Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 
 

TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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1800 - 1899
 
 
1800-09 1810-19 1820-29 1830-39 1840-49 1850-59 1860-69 1870-79 1880-89 1890-99
1800 1810 1820 1830 1840 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890
1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891
1802 1812 1822 1832 1842 1852 1862 1872 1882 1892
1803 1813 1823 1833 1843 1853 1863 1873 1883 1893
1804 1814 1824 1834 1844 1854 1864 1874 1884 1894
1805 1815 1825 1835 1845 1855 1865 1875 1885 1895
1806 1816 1826 1836 1846 1856 1866 1876 1886 1896
1807 1817 1827 1837 1847 1857 1867 1877 1887 1897
1808 1818 1828 1838 1848 1858 1868 1878 1888 1898
1809 1819 1829 1839 1849 1859 1869 1879 1889 1899
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
CONTENTS
  BACK-1819 Part I NEXT-1819 Part III    
 
 
     
FitzGerald Edward
1810 - 1819
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810-1819
History at a Glance
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810 Part I
Marie Louise, Duchess of Parma
Edict of Fontainebleau
First Republic of Venezuela
Mexican War of Independence
Argentine War of Independence
Colombian Declaration of Independence
Foolish Fatherland
Chilean War of Independence
Bolivian war of independence
Charles XIV John
Invasion of Guadeloupe
Cavour Camillo
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1810 Part II
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
Montalembert Charles
Musset Alfred
Scott: "The Lady of the Lake"
Goya: "The Disasters of War"
The Nazarenes
Beethoven: "Egmont"
Chopin Frederic
Chopin - Nocturne Op.9 No.2
Frederic Chopin
Nicolai Otto
Nicolai - The Merry Wives of Windsor - Overture
Otto Nicolai
Rossini: "La Cambiale di Matrimonio"
Schumann Robert
Schumann - Piano sonata n.1 op.11
Robert Schumann
Spurzheim Johann Gaspar
Hahnemann Samuel
Girard Philippe
Humboldt University of Berlin
Krupp Friedrich Carl
Barnum Phineas Taylor
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part I
George IV
Battle of the Danube
Massacre of the Mamelukes at Cairo
Napoleon Francois-Joseph Charles
Battle of Fuentes de Onoro
Paraguay independent of Spain
Venezuelan War of Independence
Peruvian War of Independence
San Martin Jose
Battle of Las Piedras
Artigas Jose Gervagio
Invasion of Java
Battle of Tippecanoe
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part II
Bottiger Karl August
Niebuhr Barthold Georg
University of Oslo
Jane Austen: "Sense and Sensibility"
Stowe Harriet Beecher
Friedrich de la Motte-Fouque: "Undine"
Gautier Theophile
Goethe: "Aus meinem Leben: Dichtung und Wahrheit"
Gutzkow Karl
Thackeray William Makepeace
Dupre Jules
Jules Dupre
Ingres: "Jupiter and Thetis"
Thomas Lawrence: Portrait of Benjamin West
Thorvaldsen: "Procession of Alexander the Great"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1811 Part III
Liszt Franz
Franz Liszt - Liebestraum - Love Dream
Franz Liszt
Prague Conservatoire
Carl Maria von Weber: "Abu Hassan"
Avogadro Amedeo
Great Comet of 1811
Bunsen Robert
Poisson Simeon-Denis
Manning Thomas
Berblinger Albrecht Ludwig
"Luddites"
Jungfrau
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part I
French invasion of Russia
Battle of Borodino
Kutuzov Mikhail
Malet Claude-François
Louisiana
Perceval Spencer
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part II
War of 1812
Battle of Salamanca
Siege of Burgos
Battle of Tordesillas
Hegel: "Science of Logic"
Jewish emancipation
Browning Robert
Robert Browning 
"Dramatic Romances"
"The Pied Piper of Hamelin"
The Brothers Grimm: "Fairy Tales"
Lord Byron: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
Dickens Charles
Charles Dickens
"Great Expectations"
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Goncharov Ivan Aleksandrovich
Smiles Samuel
Krasinski Zygmunt
Kraszewski Joseph Ignatius
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1812 Part III
Elgin Marbles
Rousseau Theodore
Theodore Rousseau
Pforr Franz
Franz Pforr
Beethoven: Symphonies No. 7 (Op. 92)
Encounter between Beethoven and Goethe at Teplitz
Beethoven: Symphonies No. 8 (Op. 93)
Flotow Friedrich
Friedrich von Flotow: Piano Concerto No. 2
Friedrich von Flotow
Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde, Vienna
Burckhardt Johann Ludwig
Krupp Alfred
Red River Settlement, Manitoba, Canada
Hampden Clubs
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1813 Part I
German Campaign 1813–1814
Battle of Dresden
Battle of Lutzen
Battle of the Katzbach
Battle of Leipzig
Battle of York
Battle of Fort George
Capture of USS Chesapeake
Battle of Crysler's Farm
Capture of Fort Niagara
Battle of Buffalo
Battle of Vitoria
Siege of San Sebastian
First Serbian Uprising
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1813 Part II
Herbart Johann Friedrich
Kierkegaard Soren
Schopenhauer: "On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason"
Colby College, Maine
The Baptist Union of Great Britain
Jane Austen: "Pride and Prejudice"
Buchner Georg
Byron: "The Giaour"
Hebbel Friedrich
Ludwig Otto
Shelley: "Queen Mab"
Turner: "Frosty Morning"
London Philharmonic Society
Rossini: "L'ltaliana in Algeri"
Verdi Giuseppe
Anna Netrebko "Final Scene" La traviata
Giuseppe Verdi
Wagner Richard
Richard Wagner - Ride Of The Valkyries
Richard Wagner
Campbell John
Blaxland Gregory
Across the Blue Mountains
Lord Thomas
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part I
1814 campaign in France
Six Days Campaign
Battle of Champaubert
Battle of Montmirail
Battle of Chateau-Thierry
Battle of Vauchamps
Battle of Orthez
Treaty of Chaumont
Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube
Battle of Paris
Battle of Toulouse
Treaty of Fontainebleau
Treaty of Paris
Congress of Vienna
Napoleon's exile to Elba
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part II
Christian VIII
Bakunin Mikhail
Battle of Chippawa
Burning of Washington
Battle of Plattsburgh
Treaty of Ghent
Anglo-Nepalese War of 1814–16
First Anglican bishop in Calcutta
Motley John Lothrop
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1814 Part III
Jane Austen: "Mansfield Park"
Byron: "The Corsair"
Edmund Kean's Shylock
Lermontov Mikhail
Mikhail Lermontov
"Death of the Poet"
"Mtsyri"
"The Demon
"
Walter Scott: "Waverley"
Williav Wordsworth: "The Excursion"
Adelbert von Chamisso: "Peter Schlemihl"
Goya: "The Second of May 1808"
Goya: "The Third of May 1808"
Ingres: "Grande Odalisque"
Millet Jean Francois
Jean Francois Millet
Orfila Mathieu Joseph Bonaventure
Industrial printing presses
Lord's Cricket Ground
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part I
Battle of New Orleans
Hundred Days
Neapolitan War
Battle of Waterloo
Napoleon's surrender
Second Peace of Paris
Ney Michel
NAPOLEON AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EUROPE, 1796-1815
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part II
Corn Law
Bismarck Otto
Spanish Invasion of New Granada in 1815–1816
Basel Mission
Beranger Pierre
Byron: "Hebrew Melodies"
Geibel Emanuel
Hoffmann: "Die Elixiere des Teufels"
Scott: "Guy Mannering"
Trollope Anthony
Anthony Trollope 
"Barchester Towers"
Wordsworth: "White Doe of Rylstone"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1815 Part III
Goya: "La Tauromaquia"
Menzel Adolf
Adolf Menzel
Turner: "Crossing the Brook"
Franz Robert
Robert Franz - Oh Wert thou in the Cauld Blast
Robert Franz
Kjerulf Halfdan
Halfdan Kjerulf - Spring Song
Halfdan Kjerulf
Robert Volkmann - Cello Concerto in A minor
Robert Volkmann
Davy lamp
Fresnel Augustin-Jean
Prout William
Prout's hypothesis
Steam battery "Demologos", or "Fulton"
Nations in Arms
Warfare
Nations in Arms
(1763-1815)
Apothecaries Act
McAdam John Loudon
Robertson Allan
Eruption of Sumbawa Volcano
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1816 Part I
Maria I, Queen of Portugal
John VI of Portugal
Argentine War of Independence
Argentine Declaration of Independence
Federal Convention
Indiana
American Bible Society
Gobineau Joseph Arthur
Karamzin Nikolai
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1816 Part II
Jane Austen: "Emma"
Bronte Charlotte
Charlotte Bronte
"Jane Eyre"
Byron: "The Siege of Corinth"
Freytag Gustav
Derzhavin Gavrila
Leigh Hunt: "The Story of Rimini"
Shelley: "Alastor"
Goya: "The Duke of Osuna"
Rossini: "Barbiere di Siviglia"
Spohr: "Faust"
Brewster David
Laennec Rene-Theophile-Hyacinthe
Siemens Werner
Cobbett William
Froebel Friedrich
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1817 Part I
Habeas Corpus Suspension Act
Blanketeers
Wartburg Festival
Second Serbian Uprising (1815-1817)
Mississippi
Third Anglo-Maratha War 1817-1818
Bockh August
Hegel: "Encyclopedia of the Philosophical Sciences"
Llorente Juan Antonio
Mommsen Theodor
David Ricardo: "Principles of Political Economy and Taxation"
Byron: "Manfred"
Thomas Moore: "Lalla Rookh"
Storm Theodor
Thoreau Henry David
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1817 Part II
Constable: "Flatford Mill"
Daubigny Charles
Charles Daubigny
Thorvaldsen: Ganymede Waters Zeus as an Eagle
Leech John
John Leech
Watts George Frederic
George Frederic Watts
Rossini: "La Gazza ladra"
Rossini: "Cenerentola"
Selenium
Lithium
Ritter Carl
Long Stephen Harriman
"Blackwood's Magazine"
"The Scotsman"
Waterloo Bridge
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part I
Chilean Declaration of Independence
Bavarian constitution proclaimed
Treaty of 1818
Illinois
Dobrovsky Josef
Froude James Anthony
Marx Karl
Karl Marx
"Manifesto of the Communist Party"
- Marxism
Friedrich Engels
First International
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part II
Byron: "Don Juan"
Keats: "Endymion"
Peacock: "Nightmare Abbey"
Walter Scott: "Heart of Midlothian"
Shelley Mary
Mary Shelley "Frankenstein"
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 
"Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus"
Turgenev Ivan
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1818 Part III
Burckhardt Jakob
Fohr Carl Philipp
Karl Philipp Fohr
Donizetti: "Enrico, Conte di Borgogna"
Gounod Charles
Gounod - Ave Maria
Charles Gounod
"Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht"
Rossini: "Mose in Egitto"
Bessel Friedrich Wilhelm
Encke Johann Franz
Oxley John
British Admiralty Expeditions
Scoresby William
Phipps Constantine Henry
Buchan David
Parry William Edward
Ross James Clark
Order of Saint Michael and Saint George
Raiffeisen Friedrich Wilhelm
"Savannah"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part I
Founding of modern Singapore
Florida
Victoria
Queen Victoria
Victorian Era
Peterloo Massacre
Albert, Prince Consort
Alabama
Jakob Grimm: "German Grammar"
Hermes Georg
Schopenhauer: "Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung"
Sismondi Jean
Wilson Horace Hayman
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part II
Byron: "Mazeppa"
Eliot George
George Eliot 
"Silas Marner"
Fontane Theodor
Howe Julia Ward
Keats: "Hyperion"
Keller Gottfried
Kotzebue August
Lowell James Russell
Shelley: "The Cenci"
Whitman Walt
Walt Whitman
"Leaves of Grass"
Washington Irving: "Rip van Winkle"
 
YEAR BY YEAR:
1819 Part III
Courbet Gustave
Gustave Courbet
Theodore Gericault: "The Raft of the Medusa"
Ruskin John
Thorvaldsen: "Lion of Lucerne"
Turner: "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage"
Museo del Prado
Chasseriau Theodore
Theodore Chasseriau
Offenbach Jacques
Offenbach - Barcarole
Jacques Offenbach
Schumann Clara
Mitscherlich Eilhard
Oersted Hans Christian
Central Asia Exploration
Moorcroft William
First Sightings of the Antarctic Continent
Bransfield Edward
Weddell James
Bellingshausen Thaddeus
Burlington Arcade, Piccadilly, London
 
 
 

Byron: "Mazeppa"
 
 
 
 
 HISTORY, RELIGION, PHILOSOPHY, ART, LITERATURE, MUSIC, SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, DAILY LIFE
 
 
 
 
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
 
 
 
1819 Part II
 
 
 
1819
 
 
Byron: "Mazeppa"
 

Mazeppa is a narrative poem written by the English romantic poet Lord Byron George Gordon in 1819. It is based on a popular legend about the early life of Ivan Mazepa (1639–1709), a Ukrainian gentleman who later became Hetman of the Ukrainian Cossacks. According to the poem, the young Mazeppa has a love affair with a Countess Theresa while serving as a page at the Court of King John II Casimir Vasa. Countess Theresa was married to a much older Count. On discovering the affair, the Count punishes Mazeppa by tying him naked to a wild horse and setting the horse loose. The bulk of the poem describes the traumatic journey of the hero strapped to the horse. The poem has been praised for its "vigor of style and its sharp realization of the feelings of suffering and endurance". This poem also inspired Alexander Pushkin to write his poem Poltava as an answer to Byron's poem.

Published within the same covers with "Mazeppa" was the short story "A Fragment", also known as "Fragment of a Novel" and "The Burial: A Fragment", one of the earliest vampire stories in English.

 
Overview
The poem opens with a framing device: Mazeppa and the Swedish King Charles XII, together with their armies, are retreating from the Battle of Poltava, where they were defeated by the Russians. Exhausted and war-weary, the two men set up camp for the night. (Stanzas 1–2) The King admires Mazeppa's horsemanship, and Mazeppa offers to tell him how he learnt this skill (Stanza 4).

The poem then switches to the first person. Mazeppa describes his youth and his service as a page to King John II Casimir in Poland. (Stanza 4). He becomes acquainted with Theresa, a beautiful Orientalized woman who "had the Asiatic eye" (l. 208). She is married to a Count who is thirty years her senior (l. 155). Mazeppa falls passionately in love with her (l. 266-7), is unable to control his passions (l. 290–295), and they meet at night and consummate their love. (l. 298–300)

However, the Count's men catch them together (l. 325-6) and bring him to the Count. The Count orders an unusually cruel punishment: Mazeppa is to be tied naked to a steed, which is then to be taunted and set loose. (Stanza 9) Stanzas 10 to 18 recount the steed's flight across Eastern Europe, emphasising the pain, suffering and confusion that Mazeppa feels. However, the horse has seemingly limitless energy. Mazeppa nearly dies twice. In Stanza 13, he describes himself "full in death's face" (l. 557), but is restored when the horse swims through a river.

 
Mazeppa 1st edition 1819
 
 
Stanza 18 concludes with a description of "an icy sickness" and his vision of a raven flying overheard, ready to feast on his corpse. However, in Stanza 19, Mazeppa awakes to find himself in bed, with his wounds being tended by a "Cossack Maid" (l. 817). In the final stanza, Mazeppa's narrative ends. The poet-narrator describes Mazeppa preparing his bed for the evening. The King is already asleep (l. 867 – 880)
 
 

Vernet, Horace - Mazeppa and the Wolves
 
 
Sources and Inspiration
There are historical sources which verify that Ivan Mazepa served in the Polish Court to John II Casimir. However, it is unclear why he left Poland in 1663 and returned to his homeland in what is now Ukraine. There is no historical evidence to support that Mazepa was exiled from Poland because of a love affair, or that he was punished by being strapped to a wild horse.

However, this colourful legend was in circulation before Byron published his poem. Voltaire repeats it in History of Charles XII, King of Sweden (1731). This appears to have been Byron's main source for his poem: his 'Advertisement' to the poem includes three long quotations from this work. Several critics have also speculated that Byron was familiar with the Mémoires d'Azéma (1764) by the French writer André Guillaume Contant Dorville, as there are significant similarities between the plot of that novel and of Byron's poem.

Byron's references to Mazepa's participation, in the Great Northern War alongside Charles XII, and their eventual defeat, are historically accurate.

 
 
Analysis
Many critics see Mazeppa as a transitional work in Byron's oeuvre. Its dates of composition (1818–1819) place it between the earlier Eastern tales such as The Prisoner of Chillon (1817), which describe agonised, maudlin Byronic heroes and the later satirical, ironic Don Juan (1818–19). Leslie Marchand argues that Mazeppa is a partly unsuccessful work, as it is torn between high emotion and lighter irony. Mark Phillipson also sees Mazeppa as a transitional work of a "mongrel genre, the historical verse-romance". He argues that the poem is characterised by "moral ambivalence", and it remains unclear whether Mazeppa is a sympathetic hero or not.

The question of whether the audience is expected to sympathise with Mazeppa has long been a subject for critical discussion. W.H. Marshall (1961) argues that Mazeppa is entirely unsympathetic: a "garrulous and egoistic old man" who never atones for his crime and whose hackneyed description of his passion for Teresa "becomes tedious at once". Jerome McGann (1968) takes the opposite view, arguing that Mazeppa's "wild ride" acts an initiation process which makes him into a mature hero who is able to restrain his passions, unlike King Charles. He compares Mazeppa to Meursault, the existentialist hero of Albert Camus' novel The Stranger (1942).
Hubert Babinski (1974) also offers a sympathetic reading of the character Mazeppa, pointing out his kindness to Charles and the horses in the opening and closing chapter.

 
"Mazeppa" by Théodore Géricault ca. 1823
 
 
Babinski suggests that the hero Mazeppa is "one of Byron's most realistic creations, heroic within the bounds of human potential" and that he is a "fine specimen of a man". He further argues that Mazeppa's death-in-life experiences during his "wild ride" are central to the poem's meaning and symbolic of the possibilities of human transformation and rebirth. He argues that the French painters who took up the Mazeppa theme further developed this idea.
 
 

Currier and Ives illustration to their 1846 printing of the poem
 
 
More recent interpretations have attempted to apply the insights of critical theory to the poem. Zbigniew Bialas (1999) offers a Saidian postcolonial reading, suggesting that Byron orientalises Eastern Europe and attempts to stamp an identity on Mazeppa, who nonetheless evades fixed national and political identities. Meanwhile, Jane Stabler (2004) reads the poem through the prism of postmodern theory, suggesting that uses Byron's Mazeppa as an example of a poem which "draws attention to the fictive contours of history". More recently, Thomas McLean (2012) considers Mazeppa "Byron's Polish poem" in light of the British fascination with Tadeusz Kosciuszko and sees Mazeppa as an empowering figure for Europe's other smaller nations.
 
 
Literary significance and reception
Babinski points out that although Mazeppa received a flurry of reviews upon publication, later critics of Byron have rarely addressed the poem.

Certainly there is less scholarship on Mazeppa than many of Byron's other narrative poems, and Mazeppa does not appear in Byron anthologies such as the 1978 Norton Critical Anthology.

However, Byron's poem was both popular and influential in the romantic period. The French poet Victor Hugo acknowledged Byron when he produced his own poem 'Mazeppa' for his 1829 collection Les Orientales, which in turn became the literary inspiration for a Transcendental Étude and a symphonic poem by Franz Liszt.

Several French artists produced paintings depicting Mazeppa's "wild ride" including Théodore Géricault, Eugène Delacroix, and Claude-Joseph Vernet. Currier and Ives published an illustrated edition of Byron's poem in 1846.

In Russia, Aleksandr Pushkin's narrative poem Poltava (1828–29) deals with a later stage of Ivan Mazepa's life, his switching of allegiance from the Russians to the Swedes and his defeat in the Battle of Poltava.

Pushkin's poem, which opens with an epigraph from Byron's Mazeppa, later became the subject of an opera by Tchaikovsky.

 
Mazeppa by Louis Boulanger
 
 
In the theatre, a show called "Mazeppa, or the Tartar Horse" premiered at the Cirque Olympique in Paris in 1825.
 
 
This was copied in both the USA and England In 1861, in the United States version of the play, Mazeppa was played by a female, Adah Isaacs Menken, who scandalously performed the nude scene clad only in a flesh-coloured bodystocking.

Mazeppa became the most widely performed drama in the American west from the 1860s until the turn of the century, and was also popular in London.

In 1877, Albert Aiken wrote a dime novel called The Indian Mazeppa or The Madman of the Plains, where the Mazeppa myth is transposed to the Wild West.

In 1910, Francis Boggs produced a short film based on the stage play of Byron's poem titled Mazeppa or the Wild horse of Tartary.

Publication history

Byron began writing Mazeppa on 2 April 1817 and completed it on 26 September 1818.

It was first published by John Murray on 28 June 1819, alongside Byron's "Ode to Venice" and a short prose fragment, "Fragment of a Novel", one of the earliest vampire tales in English literature.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Horace Vernet. Mazepa
 
 
 
     
 
George Gordon, Lord Byron 

"Don Juan"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1819
 
 
Eliot George
 

George Eliot, pseudonym of Mary Ann, or Marian, Cross, née Evans (born Nov. 22, 1819, Chilvers Coton, Warwickshire, Eng.—died Dec. 22, 1880, London), English Victorian novelist who developed the method of psychological analysis characteristic of modern fiction. Her major works include Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876).

 

Aged 30 by the Swiss artist Alexandre Louis François d'Albert Durade
  Early years
Evans was born on an estate of her father’s employer. She went as a boarder to Mrs. Wallington’s School at Nuneaton (1828–32), where she came under the influence of Maria Lewis, the principal governess, who inculcated a strong evangelical piety in the young girl. At her last school (1832–35), conducted by the daughters of the Baptist minister at Coventry, her religious ardour increased. She dressed severely and engaged earnestly in good works. The school gave her a reading knowledge of French and Italian, and, after her mother’s death had compelled her to return home to keep house for her father, he let her have lessons in Latin and German. In 1841 she moved with her father to Coventry.

There she became acquainted with a prosperous ribbon manufacturer, Charles Bray, a self-taught freethinker who campaigned for radical causes. His brother-in-law, Charles Hennell, was the author of An Inquiry Concerning the Origin of Christianity (1838), a book that precipitated Evans’s break with orthodoxy that had been long in preparation. Various books on the relation between the Bible and science had instilled in her keen mind the very doubts they were written to dispel. In 1842 she told her father that she could no longer go to church.

 
 
The ensuing storm raged for several months before they reached a compromise, leaving her free to think what she pleased so long as she appeared respectably at church, and she lived with him until his death in 1849.

The Brays and the Hennells quickly drew her from extreme provincialism, introducing her to many ideas in violent disagreement with her Tory father’s religious and political views. When Charles Hennell married in 1843, she took over from his wife the translating of D.F. Strauss’s Das Leben Jesu kritisch bearbeitet, which was published anonymously as The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, 3 vol. (1846), and had a profound influence on English rationalism. After the wedding Mrs. Hennell’s father, R.H. Brabant, invited Evans to visit at Devizes. A rather silly man, he had worked for years on a book (never completed), which was to dispose of the supernatural elements in religion. They read German and Greek together and discussed theology on long walks; soon Mrs. Brabant became jealous of their intimacy, and, before the term of her visit, Evans was forced to leave. Mrs. Hennell felt that her father had acted ungenerously. Out of the humiliation of this episode George Eliot drew the horrible vividness of Mr. Casaubon in Middlemarch.

She spent the winter of 1849–50 at Geneva, reading extensively while living with the family of François d’Albert Durade, who painted a portrait of her. Like those by Mrs. Bray (1842) and Sir Frederic Burton (1865), all in the National Portrait Gallery, it shows her with light brown hair, gray-blue eyes, and a very fair complexion. Returning to Coventry, she spent the rest of 1850 with the Brays, pondering how to live on the £100 a year left by her father. After John Chapman, the publisher of The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, got her a chance to review R.W. Mackay’s The Progress of the Intellect in The Westminster Review (January 1851), she decided to settle in London as a freelance writer, and in January 1851 she went to board with the Chapmans at 142, Strand.

 
 

Portrait of George Eliot by Samuel Laurence, c. 1860
  Life with George Henry Lewes
Soon after her arrival in London, Mrs. Chapman and the children’s governess, who was also John Chapman’s mistress, became jealous of Marian, as she now signed her name, and after 10 weeks she returned to Coventry in tears. Doubtless her feelings were strongly attracted to the magnetic Chapman, whose diary supplies this information, but there is no evidence that she was ever his mistress. A few months later he bought The Westminster Review, and Evans, contrite at the domestic complications she had unwittingly caused, returned to London. For three years, until 1854, she served as subeditor of The Westminster, which under her influence enjoyed its most brilliant run since the days of John Stuart Mill. At the Chapmans’ evening parties she met many notable literary figures in an atmosphere of political and religious radicalism.

Across the Strand lived the subeditor of The Economist, Herbert Spencer, whose Social Statics (1851) Chapman had just published. Evans shared many of Spencer’s interests and saw so much of him that it was soon rumoured that they were engaged.
Though he did not become her husband, he introduced her to the two men who did.
 
 
George Henry Lewes was the most versatile of Victorian journalists. In 1841 he had married Agnes Jervis, by whom he had four sons. In 1850 Lewes and a friend, the journalist Thornton Leigh Hunt, founded a radical weekly called The Leader, for which he wrote the literary and theatrical sections. In April 1850, two weeks after the first number appeared, Agnes Lewes gave birth to a son whose father was Thornton Hunt. Lewes, being a man of liberal views, had the child registered as Edmund Lewes and remained on friendly terms with his wife and Hunt. But after she bore Hunt a second child in October 1851, Lewes ceased to regard her as his wife, though, having condoned the adultery, he was precluded from suing for divorce. At this moment of dejection, his home hopelessly broken, he met Marian Evans. They consulted about articles and went to plays and operas that Lewes reviewed for The Leader. Convinced that his break with Agnes was irrevocable, Evans determined to live openly with Lewes as his wife. In July 1854, after the publication of her translation of Feuerbach’s Essence of Christianity, they went to Germany together. In all but the legal form it was a marriage, and it continued happily until Lewes’s death in 1878. “Women who are content with light and easily broken ties,” she told Mrs. Bray, “do not act as I have done. They obtain what they desire and are still invited to dinner.”
 
 

Portrait by Frederick William Burton, 1864
  Major works
At Weimar and Berlin she wrote some of her best essays for The Westminster and translated Spinoza’s Ethics (still unpublished), while Lewes worked on his groundbreaking life of Goethe. By his pen alone he had to support his three surviving sons at school in Switzerland as well as Agnes, whom he gave £100 a year, which was continued until her death in 1902. She had four children by Hunt, the last born in 1857, all registered under Lewes’s name. The few friends who knew the facts agreed that toward Agnes his conduct was more than generous, but there was a good deal of malicious gossip about the “strong-minded woman” who had “run off with” her husband. Evans’s deepest regret was that her act isolated her from her family in Warwickshire. She turned to early memories and, encouraged by Lewes, wrote a story about a childhood episode in Chilvers Coton parish. Published in Blackwood’s Magazine (1857) as The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton, it was an instant success. Two more tales, Mr. Gilfil’s Love-Story and Janet’s Repentance, also based on local events, appeared serially in the same year, and Blackwood republished all three as Scenes of Clerical Life, 2 vol. (1858), under the pseudonym George Eliot.

Adam Bede, 3 vol. (1859), her first long novel, she described as “a country story—full of the breath of cows and the scent of hay.” Its masterly realism—“the faithful representing of commonplace things”—brought to English fiction the same truthful observation of minute detail that Ruskin was commending in the Pre-Raphaelites.

 
 
The book is rich in humour. The germ of the plot was an anecdote her Methodist aunt told of visiting a girl condemned for child murder. The dialect of the Bedes she had heard in the conversations of her Derbyshire uncles with her father, some of whose early experiences she assigned to Adam. But what was new in English fiction was the combination of deep human sympathy and rigorous moral judgment. Adam Bede went through eight printings within a year, and Blackwood doubled the £800 paid for it and returned the copyright.

In The Mill on the Floss, 3 vol. (1860), she returned again to the scenes of her early life. The first half of the book, with its remarkable portrayal of childhood, is irresistibly appealing, and throughout there are scenes that reach a new level of psychological subtlety.

At this time historical novels were in vogue, and during their visit to Florence in 1860 Lewes suggested Savonarola as a good subject, George Eliot grasped it enthusiastically and began to plan Romola (1862–63). First, however, she wrote Silas Marner (1861), which had thrust itself between her and the Italian material. Its brevity and perfection of form made this story of the weaver whose lost gold is replaced by a strayed child the best known of her books, though it has suffered unfairly from being forced on generations of schoolchildren. Romola was planned as a serial for Blackwood’s, until an offer of £10,000 from The Cornhill Magazine induced George Eliot to desert her old publisher; but rather than divide the book into the 16 installments the editor wanted, she accepted £3,000 less, an evidence of artistic integrity few writers would have shown. Details of Florentine history, setting, costume, and dialogue were scrupulously studied at the British Museum and during a second trip to Italy in 1861.

 
 

Photograph of George Eliot, c. 1865
  It was published in 14 parts between July 1862 and August 1863. Though the book lacks the spontaneity of the English stories, it has been unduly disparaged.

George Eliot’s next two novels are laid in England at the time of agitation for passage of the Reform Bill. In Felix Holt, the Radical, 3 vol. (1866), she drew the election riot from recollection of one she saw at Nuneaton in December 1832. The initial impulse of the book was not the political theme but the tragic character of Mrs. Transome, who was one of her greatest triumphs. The intricate plot popular taste then demanded now tells against the novel. Middlemarch (8 parts, 1871–72) is by general consent George Eliot’s masterpiece. Under her hand the novel had developed from a mere entertainment into a highly intellectual form of art. Every class of Middlemarch society is depicted from the landed gentry and clergy to the manufacturers and professional men, the shopkeepers, publicans, farmers, and labourers. Several strands of plot are interwoven to reinforce each other by contrast and parallel. Yet the story depends not on close-knit intrigue but on showing the incalculably diffusive effect of the unhistoric acts of those who “lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.”

Daniel Deronda (8 parts, 1876), in which George Eliot comes nearest the contemporary scene, is built on the contrast between Mirah Cohen, a poor Jewish girl, and the upper class Gwendolen Harleth, who marries for money and regrets it. The less convincingly realized hero, Daniel, after discovering that he is Jewish, marries Mirah and departs for Palestine to establish a home for his nation. The picture of the Cohen family evoked grateful praise from Jewish readers. But the best part of Daniel Deronda is the keen analysis of Gwendolen’s character, which seems to many critics the peak of George Eliot’s achievement.

 
 
Final years
In 1863 the Leweses bought the Priory, 21, North Bank, Regent’s Park, where their Sunday afternoons became a brilliant feature of Victorian life. There on Nov. 30, 1878, Lewes died. For nearly 25 years he had fostered her genius and managed all the practical details of life, which now fell upon her. Most of all she missed the encouragement that alone made it possible for her to write. For months she saw no one but his son Charles Lee Lewes; she devoted herself to completing the last volume of his Problems of Life and Mind (1873–79) and founded the George Henry Lewes Studentship in Physiology at Cambridge. For some years her investments had been in the hands of John Walter Cross (1840–1924), a banker introduced to the Leweses by Herbert Spencer. Cross’s mother had died a week after Lewes. Drawn by sympathy and the need for advice, George Eliot soon began to lean on him for affection too. On May 6, 1880, they were married in St. George’s, Hanover Square. Cross was 40; she was in her 61st year. After a wedding trip in Italy they returned to her country house at Witley before moving to 4, Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, where she died in December. She was buried at Highgate Cemetery.

Gordon S. Haight

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1819
 
 
Fontane Theodor
 

Theodor Fontane, (born December 30, 1819, Neuruppin, Brandenburg [Germany]—died September 20, 1898, Berlin), writer who is considered the first master of modern realistic fiction in Germany.

 

Theodor Fontane
  He began his literary career in 1848 as a journalist, serving for several years in England as correspondent for two Prussian newspapers. From this position he wrote several books on English life, including Ein Sommer in London (1854; “A Summer in London”) and Jenseits des Tweed (1860; Across the Tweed: A Tour of Mid-Victorian Scotland). From 1860 to 1870 he wrote for the conservative newspaper Kreuzzeitung, and between 1862 and 1882 he published a four-volume account of his travels in the March of Brandenburg. He combined historical and anecdotal material with descriptions of the Prussian landscape and the seats of historic families. He also wrote popular ballads, Männer und Helden (1850; “Men and Heroes”) and Balladen (1861; “Ballads”), stirring celebrations of heroic and dramatic events, some drawn from Prussian history.

Fontane produced his best work after he became the drama critic for the liberal newspaper Vossische Zeitung and was freed from the earlier conservative restraint. Turning to the novel late in life, he wrote, at the age of 56, Vor dem Sturm (1878; Before the Storm), considered to be a masterpiece in the genre of the historical novel.

 
 
He portrayed the Prussian nobility both critically and sympathetically. His aim was, as he said, “the undistorted reflection of the life we lead.” In several of his novels Fontane also deals with the problem of women’s role in domestic life; L’Adultera (1882; The Woman Taken in Adultery), Irrungen, Wirrungen (1888; Delusions, Confusions), Frau Jenny Treibel (1893), and Effi Briest (1895) are among his best. Effi Briest, in particular, is known for its superb characterization and the skillful portrayal of the milieu of Fontane’s native Brandenburg. His other major works are Der Stechlin (1899), which is noted for its charming style, and Schach von Wuthenow (1883; A Man of Honor), in which he portrays the weaknesses of the Prussian upper class.

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see also: Theodor Fontane
 
 
     
  Western Literature

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1819
 
 
Goethe: "West-ostlicher Diwan"
 
 

Frontispiece and title page of the first edition, Cotta publishing house, Stuttgart, 1819
 
 
Goethe Johann Wolfgang
 
 
 
     
  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

"Faust"

Illustrations by Eugene Delacroix and Harry Clarke
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

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1819
 
 
Howe Julia Ward
 

Julia Ward Howe, née Julia Ward (born May 27, 1819, New York, New York, U.S.—died October 17, 1910, Newport, Rhode Island), American author and lecturer best known for her “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”

 

Julia Ward Howe
  Julia Ward came of a well-to-do family and was educated privately. In 1843 she married educator Samuel Gridley Howe and took up residence in Boston. Always of a literary bent, she published her first volume of poetry, Passion Flowers, in 1854; this and subsequent works—including a poetry collection, Words for the Hour (1857), a play, Leonora; or, the World’s Own, produced in 1857, and A Trip to Cuba (1860)—had little success. For a while Howe and her husband published the Commonwealth, an abolitionist newspaper, but for the most part he kept her out of his affairs and strongly opposed her involving herself in any sort of public life. In February 1862 The Atlantic Monthly published her poem “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” to be set to an old folk tune also used for “John Brown’s Body.” The song, written during a visit to an army camp near Washington, D.C., in 1861, became the semiofficial Civil War song of the Union Army, and Howe became famous.

After the war Howe involved herself in the woman suffrage movement. In 1868 she helped form and was elected the first president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association, an office she held until 1877, and from 1869 she took a leading role in the American Woman Suffrage Association. She helped found the New England Women’s Club in 1868 and succeeded Caroline M. Severance as its president in 1871. She was later active in the General Federation of Women’s Clubs International. She also took up the cause of peace and in 1870 published her “Appeal to Womanhood Throughout the World,” a call for an international conference of women on the subject of peace. In 1871 she became first president of the American branch of the Woman’s International Peace Association.

 
 
Howe continued to write throughout her life, publishing travel books, poetry, collections of essays, and biographies. She founded a short-lived literary journal, Northern Lights, in 1867 and was a founder in 1870 and an editor for 20 years thereafter of the Woman’s Journal. She was a frequent traveler until extreme old age. She was again president of the New England Woman Suffrage Association from 1893 to 1910. In 1908 she became the first woman to be elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She was an American public institution by the time of her death. Of her children, the best known was the writer Laura Elizabeth Howe Richards.

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1819
 
 
Keats: "Hyperion"
 

"Hyperion" is an abandoned epic poem by 19th-century English Romantic poet Keats John.

It is based on the Titanomachia, and tells of the despair of the Titans after their fall to the Olympians. Keats wrote the poem from late 1818 until the spring of 1819, when he gave it up as having "too many Miltonic inversions." He was also nursing his younger brother Tom, who died on 1 December 1818 of tuberculosis.

The themes and ideas were picked up again in Keats's The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream, when he attempted to recast the epic by framing it with a personal quest to find truth and understanding.

 
Plot
The Titans are a pantheon of gods who ruled prior to the Olympians, and are now destined to fall. They include Saturn (king of the gods), Ops (his wife), Thea (his sister), Enceladus (god of war), Oceanus (god of the sea), Hyperion (the god of the sun) and Clymene (a young goddess). The poem opens with Saturn bemoaning the loss of his power, which is being overtaken by Jupiter. Thea leads him to a place where the other Titans sit, similarly miserable, and they discuss whether they should fight back against their conquest by the new gods (the Olympians). Oceanus declares that he is willing to surrender his power to Neptune (the new god of the sea) because Neptune is more beautiful (this is worth bearing in mind in relation to the Romantic idea that beauty is paramount). Clymene describes first hearing the music of Apollo, which she found beautiful to the point of pain (another Romantic idea).
  Finally, Enceladus makes a speech encouraging the Titans to fight.

Meanwhile Hyperion's palace is described, and we first see Hyperion himself, the only Titan who is still powerful. He is addressed by Uranus (old god of the sky, father of Saturn), who encourages him to go to where Saturn and the other Titans are. We leave the Titans with the arrival of Hyperion, and the scene changes to Apollo (the new sun god, also god of music, civilisation and culture) weeping on the beach.

Here Mnemosyne (goddess of memory) encounters him and he explains to her the cause of his tears: he is aware of his divine potential, but as yet unable to fulfill it. By looking into Mnemosyne's eyes he receives knowledge which transforms him fully into a god. The poem breaks off at this point, in mid-line, with the word "celestial".
 
 
Structure
In Hyperion, the quality of Keats' blank verse reached new heights, particularly in the opening scene between Thea and the fallen Saturn:

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale,
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair.


The language of Hyperion is very similar to Milton's, in meter and style.

However, his characters are quite different. Although Apollo falls into the image of the "Son" from Paradise Lost and of "Jesus" from Paradise Regained, he does not directly confront Hyperion as Satan is confronted.

Also, the roles are reversed, and Apollo is deemed as the "challenger" to the throne, who wins it by being more "true" and thus, more "beautiful."

  Extract
From Book I, lines spoken by the Titan Hyperion:

Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall?
Am I to leave this haven of my rest,
This cradle of my glory, this soft clime,
This calm luxuriance of blissful light,
These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes,
Of all my lucent empire? It is left
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
I cannot see – but darkness, death and darkness.
Even here, into my centre of repose,
The shady visions come to domineer,
Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp. –
Fall! – No, by Tellus and her briny robes!
Over the fiery frontier of my realms
I will advance a terrible right arm
Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove,
And bid old Saturn take his throne again.

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John Keats 

"The Eve of St. Agnes"
     
 
 
     
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1819
 
 
Keller Gottfried
 

Gottfried Keller, (born July 19, 1819, Zürich—died July 16, 1890, Zürich), the greatest German-Swiss narrative writer of late 19th-century Poetischer Realismus (“Poetic Realism”).

 

Gottfried Keller, 1885
  His father, a lathe artisan, died in Keller’s early childhood, but his strong-willed, devoted mother struggled to provide him with an education. After being expelled from secondary school for a prank, he took up landscape painting. Two years’ study in Munich (1840–42) brought little success, so he returned to Zürich, where he published his first poems in 1846. From 1848 to 1850 the Zürich government sponsored his studies at Heidelberg, where he was deeply influenced by the philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach. From 1850 to 1855 he lived in Berlin. Intending to write for the theatre, he wrote instead the long autobiographical novel Der grüne Heinrich (1854–55; Green Henry). It was completely revised 25 years later (1879–80), and in this version, which is standard, the personal story of a young man’s development becomes a classic Bildungsroman (educational novel) in the tradition of Goethe’s Wilhelm Meister. Green Henry (so called because his frugal mother made all his clothes from a single bolt of green cloth) sets out to become an artist. After some success and many disappointments, he returns to his native city and wins some respect and contentment in a modest post as a civil servant. Keller returned to Zürich in 1855 and became clerk to the canton (1861–76). These 15 years allowed him almost no time for writing. He resumed his literary career late in life. Keller is best known for his short stories, some of which are collected as Die Leute von Seldwyla (1856–74; The People of Seldwyla) and Sieben Legenden (1872; Seven Legends). His last novel, Martin Salander (1886), deals with political life in Switzerland in his time.

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1819
 
 
August Friedrich Ferdinand von Kotzebue, Ger. playwright (b. 1761), assassinated as Russ. agent at Mannheim
 
 
Kotzebue August
 

August von Kotzebue, (born May 3, 1761, Weimar, Saxony [Germany]—died March 23, 1819, Mannheim, Baden), German playwright widely influential in popularizing poetic drama, into which he instilled melodramatic sensationalism and sentimental philosophizing.

 

August von Kotzebue
  Kotzebue’s first comedy, written while he was a law student at Jena, gave him entrée into court literary circles in Weimar, but in 1781 he was forced to go into exile for a reason that is not clear. Entering government service in Russia (1783), he became president of the magistracy of the province of Estonia in 1785 and was ennobled. Some of his greatest successes—Adelheid von Wulfingen (1788), Menschenhass und Reue (1789–90; The Stranger), Die Indianer in England (1790; The Indian Exiles)—were written while he lived there.

His Spanier in Peru (1796) was adapted by the English playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan as Pizarro (1799) and also proved a great success. Kotzebue traveled abroad and spent some time writing for the municipal theatre of Vienna. Upon his return to Russia he was arrested, inexplicably, and exiled to Siberia. The emperor Paul I, just as capriciously as he had exiled Kotzebue, had him released a few months later. Kotzebue was given an estate in Livonia and made director of the German theatre in St. Petersburg.

In 1801 he returned to Weimar, but he was not on good terms with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe or with the Romantics; he went back to Russia in 1806.
In 1817 he was again sent abroad by the emperor Alexander to report on current Western ideas in politics, finance, and education.

 
 
Execrated by political radicals as a spy in the pay of a reactionary power, Kotzebue was assassinated by Karl Sand, a member of a radical student association.
The assassin was executed and the universities placed under strict control as a result.
 
 

Kotzebues Tod
 
 
As a dramatist Kotzebue was prolific (he wrote more than 200 plays) and facile, but dramatically adroit. He is at his best in such comedies as Der Wildfang (1798; “The Trapping of Game”) and Die deutschen Kleinstädter (1803; “The German Small-towner”), which contain admirable pictures of provincial German life. He also wrote some novels as well as historical and autobiographical works.

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1819
 
 
Lowell James Russell
 

James Russell Lowell, (born Feb. 22, 1819, Cambridge, Mass., U.S.—died Aug. 12, 1891, Cambridge), American poet, critic, essayist, editor, and diplomat whose major significance probably lies in the interest in literature he helped develop in the United States. He was a highly influential man of letters in his day, but his reputation declined in the 20th century.

 


James Russell Lowell circa 1855

  A member of a distinguished New England family, Lowell graduated from Harvard in 1838 and in 1840 took his degree in law, though his academic career had been lacklustre and he did not care to practice law for a profession. In 1844 he was married to the gifted poet Maria White, who had inspired his poems in A Year’s Life (1841) and who would help him channel his energies into fruitful directions.

In 1845 Lowell published Conversations on Some of the Old Poets, a collection of critical essays that included pleas for the abolition of slavery. From 1845 to 1850 he wrote about 50 antislavery articles for periodicals. Even more effective in this regard were his Biglow Papers, which he began to serialize June 17, 1846, and the first series of which were collected in book form in 1848. In these satirical verses, Lowell uses a humorous and original New England dialect to express his opposition to the Mexican War as an attempt to extend the area of slavery. The year 1848 also saw the publication of Lowell’s two other most important pieces of writing: The Vision of Sir Launfal, an enormously popular long poem extolling the brotherhood of man; and A Fable for Critics, a witty and rollicking verse evaluation of contemporary American authors.

 
 
These books, together with the publication that year of the second series of his Poems, made Lowell the most popular new figure in American literature.

The death of three of Lowell’s children was followed by the death of his wife in 1853. Henceforth his literary production comprised mainly prose essays on topics of literature, history, and politics. In 1855 his lectures on English poets before the Lowell Institute led to his appointment as Smith professor of modern languages at Harvard University, succeeding Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. After a yearlong visit to Italy and Germany in 1855–56 to study, he held this professorship for the next 20 years. In 1857 he married Frances Dunlap, who had cared for his only remaining child, Mabel; and in that year he began his four years’ editorship of the new Atlantic Monthly, to which he attracted the major New England authors. Lowell wrote a second series of Biglow Papers for the Atlantic Monthly that were devoted to Unionism and that were collected in book form in 1867. After the American Civil War he expressed his devotion to the Union cause in four memorial odes, the best of which is “Ode Recited at the Harvard Commemoration” (1865). His essays such as “E Pluribus Unum” and “Washers of the Shroud” (1862) also reflect his thought at this time.

Disillusioned by the political corruption evident in President Ulysses S. Grant’s two administrations (1869–77), Lowell tried to provide his fellow Americans with models of heroism and idealism in literature.
 
 

James Russell Lowell in his later years
  He was editor with Charles Eliot Norton of North American Review from 1864 to 1872, and during this time appeared his series of critical essays on such major literary figures as Dante, Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, John Milton, William Shakespeare, John Dryden, William Wordsworth, and John Keats. These and other critical essays were collected in the two series of Among My Books (1870, 1876). His later poetry includes The Cathedral (1870), a long and ambitious but only partly successful poem that deals with the conflicting claims of religion and modern science. President Rutherford B. Hayes rewarded Lowell’s support in the Republican convention in 1876 by appointing him minister to Spain (1877–80) and ambassador to Great Britain (1880–85). Lowell won great popularity in England’s literary and political circles and served as president of the Wordsworth Society, succeeding Matthew Arnold. After his second wife died in 1885, Lowell retired from public life.
Lowell was the archetypal New England man of letters, remarkable for his cultivation and charm, his deep learning, and his varied literary talents. He wrote his finest works before he was 30 years old, however, and most of his subsequent writings lack vitality. The totality of his work, though brilliant in parts, ultimately suffers from a lack of focus and a failure to follow up on his undoubted early successes.

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
see also: James Russell Lowell
 
 
     
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1819
 
 
Shelley: "The Cenci"
 

The Cenci, A Tragedy, in Five Acts (1819) is a verse drama in five acts by Shelley Percy Bysshe  written in the summer of 1819, and inspired by a real Italian family, the Cenci (in particular, Beatrice Cenci, pronounced CHEN-chee). Shelley composed the play at Rome and at Villa Valsovano near Livorno, from May to 5 August 1819.

The work was published by Charles and James Ollier, in London in 1819, the Livorno edition, printed in Livorno, Italy by Shelley himself in a run of 250 copies. Shelley told Thomas Love Peacock that he arranged for the printing himself because in Italy "it costs, with all duties and freightage, about half of what it would cost in London." Shelley sought to have the play staged, describing it as "totally different from anything you might conjecture that I should write; of a more popular kind ... written for the multitude." Shelley wrote to his publisher Charles Ollier that he was confident that the play "will succeed as a publication." A second edition appeared in 1821, his only published work to go into a second edition during his lifetime.

 
The play was not considered performable in its day due to its themes of incest and parricide, and was not performed in public in England until 1922 when it was staged in London. In 1886 the Shelley Society had sponsored a private production at the Grand Theatre, Islington, before an audience that included Oscar Wilde, Robert Browning, and George Bernard Shaw. Though there has been much debate over the play's stageability, it has been produced in many countries including France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Czechoslovakia, and the United States. It was included in the Harvard Classics as one of the most important and representative works of the western canon.
 
 
Plot
The horrific tragedy, set in 1599 in Rome, of a young woman executed for pre-meditated murder of her tyrannical father, was a well-known true story handed down orally and documented in the Annali d'Italia, a twelve-volume chronicle of Italian history written by Ludovico Antonio Muratori in 1749. The events occurred during the Pontificate of Pope Clement VIII.

Shelley was first drawn to dramatise the tale after viewing Guido Reni's portrait of Beatrice Cenci, a painting that intrigued Shelley's poetic imagination.

Act I

The play opens with Cardinal Camillo discussing with Count Francesco Cenci a murder in which Cenci is implicated. Camillo tells Cenci that the matter will be hushed up if Cenci will relinquish a third of his possessions, his property beyond the Pincian gate, to the Church. Count Cenci has sent two of his sons, Rocco and Cristofano, to Salamanca, Spain in the expectation that they will die of starvation. The Count's virtuous daughter, Beatrice, and Orsino, a prelate in love with Beatrice, discuss petitioning the Pope to relieve the Cenci family from the Count's brutal rule. Orsino withholds the petition, however, revealing himself to be disingenuous, lustful for Beatrice, and greedy. After he hears the news that his sons have been brutally killed in Salamanca, the Count holds a feast in celebration of their deaths, commanding his guests to revel with him. Cenci drinks wine which he imagines as "my children's blood" which he "did thirst to drink!" During the feast, Beatrice pleads with the guests to protect her family from her sadistic father, but the guests refuse, in fear of Cenci's brutality and retribution.

Act II

Count Cenci torments Beatrice and her stepmother, Lucretia, and announces his plan to imprison them in his castle in Petrella. A servant returns Beatrice's petition to the Pope, unopened, and Beatrice and Lucretia despair over the last hope of salvation from the Count. Orsino encourages Cenci's son, Giacomo, upset over Cenci's appropriation of Giacomo's wife's dowry, to murder Cenci.

  Act III

Beatrice reveals to Lucretia that the Count has committed an unnameable act against her and expresses feelings of spiritual and physical contamination, implying Cenci's incestuous rape of his daughter. Orsino and Lucretia agree with Beatrice's suggestion that the Count must be murdered.

After the first attempt at parricide fails because Cenci arrives early, Orsino conspires with Beatrice, Lucretia, and Giacomo, in a second assassination plot. Orsino proposes that two of Cenci's ill-treated servants, Marzio and Olimpio, carry out the murder.

Act IV

The scene shifts to the Petrella Castle in the Apulian Apennines. Olimpio and Marzio enter Cenci's bedchamber to murder him, but hesitate to kill the sleeping Count and return to the conspirators with the deed undone. Threatening to kill Cenci herself, Beatrice shames the servants into action, and Olimpio and Marzio strangle the Count and throw his body out of the room off the balcony, where it is entangled in a pine. Shortly thereafter, Savella, a papal legate, arrives with a murder charge and execution order against Cenci. Upon finding the Count's dead body, the legate arrests the conspirators, with the exception of Orsino, who escapes in disguise.

Act V

The suspects are taken for trial for murder in Rome. Marzio is tortured and confesses to the murder, implicating Cenci's family members. Despite learning that Lucretia and Giacomo have also confessed, Beatrice refuses to do so, steadfastly insisting on her innocence. At the trial, all of the conspirators are found guilty and sentenced to death.

Bernardo, another of Cenci's sons, attempts a futile last-minute appeal to the Pope to have mercy on his family. The Pope is reported to have declared: "They must die."
The play concludes with Beatrice walking stoically to her execution for murder. Her final words are: "We are quite ready. Well, 'tis very well."

 
 

Major characters
Count Francesco Cenci, head of the Cenci household and family
Beatrice, his daughter
Lucretia, the wife of Francesco Cenci and the stepmother of his children
Cardinal Camillo
Orsino, a Prelate
Savella, the Pope's Legate
Andrea, a servant to Francesco Cenci
Marzio, an assassin
Olimpio, an assassin
Giacomo, son of Francesco Cenci
Bernardo, son of Francesco Cenci

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
 
 
     
 
Percy Bysshe Shelley 

"
Prometheus Unbound"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

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1819
 
 
Whitman Walt
 

Walt Whitman, in full Walter Whitman (born May 31, 1819, West Hills, Long Island, N.Y., U.S.—died March 26, 1892, Camden, N.J.), American poet, journalist, and essayist whose verse collection Leaves of Grass is a landmark in the history of American literature.

 

Walt Whitman as photographed by Mathew Brady
 

Early life.
Walt Whitman was born into a family that settled in North America in the first half of the 17th century. His ancestry was typical of the region: his mother, Louisa Van Velsor, was Dutch, and his father, Walter Whitman, was of English descent. They were simple farm people, with little formal education. The Whitman family had at one time owned a large tract of land, but it was so diminished by the time Walt was born that his father had taken up carpentering, though the family still lived on a small section of the ancestral estate. In 1823 Walter Whitman, Sr., moved his growing family to Brooklyn, which was enjoying a boom. There he speculated in real estate and built cheap houses for artisans, but he was a poor manager and had difficulty in providing for his family, which increased to nine children.

Walt, the second child, attended public school in Brooklyn, began working at the age of 12, and learned the printing trade. He was employed as a printer in Brooklyn and New York City, taught in country schools on Long Island, and became a journalist. At the age of 23 he edited a daily newspaper in New York, and in 1846 he became editor of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, a fairly important newspaper of the time. Discharged from the Eagle early in 1848 because of his support for the Free Soil faction of the Democratic Party, he went to New Orleans, La., where he worked for three months on the Crescent before returning to New York via the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes.

 
 

After another abortive attempt at Free Soil journalism, he built houses and dabbled in real estate in New York from about 1850 until 1855.

Whitman had spent a great deal of his 36 years walking and observing in New York City and Long Island. He had visited the theatre frequently and seen many plays of William Shakespeare, and he had developed a strong love of music, especially opera. During these years he had also read extensively at home and in the New York libraries, and he began experimenting with a new style of poetry. While a schoolteacher, printer, and journalist he had published sentimental stories and poems in newspapers and popular magazines, but they showed almost no literary promise.

By the spring of 1855 Whitman had enough poems in his new style for a thin volume. Unable to find a publisher, he sold a house and printed the first edition of Leaves of Grass at his own expense. No publisher’s name, no author’s name appeared on the first edition in 1855. But the cover had a portrait of Walt Whitman, “broad shouldered, rouge fleshed, Bacchus-browed, bearded like a satyr.” Though little appreciated upon its appearance, Leaves of Grass was warmly praised by the poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote to Whitman on receiving the poems that it was “the most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom” America had yet contributed.

Whitman continued practicing his new style of writing in his private notebooks, and in 1856 the second edition of Leaves of Grass appeared. This collection contained revisions of the poems of the first edition and a new one, the “Sun-down Poem” (later to become “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry”). The second edition was also a financial failure, and once again Whitman edited a daily newspaper, the Brooklyn Times, but was unemployed by the summer of 1859. In 1860 a Boston publisher brought out the third edition of Leaves of Grass, greatly enlarged and rearranged, but the outbreak of the American Civil War bankrupted the firm. The 1860 volume contained the “Calamus” poems, which record a personal crisis of some intensity in Whitman’s life, an apparent homosexual love affair (whether imagined or real is unknown), and “Premonition” (later entitled “Starting from Paumanok”), which records the violent emotions that often drained the poet’s strength. “A Word out of the Sea” (later entitled “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking”) evoked some sombre feelings, as did “As I Ebb’d with the Ocean of Life.” “Chants Democratic,” “Enfans d’Adam,” “Messenger Leaves,” and “Thoughts” were more in the poet’s earlier vein.

 
 

Walt Whitman, age 35, from the frontispiece to Leaves of Grass, Fulton St., Brooklyn, N.Y., steel engraving by Samuel Hollyer from a lost daguerreotype by Gabriel Harrison.
 

Civil War years.
After the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, Whitman’s brother was wounded at Fredericksburg, and Whitman went there in 1862, staying some time in the camp, then taking a temporary post in the paymaster’s office in Washington. He spent his spare time visiting wounded and dying soldiers in the Washington hospitals, spending his scanty salary on small gifts for Confederate and Unionist soldiers alike and offering his usual “cheer and magnetism” to try to alleviate some of the mental depression and bodily suffering he saw in the wards.

In January 1865 he became a clerk in the Department of the Interior; in May he was promoted but in June was dismissed because the secretary of the Interior thought that Leaves of Grass was indecent. Whitman then obtained a post in the attorney general’s office, largely through the efforts of his friend, the journalist William O’Connor, who wrote a vindication of Whitman in The Good Gray Poet (published in 1866), which aroused sympathy for the victim of injustice.

In May 1865 a collection of war poems entitled Drum Taps showed Whitman’s readers a new kind of poetry, moving from the oratorical excitement with which he had greeted the falling-in and arming of the young men at the beginning of the Civil War to a disturbing awareness of what war really meant.

“Beat! Beat! Drums!” echoed the bitterness of the Battle of Bull Run, and “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night” had a new awareness of suffering, no less effective for its quietly plangent quality.

 
 
The Sequel to Drum Taps, published in the autumn of 1865, contained his great elegy on President Abraham Lincoln, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” His horror at the death of democracy’s first “great martyr chief ” was matched by his revulsion from the barbarities of war. Whitman’s prose descriptions of the Civil War, published later in Specimen Days & Collect (1882–83), are no less effective in their direct, moving simplicity.
 
 

Whitman at about fifty
 

Later life.
The fourth edition of Leaves of Grass, published in 1867, contained much revision and rearrangement. Apart from the poems collected in Drum Taps, it contained eight new poems, and some poems had been omitted.

In the late 1860s Whitman’s work began to receive greater recognition. O’Connor’s The Good Gray Poet and John Burroughs’ Notes on Walt Whitman as Poet and Person (1867) were followed in 1868 by an expurgated English edition of Whitman’s poems prepared by William Michael Rossetti, the English man of letters. During the remainder of his life Whitman received much encouragement from leading writers in England.

Whitman was ill in 1872, probably as a result of long-experienced emotional strains related to his sexual ambiguity; in January 1873 his first stroke left him partly paralyzed. By May he had recovered sufficiently to travel to his brother’s home in Camden, N.J., where his mother was dying. Her subsequent death he called “the great cloud” of his life. He thereafter lived with his brother in Camden, and his post in the attorney general’s office was terminated in 1874.

Whitman’s health recovered sufficiently by 1879 for him to make a visit to the West. In 1881 James R. Osgood published a second Boston edition of Leaves of Grass, and the Society for the Suppression of Vice claimed it to be immoral. Because of a threatened prosecution, Osgood gave the plates to Whitman, who, after he had published an author’s edition, found a new publisher, Rees Welsh of Philadelphia, who was shortly succeeded by David McKay. Leaves of Grass had now reached the form in which it was henceforth to be published.

 
 
Newspaper publicity had created interest in the book, and it sold better than any previous edition. As a result, Whitman was able to buy a modest little cottage in Camden, where he spent the rest of his life. He had many new friends, among them Horace Traubel, who recorded his talk and wrote his biography. The Complete Poems and Prose was published in 1888, along with the eighth edition of Leaves of Grass. The ninth, or “authorized,” edition appeared in 1892, the year of Whitman’s death.
 
 

Walt Whitman, 1887
 

Leaves of Grass.
Walt Whitman is known primarily for Leaves of Grass, though his prose volume Specimen Days contains some fine realistic descriptions of Civil War scenes. But Leaves of Grass is actually more than one book. During Whitman’s lifetime it went through nine editions, each with its own distinct virtues and faults. Whitman compared the finished book to a cathedral long under construction, and on another occasion to a tree, with its cumulative rings of growth.

Both metaphors are misleading, however, because he did not construct his book unit by unit or by successive layers but constantly altered titles, diction, and even motifs and shifted poems—omitting, adding, separating, and combining. Beginning with the third edition (1860), he grouped the poems under such titles as “Chants Democratic,” “Enfans d’Adam” (later “Children of Adam”), “Calamus,” “Poems of Joy,” and “Sea-Drift.” Some of his later group titles were highly connotative, such as “Birds of Passage,” “By the Roadside,” “Autumn Rivulets,” “From Noon to Starry Night,” and “Songs of Parting,” suggesting a life allegory. But the poems were not arranged in order of composition, either within a particular group or from one group to another. After 1881 Whitman made no further shifts in groups or revisions of poems within the groups, merely adding the poems of “Sands at Seventy” and “Good-Bye My Fancy.”

 
 
Under the influence of the Romantic movement in literature and art, Whitman held the theory that the chief function of the poet was to express his own personality in his verse. The first edition of Leaves of Grass also appeared during the most nationalistic period in American literature, when critics were calling for a literature commensurate with the size, natural resources, and potentialities of the North American continent. “We want” shouted a character in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Kavanagh (1849), “a national literature altogether shaggy and unshorn, that shall shake the earth, like a herd of buffaloes thundering over the prairies.” With the same fervour, Whitman declared in his 1855 preface, “Here are the roughs and beards and space and ruggedness and nonchalance that the soul loves.” In Leaves of Grass he addressed the citizens of the United States, urging them to be large and generous in spirit, a new race nurtured in political liberty, and possessed of united souls and bodies.
 
 
It was partly in response to nationalistic ideals and partly in accord with his ambition to cultivate and express his own personality that the “I” of Whitman’s poems asserted a mythical strength and vitality. For the frontispiece to the first edition, Whitman used a picture of himself in work clothes, posed nonchalantly with cocked hat and hand in trouser pocket, as if illustrating a line in his leading poem, “Song of Myself”: “I cock my hat as I please indoors and out.” In this same poem he also characterized himself as:

Walt Whitman, an American, one of the roughs,

a kosmos,

Disorderly fleshy and sensual . . . eating drink-

ing and breeding,

. . . Divine am I inside and out, and I make

holy whatever I touch or am touched from . . .

  From this time on throughout his life Whitman attempted to dress the part and act the role of the shaggy, untamed poetic spokesman of the proud young nation. For the expression of this persona he also created a form of free verse without rhyme or metre, but abounding in oratorical rhythms and chanted lists of American place-names and objects. He learned to handle this primitive, enumerative style with great subtlety and was especially successful in creating empathy of space and movement, but to most of his contemporaries it seemed completely “unpoetic.” Both the content and the style of his verse also caused Whitman’s early biographers, and even the poet himself, to confuse the symbolic self of the poems with their physical creator. In reality Whitman was quiet, gentle, courteous; neither “rowdy” (a favourite word) nor lawless. In sexual conduct he may have been unconventional, though no one is sure, but it is likely that the six illegitimate children he boasted of in extreme old age were begotten by his imagination. He did advocate greater sexual freedom and tolerance, but sex in his poems is also symbolic—of natural innocence, “the procreant urge of the world,” and of the regenerative power of nature.
 
 

In some of his poems the poet’s own erotic emotions may have confused him, but in his greatest, such as parts of “Song of Myself” and all of “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking,” sex is spiritualized.

Whitman’s greatest theme is a symbolic identification of the regenerative power of nature with the deathless divinity of the soul. His poems are filled with a religious faith in the processes of life, particularly those of fertility, sex, and the “unflagging pregnancy” of nature: sprouting grass, mating birds, phallic vegetation, the maternal ocean, and planets in formation (“the journey-work of stars”). The poetic “I” of Leaves of Grass transcends time and space, binding the past with the present and intuiting the future, illustrating Whitman’s belief that poetry is a form of knowledge, the supreme wisdom of mankind.

 
 

Portrait of Whitman by Thomas Eakins, 1887-88
 

Reputation.
At the time of his death Whitman was more respected in Europe than in his own country. It was not as a poet, indeed, but as a symbol of American democracy that he first won recognition. In the late 19th century his poems exercised a strong fascination on English readers who found his championing of the common man idealistic and prophetic.

Whitman’s aim was to transcend traditional epics, to eschew normal aesthetic form, and yet by reflecting American society to enable the poet and his readers to realize themselves and the nature of their American experience. He has continued to hold the attention of very different generations because he offered the welcome conviction that “the crowning growth of the United States” was to be spiritual and heroic and because he was able to uncompromisingly express his own personality in poetic form.

Modern readers can still share his preoccupation with the problem of preserving the individual’s integrity amid the pressures of mass civilization. Scholars in the 20th century, however, find his social thought less important than his artistry. T.S. Eliot said, “When Whitman speaks of the lilacs or the mockingbird his theories and beliefs drop away like a needless pretext.” Whitman invigorated language; he could be strong yet sentimental; and he possessed scope and inventiveness.

 
 

He portrayed the relationships of man’s body and soul and the universe in a new way, often emancipating poetry from contemporary conventions. He had sufficient universality to be considered one of the greatest American poets.

Alexander Norman Jeffares
Gay Wilson Allen

Encyclopædia Britannica

 
 
 
     
 
Walt Whitman

"Leaves of Grass"
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 
1819
 
 
Washington Irving: "Rip van Winkle"
 

Even though "Rip Van Winkle" (Irving Washington) was originally based on a Germanic folk tale, it has become, since its first appearance in Irving's Sketch Book, a basic American myth. The story of Rip's escape from his shrewish wife and his domestic responsibilities into the mountains with his dog and gun, and his subsequent return has been a popular favorite since its publication.

 
Principal Characters

Rip Van Winkle, who was born along the Hudson River, of an old Dutch family. To get away from his wife he goes into the Kaatskill mountains, where drink puts him to sleep for twenty years.

Dame Van Winkle, Rip's shrewish wife who is disgusted by Rip's lack of energy and thrift. She dies of a stroke in the midst of a fit of anger at a Yankee peddler.

Wolf, Rip's dog, chased with his master from the house by Dame Van Winkle.

Judith Van Winkle, Rip's daughter, who fails to recognize him after twenty years. Rip is relieved when she reports that Dame Van Winkle is dead.

Hendrick Hudson, the leader of the Little Men who return once every twenty years to bowl and drink. They provide Rip with liquor.
 
 
The Story

Along the reaches of the Hudson, not far from the Kaatskill mountains, there was a small, antique Dutch town. The mountains overshadowed the town, and there were times when the good Dutch burghers could see a hood of clouds hanging over the crests of the hills.
In that small town lived a man named Rip Van Winkle. He was beloved by all his neighbors, by the children and the dogs, but at home his life was made miserable by his shrewish wife. Though he was willing to help anyone else at any odd job that might be necessary, it was impossible for him to keep his own house or farm in repair. He was descended from a good old Dutch family, but he had none of the fine Dutch traits of thrift or energy.

He spent a great deal of his time at the village inn, under the sign of King George III, until his wife chased him from there. Then he took his gun and his dog Wolf and headed for the hills. Wolf was as happy as Rip to get away from home. When Dame Van Winkle berated the two of them, Rip raised his eyes silently to heaven, but Wolf tucked his tail between his legs and slunk out of the house.
One fine day in autumn, Rip and Wolf walked high into the Kaatskills after squirrels. As evening came on, he and his dog sat down to rest awhile before starting home. When Rip started down the mountainside, he heard his name called.

 
 
 
A short, square little man with a grizzled beard had called Rip to help carry a keg of liquor. The little man was dressed in antique Dutch clothes. Although he accepted Rip's help in carrying the keg, he carried on no conversation. As they ascended the mountain, Rip heard noises that sounded like claps of thunder. When they reached a sort of amphitheater near the top, Rip saw a band of little men, dressed and bearded like his companion, playing ninepins. One stout old gentleman, who seemed to be the leader, wore a laced doublet and a high-crowned hat with a feather.
 
 
The little men were no more companionable than the first one had been, and Rip felt somewhat depressed. Because they seemed to enjoy the liquor from the keg, Rip tasted it a few times while they were absorbed in their game. Then he fell into a deep sleep.
On waking, he looked in vain for the stout old gentleman and his companions. When he reached for his gun, he found only a rusty flintlock. His dog did not answer his call. He tried to find the amphitheater where the little men had played, but the way was blocked by a rushing stream.
The people he saw as he walked into town were all strangers to him. Since most of them, upon looking at him, stroked their chins, Rip unconsciously stroked his and found that his beard had grown a foot long.
The town itself looked different. At first, Rip thought the liquor from the keg had addled his head, for he had a hard time finding his own house. When he did locate it at last, he found it in a state of decay. Even the sign over the inn had been changed to one carrying the name of General Washington. The men gathered under the sign talked gibberish to him, and they accused him of trying to stir up trouble by coming armed to an election. When they let him ask for his old cronies, he named men who the loungers told him had moved away, or else they had been dead these twenty years.

Finally, an eager young woman pushed through the crowd to look at Rip. Her voice started a train of thought, and he asked who she was and who her father had been. When she claimed to be Rip Van Winkle's daughter Judith, he asked one more question about her mother. Judith told him that her mother had died after breaking a blood vessel in a fit of anger at a Yankee peddler. Rip breathed more freely.
Although another old woman claimed that she recognized him, the men at the inn only winked at his story until an old man, a descendant of the village historian, vouched for Rip's tale. He assured the men that he knew for a fact from his historian ancestor that Hendrick Hudson with his crew came to the mountains every twenty years to visit the scene of their exploits, and that the old historian had seen the crew in antique Dutch garb playing at ninepins just as Rip had related.
Rip spent the rest of his life happily telling his story at the inn until everyone knew it by heart. Even now when the inhabitants of the village hear thunder in the Kaatskills, they say the Hendrick Hudson and his crew are playing ninepins, and many a henpecked husband has wished in vain for a draught of Rip Van Winkle's quieting brew.
  Critical Evaluation

The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent, made Washington Irving the first American author to enjoy international fame. "Rip Van Winkle" is perhaps the best example in the collection of Irving's artistic movement away from the neoclassic cosmic interests of his earlier satirical writing toward a localized and sentimental Romanticism. In a sense, Irving's romanticism is more superficial than that of the great American Romantics such as Emerson and Рое. Irving is concerned more with capturing moods and emotions than with probing intro-spectively into metaphysical states. Even his later writing follows his early stylistic models, Addison and Goldsmith. Although he did not develop a style peculiarly his own, Irving nonetheless wrote with undeniable clarity, grace, and charm—making the "regional romance" a noteworthy and enjoyable American genre.
The author's introductory note calls Rip's adventure "A Posthumous Writing of Diedrich Knickerbocker," the imaginary historian Irving invented earlier for his A History of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker (1809). The narrator's droll references to his own "scrupulous accuracy" and "precise truth," as well as the "confirmation" provided by Peter Vandervonk (a figure from the past parallel to the Dutchmen Rip meets in the mountains), add subtlety to the humorous claim of veracity. Nevertheless, the story clearly combines the literature of folk-fable with that of antifeminism. Rip is depicted, almost heroically, as a kind of Socrates: "a simple good-natured man," a great rationalizer, always willing to help others (consequently henpecked, because unwilling to do his own work), ever found at the inn—"a kind of perpetual club of the sages." From this ironic realism basis the story leaps into myth, with the appearance of the strange little man carrying the keg, whose sullenness somehow enhances his mysterious character and the story's naive credibility. When Rip awakens to present reality, himself now a fabulous figure from the past, he finds things much the same as before. Irving's satirical point is that political and social revolutions are superficial. Change is a myth. Like many of Irving's tales, "Rip Van Winkle" is said to be based on a common European legend. In adapting this source, however, Irving did not simply change the setting; he gave the story a distinctively American flavor. Americans are frequently characterized as optimistic, pragmatic, future-oriented; and yet as this story reveals, there is another strain in the national character. Here, even at the very beginning of American literature, there is a powerful undercurrent of nostalgia that plays against the story's ironic tone.
 
 
 
     
  Washington Irving

"The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"
"Rip Van Winkle"


Illustrations by Arthur Rackham
     
 
 
     
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
     
 
 
 

 
 
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