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Age of Johnson (1750-1798)
Transcript of Age of Johnson (1750-1798)
Old Age Thomas Gray Politics of the time
Societal, Cultural & Religious context Mike Blazanin, Trevor Poonai Samuel Johnson & Thomas Gray Political Issues Societal Issues Cultural issues Religious issues The Authors Decline of Party Feud
Rivalry Between Whigs and Tories
Led to Decline of political pamphleteering
The French Revolution
Second half of the eighteenth century new ideas were germinating
French Revolution of 1789 climax of unrest
Revolutionary ideas gave birth to democratic and humanitarian feelings, and influenced literature greatly
The Humanitarian Spirit
Rapid growth of democracy
Led to protests against the callousness and brutality of society, which resulted in the rapid spread of the spirit of humanitarianism. Childhood
Old Age Childhood Young Adult Middle Age Old Age Childhood
Born at 41 Cornhill, London where his mother ran a small milliner’s shop.
Fifth of Twelve Children
Father, Philip, was a money scrivener in the City of London: ‘a scoundrel and a brute’.
1725 (9) his mother, at her own expense, sent him to Eton, where her brothers were assistant masters.
Befriended the young Horace Walpole, Richard West and Thomas Ashton, who together formed the ‘quadruple alliance’, and with whom Gray had lasting, possibly homosexual, relationships. Young Adult He entered Peterhouse College in Cambridge in 1734 (18), where he was dubbed ‘Miss Gray’. He read widely in Greek, Latin, French and Italian, and developed interests in architecture, mediaeval literature and natural history.
He left Cambridge without a degree.
His father died in November 1741 (25), and for the next few years Gray spent most of his time in London and Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire, where his mother had retired with her sisters in 1742 (26).
Began a period of poetic creativity with Ode on Spring and, on the death of his friend Richard West, Ode to a Distant Prospect of Eton College, Ode on Adversity and Sonnet on the Death of Richard West.
(29)Walpole admired his poetry, and persuaded him to publish. The Literature Literary Characteristics Johnson's Writing Gray's Writing Middle Age Ode on a Distant Prospect of Eton College appeared, followed by Ode on Spring and Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Goldfishes in 1748 (32).
Elegy on a Country Churchyard, instant and resounding success, running to four editions in two months. Gray consistently declined to receive any profit by his work.
Continued to study at Peterhouse, and by 1752 (36) had begun writing his Pindaric Odes.
Criticized as obscure, and from this point he virtually ceased to write imaginative poetry, concentrating instead on private study.
Moved to London in 1759 (43), produced a certain amount of satirical verse, most of which was destroyed after his death. Old Age 1768 (52) his poems were republished in a less expensive format, and his poems The Fatal Sisters, The Descent of Odin and The Triumphs of Owen were included for the first time.
Appointed Professor of History and Modern Languages at Cambridge in 1768.
1771 (55) he proposed to visit Bonstetten in Switzerland during the summer, but was struck by a sudden illness, and died after a few days.
Buried in St Giles churchyard in Stoke Poges next to his mother. A memorial was erected for him in Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey. New Realism
The Age of Transition
Reaction Against Rules
Return To Nature
Revolt Against the Conventional Literary Technique
Fresh Treatment of Old Themes The Industrial Revolution
Shift from agriculture to manufacturing
Many technological advancements
It was difficult for the economy to adjust
Rise of the middle class
Decreased influence of aristocracy "Renaissance of learning"
renewed interest in literature & history
rise in popularity of old authors
Milton Great Evangelical Revival
Shift to less formal religion
Belief in "spiritual energy"
More emphasis on emotions, senses, empathy, sensitivity, etc. Born in 1709 in Lichfield, Staffordshire, England
He contracted Scrofula & small-pox, which left him disfigured and disabled
He grew up determined to overcome his disabilities
He spent much of his time Boxing, swimming, running & playing outdoors
He developed a strong association with religion Pembroke College
Depression, tics (Tourettes)
Became acquainted with Porters
Married Elizabeth Porter
The Gentleman's Magazine Dictionary of the English Language
The Rambler Mother Dies
Literary magazine Editor
Complete Annotated works of Shakespeare
Death Ode On The Death Of A Favourite Cat Drowned In A Tub Of Goldfishes:
'Twas on a lofty vase's side,
Where China's gayest art had dy'd
The azure flow'rs that blow;
Demurest of the tabby kind,
The pensive Selima, reclin'd,
Gazed on the lake below.
Her conscious tail her joy declar'd;
The fair round face, the snowy beard,
The velvet of her paws,
Her coat, that with the tortoise vies,
Her ears of jet, and emerald eyes,
She saw: and purr'd applause.
Still had she gaz'd; but 'midst the tide
Two angel forms were seen to glide,
The Genii of the stream;
Their scaly armour's Tyrian hue
Thro' richest purple to the view
Betray'd a golden gleam. The hapless Nymph with wonder saw:
A whisker first and then a claw,
With many an ardent wish,
She stretch'd in vain to reach the prize.
What female heart can gold despise?
What cat's averse to fish?
Presumptuous Maid! with looks intent
Again she stretch'd, again she bent,
Nor knew the gulf between.
(Malignant Fate sat by, and smil'd)
The slipp'ry verge her feet beguil'd,
She tumbled headlong in.
Eight times emerging from the flood
She mew'd to ev'ry wat'ry god,
Some speedy aid to send.
No Dolphin came, no Nereid stirr'd;
Nor cruel Tom, nor Susan heard.
A Fav'rite has no friend!
From hence, ye Beauties, undeceiv'd,
Know, one false step is ne'er retriev'd,
And be with caution bold.
Not all that tempts your wand'ring eyes
And heedless hearts is lawful prize,
Nor all, that glisters, gold. London:
Though grief and fondness in my breast rebel
When injured Thales bids the town farewell,
Yet still my calmer thoughts his choice commend;
I praise the hermit, but regret the friend;
Resolved, at length, from vice and London far,
To breathe in distant fields a purer air,
And, fix’d on Cambria’s solitary shore,
Give to St David one true Briton more.
For who would leave, unbribed, Hibernia’s land,
Or change the rocks of Scotland for the Strand
There none are swept by sudden fate away,
But all whom hunger spares, with age decay:
Here malice, rapine, accident, conspire,
And now a rabble rages, now a fire;
Their ambush here relentless ruffians lay
And here the fell attorney prowls for prey;
Here falling houses thunder on your head,
And here a female atheist talks you dead.
While Thales waits the wherry that contains
Of dissipated wealth the small remains,
On Thames’s bank in silent thought we stood,
Where Greenwich smiles upon the silver flood;
Struck with the seat that gave Eliza birth,
We kneel and kiss the consecrated earth;
In pleasing dreams the blissful age renew,
And call Britannia’s glories back to view;
Behold her cross triumphant on the main,
The guard of commerce, and the dread of Spain;
Ere masquerades debauch’d, excise oppress’d,
Or English honour grew a standing jest.