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Love Through the Ages

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Felicity O'Toole

on 30 May 2014

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Transcript of Love Through the Ages

Love Through the Ages
Medieval Drama
The English Sonnet
Thomas Wyatt and Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, introduced the Sonnet form from Italian into English
Influenced by Petrarch's subject matter:
Lover is dutiful and adoring
Mistress is proud and unreceptive, yet still desirable
Wyatt kept Petrarch's ABBA ABBA octave but ended his sonnets with a rhyming couplet
Sonnet form used by other Elizabethan poets such as Shakespeare and Sir Philip Sidney
Form outlived the Elizabethan period - used by Milton, Wordsworth, Keats, and still used today (by Carol Ann Duffy, for example)
Augustan era considered high point in British satiric writing
Present in all genres
Key figure = Jonathan Swift
Combined parody, with its imitation of form and style of another, and satire in prose
Restoration Literature
Restoration literature is the English literature written during the historical period commonly referred to as the English Restoration (1660–1689).

The official break in literary culture caused by censorship and radically moralist standards under Cromwell's Puritan regime created a gap in literary tradition, allowing a seemingly fresh start for all forms of literature after the Restoration.
The Victorian Novel
In the Victorian era, the novel was the dominant literary genre
Helped by the monthly serializing of fiction, as well as the increase in number of people who could read
Many opposed the long three volume novels which had previously been popular
However, the standard practice of publishing three volume editions continued until the end of the 19th century
The Romantic Movement
18th century = neo-Classical Age of Reason
Romanticism was reaction against this
Reason and logical thinking all very well, but they did not value emotional responses highly enough

Main characteristics:
Fascination with medieval, Gothic, foreign and supernatural
Valuing the senses
Carpe diem
Refusal to follow the old pathways
Post-modernist Literature
Characterized by heavy reliance on techniques like fragmentation, paradox, and questionable narrators
Often(though not exclusively) defined as a style or trend which emerged in the post–World War II era
Postmodern works are seen as a reaction against Enlightenment thinking and Modernist approaches to literature
Often more celebratory than Modernist literature in their consideration of the world's 'insanity' and accepting of the lack of universal truths
Modernist Literature
Modernism is characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional styles of poetry and verse
Modernists experimented with literary form and expression, adhering to Ezra Pound's maxim to "Make it new"
The modernist literary movement was driven by a conscious desire to overturn traditional modes of representation and express the new sensibilities of their time
The horrors of the First World War saw the prevailing assumptions about society reassessed
Thinkers such as Freud questioned the rationality of mankind
Biblical plays
Actors = members of medieval guilds
Prepared for certain Feast Days
Social activity
Morality plays
Characters = abstract vices and virtues
Performed in houses of more intelligent Tudor gentry
Humour = crude
Action = clumsy
Bourgeoisie - understood both the Court and the lower orders
Influenced by:
Continental poetry
Some Latin classics, particularly Ovid and Virgil
Numerically small - low degree of literacy
Courtiers and members of rising middle classes
Sentiments of courtly love
Other Key Figures
Edmund Spenser (poet)
Famous for
The Shepherd's Calendar
The Faerie Queen
Latter was an epic poem and fantastical allegory celebrating the Tudor dynasty and Elizabeth I
First work written in the Spenserian stanza - ABABBCBCC

Christopher Marlowe (poet & playwright)
Introduced the story of Faust to England in his play,
Doctor Faustus
His work differs from Shakespeare's because it focuses more on the moral drama of the Renaissance man than any other thing

Ben Jonson (poet & playwright)
The leading literary figure in the Jacobean era when Shakespeare died
In his plays, attempted to contain his action within the unities
Ifor Evans has called him 'the Dickens of the seventeenth century'
Considerable comedy influence on Restoration dramatists
Elizabethan Drama
The Italian Renaissance revived interest in ancient Greek and Roman theatre
Tragedies inspired by Seneca
Comedies inspired by Terence and Plautus
(N.B. All three of these authors = Latin)
Thomas Kyd discovered how easily blank verse could be converted into a useful theatrical medium
His play,
The Spanish Tragedy
, established a new genre in English drama, the revenge tragedy
Thomas Heywood adapted tragedy to the sensibilities of the rising middle classes
Added sentiment and introspective morality
John Lyly = Shakespeare's predecessor in comedy
Combined realistic farce, the complexity of Latin comedy and the allegory of 'Morality plays' into a new design
Witty dialogue
Gave his mythologies contemporary or topical reference
The Theatre
The theatre in England was fully established in the 1590s
In London, the Court favoured drama but civic authorities found it a nuisance, so performances took place outside the city walls
Plays performed by daylight - open to sky
Main platform could be surrounded on three sides by the audience
No scenery - playwright had to use words to supply play's atmosphere
Costume important too

The 17th century saw enclosed theatres lit by artificial lighting develop in importance
There was increased attention to scenic device
Shakespeare the playwright
His early comedies, such as
A Comedy of Errors
, are classical/Italianate, containing tight double plots and precise comic sequences
Gave way to more romantic comedies such as
A Midsummer Night's Dream
The plots of Shakespeare's tragedies often hinge on fatal errors or flaws, which overturn order and destroy the hero and those he loves.

Shakespeare the poet
Popularized the English sonnet, making significant changes to the Petrarchan model
154 sonnets - first 126 addressed to a young man and the rest (apart from the final two) addressed to a 'dark lady'
Jacobean Drama
Revenge drama was developed from Kyd's
The Spanish Tragedy
by John Webster
Famous examples of revenge plays:
The White Devil
- Webster
The Duchess of Malfi
- Webster
The Changeling
- Middleton and Rowley
The Jew of Malta
- Marlowe
'Tis Pity She's a Whore
- Ford
Metaphysical poetry
Metaphysical poets attempt to explain the emotional and spiritual elements of life in concrete, rational and logical terms. They attempt to define our sentiments by logical syllogisms or in scientific terms.
Intellectually rigorous, scholastic, dialectical, subtle
Argumentative – using logic, syllogisms or paradox in persuasion
Concentrated, complex and difficult thought
Dramatic, with abrupt aggressive opening but modulating tones
Style – concise, succinct, epigrammatic
Use of conceits/extended metaphors

Cavalier poetry
English Civil War began in 1642
Cavalier poetry closely linked to the Royalist cause - supported Charles I and the crown
Aimed to express the joy and simple gratification of celebratory things, such as beauty, love, nature, sensuality, drinking, good fellowship, honour and social life
Most works had allegorical or classical references
Common themes include "carpe diem" and Platonic love
Famous poets include Ben Jonson, Robert Herrick, Richard Lovelace, Thomas Carew, and Sir John Suckling

Restoration Poetry
Poetry = most popular and significant form of literature at the time
Disregarded individual sentiment and psychology in favour of public utterance and philosophy
Rhyming couplets in iambic pentameter = most popular structure
Key figures:
John Dryden
Dramatist, critic, translator and poet
Established the heroic couplet as a standard form of English poetry - became dominant form of 18th century
John Milton
Magnum opus =
Paradise Lost
Restoration Drama
In 1660, the theatres reopened
Heroic drama
Celebrated powerful, aggressively masculine heroes and their pursuit of glory both as rulers and conquerors, and as lovers
Centred on the actions of men of decisive natures, men whose physical and (sometimes) intellectual qualities made them natural leaders
Gradual shift to pathetic tragedy, where the focus was on love and domestic concerns
Emergence of 'she-tragedies', which focused on the sufferings of innocent and virtuous women
Restoration Comedy
a.k.a Comedy of manners
Notorious for its sexual explicitness, a quality encouraged by Charles II
Socially diverse audience - included aristocrats, their servants and hangers-on, and a substantial middle-class segment
Up-to-the-minute topical writing
Crowded and bustling plots
First professional actresses
Rise of the first celebrity actors
The Rise of the Novel
Samuel Richardson
First began writing
as a conduct book, but as he was writing, the series of letters turned into a story
Then decided to write in a different genre - the new form, the novel, attempted to instruct through entertainment
Henry Fielding
Dramatist until the Licensing Act of 1737
Disliked Richardson's work - satirized it - the two novelists were in dialogue with each other
Established novel in one of its most notable forms - middle class realism
Laurence Sterne
Tristam Shandy
- narrative consists of episodes, conversations, perpetual digressions, unfinished sentences and blank pages
Sterne was asserting that the orderly narrative of events has little relation to the disorder of the human mind
Tobias Smollett
Elevated the picaresque novel, where a low-born character would go through a practically endless series of adventures
Violent and boisterous stories
The novel of sentiment began in the 1760s and experienced a brief period of dominance
Augustan poetry
Political, satirical, and marked by the central philosophical problem of whether the individual or society took precedence as the subject of verse

Alexander Pope
As an artist he studied perfection with a rare singleness of purpose
Nearest approach to a classical poet in our language
Most effective as a satirist
Augustan drama
The Augustan stage retreated from the Restoration's focus on cuckoldry, marriage for fortune, and a life of leisure.
Instead, Augustan drama reflected questions the mercantile class had about itself and what it meant to be gentry

Licensing Act of 1737
In comedy, one effect of the Licensing Act was that playwrights began to develop a comedy of sentiment, which Goldsmith and Sheridan later reacted against
Jane Austen (1775-1817)
Her works critiqued the novels of sensibility of the second half of the 18th century and were part of the transition to 19th-century realism
They portray a narrow circle – the aristocracy and classes just below
Her plots, though fundamentally comic, highlighted the dependence of women on marriage to secure social standing and economic security
Little interest in sentimentalism
Regarded novel as a form of art requiring close and exacting discipline
The style of the Victorian Novel
Victorian novels tend to be idealised portraits of difficult lives in which hard work, perseverance, love and luck win out in the end; virtue would be rewarded and wrongdoers are suitably punished
The 1830s/40s saw the rise of the
social novel
, a work of fiction in which a prevailing social problem is dramatized through its effect on the characters of a novel
In many ways a reaction to rapid industrialization, and the social, political and economic issues associated with it
Some Key Novelists
Charles Dickens (1812-70)
Used satire as a means of social attack
The Brontë sisters (Emily, Charlotte and Anne)
Their novels caused a sensation when they were first published - only later were they accepted as classics
Thomas Hardy (1840-1928)
Nature, which had been highly admired and praised by the Romantic poets, appeared to Hardy as cruel and relentless
Victorian Poetry
The poetry of this period was heavily influenced by the Romantics, but also went off in its own directions
Particularly notable was the development of the dramatic monologue, a form used by many poets in this period, but perfected by Browning

= poet laureate 1850-92
Representative of his age
Victorian Drama
The length of runs in the theatre changed rapidly during the Victorian period.
As transportation improved, poverty in London diminished, and street lighting made for safer travel at night, the number of potential patrons for the growing number of theatres increased enormously.
Plays could run longer and still draw in the audiences, leading to better profits and improved production values.

Key figures = Henrik Ibsen and Oscar Wilde
Features of Modernist texts
Fragmentary form, eclectic and collaged
Stories within stories
Unreliable narrator/variety of narrators
Stream of consciousness technique
Questioning received ideas and the notion of 'truth'
Playing with time/chronology
Ambiguous endings
Making the reader work
Reversing traditional roles
Concern with the inner as well as public life of characters
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