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The Rise of the Novel
Defoe and Swift
Dates
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1660: Restoration of Charles II
1666: the Great Fire of London
1685: accession of James II
1688-89: the Glorious Revolution; accession of
William of Orange
1700: death of John Dryden
1707: the Act of Union
1715: the first Jacobite uprising
1702-14: reign of Queen Anne
1721-42: Sir Robert Walpole Prime Minister
1745: the second Jacobite uprising
1789: the French Revolution
Literary Periods
• 1660-1700:
Literary Periods
• 1660-1700: the Restoration Period (the
Age of Dryden)
• 1700-1745:
Literary Periods
• 1660-1700: the Restoration Period (the
Age of Dryden)
• 1700-1745: the Augustan Period (the Age
of Pope and Swift)
• 1745-1798:
Literary Periods
• 1660-1700: the Restoration Period (the
Age of Dryden)
• 1700-1745: the Augustan Period (the Age
of Pope and Swift)
• 1745-1798: the Age of Sensibility (the Age
of Dr Johnson)
• Restoration Period+Augustan Period: the
Age of Reason
Cultural Background
• The Age of Enlightenment: value of
reason, fear of unreason, hatred of pedantry
• Neoclassicism: Augustan Period
• Restoration Period: forerunners of
Neoclassicism (Dryden)
New Genres
• Drama:
– Heroic plays (Dryden, All for Love, 1677)
– Comedies of manners (Congreve, The Way of
the World, 1700)
• Poetry:
– Heroic couplet (Dryden, Absalom and
Achitophel, 1681)
Neoclassicist Poetics
• Imitation of nature:
– ‘landscape’ (Dryden)
– ‘Human nature’ (Pope)
– ‘universal truths’ (Dr Johnson)
• Imitation of Classical literature:
– Perfect imitations of nature
– Craftmanship
– Codification of rules in literature
The Augustan Period
• The Age of Swift, Pope, Addison, Walpole
• Expansion of reading public
– New journalism
– Professional writers and booksellers
New genres
• Sentimental comedy: Gay, The Beggar’s
Opera (1728)
• Mock heroic: Swift, Battle of the Books
(1697, 1704); Pope, The Rape of the Lock
(1712, 1714)
• Landscape poems: Thomson, Winter
(1726)
• Novel: Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)
The Antecedents of the Novel
• Newspapers: Grub Street, ‘scribblers’, gossips,
reports
• Journals: best writers, didacticism, model for
taste, education of middle classes; Steele and
Addison, Tatler and Spectator (1709-11, 171112)
• Pamphlets and satires: political, occasional,
ridicule
• Other: essays, travelogues, biographies, letters
Swift’s pamphlets and satires
• ‘A Modest Proposal’ (1729): political,
against Walpole, mask of indifference,
savage indignation, ‘reductio ad
absurdum’; misanthropy
• Battle of the Books (1697, 1704):
occasional, Sir William Temple, mock
heroic in prose; ancients (new ancients) V
moderns; the bee and the spider
Defoe’s innovations
• Reportage: keen eye for the detail
• Narrative realism
• Fictitious events against a realistic
background
• ‘the father of the English novel’
Robinson Crusoe (1719)
• The first full-length prose fiction, the first
English popular novel
• Application of journalism
• World view of middle classes
Swift’s innovations
• A master of irony, satire, a moralist
• Belief in reason but misanthropy: ‘I hate
and detest that animal called man, although
I heartily love John, Peter, Thomas, and so
forth.’
• Man is not a reational being but is capable
of reason
Gulliver’s Travels (1726)
• Genre: fictitious travelogue, in matter of
fact style
• Other: dystopia, utopia, satire, mock
heroic, romance, allegory
• Paradox: most comprehensive satire and
children’s classic
• Development of Gulliver’s character: from
irony to bitter satire
Further reading
• Róna Éva, A XVIII. század angol irodalma
(Bp.: Tankönyvkiadó, 1992)
. . .
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