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Restoration & 18 th Century 1660-1785 Based on Norton Anthology of English Lit 8 th edition.

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Presentation on theme: "Restoration & 18 th Century 1660-1785 Based on Norton Anthology of English Lit 8 th edition."— Presentation transcript:

1 Restoration & 18 th Century 1660-1785 Based on Norton Anthology of English Lit 8 th edition

2 Religion and Politics Return of Charles II (Stuart) after “Interregnum” of Cromwell family, during which country run by puritans or “dissenters” Anglican bishops were not tolerant of dissent Test ACT required all who attend university, and all holders of civil and military office, to take sacrament and deny belief in transubstantiation Widespread anti-catholic sentiment; blamed for fire of London and fictional “popish plot”

3 Ousting of Stuarts James II, a Catholic, did not hide his sympathies like his father had. Ousted Dutchman William of Orange and his wife, James’ protestant daughter Mary, come to London and James flees to France: “Bloodless Revolution” His supporters, called Jacobites, persisted, especially in Scotland, until final unsuccessful uprising of Bonnie Prince Charlie in 1745 Succession settled on German Sophia, Electress of Hanover and her descendents (granddaughter of James I

4 England’s New Wealth War of Spanish Succession in 1702 weakened England’s commercial rivals; England gained new colonies and contracts to supply slaves to Spain. New wealth created tensions between old and new money

5 Whigs and Tories These aristocratic parties fight for ascendancy throughout period. Whigs, like “Petroleum conservatives,” tolerated dissenters; supported new moneyed interests (bankers, etc.); centralized government Tories, like “Bible belt conservatives,” supported monarchy, established church, affirmed land ownership as proper basis of wealth, suspicious of centralized government that rewarded followers with wealth

6 Emergency of Empire First prime ministers (Walpole and Pitt) expand British power and commerce overseas Britain becomes colonial power, ruling Canada and India, though they lose American colonies. Slave trade enriches nation; opposition to slavery widespread by both Anglicans and Methodists

7 Discontent: The rich get richer Great wealth does not spread to poor; women remain disenfranchised 1780 London riots turn the poor (Catholic and Protestant) against each other Popular king George has 60-year rule, but inherited madness increasingly mars rule Fear of radicals who call for new democracy contributes to British reaction against French revolution

8 Context of Ideas: Contrast & Compromise Holdovers of revolution: Pilgrim’s Progress and Paradise Lost express the conscience of “dissenters” Contrast with court, in which Charles II and his followers “aggressively celebrated pleasure” and considered London’s “wives and daughters fair game” Compromise brewing among intellectuals; suspicions of all excess

9 Suspicion of Dogmatism & “Enthusiasm” All anxious to avoid strife of 1640-60 All dogma unpopular: puritan enthusiasm, papal infallibility, divine right of kings, modern Cartesian philosophy Pursuit of absolute certainty is “vain, mad, and socially calamitous.” For religious people and cynics, faith can take up where reason and sensory evidence fails

10 Distrust of received knowledge New theories: Hobbes supports absolute government because of scientific theory of matter in motion: human desire for power leads to “state of war” Atomic theory Advancement of empirical study by careful, systematic observation is the great contribution of 18 th c. England to the world

11 Science—still a lay activity Natural history (collection & description of natural facts) & Natural philosophy (study of those facts) Microscope and telescope expand complexity of universe Aphra Behn translates Fontenelle’s “Conversation on the Plurality of Worlds” suggestng alternate universes Exploration and colonization increase apetite for “wondrous facts” about new flora and fawna

12 Science, cont’d Discovery of electricity led to fashionable experiments with electrocution Matthew Boulton creates first factories powered by steam engines Chemistry allowed new market by Wedgewood in domestic porcelain

13 Deism or “Natural Religion” Newton’s discoveries suggest “universal order in creation” created by God like watchmaker and watch Encounter with other non-Christian peoples led to “universal” religious tenets that could be embraced by rational beings Deism: Reason recognizes goodness and wisdom of God and natural law; no need for mystery or bible Deism’s God winds world like a watch and then withdraws. American Founders like Ben Franklin embraced Deism, which seemed like a better foundation for new nation than religious division

14 Empiricism: Berkeley: we know the world only through our senses; we cannot prove that material things exist; reliance on faith Hume: causes and effects are discernable by experience, not reason Locke examines “limits of human understanding” to help us avoid “meddling” in things that exceed our comprehension Swift & Pope warn against metaphysics, abstract logic, theoretical science. Pope: “Presume not God to scan.”

15 Feminism Mary Astell argued for women’s educational institutions and decried marital tyranny; mocks Locke’s insistence on political rights for men only. Richard Steele and others advocates improvement in women’s education and “sociability.”

16 New Religion Methodism—evangelical sect promoted by John Wesley et al, preached salvation through faith, not works (unlike Anglicans) New emphasis on individual and personal God: diary keeping, letter writing, and novel “all testify to importance of private, individual life”

17 Conditions of Literary Production Government licensing relaxed and replaced by laws against sedition, libel, obscenity, and treason Stage licensing remained; all but two royal theatres closed down Copyright vested with publishers and authors begin to profit by subscription; Pope earns 5000 pounds for Iliad translation Stamp acts allowed taxation of newspapers; put some out of business but others thrived

18 New professional writing class Grub St in where poorer writers lived Market also appealed to literary elite; few now wrote except for pay Subscription allowed new wealth but also helped women’s writing, which otherwise had trouble finding publishers Mostly wealthy or middle class, but some poor authors made it into print, e.g. Mary Collier’s “The Woman’s Labor”

19 Education of Women Increase in literacy (male literacy as much as 75% by end of period, perhaps 25% for women; literacy mostly urban and surrounded the bible) Women were barred from universities; all were self- educated Aristocratic women published widely, especially poems Some “scandalous” writers of popular stories of sex, satire, seduction were denounced by men as immoral Pope’s Dunciad depicts pissing contest of “scurrilous male booksellers” won by Eliza Haywood Bluestockings: intellectual women who favored moral literature, esp novels about young women approaching marriage

20 Cost of reading Books were still too expensive for laborers, as were lending libraries Poor sometimes taught to read as a religious activity by aristocratic masters Patrons interested in letters, travel literature, and novels Change of printing: capitalization reserved for proper names instead of nouns; fewer italics for emphasis suggests more sophisticated reading public

21 Literary Principles: New emphasis on Clarity Elegant simplicity and restraint; rejection of Donne’s metaphysics and Milton’s large themes “Neoclassical” or “Augustan” period involved classical revival with English themes Dryden’s interest in literature for moral instruction

22 “Nature” New interest in “nature”—external nature of landscapes; human nature’s “enduring, universal truths” Study of the ancients seemed synonymous with study of nature: combine method with with, and judgment with fancy Restraint: “The winged courser, like a generous horse, Shows most true mettle when you check his course.”

23 Mannered language; readable verse Style dominated by personification, periphrasis, latinate words, and words forced into Latin syntax Heroic Couplet (rhymed iambic pentameter AA BB) inherited from Ben Jonson; elaborately stylized, but short sentences. For witty, moralizing verse Blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) favored for meditative poems

24 Restoration Literature 1660- 1700 Dryden dominated; lit combined latest European trends with English topics; made Ovid and Virgil accessible through translation Royal society asked for prose to be “plain and utilitarian”; contrast with elaborate style of Milton’s pamphlets and Donne’s sermons Aristocratic, heroic subjects Restoration drama favored comedies of manners featuring pleasure-seeking males who prey on beautiful, witty, emancipated women

25 18 th Century lit 1700-1745 Great age of satire: wit turned against “fanaticism and innovation;” mock epics by Pope, Swift, Gay. New prose genres: allegories, biographies of notorious criminals, travelogues, gossip, romance— often fictonalized, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe and Behn’s Oronooko Sentimental drama rejected immoral comedies; featured characters choosing between love and honor Poems about sublime beauties of nature and “low subjects” prefigure romantic age

26 New Modes 1740-1845 Prose modes: novels more popular than poems for first time. Essays, literary criticism, biography, philosphy, politics, history, aesthetics, economics (Adam Smith) Memoirs of women created celebrities who let readers into private lives Epistolary novels and satires; gothic novels; experimental fiction influenced by Cervantes in Spain; Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy First dictionaries Poems were melancholy and lamented loss of poetic age; “primitives” like Ossian were popular


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