LATE VICTORIAN LITERATURE. THOMAS HARDY.



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LATE VICTORIAN LITERATURE. THOMAS HARDY.



The chartist movement which lasted for 3 decades grew weaker in the 60s because of the concessions made by the bourgeoisie but the 1880s saw a new wave of the workers struggle forced by the hardening of exploitation. There existed several trends in the literature of this period. The most powerful was critical realism represented by the writings of Thomas Hardy, George Eliot, Samuel Butler. Their works became narrower in scope compared with the novels by Dickens & Thackeray but they gained in the psychological aspect. These writers made more stress on the inner life of their personages than the writers of the 1st generation did. There was an emphasis on the link b/n the characters & the environment. Especially it is true ofThomas Hardy's (1840-1928) novels some of which were called by the critics "novels of character & environment", f.e, "Tess of the D"Urbervilles" ", "Jude the Obscure", "The Mayor of Casterbridge".

Hardy spent some years in London as a young man & then returned to his native place. He is a regional writer who described southern & western counties of England, the rural customs and ways of life that he knew as a boy. "Tess of the D"Urbervilles" is a tale of a poor girl, whose misfortunes are so great that in the end she murders a man & is hanged. Her poor father's life is upset when he learns that he is descended from an ancient family, the D"Urbervilles. In the novel "Jude the Obscure" Hardy unfolds the tragic story of the two central characters who represent new social types: Jude, the working man who is passionate for education & self-improvement & the woman he marries who can be called "a new woman". Their marriage is a failure & Jude begins to drink & dies unhappily. The Mayor of Casterbridge is also a tragic character who ruins his life by drinking & finally dies. After the hostile reception of his tragic novels by readers & critics who found them shocking he concentrated on poetry which he wrote till the end of his life.

Samuel Butler is an outstanding satirist of the end of the 19th century. In the novel "The Way of All Flesh" he criticizes the hypocrisy of bourgeois & clerical morality.

 

15. DECADENT L-RE. AESTHETICISM & ITS THEORISTS. O. WILDE

The general crisis of the bourgeois ideology & culture was reflected in lit-re & fine arts by the trend that received the name of Decadence (D). This French word means”decline”(of lit-re or of art). D. manifested itself in various trends of the last decades of the 19th century:symbolism, impressionism,imagism, futurism. The most widely known manifestation of D. in the social life of bourgeois England was Aestheticism(a movement in search of beauty).The idea of this decadent trend was the dislike of reality & unwillingness to deal with day-to-day life. Aestheticists tried to lead the readers away from everyday life issues to the world of dreams & beauty. In general the closing years of the century were a period of literary experiment & innovation. Aestheticism(A) was more characteristic of En. lit-re than that of any other country. The roots of A. could be traced back to the beginning of the 19th century, to some of the romanticists. Aestheticists protested against the severe & vulgar reality, against bourgeois pragmatism. They concentrated their art on pure form. They rejected both the social & the moral function of art. It was inspired by the ideas of the Pre-Rafaelite Brotherhood & the works by John Ruskin & Walter Water. The representatives of Pre-Rafaelite Brotherhood turned to ancient art as a model for their own works. A new understanding of the mission of art as devoid of any moral aspect was initiated. Walter Pater emphasized the importance of form in art over the matter. Art is indifferent to what is moral or immoral - it is beyond morality. The principle "art for art's sake" suggests that giving aesthetic pleasure is the main purpose of art. Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) is the most prominent representative of En. aestheticism.W. was an aesthete in everything cultivating an extravagant way of living: he collected luxurious objects of beauty, wore brightly-colored clothes. He wrote in all the main literary genres: drama, essays, prose, poetry, but he said that he put his talent into his living. His only novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" was designed to illustrate his aesthetic principles, but in fact overgrew the idea that art has nothing to do with morality. The novel reflects the duality & contradictory nature of the author's views. He also wrote brilliant comedies or manners, f.e., "The Importance of Being Ernest","An Ideal Husband" & others. W.'s brief career ended in ruin when he was sentenced to 2 years imprisonment for homosexual practices.

16. NEO-ROMANTICISM & ITS REPRESENTATIVES. J.CONRAD, R.KIPLING, R.STEVENSON, A.C.DOYLE

Alongside with realism there appeared new trends the main of which were neo-romanticism & aestheticism. The idea of these two as well as other decadent trends was the dislike of reality & unwillingness to deal with day-to-day life. These writers preferred to take the readers away from everyday life issues to the world of dreams, exotics, ancient times, fantasy (neo-romanticism) & beauty (aestheticism). The other trends of the last decades of the 19th century are symbolism, impressionism, imagism, & futurism. In general the closing years of the century were a period of literary experiment & innovation. Neo-romanticists chose the world of adventure & cult of strong man, opposing these to the routine of life. Neo-romanticism: 1) Robert Stevenson (1850-94) is a master of adventure fiction, whose works were dedicated either to history (the Black Arrow) or adventure (Treasure Island).The heroic romantic deeds are performed for the sake of justice & good. He was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of Neo-romanticism in English literature. Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular & did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is only recently that critics have begun to look beyond Stevenson's popularity & allow him a place in the canon. Stevenson was a celebrity in his own time, but with the rise of modern literature after World War I, he was seen for much of the 20th century as a writer of the second class, relegated to children's literature & horror genres. The late 20th century saw the start of a re-evaluation of Stevenson as an artist of great range & insight, a literary theorist, an essayist & social critic, a witness to the colonial history of the South Pacific, & a humanist. 2) Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) was a Polish-born novelist. Wrote deeply psychological novels where the action takes place in exotic places though he was initially regarded as a writer of romances. Conrad was an exotic & strange figure in English literature. He undergone successive transformation from a Polish gentleman to a seaman & merchant & then to an English novelist whose prose is richer than that of many English writers. Many critics regard Conrad as an important forerunner of Modernist literature. The list of his works includes "Lord Jim", "Secret Agent "Nostromo", a short novel "The Heart of Darkness" & others. 3)Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930) praised man's powerful intellect in his Sherlock Holmes's detective stories & worked out the principles of the so-called "analytical thinking". Each story is a puzzle, but the readers are given enough information to discover for themselves the answer to the mystery. 4) Rydyard Kipling (1865-1936) became famous in the 1890s. He was born in India in 1865, educated in England & returned to India to work as a journalist & writer. In England he became famous as a master of the genre of short story. His favourite character was a strong man of action, f.e. he wrote about soldiers who defended the interests of the British Empire (Barrack Room Ballads). He was also a writer of the best kind of children's books (The Jungle Book, Just So Stories). Very famous is his poem "If". Kipling is the author of the saying "East is East & West is West & never the twain shall meet". His imperialist convictions separate him from many readers and literary critics in the post-imperial age. Kipling was one of the most popular writers in English, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1907, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English language writer to receive the prize, and he remains today its youngest-ever recipient. Among other honours, he was sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, all of which he rejected.

 



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