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An introduction to victorian writers gallery
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Joi, 08 Martie 2018 19:59

AN INTRODUCTION TO VICTORIAN WRITERS’ GALLERY

prof. Pălăştea Cornelia

C.N. ,,Elena Cuza”, Craiova

The importance of literature, not only in the history but also in the development of human civilisation, cannot be underestimated because literature is both a mirror that reflects the inner part of humans and a pathway towards a deeper understanding of all cultures and societies, and, at the same time, it can be seen as a source of personal pleasure and enrichment.

Key words: Victorian literature, life, fiction, characters

The period covers both British and American literature and culture during Queen Victoria’s long reign, 1837-1901. This was the brilliant age of Charles Dickens, the Brontës, Lewis Carroll, George Eliot, Robert Browning, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Hardy, Mark Twain – and many others. It was also the age of urbanization, steam power, class conflicts, Darwin, religious crisis, information explosion – and much more.

The major Victorian poets and novelists tended to make art of their experiences by reporting them obliquely. The great Victorian novelists found ways of engaging in life writing by blending elements of autobiography and biography into their fictions, notably into those novels that critics have called by the name Bildungsroman.

Charles Dickens, one the most popular Victorian novelist, was a passionate humanitarian who stirred the masses with his examples of the law’s stupid cruelty, many of his novels being animated by a sense of social injustice. He was the first novelist who fully depicted the gloom of urban decay and the negative consequences of the Victorian times. At the same time, all Dickens’ novels show touches of the comic genius which launched his literary career. Often farcical and caricatural, Dickens created innumerable and memorable characters in his novels.

Beginning with Dombey and Son, Dickens combined his gift for vivid caricature with a stronger sense of personality while in David Copperfield he used the form of fictional autobiography to explore the great Romantic theme of the growth and comprehension of self, and to criticise the education system for its unwillingness to develop creativity and imagination; social issues are addressed in almost all his novels, Oliver Twist and Nicholas Nickleby showing the cruel life of poor children in workhouses and orphanages; the consequences of delays in the justice system are dealt with in Bleak House and the evils of industrialisation are exposed in Hard Times; other two great novels, Great Expectations and Our Mutual Friend, involved the issues of social class and human worth.

Being influenced by the Aesthetic Movement whose main idea was that art was not meant to instruct or provide moral, social or political guidelines, but done for “for art’s sake”, Oscar Wilde applied the aesthetic ideals to all areas of his life.

Wilde’s collection of fairy tales, The Happy Prince and Other Tales, written with his tradition in mind, only to subvert the expectations, was considered as being done in an eloquent style, which overshadowed the bleak reality of stories; the next collections, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crimeand Other Stories, The Canterville Ghost and A House of Pomergranates, also show the talent of a master storyteller.

Although, firstly, considered by the Victorian society as being shocking and immoral, his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was finally recognised as a fitting symbol for the immorality and hypocrisy of their society.

Oscar Wilde’s resurrection of the Comedy of Manners brought him the everlasting fame of his plays, through their social intrigues and artificial devices to resolve conflict, illustrating the author’s ability to mix farce, romantic comedy and social satire. Lady Windermere’s Fan, A woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband, The Importance of Being Earnest mined for comedy the intricate rules of Victorian courtship and social interactions, his characters being used to scheme, lie and hide everything from themselves or each other, behind a veneer of Victorian manners.

Admired nowadays for his own rejection of the 19th century materialism and his ability to bring to his novel the dignity of high tragedy, Thomas Hardy’s novels are characterized not only by their varied and accessible style, but also by their admirable combination of romantic plots with unforgettable presented characters.

In the so-called ‘novels of character and environment’, Far from the Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the d’Urbervilles, Jude the Obscure, Hardy wrote the tragic stories of his characters who were too powerless to fight against their adverse fate, depicting with grim realism the hard labour of the farmers, their endless and often unrewarded toil, and also offering the reader the opportunity to interpret the moods and the feelings of the characters with the help of the greatly detailed description of the rural settings.

Unfortunately, all of Hardy’s fiction reflects his deep feelings of pessimism, man not being able to fight against a malign fate which corrupts any possibility of happiness and leads him towards tragedy.

The Victorian novel remains the most accessible and most beloved form of “masterpiece”, being highly marked by social indicators: the novel of high society, or “silver fork” novel; the novel of lower-class and criminal life, or “Newgate” novel; the budding social-realist novel, focusing on factory and industrial-urban life; the novel of middle-class or “domestic” realism. The Victorian novel is, to use a favourite Victorian word, a very “curious” genre, one that both contains its own mysteries and refuses to conform to anyone’s ideas about it.

http://dir.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature

http://classiclit.about.com/library

http://britannica.com

Denis Delaney, Fields of Vision, Editura Longman, Essex, 2003

 

Ultima actualizare în Duminică, 11 Martie 2018 20:18
 

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