A TO Z Literary Principles from History of English Literature: Note 74

A Set of 26 Objective Questions & Answers


 (a)Australian Aboriginal writer  Jack Davis (1917-2002) is known for his poetry, plays, and dedication to Aboriginal causes. A to Z (Objective Questions)

(b)  A picaresque novel, full-length fictional work, often satirical in nature, in which the principal character is cynical and amoral, is about a rogue hero who leads a wandering life. The form originated in Spain, and the term picaresque derives from the Spanish word picaro (rogue). The earliest Spanish example is Lazarillo de Tormes (Lazaro of Tormes, 1554); of unknown authorship. The most noted of German picaresque novels is The Adventurous Simplicissimus. In France the type is best represented by The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane. The earliest English picaresque novel is believed to have been The Unfortunate Traveller, or, The Life of Jack Wilton (1594) by Thomas Nashe. The picaresque novel was particularly popular in England in the 18th century  quickened this tradition with the contributions as The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (1722)   by Daniel Defoe; and The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751), both by Tobias Smollett.  Fielding’s Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews are the finest creations of this group.

(c) Epistle, formal and instructive letter, often intended for publication. The epistolary form was familiar among the ancient Babylonians, Assyrians, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans. The Greek philosophers Aristotle and Epicurus made notable use of it. Twenty-one books of the New Testament are epistles written by the apostles to members of the early church. Since the Renaissance the epistle, in verse and prose, has held a prominent place in literature. Examples of the literary epistle are Lettres provinciales (1656-57), by the French philosopher Blaise Pascal; the Drapier's Letters (1724-25), by the Anglo-Irish satirist Jonathan Swift; and An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot (1735), in verse, by the English poet Alexander Pope.  It also refers to a special genre of novel that is written in the form of letters. Samuel Richardson fathered this novel. It was almost an accident to him at the request of two London publishers, he wrote some letters for them but relating a true story of a virtuous servant girl who married her profligate master after his attempts to seduce and rape her. His Pamela and Clarissa Harlowe are produced in this vein. In fact, Richardson had a distinguished merit as a letter-writer from an early age. He was often employed by ladies to write love-letters on behalf of them. So, producing epistolary novel was no hard task for him. Though the epistolary method brings us in close contact with the characters of the novel, yet being too lengthy, sometimes it loses the attention of the readers.

(d) Elizabethan Drama is also called Romantic Drama.

(e) Extreme devotion to form and use of closed couplet in verse are the qualities of Neo-classical poetry. A to Z (Objective Questions)

(f)  During the closing decades of 18th century, English novel had a special turn and twist. It started to deal with the contemporary social and domestic life. Fanny Burney (1752-1840) was the producer of this novel. Her novels are valuable for the excellent picture they gave of contemporary people, customs, and court life. Her other novels are, like Evelina, sentimental but witty descriptions of innocent young women entering society; they include Cecilia (1782), Camilla (1796), and The Wanderer (1814). She presents the manners as it seen by a woman. For this reason, she remains the pioneer of female novelists. For feminine aspect, these novels are of immense psychological charms.

(g) Gothic Novel or the Novel of Terror type of romantic fiction that predominated in English literature in the last third of the 18th century and the first two decades of the 19th century, the setting for which was usually a ruined Gothic castle or abbey. The Gothic novel, or Gothic romance, emphasized mystery and horror and was filled with ghost-haunted rooms, underground passages, and secret stairways. The principal writers of the English Gothic romance were Horace Walpole, author of The Castle of Otranto (1764); Clara Reeve, who wrote The Champion of Virtue (1777); Ann Radcliffe, author of The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794); Matthew Gregory Lewis, author of Ambrosio, or the Monk (1796); Charles Robert Maturin, who wrote The Fatal Revenge (1807); and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who wrote Frankenstein (1818).

(h) Commedia also gave British playwrights a fresh and adventurous feeling for erotic themes and contemporary satire. Comedies no longer had to be situated in distant places or times to achieve their goals. Like Molière, these dramatists found peerless material in the confused and sanctimonious lifestyles of the rising middle class. Their theatrical parodies and satires were called comedies of manners. During the 18th century sentimental comedies encouraged audiences to uphold virtue and avoid vice, chiefly by stirring their emotions.

(i) French Revolution had great much impact on English Romantic poetry. Samuel Palmer painted landscapes distinguished by an innocent simplicity of style and a visionary religious feeling derived from Blake. John Constable, turning away from the wild natural scenery associated with many romantic poets and painters, infused quiet English landscapes with profound feeling. The first major artist to work in the open air, he achieved a freshness of vision through the use of luminous colors and bold, thick brushwork. J. M. W. Turner

(j) T.S. Eliot is a critic besides being a poet and essayist.

(k) Shakespeare belongs to the Renaissance Age.

 (l) It is prose which made Johnson a first rate writer. He had both regard for and reaction against neo-classicism. His prose style is characterized by heaviness and pomposity. In place of the easy grace of Addison and vigorous idiomatic colloquialism of Swift, Johnson gives us a style which is highly Latinized in Vocabulary. In sentence structure, it is marked by elaborate balance and anti-thesis. His style, however, has an elegance that depends on balance and at its best; it has great strength, nobility and dignity. His “The Rambler” and “The Idler” best express his prose style, contributed to the periodical papers. A to Z (Objective Questions)

(m) During the Restoration period, which began in 1660, many Renaissance plays were revived but new styles of drama also gained popularity. The influence of Pierre Corneille, a major playwright in France through the 1650s, encouraged a more classically oriented poetic tragedy, called heroic tragedy. John Dryden is the first major dramatist of the Restoration. All the qualities of a heroic or epic poem are presented in dramatic form. Like an epic, this type of drama deals with the themes of love, honour, valour, beauty etc. The conflict in this type of tragedy focally revolves round that of love and honour presented in the minds of several characters. The heroic tragedy presented a stirring of story of fighting and military exploits and of love and jealousy. Dryden produced a heroic tragedy with The Conquest of Granada (1670), which extols such heroic values as ideal love and valor in battle and is in rhymed couplets.   Nathaniel Lee and Otway are two other tragedians of this group. Aureng-Zebe, the Rival Queens, and the Orphan are some notable works of this group.

(n) In Blake’s so-called Prophetic Books, a series of longer poems written from 1789 on, Blake created a complex personal mythology and invented his own symbolic characters to reflect his social concerns. A true original in thought and expression, he declared in one of these poems, “I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.” Blake was a nonconformist radical who numbered among his associates such freethinkers as political theorist Thomas Paine and writer Mary Wollstonecraft. Poems such as The French Revolution (1791), America, a Prophecy (1793), Visions of the Daughters of Albion (1793), and Europe, a Prophecy (1794) express his condemnation of 18th-century political and social tyranny. Theological tyranny is the subject of The Book of Urizen (1794), and the dreadful cycle set up by the mutual exploitation of the sexes is vividly described in “The Mental Traveller” (1803?). Among the Prophetic Books is a prose work, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790), which develops Blake’s idea that “without Contraries is no progression.” A to Z (Objective Questions)

 (o) The masks or half masks were worn by players in the Italian commedia dell’arte, which was popular in the 16th century. The characters portrayed in commedia dell’arte were always much exaggerated. The masks were designed to contribute to these exaggerations.

(p) Wordsworth’s interpretation of Nature is truly pantheistic. So, he believes that all objects of Nature are fundamentally one and that a mysterious soul—a Being permeates all objects of Nature and gives to each natural object—flower, wind, tree—its own distinct life and soul. This universal soul broods over, gives life to and sustains not only the objects of Nature but also the mind of man. Thus, to Wordsworth, Nature’s beauty is the visible symbol of a divine and all-pervading personality. Shelley shares this faith with Wordsworth and gives a triumphant expression to his pantheism in “Adonais.”

(q) Odes are of two types—Pindaric or regular ode and Horatian ode. Ode was invented by Pindar who wrote Odes following the Chorus songs of Greek drama. English followers are Ben Jonson, Cowley, Wordsworth,    Shelley, and Keats.  Horatian Odes, derived from the Roman poet, Horace are shorter than Pindaric Odes and these are written in a single repeated stanza form.

(r) Matthew Arnold calls Keats as enchantingly sensuous. Like Wordsworth, Keats is also a favourite of sensation and its effects. To him, it included taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing; while for Wordsworth it included only the last two.  Added to that, Keats reveled in the luxury of all the senses, even of those associated with sex or feminine body and not merely of the respectable senses, as with Wordsworth. A to Z (Objective Questions)

(s) Sir Thomas Wyatt and the Earl of Surrey jointly brought out Tottel’s Miscellany during the Renaissance. The name of the Earl of Surrey is Henry Howard. Forty of his poems were printed posthumously in 1557 in Songs and Sonettes, Written by the Ryght Honorable Lorde Henry Howard, Late Earle of Surrey, and Others, and in the same year his translations from Virgil appeared as Certain Bokes of Virgiles Aeneis Turned into English Meter.

(t) Remarkable quote:  Literature is mostly about having sex and not much about having children; life is the other way round.”David Lodge (1935 - ) British novelist and critic. The British Museum is Falling Down

(u) The dramatic structure of Restoration comedies combines in it the features of The Neoclassical Theatre of Italy and France and The Greek Theatre. Dating from the Restoration, when the English monarchy was reestablished under King Charles II in 1660, Restoration comedy witnessed the first appearance of women on the English stage. The so-called breeches part was specially created in order to costume female actors in male attire in order to reveal the female figure. The genre placed much emphasis on wit and sexual intrigues. Examples include The Country Wife (1674?) by William Wycherley, The Way of the World (1700) by William Congreve, and The Beaux’ Stratagem (1707) by George Farquhar.

(v)   “I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world”- wrote Walt Whitman in Leaves of Grass.

(w) The etymological meaning of the word “trope” is turning.

(x) English poet Coleridge in Biographia Literaria defined poetic imagination as “a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite ‘I AM’ ”?

(y) Little Nell is a character in Dickens’The Old Curiosity Shop. It covers the pathos surrounding the death of its child-heroine Little Nell. Read More A to Z (Objective Questions)

(z)  Formalism:  A text-based critical method   was developed by Victor Shklovsky, Vladimir Propp, and other Russian critics early in the 20th century. It involved detailed inquiry into plot structure, narrative perspective, symbolic imagery, and other literary techniques.                                                    

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     

        2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature


        4. Microsoft Students’ Encarta

          5. http://www.ugcnetonline.in/previous_question_papers.php