A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 55



 History of English Literature: A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers:

 Up to Pope

  1.  Queen Elizabeth: Queen Elizabeth died in 1603, thirteen years before Shakespeare, twenty-three years before Bacon. 
  2. Elizabethan: The term Elizabethan is applied not only to those who wrote while the Queen was on the throne but to Jacobean writers as well; that is, to writers of the reign of James I. The literature of the two reigns are thus grouped together because they have many characteristics in common. 
  3.  Elizabethan Renaissance: It is intellectual awakening which came first to Italy upon the rediscovery of Greek and Latin literature, followed by discoveries in the realm of science which swept away many of the crude ideas which had prevailed during the Middle Ages, and a vast widening of the world through the voyages of Columbus and the later explorers. 
  4. Reformation: a breaking away from the powerful church system which for so many centuries had bound together all western Europe with Rome as its head, and the development of the idea that there should be more freedom of thought in regard to moral and religious questions, with the Bible as a supreme guide. This moral awakening, felt strongly even in the days of Wyclif, was a great force in Elizabeth's day, though so far as literature is concerned it was subordinate to the intellectual; but in the seventeenth century it reached its climax, influencing not literature alone but the entire national life. For it is but a step from religious liberty to political freedom. England ceased to be a glorious country in which all were knit together by common sympathies. 
  5. Commonwealth: There was a great rebellion, a civil war; Charles I was beheaded; for eleven years England was a Commonwealth with the Puritans, the extremists among Protestants was in power. 
  6.  Closure of Drama: Drama the most prominent form of expression in the Elizabethan period, remained popular, though declining in merit, tragedy becoming more artificial and sensational, and comedy ever lighter and coarser, till 1642 when all theatres throughout the realm were closed by order of the Puritan parliament. The playhouse remained idle till the Puritans lost their political supremacy at the Restoration in 1660. Thus ended the most wonderful series of plays the world has ever seen, rapid in its rise and in its decline, but reaching lofty heights of excellence.   
  7. Palgrave's Golden Treasury: In Palgrave's Golden Treasury we find this period quite as well represented as the preceding, whether the number of songs or the number of writers is considered. It is a rare collection gleaned from plays, from popular songbooks, and from slender volumes by individual writers. Not a few of the pieces are anonymous, and most of the authors are represented by but two or three songs each.
  8.  John Milton John Milton was eight years old when Shakespeare died. He is often termed the last  of the Ehzabethans, so unmistakably do his writings reflect the influence of the Renaissance. This is true of his earlier poems, written during his seven years at Cambridge and the succeeding five years passed at Horton, his father's country seat, in a continuation of his study of Greek, Latin, Italian, and English literature. 
  9.  Paradise Lost,  Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes: Blind, poor,
    Milton's life for a time in danger because of the prominent part he had played during the Commonwealth, he composed his great epic Paradise Lost, soon followed by Paradise Regained and Samson Agonistes. In these as in his earlier works we see the influence of his close study of Greek and Latin classics, yet even more marked is the influence of the Bible.
  10. Paradise Lost: Paradise Lost is itself the story of Adam's fall, based upon Old Testament narrative. It marks the conclusion of that long line of sacred poetry which began with the Caedmon paraphrases. Thus it is right to say that in Milton are combined the best that the Renaissance and the Reformation brought to England. 
  11. Theatres Reopened: The theatres, closed since 1642, were reopened until the monarchy was restored in 1660, and for the first time the French custom of permitting women to act was followed. Few of the older dramatists remained, but new playwrights straightway appeared whose clever, witty comedies picturing the follies of polite society delighted the town. 
  12. Restoration tragedy- A change: How a change Restoration tragedy is to Elizabethan may be seen by comparing Dryden's All for Love with Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, two plays based upon the same historic events. 
  13. A change: Although the dramatists constructed their plays after French rules, they recognized Shakespeare's genius. He was considered somewhat barbarous and antiquated, however, and a number of his plays were rewritten, the plot construction changed, the language modernized, and rhyme substituted for blank verse! 
  14. Satirical Poetry: One of the most popular books of the day was Samuel Butler's Hudibras, a burlesque romance, ridiculing the Puritans. It was an age of criticism and satire, and poetry was made to do much of the mean work of political warfare now carried on by our newspapers. But the political wrangles of those early times when the Whig and Tory parties were newly formed are so far away from us that the long, clever, biting satires of the day are no longer read save by students.
  15. Royal Society:In 1662 the Royal Society (for the cultivation of the natural sciences) was founded.
  16.  John Dryden: John Dryden, a lifelong man of letters,   a man of great intellect and a master craftsman able to use his pen along many lines of composition. Twenty or more plays stand to his credit. His non-dramatic poetry fills eight hundred pages or more, closely packed, and his critical essays, most of which are found as prefaces to his plays, are models of clear, vigorous, rapid English.
  17. Alexander's Feast:  a song written to order for a musical society, in honor of St. Cecilia. 
  18. John Dryden's  Drama: The bulk of Dryden's work was in drama. By means of it, following the new mode of living of the professional literary man, he could derive his support from a large public rather than from private patrons. 
  19. Heroic Tragedies: In Dryden's heroic tragedies The Conquest of Granada (1670) and All for Love; or, The World Well Lost (1678), a rewriting of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra in the new taste, Dryden showed a different and not always satisfying side of his talent and exemplified the dominant quality of all Restoration tragedy. 
  20. John Dryden's Applications: In order to achieve splendor and surprise on the stage, he sacrificed reality of characterization and consistency in motivation for sensual display in exotic locales and extravagance in plot and situation, presented in a style verging on the bombastic. The affinities of this kind of drama are with Beaumont and Fletcher rather than with the great Elizabethan age; and the indirect influence of Ben Jonson is apparent also, for these two men were Jonson's disciples. 
  21. More examples: Probably the best example of this genre of tragedy was produced by Thomas Otway, whose Venice Preserved (1682) avoids the worst excesses to which this form is liable and also possesses considerable tenderness and sensibility. By this time, however, the vogue of heroic tragedy was coming to an end; the style already had been successfully parodied in The Rehearsal (1671), by George Villiers, 2nd duke of Buckingham, and his collaborators. 
  22. Pope vs   Dryden: Pope did not have Dryden's majesty. Perhaps, given his predilection for correctness of detail, he could not have had it. Also, the readers of succeeding times have concluded that the dictates of reason do not all converge on only one poetic formula, just as the heroic couplet, which Pope brought to final perfection, is not necessarily the most generally suitable of English poetic forms. Nevertheless, the ease, harmony, and grace of Pope's poetic line are still impressive, and his quality of precise but never labored expression of thought remains unequaled. 
  23.  An Essay on Criticism It attempts to show that poetry must be modeled on nature; but his conception of nature, a traditional one shared by all his contemporaries, differs from that of succeeding generations. For Pope, nature meant the rules that right reason has discovered to be immanent in all things, so that what the experience of reasonable minds through the ages has shown to be the greatest poetry—namely, that of classical antiquity—provides a perfect model for modern times.  
  24.  An Essay on Man (1732-1734):A similar conservatism reappears in An Essay on Man, which concludes with the much debated generalization that “Whatever is, is right.” 
  25. The Rape of the Lock: Pope's brilliant satiric masterpiece, The Rape of the Lock (1712; revised edition 1714), makes an epic theme of a trifling drawing-room episode: the contention arising from a young lord's having covertly snipped a lock of hair from a young lady's head.  
  26. "All heiresses are beautiful." John Dryden (1631 - 1700) English poet, playwright, and literary critic.                  Ardhendu De