letteratura inglese

Numero di pagine:11
Formato di file:.doc (Microsoft Word)
Download   Anteprima
letteratura-inglese_10.zip (Dimensione: 16.18 Kb)
trucheck.it_letteratura-inglese.doc     69 Kb
readme.txt     59 Bytes


John Milton.
Life and works.
John Milton was born in London and at first he wanted to become a clergyman, but then he abandoned this idea for his hate against the Anglican Church and for his love for poetry and prose. He decided to go to France, Italy and Greece. He studied Latin and Greek classic and in Italy he met important figure, like for example Galileo. He was imprisoned in Florence; he returned to England and he supported the Parliament and wrote soma religious, social and political tracts, helped by an assistant, because he had become blind.
His career can be divided in three periods:
- in the first period he composed poems like “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso”.
- In the second part of his life he wrote social, religious and political tracts about education, divorce and other themes and he started his famous poem “Paradise lost”. He also wrote 17 sonnets.
- And in the third part he completed “Paradise lost” and he wrote “Paradise Regained” and “Samson Agonistes”, a poetic drama.
Focus on the text: “Paradise lost”.
“Paradise lost” is the most famous poem of Milton and it is one of the most complex and complicated poems of the English literature. Milton tried to imitate the classic Virgil and Homer’s epic poems: “Aeneid”, “Iliad” and “Odyssey”. He wrote, in fact, an epic poem in blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter) and, like Virgil and Homer, wrote an exordium, but while the two classic writers invocated a Muse, Milton invocated the Holy Spirit.
“Paradise lost” talks about the Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden in 12 cantos or books. Thanks to his knowledge and intelligence, Milton asks many questions to which are difficult find an answer. In his poem Milton asks an important question that for centuries has perplexed theologians and Biblical commentators: was the Fall of Adam and Eve a God’s plan for a possible salvation or was the Fall a free choice (symbol of free will) and a primal disobedience (leggi disobidiens)?
The structure.
“Paradise lost” is divided in twelve cantos or books preceded by a summary that defines the argument, the topic.
The first and the second books narrated about the rebellion of God’s favourite angel Lucifer and for this, Lucifer is banished and he goes to the Hell. So, to revenge himself, Lucifer decides to corrupt with some temptations the most beautiful creation of God, the man.
In the third book God gives the man free choice and free will and He decides to offer his son to save mankind.
In the fourth book Lucifer convinces Eve to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge.
In the fifth book God sends a messenger, Raphael, to banish Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden.
Milton uses landmark for his universe Ptolemaic model of order: God, in the highest place, and the bests in the lowest place.
Copernicus confuted Ptolemaic theory of universe, but his theory wasn’t accepted in the society of that period. This was in conflict with mythical epic tone of Milton’s poem “Paradise lost”.
The political dimension.
In this poem the treatment of the object is similar to an allegory for English politics of that period. Rebellion of Lucifer’s rebellion is compared to the Puritans’ rebellion against Charles I. Milton’s devil had a great intelligence like an epic hero and that means that Milton sympathised with the Puritans.
The language of the poem.
The language of “Paradise lost” is highly ornate and often obscure. Milton used Latin constructions and derived words from Latin and also classical and Bible allusions. Every phrase had different interpretations.
Language is one of the themes of the poem. In fact, Adam gives a name to everything and before the Fall the essence of the things corresponded to their names. Language before the Fall was innocent and connected to the orality. Lucifer, refused by God, changed his name in Satan; he used the language to corrupt the creation of God Adam and Eve.
Before the Fall, for Adam and Eve the conceit of good and evil didn’t exist.
The restoration of the monarchy
After the Cromwell’s death, his son wasn’t able to govern the protectorate and the monarchy was restored. The new king was Charles II, who had come back from the exile in France.
The royal society was established to improve the natural knowledge; it received the king’s patronage. The royal society had to advise the government about problems that need scientific explanation. Francis Bacon started this movement and than we can found the diarists Evelyn and Pepys.
In 17th century there were two important events that damaged London: the plague that caused the death of many people, and the great Fire of London in 1666. Christopher Wren rebuilt the city and he built a lot of churches, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, his masterpiece.
1666: the great fire of London
In 1666 in a baker’s shop started a small fire that burnt the entire city because London was built of wood. Two important diarists, John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys, wrote about this fact in their diaries, but there are some differences.
Evelyn, a man with a lot of interests, wrote about the event with the description of the baker’s family, how the fire started and he made a general description of London. On the contrary, Pepys started his text with particular description and then he analysed the effects with numbers and other details, as a journalist.
A new kind of monarchy
In 1688 the king abdicated and there was an event called Glorious Revolution because it was non-violent.
After Mary new queen was her sister Anne. Under her reign there was the slave trade that sent in America the slave from Africa. This practice existed from the 16th century and was a logical consequence of the rise of the capitalism; the trade led the cheap labour and the slaves were the cheapest goods.
The Scottish and Irish question.
The relation between England and Ireland had always been tempestuous. English king wanted under their crown also Irish country, but they didn’t take that country. From 16th century Ireland remained Catholic when England became Protestant. So during the Restoration some laws create trouble for Irish economy and there was an increment of poverty among Christian Irish people.
Only Jonathan Swift tries to protect the Irish and he satirized the behaviour of English people.
Restoration prose and the rise of rationalism.
The prose writers of this period used a kind pf prose as a vehicle of reason. The most important figures were Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, two philosophers. In this period born the English empiricism.
The triumph of science.
Important figure was Isaac Newton.
The trust in progress and in power of reason increased and this period was called Age of Reason.
Restoration poets.
Important figure was John Dryden.
Restoration comedy.
When the Puritans were turned out, there was an artistic decadence and a cultural climate for the upper classes. There was the reopening of the theatres and begun a new kind of theatre, lightest than Renaissance theatre, was a comedy called Comedy of Manners. It was famous because it talked about manners, mode and moral of upper classes but it ridiculed them. This kind of comedy takes one's cue from Italian Commedia dell’Arte and from France with Moliere.
The Restoration comedies were directed to a restricted group pf people from upper classes. The topics of comedy were treated with elegance of speech and quick humour, but they were superficial, and they showed the human situation under the mask of sophistication.
The beginning of the Hanoverian dynasty.
When Queen Anne died, George I was made king.
The wealth (ricchezza) of the nation, based on the trade with the colonies of the expanding empire, increased sensationally.
The Augustan Age.
During the reign of Roman imperator Augustus, that gives the name to this period, the empire had a great stability. In fact, the middle classed expanded and begun to go into coffee-houses, meeting place very fashion in that time. There the men exchanged the ideas and they read the newspapers. In this time begun also a new kind of writing, the journalism.
There was also the birth of a new movement, the Enlightenment that crossed the Europe. This movement was characterized by new kind of thinking with a philosophical, scientific and a rational spirit and also freedom from superstition.
Augustan aesthetics.
The stability of political and social culture was reflected in aesthetic order and harmony; art and architecture on this time was characterised by neoclassical restraint and sobriety.
Augustan literature.
The most important event in literature in 18th century was the novel; but there were other forms of writing: journal, pamphlet and essays.
The most important figure as critic was Samuel Johnson.
Poetry, on the contrary, hadn’t a great importance and continued the writing of satire and mock-heroic poems. These were a satire where an ordinary character is ridiculed given him a heroic dimension. The most famous writer was Alexander Pope that wrote “The rape of the lock” that talked about an incident that caused a tension between two aristocratic.
Another writer was Richard Sheridan that wrote “The school for scandal”.
The rise of the novel.
Before the rise of the novel there were a lot of forms of prose fiction that were similar to a novel, but didn’t describe a real life. In France there were some examples: “Pantagruel”, “Gargantua” and Miguel de Cervantes’ “Don Quixote”.
There are many reasons because there was a growth of novel:
- the rise of philosophical rationalism:
- the influence of Puritanism and Methodism: the firsts thought that men must save himself with his efforts and with a virtuous life. The seconds applied the Puritan ethic (the importance of hard work and daily activities).
- The expansion of the reading public with the increasing of the newspapers.
- The influence of books, whose structure ad ironic episode of idealistic world was a model for other future novels.
The rise of the journalism and the role of newspapers.
This phenomenon was very important in 18th century both in economic term and increase of middle-classes.
The first newspaper editors ware Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. The firsts titles were “The spectator”, “The guardian”, “The tatler” and there were for the middle classes, written with a witty stile.
The writers were divide into 2 parties: the Tories and the Whigs and they talked about their readers’ habits, moral, fashion and foreign affairs.
Mother of the novel.
The father of the novel is considered Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe; the mother was an ignored writer, Aphra Behn.
Formal variety.
The firsts novels were only test novels; for this reason there weren’t a dominant form. The writers were influenced by the tales of the past, the novels told about real life, even if they were different from each other.
I. Defoe and the realist novel.
Defoe wrote his works as a diary or autobiography, so they were more realistic. There is a series of disconnected events without plot. The protagonist is only one and could be male or female; he had to surmount a series of impediments, only with his resources.
In his works there weren’t psychological developments of characters. Defoe’s works anticipated semi-autobiographical novels.
II. Swift and the literature of the fantastic.
He was a journalist and a diarist; he wrote “Gulliver’s travels”, considered first a fable for children and successively a political satire of the situation in England. “Gulliver’s travels” were travels around fantastic worlds with giants, midgets, flying islands, mad scientists and talking horses that talked about ethics. Swift, instead, used fantastic worlds to explore philosophical problems.
This work had influenced lots of writers.
III. Richardson and the bourgeois sentimental novel.
Richardson wrote novels like letters. His books were the first that had as protagonist ordinary people from middle-classes. Richardson wrote love stories, exploring the psychology of his characters. His novels represented the beginning of a debate about roles of men and women in the society.
IV. Fielding and the comic novel.
He was the father of comic novels, the dominant mode in England. He used an ironic, omniscient narrator who comment ant criticized his characters. Fielding invented complex plot (Tom Jones) with many characters coming from all the society. Fielding provided a model for social and comic novelists.
V. Sterne and the experimental novel.
Sterne anticipated the experimental novel and he had lasting influence on modernist and postmodernist writers. His work “Tristram Shandy” was considered an anti-novel, because didn’t respected novel conventions. In fact, he manipulated the time into the novel and anticipated writers of 18th century, like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.
Daniel Defoe.
Life and works.
Defoe was born in London in 1660. He was considered the father of the novel. He wrote for the middle classes: merchants, artisans, professional men and traders. Defoe worked in trade and politics in spite of his father wanted that he became a minister.
Defoe travelled around Europe, starting to work as a merchant. He wrote “The life and strange adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, mariner” when he was 60, based on remembrances of voyagers and castaways. After this, he published “Moll Flanders”, a story of a prostitute; than published “Roxana”.
Daniel died in 1731.
Focus on the text: “Robinson Crusoe”.
The plot.
It is the most famous adventure story in English literature. It tells a story of a man that is shipwrecked on a desert island and he stays there for 28 years.
The novel is divided into 3 parts:
o The first part tells about Robinson’s early life, his travel to sea as far as Brazil, where becomes a plantation owner, a work that he doesn’t like but that makes him rich. He travels to Africa, but during a journey he was shipwrecked and landed in a desert island alone.
o The second part is like a journal where Robinson wrote about his life in the island. In this part he met a savage that he called Friday and that became his slave. Robinson, at first, teaches him that Friday had to call him Master, and than teaches him some words of his language. We can found an analogy with Prospero and Caliban and with the European and the Americans.
o The third part tells about Robinson’s return to England with Friday, his servant, and his journey to Brazil.
Stylistic features.
The text is written as an autobiographic in first-person. We had to believe that the story is real and Defoe is only the editor.
The style is very matter of fact. We can’t know Robinson’s thoughts or feelings; he tells us his actions and his physically happens. Sometimes he reflects about Christian religion. Crusoe tells his facts in a diary-like sequence; the text is unsophisticated.
1. The religion allegory.
The book has been interpreted as a religious allegory, a Puritan tract man’s redemption from sin.
2. The economic allegory.
The book functions as an allegory of merchant capitalism: Crusoe’s mini-civilisation on the island, the protection of his own possessions, his work routine, his encounter with Friday, and his use of Friday as servant. Crusoe embodies the values of the self-man and like a businessman he built from nothing an empire on the island.
3. The imperialist allegory.
“Robinson Crusoe” is also considered an allegory of British Imperialism, because it demonstrates the European superiority over the savage that must be civilised and converted to the Christianity.
Friday learns to speak when Robinson teach him English. Their relationship is the same relation between Prospero and Caliban in Shakespeare’s “The tempest”, but Friday doesn’t learn to curse (cacciare) his master.
Jonathan Swift.
Life and works.
Jonathan Swift was born in Ireland. He went to England and became a secretary to Sir William Temple. Swift became an Anglican priest. After Sir William Temple’s death, Swift returned to Ireland and in 1704 published his satirical work “a tale of a tub”.
Swift, with other writers, formed a group of satirists.
In 1726 he published his masterpiece, “Gulliver’s Travel”.
He also wrote “A modest Proposal”, a grotesque satire on the Irish problems of overpopulation and food shortage; he suggested to make a succulent dish with boiled babies: this was a solution both for overpopulation and for lack of food.
Swift spent the last years of his life in ill health and was declared insane. He died in 1754.
Focus on the text: “Gulliver’s travel”.
The plot.
The text is divided into 4 parts.
o In the first part Gulliver was shipwrecked on an island called Lilliput. Here Gulliver learns about local costumes and culture and county’s political system. He helped the people with the war against Blefuscu and then he returned to England.
o In the second part Gulliver left to India, but he arrived on an island of giants. He returned once again to England.
o In the third part the hero lend on a flying island populated by philosophers and scientists.
o In the fourth part Gulliver was lend in a place ruled by intelligent horses who were served by a filthy, bestial, subhuman race called the Yahoos. At the end he returned to England to his family.
Features of the novel.
For long time “Gulliver’s travels” was considered a fairy tale for children for his simplicity. In fact, Swift says that the style is very simple and plain.
Gulliver, like Crusoe, is a matter-of-fact man that wrote about what he had seen during his travels with more details. The dense mixture of fantasy, political satire, moral fable ad playfulness of the novel make it an highly complex work.
There are many levels of interpretation and we can read the text as a specific political allegorical dimension.
o First journey → the Lilliputians can be seen to represent cruelty, pettiness and provincialism.
o Second Journey → the giants of Brobdingang represent human vanity and self love (people weren’t humble).
o Third journey → the Laputans were a parody of abstract intellectual thinking, which hasn’t connection to reality.
o Fourth journey → the land of horses had animals that rule over a bestial sub-human race. We see Gulliver from the prospective of the horses and we can see that the European are the servant.