Friday, May 29, 2009

1700 to 1799: Manon Lescaut to Peregrine Pickle

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Abbe Prevost. French. 1731. Novel. Manon Lescaut. Brilliant scholar destroys himself for a tart.

Alexander Pope. British. 1733/34. Poetry. An Essay on Man. Four epistles: man’s relation to the universe, to himself, to society and to happiness. Deism. Optimistic. Leibnitz. Coherent scheme of the universe. Neoclassical faith in reason. Respect for tradition and authority. “Whatever is, is right.” “Vindicate the ways of God to man.”

Henry Carey. British. 1734. Play. Chronohotonthologos. “The Most Tragical Tragedy That Was Ever Tragedized by Any Company of Tragedians.” Frank criticism of the theater of his day. Title = the name of the King of Queerumania, a pompous main character, a bombast who delivers inflated addressed.

Samuel Johnson. British. 1750/52. Essays. The Rambler. Deal with mores and literature. Thought to be dull in comparison to The Spectator.

Tobias Smollett. British. 1751. Novel. The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle. Dissipated rascal, almost a villain, gets second fortune and a second chance.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

1700 to 1799: The Seasons to "A Modest Proposal."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

James Thomson. British.

1726/30. Poetry. The Seasons. Belief in progress. Fascination with the idea of a golden age. Ordered universe is symbolized by the seasons.

Anonymous. American. 1727. Textbook. The New England Primer. Textbook to teach New England children the alphabet. Verses, illustrations, rules for behavior, hymns and prayers. “Now I lay me down to sleep.”

John Gay. British. 1728. Play. The Beggar’s Opera. Barbs aimed at the Italian opera, Walpole, marriage, ladies, gentlemen, lawyers, trade and sentimental tragedy.

Alexander Pope. British. 1728/43. Poetry. The Dunciad. Attacks the critics of his works. Cibber—king of the Dunces, the emperor of Dullness, which reigns supreme.

Jonathan Swift. British. 1729. Satire. “A Modest Proposal.” Mocking suggestion that the Irish poor rear children to be killed and sold for eating.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

1700 to 1799: Robinson Crusoe to Gulliver's Travels.

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Daniel Defoe. British. 1719/20. Novel. Robinson Crusoe. Shipwrecked. Leads solitary existence for 24 years. He and Friday battle cannibals. Qualities: courage, patience, ingenuity and industry. Based stories on adventures of Alexander Selkirk. Allegory of his own life?

Daniel Defoe. British. 1722. Novel. Moll Flanders. Full title summarizes her life, one of the earliest social novels in England. The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Who Was Born at Newgate, and During a Life of Continued Variety for Three Score Year, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, five Time a Wife (Whereof Once to Her Own Brother), Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon in Virginia, at Last Grew Rich, liv’d Honest, and Died a Penitent.

Daniel Defoe. British. 1722. Nonfiction? A Journal of the Plague Year. Account of an epidemic of bubonic plague in England during the summer and fall of 1665. Remarkably convincing.

Voltaire. French. 1723. Epic Poem. La Henriade. Struggle of Henry IV of Navarre to gain the throne. Condemns civil strife and religious fanaticism.

Jonathan Swift. British. 1726. Satire. Gulliver’s Travels. Bitter denunciation of mankind. Man’s corruption of his highest attribute, reason. Form of journal. Ship’s physician. Lilliput (pigmies), Brobdingnag (giants), Laputa (wise men), Houyhnmland. Satirizes man’s abuse of human reason, reflected in political, social and academic institutions.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

1700 to 1799: "An Essay on Criticism" to Gil Blas

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Alexander Pope. British. 1711. Literary Criticism. “An Essay on Criticism.” Discussion of literary taste, style, verse structure. Criticism based on neoclassical principles.

Anonymous (Robert Burns?) British/Scottish. 1711? Song. “Auld Lang Syne.” New version of an older song. “…took it down from an old man’s singing.”

Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. British. March 1711 – December 1712. Essays. The Spectator. Picture of the social life of the times.

Alexander Pope. British. 1714. Poetry. “The Rape of the Lock.” Cuts off a lock of Belinda’s hair and she demands its return. Mock-heroic.

Alain Rene Lesage. French. 1715/35. Novel. Histoire de Gil Blas de Santillane. Picaresque. Extraordinary number of episodes. No coherent plot. Blas evolves: innocence, corruption, triumph of virtue. He meets adventurers, thieves, valets, actors, authors, doctors, clergymen and noblemen. Setting is supposedly Spanish, but it is actually a picture of French society.

Friday, May 22, 2009

1700 to 1799: The Way of the World to Journal to Stella

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

William Congreve. British. 1700. Play. The Way of the World. Efforts of urbane, witty Mirabell to marry quick-witted Millamant. Opposition of her aunt whom Mirabell has been courting to disguise his suit for her niece. They decide to marry, but negotiate rights and responsibilities.

Jonathan Swift. British. 1704. Satire. The Tale of a Tub. Ridicule of religious extremists. Ironic digressions. Title from a nautical practice: throwing empty wooden tubs into the sea to divert whales who threaten a vessel.

Jonathan Swift. British. 1704. Literary Criticism. The Battle of the Books. Modern vs. ancient books in St. James’s Library. Outcome is uncertain. Spider = the moderns; the bee = the ancients.

Richard Steele. British. 1709/11. Essays. The Tatler. Light satires and criticisms of contemporary mores. Topics include entertainment, poetry, domestic and foreign news and miscellaneous subjects.

Jonathan Swift. British. 1710/13. Journal to Stella. Swift’s name for his friend Esther Johnson. Reveals his hopes, anxieties, social life and political intrigues.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

1600 to 1699: Athalie to Telemaque

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Racine. French. 1691. Play. Athalie. Based on the story of 2Kings11. Athalie kills 42 princes to gain the throne of Judah. She missed Joash, a fatal mistake.

William Congreve. British. 1695. Play. Love for Love. Relinquishes his inheritance to his brother if his father will pay his debts. Attempts to regain the inheritance with the help of Angelica.

Charles Perrault. French. 1697. Tales. Contes de ma mere ll’oye (Mother Goose Tales.). Gave stories form in which they are known today. Sleeping Beauty, Little Red Riding-Hood, Puss-in-Boots, Cinderella, Tom Thumb and Bluebeard.

Francois Fenelon. French. 1699. Romance. Telemaque. Pretext for dissertation on politics, morals, education and religion. Prototype of religious and political tract disguised as a novel.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

1600 to 1699: Principia to An Essay Concerning....

A Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Sir Isaac Newton. British. 1687. Science. Principia. Presents the law of gravitation and rules for reasoning from physical events.

Henry Purcell (music) and Thomas Wharton (text). British. 1688. Song. “Lillibulero.” Savagely thunderous British marching song of the English Revolution of 1688. Satirizes James II and the Catholics.

Racine. French. 1689. Play. Esther. Based on the Book of Esther in the Bible. Relates the story of Esther and Ahasuerus. Written for school girls.

William and Mary. British. 1689. Nonfiction. Declaration of Right. Sets forth the fundamental principles of the English Constitution. Limits royal power.

John Locke. British. 1690. Philosophy. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Knowledge stems from the perception of the relationships among ideas. The mind at birth is a blank sheet. There are no innate ideas. We acquire knowledge through experience, sensation and reflection.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

1600 to 1699: MacFlecknoe to The Hind and the Panther

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Dryden. British. 1682. Poetry/Satire. MacFlecknoe. Directed against Thomas Shadwell. The title is from Richard Flecknoe, an Irish priest noted for bad verse. Depicts Shadwell as Flecknoe’s successor in the monarchy of nonsense. Model for Pope’s Dunciad.

Dryden. British. 1682. Poetry/Satire. The Medal. Aimed at Shaftesbury who had been exonerated from a charge of high treason.

Dryden. British. 1682. Poetry Religio Laici. In defense of the Anglican religion with cogent argument for a middle way.

Increase Mather. American. 1684. Nonfiction. An Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providences. Collection of reports of supernatural incidents in New England to show God’s role in human affairs.

Dryden. British. 1687. Poetry. The Hind and the Panther. Bear = the independents. The wolf = the Presbyterians. The hare = the Quakers. The ape = the freethinkers. The boar = the Anabaptists. The fox= the Arians. Defense of the Catholic religion. The Hind = the Church of Rome. The Panther = the Church of England. The Lion = James II.

Monday, May 18, 2009

1600 to 1699: Iphigenie en Aulide to Venice Preserved....

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Racine. French. 1679. Play. Iphigenie en Aulide. Attempt by woman who loves Achilles to foil Iphigenie’s escape results in herself being sacrificed. Seems her name had been Iphigenie at birth. Character invented by Racine. Loosely based on Euripides.

Andrew Marvell. British. 1681. Poetry. “The Garden.” Contrast between the innocence, peace and beauty of the garden and the stress and trouble of the outside world.

Andrew Marvell. British. 1681. Poetry. “The Definition of Love.” Deals with exalted passion and the impossibility of its fulfillment.

Dryden. British. 1681. Poetry. Absalom and Achitophel. Heroic couplets. Attacks Puritan attempts to exclude the legitimate heir from the throne because he is Catholic.

Thomas Otway. British. 1682. Play. Venice Preserved, or a Plot Discovered. Venetian gentleman in reduced circumstances marries Belvidera, daughter of a Senator. The Senator, her father, disowns her. The husband becomes involved in a plot to overthrow the Venetian government. He warns the Senate of the plot, is condemned anyhow, and, on the gallows, stabs his fellow conspirator to spare him an ignoble death. He commits suicide himself. Belvidera goes mad and dies.

Friday, May 15, 2009

1600 to 1699: The Man of Mode.... to Pilgrim's Progress

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Sir George Etherege. British. 1676. Play. The Man of Mode, or Sir Fopling Flutter. Personification of dandyism. Based on real people. Loving “up” the social ladder to parity.

Racine. French. 1677. Play. Phedre. Hippolyte repulses Phedre’s advances. Theseus has him destroyed, not knowing he is innocent.

Dryden. British. 1678. Play. All for Love, or The World Well Lost. Blank verse. Classical unities. Last day of Antony, Cleopatra and others who vie for the soul of Antony.

Comtesse de la Fayette. French. 1678. Novel. La Princesse de Cleves. Princess struggles to remain faithful to her husband. Reveals her passion for another to him. He dies of bitterness. Precursor of the psychological novel.

John Bunyan. British. 1678/84. Religion. Pilgrim’s Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come. Christian flees the City of Destruction and sets out for the Celestial City beyond the wicket gate.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

1600 to 1699: Bajazet to The Country Wife

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Racine. French. 1672. Play. Bajazet. Attempts to use sultana Roxana to gain his freedom. She learns he is not sincere and he is executed. Sultan learns of Roxana’s unfaithfulness and has her executed. Bajazet’s lover commits suicide.

Moliere. French. 1673. Play. The Imaginary Invalid (Malade imaginaire, Le). Moliere’s last play. Hypochondriac pretends his death to discover his second wife’s greed and his daughter’s loyalty.

Racine. French. 1673. Play. Mithridate. Son vs. father in ancient Rome for the love a young Greek girl, Monime.

Boileau. French. 1647/83. Mock Epic Poetry. The Lectern (Le Lutrin). Lampoons clerical pomposity and pettiness. Battle in a bookshop: ancients vs. moderns.

William Wycherley. British. 1675. Play. The Country Wife. Jealous Pinchwife and credulous Sparkish lose wife and fiancée. Horner, a rumored eunich, has access to willing wives.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

1699 to 1699: Britannicus to Samson Agonistes

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Racine. French. 1669. Play.

Britannicus. From Tacitus. Political drama. Nero tries to win Junia, his half-brother Britannicus’s beloved. He is foiled.

Pascal. French. 1670/1844. Nonfiction. Pensees. In defense of Christianity and Catholicism.

Corneille. French. 1670. Play. Tite et Berenice. Titus is to marry Domitia. However, Domitia is in love with Titus’s brother, Domitian. Berenice, Queen of Judea, arrives and reawakens Titus’s love for her. Fearing that she puts Titus in jeopardy, she leaves. Titus allows Domitia to marry Domitian. Racine and Corneille both wrote plays on the subject. Racine’s was judged better.

Racine. French. 1670. Play. Berenice. The Emperor Titus learns that the Roman people object to his marrying the queen of Palestine. The lovers part forever.

Milton. British. 1671. Poetry. Samson Agonistes. Captivity of blinded Samson among the Philistines; repudiates Delilah. Samson’s efforts to renew his faith in God’s support; modeled on Greek tragedy.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

1600 to 1699: Paradise Lost to Selected Fables

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Milton. British. 1667. Epic Poem. Paradise Lost. Greatest epic in any modern language. The story of the Devil’s temptation of Adam and Eve.

Hans Grimmelhausen. German. 1668. Novel. Simplicissimus. Thirty Years’ War. Development of the hero’s simple soul toward resignation and wisdom. Panorama of contemporary events. Horrors and injustices of war.

Dryden. British. 1668. Literary Criticism. Essay of Dramatic Poesy. Conversation about Greek, French and English dramas. The merits of dramatists. Blank vs. rhymed verse in plays.

Moliere. French. 1668. Play. L’Avare (The Miser). Inhuman greed balanced by a happy ending. Old men, trying to marry young women, are deceived by young men.

Jean de LaFontaine. French. 1668/94. Fables in Verse. Selected Fables, Set in Verse. Gently ironic view of life and society. Free verse. Sense and moderation. Told for the pleasure of telling.

Monday, May 11, 2009

1600 to 1699: Don Juan.... to Annus Mirabilis

Chronology of World, British and American Literature

Moliere. French. 1665. Play. Don Juan or the Stone Guest. Don Juan mistreats Elvire. Invites the statue of a man he murdered to dinner and the statue reciprocates.

Moliere. French. 1666. Play. Le Misanthrope. Alceste decides to speak and act with complete honesty and to ignore conventions.

Moliere. French. 1666. Play. Le Medecin malgre lui (The Doctor in Spite of Himself). Woodcutter pretends to be a doctor. Recites the medical jargon. “Cures” Lucinde of her pretended dumbness.

Racine. French. 1667. Play. Andromaque. First representation of psychology of passion. Pyrrhus, Andromaque, Phrrhus’s fiancée Hermione and Orestes. Pyrrhus wants Andromaque. Hermione is insanely jealous. She begs Orestes to kill Pyrrhus and he does. Hermione repudiates Orestes and commits suicide on Pyrrhus’s funeral pyre.

Dryden. British. 1667. Poetry. Annus Mirabilis. “Year of Wonder.” London fire, the Dutch War, chief events of 1666. Discusses the poetic imagination.

Friday, May 8, 2009

1600 to 1699: The Ridiculous Snobs to Tartuffe

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Moliere. French. 1659. Play. The Ridiculous Snobs. Girls admire only extravagant manners. Lovers send valets who act in this way and they fall for it.

Moliere. French. 1662. Play Verse. The School for Wives. Arnolphe arranges for his beloved Agnes to be raised in total innocence. Horace undermines his plans.

Michael Wigglesworth. American. 1662. Sermon. The Day of Doom. First American best seller. Describes the Day of Judgment, sending sinners and babies without baptism to Hell.

Samuel Butler. British. 1664/78. Poetry Satire. Hudibras. Directed against the hypocritical intolerance of the Puritans. The hero Hudibras is modeled after Don Quixote.

Moliere. French. 1664. Play. Tartuffe. Religious hypocrite and credulous wealthy fool. His wife fools Tartuffe into trying to seduce her while her husband watches—after he has deeded Tartuffe the house. Tartuffe tries to evict the family. But the king understands Tartuffe’s true nature and has him thrown into jail.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

1600 to 1699: El Gran Teatro del Mundo to "Hydriotaphia, Or...."

Chronology of World, British, and American Literature.

Calderon. Spanish. 1651? Play. el Gran Teatro del Mundo (The Great Theatre of the World). Auto Sacramental. Theatrical allegory. The author, God, presents a performance with personifications. Only God endures.

Izaac Walton. British. 1653. Nonfiction. The Compleat Angler, or the Contemplative Man’s Recreation. Treatise on fishing. Dialogue. Angler tries to convince a hunter that fishing is the superior sport.

Madeleine de Scudery. French. 1654/60. Novel. Histoire Romaine Clelie. Ten volumes. Digressions. The trials of a Roman hostage Clelie who swims the Tiber to reunite with her lover Aronce.

Milton. British. 1655. Pamphlet. Areopagitica. Argument against the restriction of the freedom of the press.

Sir Thomas Browne. British. 1658. Essay. “Hydriotaphia, or Urn Burial.” Starts as a scientific report on Roman burial urns. Meditation on mortality and oblivion. Flawless prose.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

1600 to 1699: "An Horatian Ode Upon Cromwell...." to Leviathan....

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Andrew Marvell. British. 1650. Poetry. “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland.” Cromwell as fated, elemental force. Pity for Charles I. Uneasiness about the future with Cromwell in power.

Anne Bradstreet. American. 1650. Poetry. The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America. First volume of poems written in North America.

Andrew Marvell. British. 1650. Poetry. “To His Coy Mistress.” Make love now with me. Time is passing quickly.

Jeremy Taylor. British. 1650. Religion. Holy Living and Dying. Rule and exercise of holy living and dying.

Thomas Hobbes. British. 1651. Treatise. Leviathan, or the Matter, Form, and Power of a Commonwealth, Ecclesiastical and Civil. On the origin and ends of government. Written while the Puritans ruled England. Egoism is the root of social conflict. We need stable government with absolute authority over its subjects and institutions, a social contract to accept a common and absolute power to protect them from themselves and others, and thus allow moderate satisfaction of human desires.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

1600 to 1699: The Simple Cobler of Aggawam to "To Althea from Prison."

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Nathaniel Ward. American. 1647. Nonfiction. The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. Satirical denunciation of England, New England, the human race and women in particular.

Robert Herrick. British. 1648. Poetry. “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time.” “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may/Old Time is still a-flying.”

Robert Herrick. British. 1648. Poetry. “Corinna’s Going A-Maying.” Implores late-sleeping mistress to rise and join May Day festivities. Life is too short. Urges love.

Robert Herrick. British. 1648. Poetry. “Delight in Disorder.” Little imperfections in lady’s dress are beguiling.

Richard Lovelace. British. 1649. Poetry. “To Althea from Prison.” True liberty, freedom of soul, cannot be threatened by chains and fetters.”