Thursday, June 18, 2009

1700 to 1799: Torquato Tasso to Julie....

Chronology of World, British and American Literature.

Goethe. German. 1790. Play. Torquato Tasso. Incompatibility of the poet’s inner nature with life in the external world.

Robert Burns. British. 1791. Narrative Poetry. “Tam O’Shanter.” Surprises witches and warlocks as they frolic. They chase him but cannot go farther than half way across a stream. He makes it past halfway, but the horse’s tail doesn’t.

James Boswell. British. 1791. Biography. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. Boswell’s aim was completeness. No detail was too small. Features the brilliance and wit of Johnson’s conversation. Boswell was able to transform profusion of detail into a perceptive, lifelike portrait. Hawkins is a better source for Johnson’s youth. Thrale is better for the intimate, domestic life.

Marquis deSade. French. 1791. Novel. Justine. Celebrates a sexually persecuted heroine.

Rousseau. French. 1791. Novel. Julie ou la Nouvelle Heloise. Epistolary. Former lover comes to live with a wife and her husband at the invitation of the husband. Lover leaves because the situation is impossible but is recalled on her deathbed. He promises to care for her children. Intent is to attack hypocritical social morality.

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