. The tensions between bodily desires and rational control are
emplotted within three models: 1) The Parson proposes the thorough repression of the body, his
source being Scriptural commandments and imagery.
2. The Knight tells a tale which reveals his awareness of historical change: it is based on a
contemporary (Boccaccio's) refurbishing of an ancient source (Statius). Chaucer combines the
romance and the mirror of princes in his usual manner of mixing up generic conventions. As the
ideal ruler, Theseus teaches the two Theban princes, competing for Emily's love, to restrain their
libidinal, unruly and violent impulses. His rule yields an overlay of civilisation over rude nature: building
an amphitheatre in the woods, elaborating codes for military confrontation (tournaments and trial by
divine justice, instead of beastly wrestling) and for love (social bond in marriage, taming the Amazons,
marriage decided by the proof of valour, and cast into a spiritual pattern: following the example of the
First Mover, which bonded the elements of the universe into a coherent whole). 3. The Miller's
"churlish" variant of love as unlawful competition, adultery, set in the low life of a fabliau. His tale
echoes a folk song (reverdie) of the early 14th century.
Essays topic: Natural desire overruling social taboos in The Miller's Tale and Alison:
Between March and April/ when twigs begin to leaf out/ The little bird has its will/ On its birdsong to
sing/ I live in love-longing/ For the seemliest of all things/ She may my bliss bring:/ I am in her power
(...) I am entirely worn out for wooing,/ weary as water in a troubled pool./ Lest anyone deprive me of
my mate/ Whom I have desired a long time/ It is better to suffer sorely for a while.

- A blazon or coat of arms was painted on the shield and sewn on his coat of arms, banner or on the
trappings of his horse as signs of recognition, as both were covered in armour. The blazon was the
medieval man's "identity card". The literary kind bearing its name is the rhetorical device of
"descriptio": describing a lady's physical features which symbolise her moral virtues. The name of the
inn, "Tabard Inn", defines it as a meeting place of individuals representative for their social classes.
However, Chaucer's set of "blazons" in the Prologue, shot through with irony and innuendo, is
completed, as a means of characterisation, by the pilgrims' self-fashioning (their own views of
themselves) and with their tales which are keyed to the teller.
Essay topic: Characterise one of the pilgrims by correlating the above (Chaucer's blazon, the
pilgrim's prologue and tale). Point out converging or diverging elements.

- "The complete text of "The Pardoner's Tale" in fact presents us with three plots. As a framework,
there is the situation in the tavern, with the Host and the pilgrims, as part of the sequence of the Tales.
Secondly, there is the plot or story of the Pardoner himself - the situation in which we find him, his
revelations about himself. his tale-telling and the amusing close when he meets his match in the Host.
Finally, there is the story which he tells itself, with its taught plot structure - succinct, suspenseful, and
moving subtly to its conclusion. " (Barry Spurr, Studying Poetry, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006: 77).
Part of the Tale's complexity lies in its double meaning structure, conflicting with each other.
The old man who takes the three revellers to the tree hiding the treasure and knocking on the earth to
be interred, wishing to die, embodies the ethos of the medieval morality plays, with morose Death as
constant reminder of the uselessness of riches and of a good life and as drive to self-annihilation of
the body. The three revellers, uniting in a chivalric bond in order to fight Death embody the rival ethos
of the lay brotherhood of the aristocracy. Both are revealed as outdated fictions, bearing no
relationship to the realities of fourteenth-century England: Death was not an abstraction but the
Plague, human desires to enjoy life and competitive instincts could not be suppressed by the idealising
fictions of the superhuman chivalrous knight.
Essay topic: analyse the plot of some other tale using Barry Spurr as a model.

Lecture 2. The Literature of the Middle Ages. England under the Norman and
Plantagenet kings (1066-1485).

927. Athelstan: rex totius Britanniae. "I, Athelstan, king of the English.". 959. Edgar, rex Angliae.
1305. Edward I : Edward rex totius Britanniae. (changing names of the "victors": from British to
English, and from English to an alliance of Britons and Normans against the English).

I.a. Mediaeval Romance (1150-1600). Narratives of chivalric love and adventures advertising the
values and constructing the identities of the elite courtly culture.
Etymology: mettre en romanz: to translate (the matter of Antiquity) into vernacular French.
Jean Renart (Guillaume de Dole): "une novele chose" (interpolating lyric stanzas into the narrative).
Sources: The matter of Rome (Roman de Thebes, Roman d'Eneas, Roman de Troie).
The matter of Britain (1. romances grafted on the Arthurian central stock, originating in
Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae. 2. Oral Celtic culture (such as the story of King
Mark and Queen Iseut).
- Romances as part of translatio studii and translatio imperii (from Greece and Rome to France and
England).
- History is no longer viewed within the scheme of salvation, but as secular dynastic history:
Monmouth connected the Romanized Briton king Arthur to the Roman imperial line (grandson of
Eneas), mythically connected, in its turn, to Troy) and recounted an alliance between King Arthur and
early Normans.
- The ethos of chivalry was summed up iconically by the "pentangle" (Solomon's token of "truth", the
justice of his title: a figure in which each line touches all the other four, either by crossing or by joining
at the ends). Its moral signification is intrinsic right to title or chivalrous entitlement, through the
capabilities or exercise of chivalrous virtues, as they are described in Sir Gawayne and ther Greene
Knight:
The five fives: five wits, five fingers, five wounds that Christ got on the Cross, the five joys of Mary, the
"heaven-queen") in her son (her image is painted on his inside shield) and the five virtues of fankness
(truthfulness), fellowship, cleanness, courtesy, and pity.

I. b. Religious drama.
1. Miracle plays (since 1744, mystery plays). Originating in Latin liturgical plays (chanted Latin
dialogues added to the service of the Mass at Easter and Christmas), and dramatizing sacred history
from the Creation to the Last Judgement. Performed as a procession of pageants: dramatizations of
Biblical persons and episodes in houses built on four wheels or in carts. The balcony represented
Heaven, while gaping jaws counterfeited the entrance to hell.
2. Moralities: Personified vices and virtues, conflicting within the soul of Man.
Five Wits (Everyman- late 15thc.)
There is no emperor, king, duke, ne baron,
That of God hath commission
As hath the least priest in the world being (...)
For preisthood exceeds all other thing:
To us Holy Scripture they do teach.
And convert men from sin heaven to reach;
God hath to them more power given
Than to any angel that is in heaven.
With five words he may consecrate,
God's body in flesh and blood to make
And handles his Maker between his hands
The priest binds and unbinds all bands.

Essay topic: "The Anatomy of a Literary Character: The Medieval Romance Quester.

3. Geoffrey Chaucer
1. In the religious plays and in the romances, the making of the chivalrous knight or of the pious
Chrsitian identity is depersonalized and transcendental or transhistorical. In the late 14th c. William
Langland, John Gower and Geoffrey Chaucer historicize the self. It is located within a hierarchical
society, and inflected according to class, rank, education, etc.
Langland is more orthodox in his handling of the estates satire convention, while, in Chaucer, the
characters pull away from their strict hierarchical and stereotyped location, subverting it through self-
fashioning (the self-constructed identity).

2. The "endless knot" of the legitimating company includes, in Dante's Commedia, Homer, Horace,
Ovid, Lucan, Virgil - and Dante. In Le Roman de la Rose, Tibullus, Gallus, Catullus, Ovid, Guillaume
de Lorris - and Jean de Meun. The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer says his
company consists of "a reve, and a miller,/ a somnour, and a pardoner also,/ A maunciple, and myself.
"

Essay topic: How do Virgilian shadows reflect on genre ?

2. Morton W. Bloomfield: The pilgrimage is a key metaphor for life from the religious sphere. We are
all pilgrims on the way to the heavenly city, and every journey, but especially a religious one reflects
the basic pattern of existence. We are all homeless, exiled from paradise, looking for a return to our
true home which is heaven, of which the earthly paradise was the foreshadowing.

Ruth Mohl: Characteristics of an estates satire:

1. an enumeration of the estates or social and occupational classes.


2. a lament over the shortcomings of the estates; each fails in its duty to the rest.
3. the divine oridnation of the estates and the necessity of being satisfied with one's station.
4. suggestion of remedies for restoring the estates to the right ways.

Essay topic: Decide whether The General Prologue fits into the "pilgrimage" religious form or in that
of the estates satire.

Bibliography:
Everyman and Medieval Miracle Plays. Edited by A.C. Cawley, J.M. Dent.(Orion Publishing Group,
1974)
Peter Davison, Popular Appeal in English Drama to 1850. (Macmillan, 1982).
The Cambridge Chaucer Companion. Edited by Piero Boitani and Jill Mann. (Cambridge University
Press.)
Geoffrey Chaucer. The Canbterbury Tales. Edited by Lee Patterson (Oxford, 2007).

4. Geofrey Chaucer (II)


- The medieval frame of mind expressed in the pilgrimage motif maps out a movement of the soul from
physical rebirth - of vegetation, in spring - towards spiritual redemption, from secular to religious, and,
in point of genre, from reverdie to negative reverdie. For instance, Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
opens in the reverdie genre and closes with the Parson's sermon on the seven deadly sins, preaching
the denial of the body, the sublimation of its natural heat, desires and fertility: et invenetis refrigerium
animabus vestris. The reformed Christian's tree consists of the "stations" on the way to Salvation:
contrition, confession, Love of God. The tensions between bodily desires and rational control are
emplotted within three models: 1) The Parson proposes the thorough repression of the body, his
source being Scriptural commandments and imagery.
2. The Knight tells a tale which reveals his awareness of historical change: it is based on a
contemporary (Boccaccio's) refurbishing of an ancient source (Statius). Chaucer combines the
romance and the mirror of princes in his usual manner of mixing up generic conventions. As the
ideal ruler, Theseus teaches the two Theban princes, competing for Emily's love, to restrain their
libidinal, unruly and violent impulses. His rule yields an overlay of civilisation over rude nature: building
an amphitheatre in the woods, elaborating codes for military confrontation (tournaments and trial by
divine justice, instead of beastly wrestling) and for love (social bond in marriage, taming the Amazons,
marriage decided by the proof of valour, and cast into a spiritual pattern: following the example of the
First Mover, which bonded the elements of the universe into a coherent whole). 3. The Miller's
"churlish" variant of love as unlawful competition, adultery, set in the low life of a fabliau. His tale
echoes a folk song (reverdie) of the early 14th century.
Essays topic: Natural desire overruling social taboos in The Miller's Tale and Alison:
Between March and April/ when twigs begin to leaf out/ The little bird has its will/ On its birdsong to
sing/ I live in love-longing/ For the seemliest of all things/ She may my bliss bring:/ I am in her power
(...) I am entirely worn out for wooing,/ weary as water in a troubled pool./ Lest anyone deprive me of
my mate/ Whom I have desired a long time/ It is better to suffer sorely for a while.
- A blazon or coat of arms was painted on the shield and sewn on his coat of arms, banner or on the
trappings of his horse as signs of recognition, as both were covered in armour. The blazon was the
medieval man's "identity card". The literary kind bearing its name is the rhetorical device of
"descriptio": describing a lady's physical features which symbolise her moral virtues. The name of the
inn, "Tabard Inn", defines it as a meeting place of individuals representative for their social classes.
However, Chaucer's set of "blazons" in the Prologue, shot through with irony and innuendo, is
completed, as a means of characterisation, by the pilgrims' self-fashioning (their own views of
themselves) and with their tales which are keyed to the teller.
Essay topic: Characterise one of the pilgrims by correlating the above (Chaucer's blazon, the
pilgrim's prologue and tale). Point out converging or diverging elements.

- "The complete text of "The Pardoner's Tale" in fact presents us with three plots. As a framework,
there is the situation in the tavern, with the Host and the pilgrims, as part of the sequence of the Tales.
Secondly, there is the plot or story of the Pardoner himself - the situation in which we find him, his
revelations about himself. his tale-telling and the amusing close when he meets his match in the Host.
Finally, there is the story which he tells itself, with its taught plot structure - succinct, suspenseful, and
moving subtly to its conclusion. " (Barry Spurr, Studying Poetry, Palgrave Macmillan, 2006: 77).
Part of the Tale's complexity lies in its double meaning structure, conflicting with each other.
The old man who takes the three revellers to the tree hiding the treasure and knocking on the earth to
be interred, wishing to die, embodies the ethos of the medieval morality plays, with morose Death as
constant reminder of the uselessness of riches and of a good life and as drive to self-annihilation of
the body. The three revellers, uniting in a chivalric bond in order to fight Death embody the rival ethos
of the lay brotherhood of the aristocracy. Both are revealed as outdated fictions, bearing no
relationship to the realities of fourteenth-century England: Death was not an abstraction but the
Plague, human desires to enjoy life and competitive instincts could not be suppressed by the idealising
fictions of the superhuman chivalrous knight.
Essay topic: analyse the plot of some other tale using Barry Spurr as a model.
Literature and Culture (5-6).
The Renaissance and the Reformation of the Church
I. The Early Tudor and the Elizabethan Age
1485-1509. Henry VII
1509-1547. Henry VIII
1547-1533. Edward VI
1553-1558 Mary I
1558-1603 Elizabeth I

- The Reformation of the Church and Humanism worked at cross purposes, radical forms of
Protestantism, such as Calvinism, rendering man completely dependent on divine Grace and drawing
a gloomy picture of man as stained by the original sin, while humanists, such as Juan Luis Vives (The
Fable of Man) disseminated an image of man as the paragon of the chain of being, endowed with
reason and memory, capable to build a civilization, and asserting new values, such as love of life, thrst
of knowledge and of fame, free will, personal merit. Both, however, caused a crisis of authority: the
autonomous individual relied only on reason and experience or on his own secular means of salvation
through steady work and a moral life.

- Man displaced God at the centre of the universe, the theocentric age yielded to the logocentric
(the centrality of reason and discourse). Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian figure established huge
analogies between various parts of the human body and between the body of man and the universe:
the length of a man's outspread arms is equal to his height, the maximum width of the shoulders is a
quarter of a man's height, etc. Mathematical proportions informed the construction of literary works,
such as Petrarch’s sonnet sequence or Milton’s Paradise Lost, art seeking an alliance with science
instead of religion.

- The dogmatic spirit of the Middle Ages was countered by a relativistic, sceptic and ironic
spirit. The Copernican revolution and the clashing Biblical commentaries issued from various sides of
the historical scene embittered by religious wars had bred a distrust both of the senses that could get
false impressions and of the mind’s capacity to reach truths of universal and eternal validity.
Everything was submitted to rational examination and put up for debate. The mixture of generic
conventions (tragical, comical, pastoral, political, mythical) and the double plotting helped multiply the
perspectives on the dramatic situation.
- Polydore Vergil (Anglica Historia) and Edward Hall (The Union of the Two Noble Families of
Lancaster and York) removed history from the theocratic, Biblical frame, using reigns as the basic
units of narrative. Legendary figures, such as Brut, were discarded, and issues of political philosophy –
legitimacy, the right to rule – were taken up.

- The secularization of the concept of knowledge implied: the critical examination of beliefs (Bacon’s
theory of idols), the reliance on experience and experimentation and the new finality of the acquisition
of knowledge: to benefit mankind, to increase the comforts of everyday life, to ensure domnation over
nature through hard work rather than the medieval search for elixirs or the practice of necromancy
(Francis Bacon’s 1593 “Praise of Knowledge” and Chirtsopher Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus at about the
same time)

- Debate on the nature of nobility after the War of the Roses: Henry Medwall's play Fulgens and
Lucrec [Lucres], performed at Cardinal Morton's Lambeth Palace at Christmas, 1497. The linear and
episodic plot of medieval drama is redeployed on two levels, the subplot functioning as a
metadramatic comment (the laying in the abyss of the main plot): Publius Cornelius, noble by birth,
and Gaius Flaminius, ennobled through his own achievements, compete for the love of Senator
Fulgens's daughter, Lucrece. The conflict takes the form of a debate by the Senate. In low life: the
rivalry of Servant A and servant B over Joan, "the flower of the frying pen". The matter is to be settled
by a tournament in the manner of ... high chivalry.
- Erasmus and Thomas Morus attempt a reformation of society through the "mirror of princes"
(Eramsus wrote a Panegyricus to Archduke Philip the Fair, with the hidden agenda of setting before
him the example of the ideal soveregin, while More wrote a utopian romance, in the "conte
philosophique" genre, founded by Plato with his Republic). Erasmus and Morus modulate the Dialogue
into intellectual drama. Utopia consists of The Dialogue of Counsel, pleading for the philosopher
entering the princes' council, and Book II, the Discourse of Raphel Hythloday on the "ideal state of a
Commnwealth" on the imaginary island of Prince Utopus.
- Phases in the history of the English sonnet (16th century).
Renaissance poetics developed an allegorical theory of poetry drawing on Florentine neo-Platonism
and other esotericisms.
John Harington, Apologie for Poetrie (1591): [Allegorising] is necessary in order to conceal the deep
mysteries of learning, as, in profane wits, science is corrupted like good wine in a bad vase.
George Puttenham, Arte of English Poesie (1589). It was poets who first brought culture to the
primitive world, as priests and ministers of the holy mysteries ... historiographers, astronomers,
philosophists and metaphysicians.
Philip Sidney, The Defence of Poetry: (The poet) cites not authorities of other histories, but even for
his entry calls the sweet muses to inspire unto him a good invention ....the poet's persons and doings
are but pictures what should be, and not stories what have been ... allegorically and figuratively
written.

The Petrarchan sonnet: Octave (eight lines rhyming abab) and a Sestet (six lines rhyming cdecde).
The "divine proportion" of the sonnet form is fraught with religious symbolism: the Cross and the
Trinity.

I. Thomas Wyatt
Imitation and transformation of the Petrarchan form: three quatrains rhyming abba + a couplet which
sums up the main idea or reaches a conclusion, like that of a syllogistic argument. In the following
sonnet, in neo-Platonic manner, sensuous love (Aphrodita Pandemos), consummated in the sphere of
mutability and corruption, yields to intellectual love (Plotinus's Aphrodita Urania, of intellectual
archetypes):
Farewell Love, and all thy laws for ever.
Thy baited hooks shall tangle me no more.
Senec, and Plato call me from thy lore.
To perfect wealth my with for to endeavour.
In blind error when I did persevere.
Thy sharp repulse, that pricketh aye so sore:
Taught me in trifles that I set no store,
But scape forth thence: since liberty is lever.
Therefore, farewell: go trouble younger hearts,
And in me claim no more authority.
With idle youth go use thy property:
And thereon spend thy many brittle darts.
For, hitherto though I have lost my time:
Me lust no longer rotten bows to clime.

II. Philip Sidney: Sonnet 74 of his sonnet sequence, Astrophil and Stella
Recusatio: rejection of a tradition (Petrarchan ornamental poetry (the conventional blazon of
streotypical comparisons) and proposal of a new form.
I never drank of Aganippe well,
Nor ever did in shade of Tempe sit;
And Muses scorn with vulgar brains to dwell;
Poor layman I, for sacred rites unfit.
Some do I hear of Poets' fury tell,
But God wot, wot not what they mean by it;
And this I swear by blackest brook of hell,
I am no pick-purse of another's wit.
How falls it then that with no smooth an ease
My thoughts I speak, and what I speak doth flow
In verse, and that my verse best wits doth please ?
Guess we the cause: 'What, is it thus ? Fie no.
'Or so ?' Much less. 'How then ?' Sure thus it is:
My lips are sweet, inspired with Stella's kiss.

The rhyme scheme is abab + the final epigrammatic couplet. The speaker swerves away from the
common sacred places of ancient Greek poetry (Aganippe and Tempe), and the Platonic view of poets
seized with irrational poetic fury and divine inspiration. Imitators degrade logos as speech and thought
("God wot": God knows) to dead matter, clichés, conventions (the "what" : puns, like wot/what, were a
favourite Renaissance trope, defined by Puttenham as speech whose meaning courses in both
directions). The sonnet is an example of anti-language: the reversal of a pre-existing type of
discourse or mode of encoding. The speaker replaces the Aganippe well with the black brook of hell
(as a rebel against tradition, he is a Satan figure - the Arch-Rebel against divine authority, and the
natural flow of water with the flow of his verse (Nature's world is brazen, art's is golden, he says in
Arcadia), the bookish sources with his own experience, Platonic love with requited, bodily love. The
use of epanodos (repetition of words in reverse order) is an appropriate trope to convey all these
transformations of the model.

III. William Shakespeare: Sonnet CXVI.


The sonnet as architext (literary work drawing on other, non-literary discourses).

Let me not to the marriage of true minds


Admit impediments; love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no, it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wand'ring bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

"Admit impediments" echoes the marriage service in the Anglican Prayer Book. The speaker
ascribes his intellectual love for the fair youth a religious meaning and status but, at the same time, he
redirects the discourse of the Church. For, unlike the Church, which aligns the love of the body and
spiritual love, Shakespeare's sonnet sequence constructs the two in perfect antagonism: intellectual
love for the fair youth versus sexual love for the Dark Lady. The two are figures for the libidinal and
noetic drives within the poet's self, pulled into different directions, also allegorised as a war between
the baser elements, earth and water, and the upward drive of air and fire. The negative and
concessive forms suggest the denial of some previous statement to the contrary; here, the refutation
of conventional blasons ("rosy lips and cheeks") and set motifs, such as unrequited love ("alteration",
"remover"). Unlike Sidney, whose recusatio is explicit, Shakespeare expects his reader to be
conversant with literary themes and conventions and to recognise his implicit critique thereof. He
draws on the new astronomy of the Copernican universe which had displaced Ptolemy's
Cosmographia. The Northern Star was now the reliable astronomical referent: The central viewing
position of the eye lined up with the first meridian is lost to the correct use of instruments
(measurements with quadrant and sextant. Shakespeare's cartographic imagination assimilates love
to the sphere of mathematics, geometry, astronomy - disciplines of the "true" minds, both strong and
faithful, constant. A double meaning-structure is active in the poem: what is said and what is implied.
On the literal level, love is said to endure as an archetype, while the generations of lovers go in time to
their doom. It is only through (marks of ) art that love is rendered immortal.

Essay topic: Read the following two sonnets and decide whether Spenser's sonnet is an example of
Petrarchan discourse or of anti-discourse (anti-language). Pay attention to: form ("divina proportio"),
rhyming scheme, thought content, imagery.
Francesco Petrarca
Sonnet CCCXIX

S-au mistuit ca umbra destrămată


zilele mele: n-am gustat din bine
decât o clipă şi-i păstrez în mine
gustul amar şi dulce de-altădată.
O, lume efemeră şi-ngâmfată !
E orb acela ce se-ncrede-n tine;
În time m-am pierdut şi-acum mă ţine
făptura ei sub lespezi îngropată.
Dar sufletul [Laura's], ce încă mai trăieşte
şi va trăi mereu, deşi e moartă,
mă leagă tot mai strâns de el. Povară
mi-e doar un gând şi el mă-ncărunţeşte:
să ştiu aş vrea ce colţ de rai o poartă
şi cum arată vălul ce-o-nfăşoară. (Romanian version by Eta Boeriu).

Edmund Spenser
(from Amoretti, a sonnet sequence)

After long storms and tempests sad assay,


Which hardly I endured heretofore:
in dread of death and dangerous dismay,
with which my silly bark was tossed sore:
I do at length descry the happy shore,
in which I hope ere long for to arive;
fair soil it seems from far and fraught with store
of all that dear and dainty is alive.
Most happy he that can at last achieve
the joyous safety of so sweet a rest:
whose least delight suffices to deprive
remembrance of all pains which him oppressed.
All pains are nothing short that gain eternal bliss.

- Shakespeare and the comic tradition. Light, romantic, dark comedies and romances.
Supplementary bibliography: The Cambridge Companion to Shakepearean Comedy. Edited by
Alexandere Legatt (Cambrdige University Press: 2002).
- Characteristics:
. revival of classical rhetorical and dramatic models. 4th c. Donatus transfers elements of tragic plots
to comedy: comedy as progress from "knot of error" to happy resolution through anagnorisis
(recognition of true nature of events and human character). Unlike the coarse humour and characters
of fabliaux, Shakespeare's comedies show a whole human community ethically reconstructed in the
end. Political strife (echoing the recent confrontation with Spain) and the inhuman treatment of
servants (alluding to the branding of slaves) are indirectly critiqued in The Comedy of Errors, whose
happy end brings reconcilitation and recognition of a universal human nature ("like brother and
brother"). Plautus intersperses the plot with recitative and music. The Taming ... is a play within a play,
The Tempest includes, besides Ariel's songs, a dumb show and a masque, Measure for Measure, a
song, A Midsummer... a lot of songs and ends with a jig. Horace recommends a blend of
entertainment and didacticism, a reforming agenda underpinning all these plays.
The Taming of the Shrew: Katharina recognizes her position as one of the disposessed women of her
society, economically dependent on her husband, with no means of her own in a world committed to
commercial values, in which courtship and proposal assume the form of bidding at an auction. Her will
broken, she is reduced to a selfless object in a series, like the manufactured goods of early capitalist
Italian cities: "comfortable as other household Kates".
A Midsummer Night's Dream: Titania recognises her fall from dignity, lying among mortals, while
Bottom recognises his inability to apprehend anything that transcends the senses (what he sees,
tastes, touches ...) It is not the "hard-handed" weaver but the poet who can Platonically shuttle
between heaven and earth, weave abstractions and the empirical world into images (fear images as a
bear in a bush, as Teseus says, give a habitation and a name to airy nothings, give a shape to
impalpabale forms bodied forth by the imagination).
Measure for Measure: Angelo recognises his failure in the test: as the Duke had anticipated, his moral
uprightness had been that of a "seemer" and power had corrupted his "purpose".
The Tempest: Caliban recognises his mistaken choice (of "masters") and values (goods dropping from
heaven instead of work on nature), while Prospero recognises his darker side, his irrational fury, the
passions which Prince Reason, in Senecan fashion, must repress in man.
- miscellaneity as a principle of construction. Renaissance aspiration towards universalism:
compendium of forms or genus universum, dealing with life in a holistic way. The mixture of genres
allows of multiple perspectives on the plot. Combination of comic, tragic, moral, mythological, political,
topical and romantic elements.
The Taming of the Shrew pits the Lord's amour courtois against Petrucchio's taming game and fortune
hunt. A Midsummer Night's Dream alludes to the Queen's addiction to entertainments including shows
of the wild man civilized by the Imperial Vestal, the myth of her Chastity, the decay of art from learning
to begging and cheap entertainments performed by non-professionals, the appalling conditions of
performing (improper scenery, female parts and even thingly roles played by boys and men, political
terror inhibiting the actors), Theseus weighing art in the scales of political power (appreciating the
homage paid to him by commoners paralysed with fear before his majesty more than the self-
possessed exercises in rhetorical encomium among his courtiers). Measure for Measure opposes King
James's political philosophy to Machiavelli's unscrupled machinations. The Tempest undertakes an
Agrippian critique of Machiavelli's and Montaigne's views of natives in the New World.
- the framing device which imposes order on different strands of the plot or some privileged
perspective. For instance, the superiority of English values (courtliness, appreciation of art in the form
of art collection and patronage of dramatic representation, moral reconstruction through nurture,
culture, instead of taming, etc.) over Italian commercialism in The Taming of the Shrew.

Literature and Culture. 7-8


Shakespeare's Plays.

I. Comedies. Supplementary Bibliography: The Cambridge Companion to Shakespeare's Comedies.


Edited by Alexander Legatt (Cambridge: 2002).

- Light Comedies (The Taming of the Shrew)


- Romantic Comedies (A Midsummer Night's Dream)
- Dark Comedies (Measure for Measure)
- Romances (The Tempest).

Features:
. Mixture of literary kinds, tending towards the Renaissance all-inclusiveness of the genus universum,
dealing with life completely. Miscellaneity as a principle of construction, bringing together comic, tragic,
moral, biblical, political, topical or romantic elements.
For instance: topical allusions to the two cycles of court festivities: the sacred season climaxing in the
Twelve Nights around Christmas, and the summer cycle, of vegetation, when the Queen would tour
the country and be celebrated at major aristocratic courts as the virgin "Vestal throned by the West"
(Oberon in A Midsummer ...); The "changeling" Indian boy (i.e. an ugly boy substituted for a fair one by
the fairies) in A Midsummer... may be an allusion to the African princes brought to London to be
educated so as to serve as interpreters and instead sold by Lord J. Hawkins in the Indies for ginger,
sugar and pearls (See Anthony Miller, "Matters of State"). The mechanics making a very poor show of
Ovid's "Pyramus and Thisbe" reflect on the staging conditions imposed by the Puritanical opposition to
all entertainments and festivities: female parts played by boys, during day time, with almost no scenery
at all, destroying the dramatic illusion through the laying bare of devices.
- a framing device imposes a unifying perspective on multiple plots. It may also serve as a meta-
dramatic element: the scene in England, with the Lord's courtly manners and moral reformation of a
drunkard through the "utile dulci" of art serves as an implied critique of the commercial values and
savage wife-taming plot in Italy, which is a "play within a play".
- Rhetorical model: Aelius Donatus, a 4th c. grammarian, who describes the comic plot ("On Comedy")
in terms similar to Aristotle's definition of tragedy in his Poetics: from the "knot of error" to happy
resolution through recognition of past events. Katarina recognizes her status - that of a woman in a
man's world, with no means of her own, entirely dependent on him for her existence, and hence her
submission and relinquishing of a will of her own.
- Measure for Measure plays the political philosophy of King James, recently crowned, who, in his
Basilicon Doron (The Princely Gift) stresses the king's personal responsibility towards his subjects and
the necessity for the king himself to provide an example and to prove his right to rule others by
suppressing his own "affections and unreasonable appetites", harmonising the inner and the public
self, against Machiavelli's model set up in his Prince, of the Duke of Romagna enforcing the law with a
help of a ruthless minister and afterwards sacrificing him. Shakespeare's Duke of Vienna sees to it
that the tragical twist the plot might have taken because of his substitute, immoral Angelo, whom he is
putting to the test and proves to be a "seemer", finds a happy resolution.
- The romances evolved out of the medieval saints' lives, with the Renaissance Magnificent Man
replacing the patron saint. Shakespeare created an aestheticised version, in which an artist figure
performs an Eucharist of sorts, a moral transformation of the flawed selves, a recognition of true
values. The Tempest uses various sources (reports of voyages to the New World, Caliban being the
anagram of "Carib", the first tribe discovered by the Europeans), Montaigne's essay "Of Cannibals",
Agrippa's occult philosophy of the hierarchy in the universe, ranging from nature, the elements,
through the celestial to the noetic, popular sources, such as commedia dell'arte in order to explore the
plot of the imposition of the superior order of culture over that of nature, unfolding from Castiglione's
16 c. Courtier to Edward Phillips' Preface to Theatrum Poetarum (1675). Prospero releases the spirit
imprisoned in nature (Ariel, "pining" in a pine) and reforms the "monster with four legs and two
mouths", made of Caliban and a drunkard European and restores (edifies spiritually) all the "men of
sin", reaching to the top of society, in the play. The distinctions are moral, overriding the race, class
and gender divisions. Ariel's dumb show functions as an anti-masque, while Prospero stages a
wedding masque for Miranda and his spiritual son, Ferdinand.

2. Historical Plays.
- Developed from the medieval political moralities, whose subject was tyranny and insurrection.
Renaissance political concepts (the king's responsibilities to his subjects, the necessity to solve
conflicts through debates in Parliament instead of overt military conflict) clash with the medieval
worldview (Providential, theocratic king). Shakespeare contributed to the shaping of the Tudor myth,
created by Polydore Virgil, an Italian humanist, and Edward Hall (a historian of the War of the Roses).
- The episodic plot of the religious play splits into parallel units. The existence of a foil (Falstaff for
Prince Henry, for instance) creates depth of effect.
- Characters are complex, evolving, sometimes fusing several role models (Falstaff as Tempting Devil,
Lord Misrule of medieval carnival, Vice in moralities, the braggart soldier, the malcontent)

3. Tragedies.

- Philip Sidney imposes a political design on tragedies: to make kings fear to be tyrants and tyrants to
manifest their tyrannical humours. Shakespeare's tragedies are often a cross of histories and
tragedies proper (tragedies inspired from old chronicles, Roman history, the near history of the wars
with the Turks).
- As Manutius Aldus had printed Aristotle's Poetics in 1508, which Robortello and Castelvetro had
commented in mid-century, an awareness of formal alongside rhetorical models reaches English
poeticians. Sidney stresses the importance of discovery (anagnorisis) in a tragedy, the change from
ignorance to knowledge. Edmund comes to recognize the superiority of nobility over ruthless nature,
the king finally acquires true knowledge of his subjects and the country he had ruled, which had only
been a map for him till then (King Lear), Antony and Cleopatra recognize there are values higher than
the individual and their mutual infatuation, Othello regains his faith in the worth of Roman virtus and
cultural "Eikones", etc.
- The character construction is a matter of negotiation between self-regard and public ratification. They
appear to be different persons to different people and often undergo a crisis of identity ("Can anybody
tell me who I am", Lear asks at the climactic point of his tragic destiny).
- The character is stretched to include opposite features (the sceptical and the pious Hamlet), the main
conflict being usually an inner one, between selves pulled in different directions.
- Shakespeare’s tragedies put cultural narratives to the test: Old Hamlet's invocation of the Catholic
sacraments and Wittenberg-educated Hamlet's mention of his Baconian "youthful", empirical
experience, Old Hamlet's single combat between the leaders of the army and the manipulations of
Machiavellian diplomacy at the court under his usurper and murderer, Stoic retreat from the world and
dedication to learning, as in Hamlet, instilled by the writings of Erasmus, which were taught in
grammar schools , Montaigne's fideism (the unreliability of perception, the absence of universal criteria
of judgement, suspended judgement on questions of truth and knowledge) and Hamlet's spiritual
malaise (nothing is but merely seems) Protestant theses on the inborn sinfulness of man as a result of
the Fall and Calvinist belief in Providence and election (Hamlet and Fortinbras being each other's
elected hero), contemporary sermons on man's double nature (angel and beast, the body and the soul
being divided by the Fall), echoed by Hamlet's soliloquy on man as paragon of creation and
"quintessence of dust", farmers' almanacs, ballads and other popular prints. His plays are a compelling
picture of the Renaissance man, who had emerged from medieval dogmatism and was putting
everything to the test of rational examination, with his own self in trial.
- generic hybridity. Hamlet includes a dumb show, an aubade, an elegy, an epitaph, a syllogistic
argument (Hamlet's To be or not to be ...), a ballad, songs ...
Essay topic: 1. Elizabethan miscellaneity: A Study in Dramatic Structure.
2. Shakespeare's characters at the intersection of public and private.

Literature and Culture. Course 9 and 10.


The Restoration and Neoclassicism in England

1660: Return of Charles II to England after Cromwell's Protectorate and his son's inconclusive one-
year rule. Re-etsablishment of Anglicanism in the place of the Puritans' Presbyterianism.
1660-1685: Charles Stuart II
1685-1688: James Stuart II
1688: The Glorious Revolution: the onset of the constitutional or parliamentarian monarchy (king-in-
Parliament).
1689-1702 William III of Orange and Mary II (died 1694), the daughter of James II
1702-1714 Anne (her sister).
1714-1727: George I of Hanover
1727-1760 George II

Attitudes
There was a feeling that the Civil War had been caused by the error of educating too many people
above their proper status. The Corporation Act of 1662 forbade dissenting ministers to keep schools or
teach in them. The age was known as the "age of reason", yet the concept of "reason" was not
Descartes's autonomous faculty of the mind emancipated from the body of sense (or even the
neoplatonic, Renaissance Prince Reason pulling man into a direction different from that of his senses),
but a philosophy of the contents of the mind as derived from sense impressions (Thomas Hobbes) and
from their processing (John Locke). As if coloured by the recent bloody events, the image of man in
Hobbes's Leviathan is that of a creature governed by primal desires and fear, inclined towards warfare
and following one's appetite. The exercise of political power is necessary to suppress these
aggressive impulses, and the origin of power is the social contract (agreement between the ruler, to
ensure his subjects' safety, and the ruled, to cede a part of their freedom to him).
. The obsession with the beastly in man favours the revival of the classical satirical modes ("satire"
comes from "satyr", a hybrid creature, half goat half man, and was originally a form of abuse
addressed by people from the periphery to prominent citizens). Such was the character progress: a
sketchy portrait of a life's spiralling down into error and failure. John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester: A Satyr
against Mankind. His target is the man whose reason leaves behind the light of Nature, of what he can
perceive through his own senses. Metaphysical philosophysing carries him away to eternal Night and
makes him regret, in old age, the fact that he had wasted his life away in pain and doubts (allusion to
the soul-searching introspection of the guilt-ridden Puritanic conscience).
. The present is criticized from the perspective of a precursor, some past, indisputable authority.
Modern types are correlated with ancient. John Dryden maps the contemporary Exclusion Crisis (the
attempt to exclude James II from succession, for having converted to Catholicism, in favour of the
Duke of Monmouth, the illegitimate son of Charles II) onto a Biblical precedent (2 Samuel : In Absalom
and Achitophel, a satirical poem and a political allegory - Charles II appears as King David, Monmouth
as Absalom, and Shaftesbury, his ill-adviser, as Achitophel - modulated into a verse satire of
legitimatism supporting a stable government.
. The amorality of the Restoration comedy in the newly reopened theatres, constructing man as a
lustful animal and opposing aristocratic glamour and wit to the narrow-mindedness and religious
anxiety of the Republicans (the supporters of Cromwell's Commonwealth) worked like a sign of
recognition among the courtier-playwrights of the sixties and seventies. The political plot (usually
alluding to usurpation, restoration and the antagonisms between Court and City, Royalists and
Republicans, City and Country) and the love plot (showing adultery as a necessary spur to renewed
passion, edged off by marriage and habit) are intertwined, as in Dryden's Marriage-a-la Mode and
Aphra Behn's Sir Patient Fancy.

Looking back to the scene of war.


John Milton: Paradise Lost, 1667. An epic on theodike (the justice of God, but actually a political
allegory of recent events. As a former supporter of regicide and as Cromwell's Latin Secretary for
Foreign Tongues, Milton attacks absolutism in the exercise of power and supports the idea of free will.
Satan's crew had fallen, not because of some inherent fault or lack (they shared in the Empyrean
substance), but for not bowing and suing for grace. God had overcome them through sheer force (he
possessed the thunder) and by banishing them from Heaven to Hell had become a Tyrant: "sole
regaining holds the Tyranny of Heaven". The overt approval of the fallen angels can be seen in the
description of their democratic debate (unlike the chorus of laudes the angels sing to God all the time),
in the building of Pandemonium which displays wealth, science and aesthetic taste. The rebel-angel is
the artist figure. While Heaven is the scene of ruler worship, Eden is a literary paradise of arcadian,
pastoral topoi: Universal Pan, Graces, the "Eternal Spring of Theocritus's Hours.
In "The verse", prefaced to the second edition of Paradise Lost, Milton explains that the measure if
English heroic Verse, without rhyme, as that of Homer and Virgil, recovering the ancient liberty against
the modern bondage of rhyme. In point of genre, the epic is a mix of several generic conventions
(epic, tragedy, comedy, pastoral, oratory, aubade, debate ...), in the manner of the Renaissance
genum universum.
Samuel Butler, Hudibras, 1663. A mock-heroic poem in octosyllabic couplets, treating of morally
disreputable characters and events in epic style. The protagonist is borrowed from Spencer's Fairie
Queene, being a parodic instead of a serious version of hypocrisy. The fratricide war appears, in
retrospect, to have been causeless (men fell out, they knew not why), waged by fanatics disputing
over "dame Religion", convinced that they possessed the only truth, a host of "errant saints" deciding
"all controversy by/ infallible artillery").The writer remarks in his note-books that the abundance of
heroic literature was not justified in an age of civil madness, setting Brother against Brother, of
humans descended to distracted dogs and sick monkeys. Spencer's allegory of the cardinal virtues in
a monarch-centred legendary frame is turned on its head in this mock-heroic and mock-chivalric plot.
John Dryden In Preface to Satires, 1693: Disputing the generic unity of Paradise Lost and deploring
its lack of Ease and Grace. Opting for modern science and neoclassic respect for formality, urbanity
and elegance in An Essay of Dramatic Poesy (1668)and in the prefaces to his plays.
Mac Flecknoe: a mock-heroic on the coronation ceremony of Mac Flecknoe (Thomas Shadwell), the
son of Richard Flecknoe, a very bad poet of the Interregnum (the artistic breakdown of the historical
void of Cromwell's days is a collateral target), commissioned to take over the throne of the "Realm of
Non-Sense" and to maintain the sacred cult of Dullness.
Andrew Marvell: fusing metaphysical wit and virtuosity of conceits and the formal rigour of classical
literary kinds. A balanced political attitude as well (he had been Cromwell's minister but did not
withdraw from politics after the Restoration, being elected to Parliament.).A Horatian Ode on
Cromwell's Return from Ireland. Inspired by Horace's ode on Octavian's victory at Actium. Trying to
detach himself from the "party-colour'd Mind of the War". The king had behaved with unfailing dignity
(He nothing common did or mean/ Upon that memorable scene), let not that sacrifice be lost in further
anarchy. Cromwell is slotted within unfavourable frames: "the Wars and Fortunes Son", Odysseus or
Aeneas in the underworld, a Caesar to Gaul, an Hannibal to Italy.

The rising myth of Imperial Britain


John Drained: greeting the return of Charles II as the beginning of an age of justice, peace and
imperial and cultural grandeur, like that of Roman Augustus (first century of the Christian era) in
Astraea Redux: When the joint growth of arms and arts foreshew/ The world a monarch, and that
monarch You. Alexander's Feast: a baroque ode, with refrains and mythological references, bringing
together the conquering figure, of semi-divine birth (Alexander) and that of the artist (his musician,
Timotheus), who can work up the king into "assuming the God", a god-like posture.
Alexander Pope, Windsor Forest, written after the Peace of Utrecht and foretelling an age of world
dominance for the kingdom, but also of peace, when death scenes will only be reserved for hunting:
The shady Empire shall retain no Trace/ Or War or Blood, but in the Sylvan Chace". Father Thames
would be "the World's great Oracle in Times to Come.
Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Letters. Construction of the Orient (Constantinople) as a site of
profusion and confusion (The rising city in Confusion fair), "magnificently formed irregular", of
sensuous indulgement of life (music, gardens, wine and delicate eating) in contrast with western
rationality (tormenting our brains), study of sciences and political scheming.

The critique of social life.


Alexander Pope: The Rape of the Lock. A mock-epic in heroic couplets (iambic pentametres rhyming
in pairs). A trivial incident - the quarrel between two Catholic families, the Peters and Fermors, caused
by Lord peter's removal of a lock of Arabella Fermor's hair. Pope is laughing them back into common
sense and a realisation of the ridicule of their overeacting to such minor offence.
- Grand style and a supernatural machinery of sylphs, nymphs, gnomes and salamenders are
employed for the description of the young lady's cosmetics, dressing table and menaingless daily
routine of dressing upo, balls, and card-playing. Arabella vanishes under Roman poet Martial's
Belinda, praying for her ravished locks. She is a parodic neo-type, on whose table the Bible is lost
among puffs, powders, patches and billet-doux. The Baron's attempt on her lock assumes the
proportion of a heroic battle which necessitates a sacrifice of former trophies (gloves, billet-doux...) on
a burning pyre.
Life at Queen Anne's Hampton Court is an affair of gossip ("who gave the Ball, or paid the Visit last"),
singing, laughing, dancing, the zeugma (juxtaposition on the same level of unlikely elements) effecting
a rhetorical critique of the discrepancy between shallow reality and imperial grandour which, as the
eighteenth century wore on, was increasing becoming disappointing pretense: One speaks the glory
of the British Queen,/ And one describes a charming Indian Screen.
The mock-heroic genre handles themes, scenes, rhetorical schemes characteristic of the epic
corpus. Here is Pope's parallel to Sarpedon's speech to Glaucus in Homer's Iliad (the same type of
argument: since death is inexorable, let Glaucus and Srpedon at least leave a famous name behind;
since beauty must decay, let Belinda consider the incident in good humour, or else, she'll die a maid.)

Philosophical Poetry
Alexander Pope: Essay on Man. The four verse epistles build on the new science (Newton) and
philosophy of the universe (natural theology, Deism, the illuminist belief in the best of all possible
worlds) as a perfect machine displaying the wisdom of the Creator but also left to its own devices in
which any minor disturbance could destabilize the whole. Hobbes and Cooper, Third Earl of
Shaftesbury are appealed to in order to balance the two opposite tendencies in man: Self-Love and
Social Love (man's sixth sense, the virtue to seek also the others' happiness not only his own). Deism
serves as a philosophical support of the status quo, social stability and conservative politics.

Verse Poetics
Alexander Pope: Essay on Criticism
Recommending "critic learning", a knowledge of ancient (Horace, Longinus) and contemporary French
poetics (Boileau). Writing according to method: according to previous models (the way the ancients
copied nature) and in order to objectify "an image of the mind". Poetry that is aware of its position in
the history of culture and its location within a literary tradition. A humanly revised portrait of the poet
(no longer mediating between earth and heaven): "be sure your own reach to know". A Horatian cult of
proportion, of the right relation of each part of a literay structure to the whole: No single parts unequely
surprise,/ All comes united to the admiring eyes:/ No monstruous height, or breadth, or length appear;/
The whole at once is bold and regular. Symmetry or the right ratio are perceived as natural, while lack
of proportion is unnatural, monstrous.

The Rise of the Novel


Associated with the rise of bourgeois individualism and the new rhetoric of the Enlightenment which
was liberating individuals from their political chains, promoting intellectual curiosity, the progress of
civilization. The end of Biblical fundamentalism associated with Puritanism. The Royal Academy,
chartered by Charles II in 1662, sending new messages in their Philosophical Transactions: we have
more need of severe, full and punctual Truth, than of romances and panegyrics. Newton, Robert Boyle
(physicists) and Lawrence Rooke (mathematician) contributed to the creation of the scientific
discourse and were pointed out as models of how to keep a travel journal, which had displaced the
romance of the errant knight.
Unlike romances, the novel displays coherent subjectivity (centred on characters), cohesive structure
(plot), cohesive ethics (theme).
Michael McKeon (The Origin of the English Novel. 1600-1740) establishes the following
correspondences between epistemological, social and generic change:
Questions of truth Questions of virtue Genre
Romance (idealism) aristocratic ideology Romance
Naive empiricism progressive ideology Novel
Extreme scepticism conservative ideology Satire

Lennard Davis (Factual Fictions) defines the novel in opposition to the romance genre. The
oppositional pairs include: distant, idealised past or heroic versus recent setting; close to the structure
and characterisation of epic forms/ modelled on history and journalism; setting in remote lands and
high life/rooting in national life, the protagonist is not a type but an individual moving through a
contemporary social environment subject to the laws of probability and cause and effect relations.
Empiricist philosophy had fuelled a model of individual identity as cumulation of mental experiences
through time and place. Cervantes, often quoted by eighteenth-century novelists, had managed to
compromise the self-reliant reflector. In a Collection of Voyages published at the time, the "Romantic
elements" , such as those occurring in the books of chivalry in Spain, are said to "please the
unthinking part of mankind", the protagonists being "Brains infected by false images".

The pragmatic spirit of the age surfaces in Daniel Defoe's An Essay upon Projects (1697) who even
coins a name for the age: the Projecting Age. As it was also the age of intense colonization the art of
war reaches "the highest perfection of human knowledge" The episode of Gulliver extolling England's
martial arts at the giants' court is one of Swift's frequent ironic reversal of Defoe's defence and
enforcement of a timely agenda of middle class politics: the true-bred merchant is "the most intelligent
man in the world", as he experiences at first hand the new life of trade, travelling and stock exchange.

The dates of Robinson Crusoe's arrival on the island and leaving it are significant: it is by living alone
that he condemns himself to isolation. His parroting of the absolute king exerting absolute power over
his subjects who happen to be animals - cats dogs, parrots - is a political allusion to contemporary
events around the Exclusion Crisis. The leave of the island is possible as soon as Robinson
recognises in Friday a man of capacities similar to his.
William Dampier's A New Voyage Round the World (1697): exotic places yet plainness of style to
ensure "the truth and sincerity of my relation" The report on the voyage is dedicated to the Royal
Society and its magazine for knowledge of the foreign parts, the writer's design being to "inform not to
amuse", regardless of ornaments and keeping characters within the range of probability. Every
merchant voyage is a "project", not just an economic but an enlightening experience of the world as
well: "conversing with all parts of the known world".

Essay topic:
1. The mock tradition of wit in Augustan poetry
2. Identify the features that mark off a novel of the earlier eighteenth-century in light of the above.

Literature and Culture. 11,12.


The Rise of the English Novel (continued)

The school of amatory and romance fiction, catering for the early mass market, is less concerned
with top politics - Augustan or anti-Augustan -, focusing on the private life of the individual. Its sources
were both the hedonistic erotic tradition of the privileged classes, for instance, Fantomima: Or, Love in
a Maze, Being a Secret History of an Amour Between Two Persons of Condition (1725), by Eliza
Heywood, and the anti-hegemonic ethos of the rising middle class, where the representation of sex
life carries distinctions of class and gender, as in Samuel Richardson's epistolary novels, Pamela
(1741)and Clarissa (1748). As well as Defoe, Richardson makes no distinction between the discursive
functions of journalism and fiction. He sets out from a pragmatic agenda, that of teaching young
women in service how to write letters - conversation and correspondence being the favourite social
games at the time - and of furthering Richard Steele's design on an anti-Shaftesbury class ethics:
talent and virtue are sooner to be found among the representatives of the middling classes, whereas
the aristocrats are often afflicted with degeneracy and other taints of the blood. Pamela, a maid in
service, resists her aristocratic master's sexual assault and imprisonment, finally managing to win his
admiration to the point that he proposes marriage to her despite the social gap between them. It is by
reading her letters that he falls in love with her: the desire for her body makes room for an appreciation
of her mind and moral purity.
Unlike Defoe's novels, with their linear plot line of the protagonists' progress in a recognisably
contemporary social setting, the epistolary novel consists of discrete narrative units - letters -, the
whole plot design becoming apparent only at the end, in retrospect. The focus is on the protagonist's
inner life: thoughts, feelings, motives. Letter writing is the medium whereby psychic interiority is
rendered into a narrative, an objectified form publicly consumed. This is a female wish-fulfilment plot,
yet interiority is subordinated to the social and political drama. Even clothes are expressive of
character: Pamela's decision to discard her mistress's garments and put on her humble, homespun
dress is the correlative of her ethical choice: to stand up for her moral values against aristocratic
abuse (she is imprisoned in her master's Lincolnshire house) and debauchery.

The Augustan Ideal Under Stress.

The civic corruption and cultural decline under the first two Hanoverian kings, George I and
George II, and especially, during the "Robinocracy" (Robert Walpole's Prime Ministry) caused a
brought about a divorce between power and the intellectual elite. A civic, humanist tradition of thought
emerged, in opposition to the Augustan establishment. The leaders of opinion were Viscount Henry
Bolingbroke and William Pulteney, with support from The Craftsman periodical, founded in 1725.

Whereas Renaissance and baroque literature had worked with huge analogies and figures of
similitude, neoclassic rhetoricians of the Hobbist school (Hobbes's Leviathan) took an interest in
differences and dissimilitudes, as they served the analytic and reasoning functions of the mind:
Distinguishing, and Discerning, and Judging between thing and thing. Good Judgement was to be
preferred over Good Wit or Good Fancy.
According to George Berkeley or to philosophers of the associanist psychology school (David
Hume, David Hartley), qualities only become apparent by comparison. Travelling to other parts of the
world guarantees an unbiased, fresh and discriminating perception. Montesquieu uses the convention
of two Persians' Letters to advance his own satirical assault on Paris. Voltaire shows his appreciation
of the English writers' focus on action and ideas in his English Letters. G.C. Lichtenberg, a
contemporary German philosopher, shows a similar appreciation of the English scene in his
Notebooks, where everybody has a right to exercising and expressing their individual power of
judgement. Perception and judgement, measuring and comparing make the true philosopher.
Gulliver's Travels, by Jonathan Swift, is a generic mix: philosophical fable and political
allegory, travelogue, personal memoir, the true history, the life and adventure, the pastoral convention
of using one world in order to comment on another. It subverts the Augustan myth as well as its
discursive tradition. It mocks Defoe's praise of the merchant hero and coloniser of wild lands, narrowly
focused on the bare necessities of life, bourgeois ethos of "Labour", construction of character as an
inventory of objects, obsession with facts and plain style. In Book IV, Gulliver confesses his "design to
discover some small island uninhabited yet sufficient by my Labour to furnish me with Necessities of
life which I would have thought a greater happiness than to be First Minister in the politest court of
Europe". Gulliver travels from country to country, his physical relation to his host people changing
permanently: he is a giant in the dwarfs' land, a dwarf in the giants', the play with perspectives serving
the satirical purpose of the play with a philosophical hypothesis: Is man a rational animal ? In a century
dominated by Deism or Natural Philosophy and Spinozian monism, the physical situation affects the
moral character. Giant Gulliver plays the role of the reasonable and peaceful councillor, as the
representative of a higher civilisation (the owner of the watch, the instrument that sets order on the
chaotic flow of life), while the Lilliputians are warlike and savage. In Brobdingnag, the physical relation
is reversed. Diminutive Gulliver praises weaponry - Defoe's utmost "project" - and warfare, while the
giants show forbearance and common sense. The satirical onslaught on the alliance between science
and politics during Gulliver's visit to the Flying Island and the Academy of Lagado is strongly
reminiscent of the French Enlightenment's critique of the ancient regime. The shadows conjured on
the island of sorcerers and magicians (Brutus, Socrates, Thomas More) function as an index of Swift's
own allegiance to an ethos of resistance to power.

Uniformitarian psychology and satirical universalism

An important shift in the epistemological framework of the mid-century was effected by David
Hume's Treatise of Human Nature and other philosophical essays. According to Hume, beliefs are
determined not by reason but by sentiment. Human culture is generated out of the passions. Mankind
are the same in all times and places, the principles and springs of human nature operate in a constant
manner. Human nature remains the constant universal in the historical process.
Hume's philosophy of character underpins Henry Fielding's narrative technique: the presence
of an omniscient, extradiegetic (who does not intrude into the chronodiegetic plot) narrator, identical
with the author, commenting on his fictional universe from a higher standing, using generics
(statements claiming universal validity) and emphasising the fact that humans are impelled by the
same emotional drives and emotions in a Somerset village as at the royal court. The foundling plot -
Tom Jones is introduced to the scene of action as a baseborn and finally revealed to be the squire's
nephew - is also an index of a sceptical attitude to social distinctions of class and rank.
The drift away from politics is accompanied by a stronger focus on the status of the artist. In
Shaftesbury's Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, the true poet is defined as a master or
architect, emulating the craft of the Sovereign Artist of Universal Plastic Nature (the God of the Deists,
the perfect engineer) who forms coherent wholes. Fielding's Tom Jones is the fictional counterpart of
contemporary neoclassic, Palladian architecture. Sophie, the female protagonist, is a Vitruvian figure,
an emblem of wisdom, as her name suggests, which matches her well-proportioned body: her outside
bespeaks her inside: it is a beautiful frame, the Reader being urged to imagine the fine proportion of
her arms and the symmetry of her limbs.
The novel itself is perfectly balanced with its eighteen books preceded by prefaces which
develop a metafictional, narrator plot: Fielding expounds the principles of his narrative invention,
slotting it within the tradition of satirical wit from the Antiquity to his own days and of the mock-heroic in
verse and prose, satirises the Restoration character progress and the poetics of the gothic and the
sublime, discusses generic conventions and comments on characters and the action.

The encyclopaedic novel and the school of sentiment.

By the time Laurence Sterne set down to write his Tristram Shandy (1759-67), Hume's
Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and David Hartley's Observations of Man (1749) had launched their
critique of reason and the autonomous subject. The mind of man is subject to arbitrary associations
which later manifest themselves as necessary connections, even the present, single impressions are
apt to stir vibrations of former percepts and enter an associative structure which is free from logical
restraints. The subject is not the agent of thought but rather the site of chance associations, fuelled by
readings, conversation, by the constitutive order of culture. Don Quixote, who lives out the life of
Armado, a hero of medieval romance in the incongruous early modern world, is Tristram's favourite
literary figure. As there are no universal and eternal truths in a universe of chance and randomness,
the omniscient, heterodiegetic narrator makes room for the
homodiegetic narrator (overlap of the author, narrator and protagonist figure), reflecting both on the
genesis of his selfhood and on the progress of his discourse. Uncle Toby's war memories are just
reminiscences of his reading treatises on military fortifications, his hobby-horse or idée-maitresse,
corresponding to nothing in the real world. The record of the self-observing mind replaces the sage
discourse on the education or shaping of personality (Walter Shandy's Tristapaedia, in imitation of
Xenophon's Kirupaideia). The two orders are, however, set in opposition: the operation of setting the
clock (the order of culture) blocks the biological generation of the baby. The chronodiegetic plot is a
discontinuous and anachronistic one, moving forward and backward in time, while the narration plot
(the time Tristan sits at his desk writing the book) is a continuous, "straight-drawn line", stirring
associations with the autonomous sphere of artefacts: moral rectitude in Cicero, the shortest line
drawn from one point to another in Archimedes, the law of gravitation (Vol. VI Chap. XL).
The narrative discourse draws on the manifold of 18th century culture, emulating the
contemporary encyclopaedic writing of the Count of Buffon. The novelist himself defines it in Ch. 21 as
a babble of discourses: physical, metaphysical, physiological, polemical, mathematical, esoteric,
mechanical, biographical, chemical, obstretical .... At the same time, it is expressive of the new spirit of
an age setting a prize on feelings rather than on reason. Adan Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments
(1759) elaborated on Hume's philosophy of the psyche as the basic and common ground of human
nature. Humans are able to recognize their own sufferings in others, men of feeling and women of
sentiment can perceive the affective ground of their common humanity. In a world governed by chance
and randomness, it is only human sympathy that can make a difference. Discourses of reason will
never bring people together, because they cannot reach a cognitive consensus about things. Their
perceptions or emotional response are coloured by changing moods, habits or prejudices. All human
attempts to control the life of society and of the individual fail pitifully, the only solution being mutual
sympathy and cultural creativity.
The novel is self-reflective, an early piece of metafiction. Tristram, the character-narrator,
creates not only a role for himself and a voice as narrator but also an imagined relationship with his
readers, a complete site of the communication act: author-narrative-reader. Whereas his father is
unable to control his son's life - birth, naming, etc. - , Tristram manages to control the reception of his
narrative, in which everything is carefully elaborated and functional, including the graphical aspect.
Tristram Shandy partakes of the tradition of learned wit but its poetics can also be linked to
that of Charles Churchill's paper, "Nonsense Club", encouraging spontaneity, digressiveness, free
associative play and authorial self-consciousness.
Whereas Sterne is a conservatist from a political perspective (Tristram fears the British might
lose their liberties because of French politics or French invasions), Henry Mackenzie is more
sensitive to the injustice of a tyrannical world. The Man of Feeling (1771) is a provincial gentleman
reduced to the condition of powerless yet sympathetic observer of social exploitation and cruelty.

Andrew Baxter (Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul, 1759), John Bond (Essay on the
Incubus, 1753) and painter Henry Fuseli ranked among the representatives of a counter-
Enlightenment epistemology which may be called "the dark side of the Enlightenment". They
speculated on the revelatory nature of dreams and other manifestations of the unconscious, having a
logic of their own, letting out the truth about the human soul which is suppressed or denied. The other
end of the age of reason is marked by the rise of the Gothic novel and by the onset of the "age of
sensibility"or pre-romanticism in the last decades of the eighteenth century.
The literature of sensibility, published from the seventies to the end of the century, is a
symbiosis between personal, self-consciousness and the social. Humanitarian issues, such as the
suffering of slaves or of the dispossessed, rendered topical by the revolutionary events in France,
amount to more than Shaftesbury's social love or rational benevolence. They are meant to secure an
emotional appeal and support the Rousseauistic philosophy of man's alienation in a corrupt society.
Man is born good, it is social and institutionalized forms of life that distort his nature. The solution is
solitary life, withdrawal. Social alienation is aggravated, according to the religious school of Methodist
dissent, by the absence of God in a universe lately represented as machinery. John Wesley's 1738
Hymn is no longer cellebratory; it is an expression of existential dread, of metaphysical crisis.
In his Treatise of Human Nature, Hume had rehabilitated passions: aesthetic passions are the
lifeblood of tragedy. Suffering has the power to refine the soul. Poetic arts assume a polemical tone,
measuring the aesthetic force of imagination or suffering against Augustan wit for "Can genius shield
the vulnerable heart ?" (Hannah More, Sensibility: a Poetical Epistle.)
Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and the
Beautiful (1759) is an anti-classicalist aesthetics recommending the complexities of obscurity and
ambiguity, the sublimity that baffles the mind, the irregularity of the picturesque, individuality of style.
Characteristic moods and themes: dark settings, apocalyptic visions and plaintive tones
(Edward Young, Night Thoughts), the praise of negative feelings, such as fear (William Collins, Ode
to Fear), nostalgic view of the countryside, where capitalist developments had destroyed traditional
ways of communal life (Oliver Goldsmith, The Deserted Village), praise of nature and the demonizing
of empires, cities and other seats of civilisation (William Cowper, The Task), sympathy for the illiterate
and anonymous village dwellers, meditation inspired by the sight of tombs, ruins and other sights of
threshold states or an interplay of presence and absence which allows the imagination to exert its
inventive power and fill in what is missing. (Thomas Gray Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.),
imaginative reconstruction of the historical heroic past romantic scenery and the inspired ancient
poetry of the heart (James Macpherson, Fingal, an Ancient Epic Poem, composed by Ossian, son of
Fingal).
Fiction
The Gothic Novel
Clara Reeve (The Old English Baron) and Horace Walpole (The Castle of Otranto) re-direct
literary tradition by shaping the readership's taste for the supernatural which had been banished from
the age of reason. They write, as Walpole confesses in his 1764 novel, in spite of rules, critics and
philosophers. Automatic writing, dream worlds, hybridity (mixture of modern and ancient romance, of
gothic and comedy, of lords and domestics) are the defining features.

The Jacobin Novel


The French Revolution polarises the political scene in England, dividing it between supporters
(The Revolution Society) and detractors (The Association for Preserving Liberties against Republicans
and Levellers). The Rights of Man by Thomas Paine and Political Justice by William Godwin expound
a political philosophy deriving from the ideology of the Enlightenment which had prepared the ground
for the Revolution.
Jacobin novels (Caleb Williams, by William Godwin) are novels of ideas, usually in the first
person, which integrate character and plot in light of the necessitarian doctrine: the character of man
originates in the social circumstances and the life of institutions.
Essay topic: Select one 18th c. novel and write a criticism of its plot, characters and narrative
structure in light of the paradigmatic picture provided by the lectures.

Literature and Culture.Course 13


Romanticism.

France, the great influencer of the neoclassic age, came to be regarded as an enemy after 1793 when
it declared war on England. The British literati turned to Germany for philosophical and aesthetic
models, they themselves (especially Edward Young, Macpherson and Byron) being much admired and
emulated there.The early romantics were still under the spell of French politics and philosophy,
especially Rousseau (the critique of institutions, the cult of sensibility and imagination, the interest in
primitive cultures as a key to an understanding of modern western civilization, the philosophy of
escapism, withdrawal from society) and Count Volney (Ruins, Or, The Revolutions of Empire, 1791),
the ideologist of the French Revolution, with his critique of the class system and of institutionalised
religion. William Blake joined the sectaries of the English Revolution - Ranters, Muggletonians, The
Church of the New Jerusalem, Universalists - making up an autodidact, minority culture, whose
ideology was class war and antinomian politics (against the law, against the political and cultural
establishment). In 1792 Robert Southey published an article against corporeal punishment, in 1798
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was writing against the government and against the prison system, while
William Wordsworth was driven out of Alfoxden under the suspicion of subversive politics, in 1804
Blake was tried for sedition. Lyrical Ballads, a volume of poems published jointly by Coleridge and
Wordsworth in 1798 to which a Preface by Wordsworth was added in the 1800 edition, is still imbued
with the pre-romantics spirit: a defence of the humble, dispossessed members of society, communion
with the physical universe which harbours God, humans and the rest of creation in a pantheistic unity.
The war with France, the Reign of Terror in France, the mass exile of French Catholic
clergymen to England during the campaign of de-Christianization, what was seen as Napoleon's
betrayal of the ideals of the Revolution, the collapse of the Republic of Reason and Fraternity were the
reason why Southey, Coleridge and Wordsworth changed sides, turning conservatists after 1800.
Wordsworth explains his shift of political allegiance in 1805 in a passage of The Prelude, a long poem
whose final version came out in 1850. Napoleon summoning the Pope to be crowned Emperor is seen
as "an opera phantom", a mere actor on the stage of history. It may be said, therefore, that high
Romanticism is conservative, sceptical about the efficiency of abrupt change. It is especially the
novelists, Walter Scott and Jane Austen, who give imaginative support to Edmund Burke's organic
view of history in Reflections on the French Revolution: improvements should be gradual, the respect
for historical forms of culture and government need not imply opposition to change: an open society
will accept professional talent and social progress across class barriers.
As the Regency (the future George IV became Prince Regent on account of his father's
insanity) in England was an intellectually shallow age, amoral and politically abusive, the younger
romantics - P.B. Shelley and Mary Shelley, Lord G.G. Byron, John Keats - embrace radical politics,
reviving the Jacobin ideology and the revolutionary ethos (support for the Luddite or machine-
breakers' movement and of the liberation wars abroad).

Early Romanticism. William Blake

Indebted to Jakob Böhme (1575-1624), whose philosophy was a mixture of Kabbalistic,


Gnostic and alchemical elements and who anticipated Hegel's concept of Aufhebung (sublation): two
contraries can be united in a higher synthesis. According to him, good and evil meet in God. Blake
elaborated his personal mythology as a synchretic construct, drawing on William Hurd's studies of
comparative religion and myth in A New Universal History of the Religious Rites. His Beulah, for
instance, is a place where Contraries are equally true. Romantic irony, running from Schelling to
Kierkegaard, rejected the tyranny of reason (operating with binaries, dissecting and dissociating the
manifold of existence into abstract oppositions) in favour of a dialectic view of the war of oppositions
as the very ground of creation. In Jerusalem, one of his prophetic poems, Los, the Spirit of Time says
"I must create a system or be enslaved by another Man's/ I will not reason and compare; my business
is to create."
From Volney, he borrowed the prophetic voice and visionary imagery, the critique of the class
system and the idea that institutionalised religion is a fraud, thriving on superstitions. Gods are nothing
but objectified human needs. Plate 121 of The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: the ancient poets
animated all sensible objects with gods and geniuses, adorning them with the properties of woods,
rivers, mountains, lakes, cities, nations till a system was formed which Priesthood took advantage of:
they abstracted the mental deities from their objects and enslaved the vulgar minds. The Songs of
Innocence and Experience (1789 and 1794) figure a drama of the fall of man from an Eden presided
over by a secularised divinity whose attributes are Mercy, Pity, Peace and Love, with love overriding
class, age, gender and race divisions, to the present institutionalised society shot through with
oppositions: tyrannical Church, militarised and warring courts, exploitation, class division and
economic injustice. The poems in the two cycles form oppositional pairs, for instance, the spirit of The
Divine Image in the first is reversed by The Human Abstract in the second.
America, Europe and The Song of Los (Africa and Asia) are steps towards an all-inclusive epic
of revolutionary universalism, spreading forth from the hearth of The French Revolution. Poetry uses
myth to serve a political agenda of social and political liberation. Its support is both visual and
graphical, image and word being printed together from a copper plate. Orc (a name derived from Latin
Orcus for Hell) is an arch-rebel, a Miltonic energy, both political and aesthetic, both of the sense and
the spirit, the Poetic Genius from which the body or outward form of man is derived. The body is not
material, it is that portion of the divine soul which is discerned by the senses.
He assaulted all the concepts of the Enlightenment and all the canons of neoclassic art.
All Religions are One and There is no Natural Religion: two tractates written against Deism,
the empiricist-scientist school of Locke and Newton. Knowledge comes from that same faculty which
creates poetry, philosophy and religion, humans are not separate atoms but members one of another,
parts of the reunited archetypal Man: in Milton, the national poet figure casts off the heritage of the
rationalist Enlightenment and in him are merged the sexes as well as the human and the divine
(Jesus). Giant Albion knows a fallen condition because of the fall of the planetary spirits (Vala, or, the
Four Zoas) into gnomes, sylphs, fairies (Pope's divine agency inhabiting the elements) and further into
creatures discerned by the perverted, four senses. It is through the rebirth of the imagination that
Albion can be redeemed as Jerusalem, the kingdom of the spirit. The prophetic books elaborate on the
Proverbs of Hell in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, where all forms of energy are positively valued:
"Active Evil is better than Passive Good", "The tygers of wrath are wiser than the horses of
instruction".
The political mechanism of oppressive power is the cycles of authoritative rule, whose
archetype is the God of the Old Testament, the Giver of the Law, and rebellion:: Tiriel being oppressed
by his father, Har, and, in his turn, oppressing his daughter, Hela (Tiriel). Urizen the tyrant against
whom Los rebels, Los, in his turn, chaining Orc (The Book of Urizen). It is the decision to put an end to
the cycles of violence and oppression that has a redeeming force: Los taking pity on Urizen, the
repenting angels of the colonies in America, casting down their sceptres of authority. In proto-
existentialist fashion, being precedes essence (it is acting that shapes out personhood, not some
inborn essence).
Statements against neoclassic aesthetics (imitation of Greek and Roman models) are also a
critique of the seats of power (Camp, Court, the University): Annotations to Sir Joshua Reynolds.

High Romanticism
Carrying forth Hume's critique of Locke's sensationist theories, Immanuel Kant develops a
theory of the mind as constructive and creative rather than passive in the composition of experience.
However, the mind is in and of the world. The observer is a crucial part of the observed. The schemata
(such as the ideas of time and space) represent the meeting place of abstract categories and the
manifold of experience. The self emerges in a dialogue, over time, with the physical universe and the
processes of culture. Nature is incomplete in the absence of the observing eye, but it too serves as an
instruction lesson. The object of experience is thus "half perceived and half created" (Wordsworth,
Lines Written Above Tintern Abbey). Whereas Hegel's Phenomenology of the Spirit had provided the
model for the developmental self, for spiritual autobiography, Kant's epistemology had eliminated the
dualism nature/mind. The poet creates mental narratives as he goes around the objects of the natural
world, and the experience of revisiting places allows him to compare past and present selves, to
become aware of his historical mode of existence in the world. Neoclassic spatial poetics yields to
romantic temporal art. Previous experiences give birth to mental patterns which serve to shape the
present perception of the world. They are a priori structures (Wordsworth in The Prelude: the first
creative sensibility which is not lost or, the reason why the child is Father to the Man - in Intimations of
Immortality) which ensure the mind's relative autonomy from the immediate object of the senses.
S.T. Coleridge was even more committed to the counter-revolutionary German culture which,
from Jacobin in 1800 had turned thoroughly conservative by 1815. He drew attention to the
conspirational working class organisations (in The Courier, October, 1814) which were threatening
national stability and culture (the habits and customs enshrined by Burke and Herder) and attacked
the new school of political economy (mainly contributed by the Scott Enlightenment) in The Friend,
claiming that education and religion (clerisy, an enlightened clergy mediating between people and
court and state) could do more to improve society than legislation.
In his 1810 Notebook, he defines Kan't philosophical revolution as the shift from Spinoza's
ontosophy (according to what exists, beginning with "it is") towards anthropolgy (according to man,
beginning with "I am"). The departure point is no longer in the material, objective world, but in the
perceiving mind. In Biographia Literaria (1815) he also shows the difference between his poet and
those of Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads: Wordsworth's characters are taken from sense impressions,
immediate or remembered, clearly distinguished from the mind of the observer, enriched by the
imagination where the common view had bedimmed all the lustre, while his method was supernatural:
beginning in separation from nature, from something conceived by the mind and demanding willing
suspension of disbelief. He comes closer to George Berkeley who, in his Dialogues, says that "all
reality is mental, we do not perceive objects but qualities (colours, forms, sounds) which are relative to
the perceiver".
In Biographia Literaria, he distinguishes three forms of imagination corresponding to triad of sensibility,
imagination and judgement: Fancy has only reproductive function, recombining sense impressions.
The primary imagination is productive, has an active power, the mind re-creating the world of the
senses through perception. Secondary imagination has an aesthetic power: it dissolves the actual
forms and produces new ones resembling nothing in the real world. Objects are transformed into
materials for a possible act of cognition. It is through this secondary imagination that the Poet stands
next to God, creating out of nothing.
His conversation poems (The Eolian Harp, Frost at Midnight. Dejection: An Ode) establish a
communication from mind to mind, a circularity of the spirit which leaves nature out.
Neoclassicism and Romanticism in oppositional pairs:
empiricist and materialist transcendental and idealist
enlightened cosmopolitanism national and personal mythologies
system and stability revolutionary or apocalyptic imagination
understanding, reason imagination, anxiety of becoming
pagan and classical culture Christian culture (election, revelation, Eucharist)
mirror of reality lamp of genius
formality, set forms organic form
collective and social private and individual
universalizing historicizing

Essay topics:
. Identify two companion poems (treating the same theme in the mirror) in Blake's Songs of
Innocence and Experience.
. Select two poems by Wordsworth and Coleridge, respectively, and compare what Coleridge
calls the "natural" (poetry based in sense impressions) and the "supernatural method". (rendering the
truth of out inward nature).

Literature and Culture. Lecture 14.


High Romanticism (continued)

Politics
Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, George Gordon Byron and John Keats denounce the
carnivalesque age of the Regency, the government's incompetence, its inability to deal with poverty
and unemployment, the Prince Regent's amorality, the fashionable society's worship of commercial
values and indulging in cheap entertainments, the low cultural and intellectual standards.
John Keats (Letter of 1819): "The unlucky termination of the French Revolution put a stop to the rapid
progress of free sentiments in England and gave our Court hopes of turning back to the despotism of
the 16th century." He thought of the world as a "valley of soul making", the site of man's struggle for
perfection, in opposition to the medieval concept of the voyage of the soul towards union with god. His
rewriting of Alain Chartier's 1424 La Belle Dame Sans Mercy redeploys the myth of the knight's
seduction by the fairy world within the contemporary context of seduction "in a language strange": the
attraction exerted by the French Revolution's ideas and the subsequent disappointment.
P. B. Shelley (1819 "Sonnet: England"): "rulers do neither see, nor feel, nor know, but leach-like to
their fainting countries cling."
Lord G. G. Byron bridged the gap Coleridge had drawn public attention to as separating the clerisy
(defending the Church and State) from the freemasonry of the working class trying to overthrow them
("The Friend"). He combined libertarian rebellion and the cult of leadership by aristocratic, exceptional
leaders who stand up against authority and stifling conventions. The Byronic hero is a cross of the
oversensitive young man and the gothic villain. It is disappointment with a shallow society that causes
the protagonist to rebel and associate himself with the forces of anarchy in low life and delinquent
circles. Byron repeatedly condemns the earlier romantics for having recanted their revolutionary
commitment (Vision of Judgement, where he also defends regicide, or, Don Juan, where Milton is
praised for his constant opposition to Tyranny: he did not praise the Son after making the father take
the blame for tyranny - an allusion to George IV succeeding to his father).
Mary Shelley's later romantic gothic (Frankenstein) alludes to the darker side of the French
Revolution, her target being the secret orders of the German Illuminati and the Rosicrucians (E.J.
Clary, The Rise of Supernatural Fiction. 1762-1800. Cambridge, 1995) who had been trying the
confiscate the Revolution. The former order, founded by Adam Weishaupt, a Professor at the
University of Ingoldstadt (where Frankenstein passes, in his dream of creating a perfect breed of man,
passes from traditional alchemy to modern experiments in galvanism) had disseminated perfectionist
theories seeking, in fact, world domination. Frankenstein was apparently modelled on Johann Konrad
Dippel, a German alchemist, the owner of Frankenstein Castle, who used to plunder graves for his
experiments. Such experiments were going against the natural order of things, treating organic life as
if it were dead matter, surpassed by machines.
The Rosicrucians, seeking the elixir of life (Marie Roberts, Gothic Immortals. Fiction of the
Brotherhood of the Holy Cross, Routledge, 1990), were also trying to improve society by creating
social anarchy. The Rosicrucian hero, a combination of the heretic and the fallen, was expected to
give up on family ties, and even to contemplate fratricide and regicide. Carl Grosse (Horrid Mysteries):
"we shall receive you with open arms when human society rejects you". Victor Frankenstein, who
exchanges the Rosicrucian elixir quest for the illuminizing knowledge creates a monster, a Creature
standing outside Creation who helps dissolve all his family ties. The attempt to create a new society
artificially ends in disaster. Mary Shelley warns against the danger that supermen (such as God-
playing Coleridge or those trying to seize power for its own sake) represent for society, while pressing
home a political agenda of republican liberties and abolition of class, race and gender privileges.
The romantic conservatists were drawing on Edmund Burke's organic philosophy of history, stressing
the importance of historic accumulation. The peaceful, loving bourgeois family, the ethic of care and
domestic affections, the ideology of the polis as family underpin Jane Austen's novels centred on
marriage and the bourgeois home.

Epistemology.
Whereas Newton had conceived of the universe as a clock wound up by the Creator, the science
around the turn of the century saw the universe as alive, undergoing mysterious and natural, organic
growth. The evolutionary thought, prompted by Louis Leclerc, Count de Buffon, saw life as rolling
through all things, from lower to higher forms (see Goethe's Urpflanze). Luigi Galvani's experiments
were, therefore, perceived as going against nature.

Poetics
P.B. Shelley: Defence of Poetry. The creative imagination of the earlier romantics gives way to
epistemology. Metaphors are vehicles for knowledge. The concepts of philosophy are, in fact,
metaphors. The language of poetry is an interpretation of the world, metaphors revealing the before
unapprehended relations of things. The relation between perception and expression (the way the
mind's response to the world assumes linguistic guise: mind - language) takes priority over the
perception of the world (mind - world), the major subject of the earlier romantic poetry.
In the later romantics, we come upon instances of self-reflexivity (the text being aware of its generic
features and making). Theirs was a Kantian-based poetics, ascribing the poetic faculty an a priori
structure that begets conscious perception. Or, the mind can only make sense of the world at a
removal from it. The writing or speaking moment is distanced from the moment of direct experience.
For instance, the embedded narrative frames in Ozymandias, Shelley's comment on poetic language
in Sonnet: the allegory of life (the painted veil) is to be preferred, because actual life is disappointing -
"sightless, drear", a perpetual vacillation between Fear and Hope, a form of existential anxiety.
John Keats uses a double temporal scheme: the transitory historical world of actual experience is
embedded within a narrative frame: The Eve of St. Agnes, La Belle Dame Sans Mercy. Even gods can
fall, as in Hyperion or The Fall of Hyperion, as the progress of the temporal world, in keeping with the
new evolutionary theories (Buffon, Erasmus Darwin), cannot be arrested. It is only through memory
(Apollo is assisted by Mnemosyne, the goddess of memory, acquiring "knowledge enormous"), that
the artist is born and it is only through him that the world can be saved in an unperishable form (Ode
on A Grecian Urn).
Byron's artist is the "Dandy lately on my travels", the free-floating nonconformist, fleeing the vulgar
bourgeois world and the market of commercial art. Baudelaire was to make the aesthetic dandy into
the hero of the modern times.
The intense awareness of form is also reflected by the return to set and difficult generic and prosodic
forms: sonnets, philosophical odes, Spenserian stanzas in The Eve of St. Agnes (two pentameter
quartraits rounded off with a hexameter).

Revolutionary versus anti-Jacobin fiction. M. Shelley vs. Austen.

gothic romance, of political and philosophical scope romantic comedy of manners


exploration of social evil through invention novels of epistemology, of education
perfectionism under the form of political reform gradual organic growth of an open society
focus on the body politic focus on the family
gothic revolutionary agenda conservatist ethic: preservation of links with the
past (old mansions, chapels), attack on the revolutionary
ideology embedded in the gothic genre
three I-narrators (effect: ideological filtered inward speech and thought (FID)
influence on the reader) narrator mediating the drama of consciousness

Essay topics:

- Write an essay in which you compare and contrast the way of art and nature in a Keats poem.
- Apply the oppositional pairs above to a comparative discussion of Frankenstein and a novel by Jane
Austen.
- Read a poem (or a fragment) by Byron and make a list of the Byronic hero's salient features.
-