Timeline of World History TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY



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
  BACK-1859 Part II NEXT-1859 Part IV    
1850 - 1859
History at a Glance
1850 Part I
Compromise of 1850
Constitution of Prussia
The eight Kaffir War, 1850-1853
Masaryk Tomas
Kitchener Horatio Herbert
Erfurt Union
Fillmore Millard
Taiping Rebellion
Hong Xiuquan
Feng Yunshan
Yang Xiuqing
Shi Dakai
1850 Part II
Protestant churches in Prussia
Public Libraries Act 1850
Schopenhauer: "Parerga und Paralipomena"
Herbert Spencer: "Social Statics"
E. B. Browning: "Sonnets from the Portuguese"
Emerson: "Representative Men"
Hawthorne: "The Scarlet Letter"
Herzen Aleksandr
Ibsen: "Catiline"
Loti Pierre
Maupassant Guy
Guy de Maupassant
Stevenson Robert Louis
Robert Louis Stevenson  
"Treasure Island
Turgenev: "A Month in the Country"
1850 Part III
Corot: "Une Matinee"
Courbet: "The Stone Breakers"
Menzel: "Round Table at Sansouci"
Millais: "Christ in the House of His Parents"
Millet: "The Sower"
Bristow George Frederick
George Frederick Bristow - Dream Land
George Frederick Bristow
Schumann: "Genoveva"
Wagner: "Lohengrin"
1850 Part IV
Bernard Claude
Clausius Rudolf
Stephenson Robert
Chebyshev Pafnuty Lvovich
Barth Heinrich
Galton Francis
Anderson Karl John
McClure Robert
McClure Arctic Expedition
Royal Meteorological Society
University of Sydney
1851 Part I
Victoria, state of Australia
Murdock Joseph Ballard
Machado Bernardino
Bourgeois Leon Victor Auguste
Foch Ferdinand
Bombardment of Sale
French coup d'état
Danilo II
Hawthorne: "The House of Seven Gables"
Gottfried Keller: "Der grune Heinrich"
Ward Humphry
Ruskin: "The Stones of Venice"
1851 Part II
Herman Melville: "Moby Dick"
Corot: "La Danse des Nymphes"
Walter Thomas Ustick
Ward Leslie
Crystal Palace
Falero Luis Ricardo
Luis Ricardo Falero
Kroyer Peder
Peder Kroyer
Hughes Edward Robert
Edward Robert Hughes
1851 Part III
Gounod: "Sappho"
D’Indy Vincent
Vincent D'Indy - Medee
Vincent d'Indy
Verdi: "Rigoletto"
Bogardus James
Cast-iron architecture
Kapteyn Jacobus Cornelius
Helmholtz's ophthalmoscope
Neumann Franz Ernst
Ruhmkorff Heinrich Daniel
Singer Isaac Merrit
Cubitt William
Thomson William
Royal School of Mines
Carpenter Mary
"The New York Times"
1852 Part I
Joffre Joseph
Second French Empire
Second Anglo-Burmese War
New Zealand Constitution Act
Asquith Herbert Henry
Pierce Franklin
Delisle Leopold Victor
Fischer Kuno
First Plenary Council of Baltimore
Vaihinger Hans
Gioberti Vincenzo
1852 Part II
Bourget Paul
Creasy Edward
Creasy: "The Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: from Marathon to Waterloo"
Charles Dickens: "Bleak House"
Theophile Gautier: "Emaux et Camees"
Moore George
Reade Charles
Harriet Beecher Stowe: "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
Thackeray: "History of Henry Esmond"
Turgenev: "A Sportsman's Sketches"
Zhukovsky Vasily
1852 Part III
Fopd Madox Brown: "Christ Washing Peter's Feet"
William Holman Hunt: "The Light of the World"
John Everett Millais: "Ophelia"
Bryullov Karl
Karl Bryullov
Stanford Charles
Charles Villiers Stanford - Piano Concerto No.2
Charles Stanford
Becquerel Henri
Gerhardt Charles Frederic
Van’t Hoff Jacobus Henricus
Mathijsen Antonius
Michelson Albert
Ramsay William
Sylvester James Joseph
United All-England Eleven
Wells Fargo & Company
1853 Part I
Eugenie de Montijo
Crimean War
Battle of Sinop
Rhodes Cecil
Peter V
Nagpur Province
1853 Part II
Mommsen: "History of Rome"
Matthew Arnold: "The Scholar-Gipsy"
Charlotte Bronte: "Villette"
Caine Hall
Elizabeth Gaskell: "Ruth"
Nathaniel Hawthorne: "Tanglewood Tales"
Charles Kingsley: "Hypatia"
Tree Herbert Beerbohm
Charlotte M. Yonge: "The Heir of Redclyffe"
1853 Part III
Haussmann Georges-Eugene
Larsson Carl
Carl Larsson
Hodler Ferdinand
Ferdinand Hodler
Van Gogh Vincent
Vincent van Gogh
Steinway Henry Engelhard
Verdi: "Il Trovatore"
Verdi: "La Traviata"
Wood Alexander
"Die Gartenlaube"
International Statistical Congress
1854 Part I
Bloemfontein Convention
Orange Free State
Battle of the Alma
Menshikov Alexander Sergeyevich
Siege of Sevastopol (1854-1855)
Kornilov Vladimir Alexeyevich
Battle of Balaclava
Battle of Inkerman
Perry Matthew Calbraith
Gadsden Purchase
Bleeding Kansas (1854–59)
Kansas-Nebraska Act
Elgin-Marcy Treaty
Republican Party
Said of Egypt
Ostend Manifesto
1854 Part II
Herzog Johann
Jewish Theological Seminary of Breslau
Youthful Offenders Act 1854
Immaculate Conception
Patmore Coventry
Patmore: "The Angel in the House"
Sandeau Leonard
Guerrazzi Francesco Domenico
Rimbaud Arthur
Arthur Rimbaud "Poems"
Tennyson: "The Charge of the Light Brigade"
Thackeray: "The Rose and the Ring"
Thoreau: "Walden, or Life in the Woods"
1854 Part III
Courbet: "Bonjour, Monsieur Courbet"
Frith William Powell
William Frith
Millet: "The Reaper"
Angrand Charles
Charles Angrand
Gotch Thomas Cooper
Thomas Cooper Gotch
Berlioz: "The Infant Christ"
Humperdinck Engelbert
Humperdinck - Hansel und Gretel
Liszt: "Les Preludes"
1854 Part IV
Poincare Henri
Eastman George
Ehrenberg Christian Gottfried
Paul Ehrlich
Goebel Henry
George Boole: "The Laws of Thought"
Riemann Bernhard
Wallace Alfred Russel
Southeast Asia
"Le Figaro"
Litfass Ernst
Northcote–Trevelyan Report
Maurice Frederick Denison
1855 Part I
Alexander II
Istomin Vladimir Ivanovich
Somerset FitzRoy
Nakhimov Pavel Stepanovich
Treaty of Peshawar
Bain Alexander
Droysen Johann
Gratry Auguste
Milman Henry
Le Play Pierre
1855 Part II
Charles Kingsley: "Westward Ho!"
Nerval Gerard
Charles Dickens "Little Dorrit"
Ganghofer Ludwig
Longfellow: "The Song of Hiawatha"
Corelli Marie
Pinero Arthur Wing
Tennyson: "Maud"
Anthony Trollope: "The Warden"
Turgenev: "Rudin"
Walt Whitman: "Leaves of Grass"
Berlioz: "Те Deum"
Verdi: "Les Vepres Siciliennes"
Chansson Ernest
Chausson - Poeme
Ernest Chausson
1855 Part III
Hughes David Edward
Lowell Percival
Cunard Line
"The Daily Telegraph"
Niagara Falls suspension bridge
Paris World Fair
1856 Part I
Victoria Cross
Doctrine of Lapse
Oudh State
Ottoman Reform Edict of 1856
Congress of Paris
Treaty of Paris (1856)
Napoleon, Prince Imperial
Sacking of Lawrence
Pottawatomie massacre
Second Opium War (1856-1860)
Anglo–Persian War (1856-1857)
Buchanan James
1856 Part II
Froude: "History of England"
Goldstucker Theodor
Lotze Rudolf Hermann
Motley: "Rise of the Dutch Republic"
Flaubert: "Madame Bovary"
Haggard Henry Rider
Victor Hugo: "Les Contemplations"
Charles Reade: "It Is Never Too Late to Mend"
Shaw George Bernard
Wilde Oscar
1856 Part III
Berlage Hendrik Petrus
Ferstel Heinrich
Sargent John
John Singer Sargent
Vrubel Mikhail
Mikhail Vrubel
Cross Henri Edmond
Henri-Edmond Cross
Bechstein Carl
Dargomyzhsky Alexander
Alexander Dargomyzhsky: "Rusalka"
Alexander Dargomyzhsky
Maillart Aime
Aime Maillart - Les Dragons de Villars
Sinding Christian
Sinding - Suite in A minor
Christian Sinding
1856 Part IV
Bessemer Henry
Bessemer process
Freud Sigmund
Sigmund Freud
Peary Robert Edwin
Pringsheim Nathanael
Siemens Charles William
Hardie James Keir
Taylor Frederick Winslow
"Big Ben"
1857 Part I
Treaty of Paris
Indian Rebellion of 1857
Italian National Society
Manin Daniele
Taft William Howard
1857 Part II
Buckle Henry Thomas
Buckle: "History of Civilization in England"
Charles Baudelaire: "Les Fleurs du mal"
Conrad Joseph
Joseph Conrad 
"Lord Jim"
George Eliot: "Scenes from Clerical Life"
Hughes Thomas
Thomas Hughes: "Tom Brown's Schooldays"
Mulock Dinah
 Pontoppidan Henrik
Adalbert Stifter: "Nachsommer"
Sudermann Hermann
Thackeray: "The Virginians"
Anthony Trollope: "Barchester Towers"
1857 Part III
Klinger Max
Max Klinger
Millet: "The Gleaners"
Dahl Johan Christian
Johan Christian Dahl
Leoncavallo Ruggero
Ruggero Leoncavallo - Pagliacci
Ruggero Leoncavallo 
Elgar Edward
Edward Elgar - The Light of Life
Edward Elgar
Kienzl Wilhelm
Wilhelm Kienzl - Symphonic Variations
Wilhelm Kienzl
Liszt: "Eine Faust-Symphonie"
1857 Part IV
Coue Emile
Hertz Heinrich
Wagner-Jauregg Julius
Ross Ronald
Newton Charles Thomas
Mausoleum of Halicarnassus
Burton Richard
Speke John Hanning
The Nile Quest
McClintock Francis
Alpine Club
"The Atlantic Monthly"
Baden-Powell Robert
Matrimonial Causes Act
North German Lloyd
1858 Part I
Orsini Felice
Stanley Edward
Treaty of Tientsin
Government of India Act 1858
Law Bonar
William I
Karageorgevich Alexander
Roosevelt Theodore
1858 Part II
Bernadette Soubirous
Carey Henry Charles
Thomas Carlyle: "History of Friedrich II of Prussia"
Hecker Isaac
Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle
Rothschild Lionel Nathan
Schaff Philip
Benson Frank
Feuillet Octave
Oliver Wendell Holmes: "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table"
Kainz Joseph
Lagerlof Selma
1858 Part III
Corinth Lovis
Lovis Corinth
William Powell Frith: "The Derby Day"
Menzel: "Bon soir, Messieurs"
Segantini Giovanni
Giovanni Segantini
Khnopff Fernand
Fernand Khnopff
Toorop Jan
Cornelius Peter
Cornelius: "Der Barbier von Bagdad"
Jaques Offenbach: "Orpheus in der Unterwelt"
Puccini Giacomo
Giacomo Puccini: Donna non vidi mai
Giacomo Puccini
1858 Part IV
Diesel Rudolf
Huxley Thomas Henry
Planck Max
Mirror galvanometer
General Medical Council
Suez Canal Company
S.S. "Great Eastern"
Webb Beatrice
Webb Sidney
Transatlantic telegraph cable
1859 Part I
Second Italian War of Independence
Battle of Varese
Battle of Palestro
Battle of Magenta
Battle of Solferino
Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
Francis II of the Two Sicilies
Charles XV of Sweden
German National Association
Jaures Jean
Roon Albrecht
William II
1859 Part II
Bergson Henri
Henri Bergson
Bergson Henri "Creative Evolution"
Charles Darwin: "On the Origin of Species"
Dewey John
Husserl Edmund
Karl Marx: "Critique of Political Economy"
John Stuart Mill: "Essay on Liberty"
Tischendorf Konstantin
Codex Sinaiticus
Villari Pasquale
1859 Part III
Dickens: "A Tale of Two Cities"
Doyle Arthur Conan
Arthur Conan Doyle  
Duse Eleonora
George Eliot: "Adam Bede"
Edward Fitzgerald: "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"
Ivan Goncharov: "Oblomov"
Hamsun Knut
Heidenstam Verner
Housman Alfred Edward
A.E. Housman 
"A Shropshire Lad", "Last Poems"
Victor Hugo: "La Legende des siecles"
Jerome K. Jerome
Tennyson: "Idylls of the King"
1859 Part IV
Corot: "Macbeth"
Gilbert Cass
Millet: "The Angelus"
Hassam Childe
Childe Hassam 
Seurat Georges
Georges Seurat
Whistler: "At the Piano"
Daniel Decatur Emmett: "Dixie"
Gounod: "Faust"
Verdi: "Un Ballo in Maschera"
1859 Part V
Arrhenius Svante
Kirchhoff Gustav
Curie Pierre
Drake Edwin
Drake Well
Plante Gaston
Lead–acid battery
Smith Henry John Stephen
Brunel Isambard Kingdom
Blondin Charles
Lansbury George
Samuel Smiles: "Self-Help"

Yniol shows Prince Geraint his ruined castle in Gustave Doré's illustration
YEAR BY YEAR:  1800 - 1899
1859 Part III
Alarcon Pedro Antonio: "Diary of a Witness of the War in Africa"

Pedro Antonio de Alarcon:
"Diary of a Witness of the War in Africa"
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
Dickens: "A Tale of Two Cities"

A Tale of Two Cities (1859) is a novel by Dickens Charles, set in London and Paris before and during the French Revolution. The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralised by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same period. It follows the lives of several characters through these events. A Tale of Two Cities was published in weekly installments from April 1859 to November 1859 in Dickens's new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. All but three of Dickens's previous novels had appeared only as monthly installments.


Book the First: Recalled to Life
Dickens's famous opening sentence introduces the universal nature of the book, the French Revolution, and the drama depicted within:

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only."

As a result of his long imprisonment, Dr. Manette suffers a form of psychosis, an obsession with making shoes, a skill he learned in prison to distract himself from his thoughts.

At first, he does not recognise his daughter, whose existence he was unaware of; but he eventually recognises her similarity to her mother, through her blue eyes and long golden hair (a strand of which he found on his sleeve when he was incarcerated). Mr. Lorry and Miss Manette take Dr. Manette back with them to England.

Cover of serial Vol. V, 1859

Book the Second: The Golden Thread
"The Golden Thread" redirects here. For the legal judgement, see Golden thread (law).
Five years later, two British spies, John Barsad (later determined to be Solomon Pross) and Roger Cly, are trying to frame French émigré Charles Darnay for their own gain; and Darnay is on trial for treason at the Old Bailey. They claim, falsely, that Darnay gave information about British troops in North America to the French. Darnay is acquitted, however, when Barsad, who claims he would be able to recognise Darnay anywhere, is unable to tell Darnay apart from a barrister present in court, Sydney Carton, who looks almost identical to him.

In Paris, the despised Marquis St. Evrémonde orders his carriage driven recklessly fast through the crowded streets, hitting and killing the child of a peasant, Gaspard. The Marquis throws a coin to Gaspard to compensate him for his loss. Defarge, a witness to the incident, comforts Gaspard. As the Marquis's coach drives off, the coin thrown to Gaspard is thrown back into the coach by an unknown hand, probably that of Madame Defarge, enraging the Marquis.

Arriving at his château, the Marquis meets with his nephew and heir, Darnay. (Out of disgust with his family, Darnay shed his real surname and adopted an Anglicised version of his mother's maiden name, D'Aulnais.) The following scene demonstrates the Marquis's thoughts:

"Repression is the only lasting philosophy. The dark deference of fear and slavery, my friend," observed the Marquis, "will keep the dogs obedient to the whip, as long as this roof," looking up to it, "shuts out the sky."

That night, Gaspard, who followed the Marquis to his château by riding on the underside of the carriage, stabs and kills the Marquis in his sleep. He leaves a note on the knife saying, "Drive him fast to his tomb. This, from JACQUES." After nine months on the run, he is caught, and hanged above the village fountain.

In London, Darnay gets Dr. Manette's permission to wed Lucie; but Carton confesses his love to Lucie as well. Knowing she will not love him in return, Carton promises to "embrace any sacrifice for you and for those dear to you".

On the morning of the marriage, Darnay reveals his real name and who his family is, a detail which Dr. Manette had asked him to withhold. In consequence Dr. Manette reverts to his obsessive shoemaking.

His sanity is restored before Lucie returns from her honeymoon and the whole incident kept secret from her. Lorry and Miss Pross destroy the shoemaking bench and tools, which Dr. Manette had brought with him from Paris.

Dickens' Book the First makes an early reference to the 1766 torture and execution of the Chevalier François-Jean Lefebvre de La Barre in Abbeville, France.

It is 14 July 1789. The Defarges help to lead the storming of the Bastille, a symbol of royal tyranny. Defarge enters Dr. Manette's former cell, "One Hundred and Five, North Tower". The reader does not know what Monsieur Defarge is searching for until Book 3, Chapter 10. It is a statement in which Dr. Manette explains why he was imprisoned.

As time passes in England, Lucie and Charles begin to raise a family, a son (who dies in childhood) and a daughter, little Lucie. Lorry finds a second home and a sort of family with the Darnays. Stryver, who once had intentions to marry Lucie, marries a rich widow with three children and becomes even more insufferable as his ambitions begin to be realised. Carton, even though he seldom visits, is accepted as a close friend of the family and becomes a special favourite of little Lucie.


"The Sea Rises", an illustration for Book 2, Chapter 21 by "Phiz"
Book the Third: The Track of a Storm
Darnay, being called by a former servant who has been unjustly imprisoned, decides to come back to France to free him. But shortly after his arrival, he is denounced for being an emigrated aristocrat from France and imprisoned in La Force Prison in Paris. Dr. Manette and Lucie—along with Miss Pross, Jerry Cruncher, and "Little Lucie", the daughter of Charles and Lucie Darnay—come to Paris and meet Mr. Lorry to try to free Darnay. A year and three months pass, and Darnay is finally tried.

Dr. Manette, viewed as a hero for his imprisonment in the hated Bastille, successfully pleads for his release; but Darnay is immediately arrested again. He is put on trial again the following day, under new charges brought by the Defarges and one "unnamed other", soon learned to be Dr. Manette, through the written account of his imprisonment at the hands of Darnay's father. Manette is horrified when his words are used to condemn Darnay.

On an errand, Miss Pross is amazed to see her long-lost brother, Solomon Pross; but Solomon does not want to be recognised. Sydney Carton suddenly steps forward from the shadows and identifies Solomon Pross as John Barsad, one of the men who tried to frame Darnay for treason at the Old Bailey trial. Carton threatens to reveal Solomon's identity as a Briton and an opportunist who spies for the French or the British as it suits him.

Darnay is confronted at the tribunal by Monsieur Defarge, who identifies Darnay as the nephew of Marquis St. Evrémonde and reads the letter Dr. Manette had hidden in his cell in the Bastille. Defarge can identify Darnay as Evrémonde because Barsad told him Darnay's identity when Barsad was fishing for information at the Defarges' wine shop in Book 2, Chapter 16.

The letter describes how Dr. Manette was locked away in the Bastille by Darnay's father and his uncle for trying to report their crimes against a peasant family. Darnay's uncle had become infatuated with a girl, whom he had kidnapped and raped. Despite Dr. Manette's attempts to save her, she died.

  The uncle then killed her husband by working him to death, and her father died from a heart attack on being informed of what had happened. Before he died defending the family honour, the brother of the raped peasant had hidden the last member of the family, his younger sister. The letter also reveals that Dr. Manette was imprisoned because the Evrémonde brothers discovered that they could not bribe him to keep quiet. The paper concludes by condemning the Evrémondes, "them and their descendants, to the last of their race". Dr. Manette is horrified, but his protests are ignored—he is not allowed to take back his condemnation. Darnay is sent to the Conciergerie and sentenced to be guillotined the next day.

Carton wanders into the Defarges' wine shop, where he overhears Madame Defarge talking about her plans to have the rest of Darnay's family (Lucie and "Little Lucie") condemned. Carton discovers that Madame Defarge was the surviving sister of the peasant family savaged by the Evrémondes. At night, when Dr. Manette returns, shattered after spending the day in many failed attempts to save Charles' life, he has reverted to his obsessive search for his shoemaking implements. Carton urges Lorry to flee Paris with Lucie, her father, and Little Lucie, asking them to leave as soon as he joins them in the coach.

That same morning, Carton visits Darnay in prison. Carton drugs Darnay, and Barsad (whom Carton is blackmailing) has Darnay carried out of the prison. Carton has decided to switch places with Darnay (whom he still greatly resembles) and be executed in his place. Following Carton's earlier instructions, Darnay's family and Lorry flee Paris and France. In their coach is an unconscious Darnay, wearing Carton's clothes and carrying Carton's identification papers.

Meanwhile, Madame Defarge, armed with a pistol, goes to the Manette residence, hoping to catch them illegally mourning Darnay, an enemy of the Republic; however, the family is already gone. To give them time to escape, Miss Pross confronts Madame Defarge and they struggle. In the struggle, Madame Defarge's pistol goes off, killing her; the noise of the shot and the shock of Madame Defarge's death cause Miss Pross to go permanently deaf.

The novel concludes with the guillotining of Sydney Carton. As he is waiting to board the tumbril, he is approached by a seamstress, also condemned to death, who mistakes him for Darnay but, upon getting close, realises the truth. Awed by his unselfish courage and sacrifice, she asks to stay close to him and he agrees. Upon their arrival at the guillotine, Carton comforts her, telling her that their ends will be quick but that there is no Time or Trouble "in the better land where ... [they] will be mercifully sheltered", and she is able to meet her death in peace.

Carton's unspoken last thoughts are prophetic:

I see Barsad, ... Defarge, The Vengeance [a lieutenant of Madame Defarge], ... long ranks of the new oppressors who have risen on the destruction of the old, perishing by this retributive instrument, before it shall cease out of its present use. I see a beautiful city and a brilliant people rising from this abyss, and, in their struggles to be truly free, in their triumphs and defeats, through long years to come, I see the evil of this time and of the previous time of which this is the natural birth, gradually making expiation for itself and wearing out.

I see the lives for which I lay down my life, peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy, in that England which I shall see no more. I see Her with a child upon her bosom, who bears my name. I see her father, aged and bent, but otherwise restored, and faithful to all men in his healing office, and at peace. I see the good old man [Mr. Lorry], so long their friend, in ten years' time enriching them with all he has, and passing tranquilly to his reward.

I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. I see her, an old woman, weeping for me on the anniversary of this day. I see her and her husband, their course done, lying side by side in their last earthly bed, and I know that each was not more honoured and held sacred in the other's soul, than I was in the souls of both.

I see that child who lay upon her bosom and who bore my name, a man winning his way up in that path of life which once was mine. I see him winning it so well, that my name is made illustrious there by the light of his. I see the blots I threw upon it, faded away. I see him, fore-most of just judges and honoured men, bringing a boy of my name, with a forehead that I know and golden hair, to this place—then fair to look upon, with not a trace of this day's disfigurement—and I hear him tell the child my story, with a tender and a faltering voice.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.

A Tale of Two Cities is one of only two works of historical fiction by Charles Dickens (the second being Barnaby Rudge ). It has fewer characters and sub-plots than a typical Dickens novel. Dickens relies much on The French Revolution: A History by Thomas Carlyle as a historical source. Dickens wrote in his Preface to Tale that "no one can hope to add anything to the philosophy of Mr. Carlyle's wonderful book".
The 45-chapter novel was published in 31 weekly instalments in Dickens's new literary periodical titled All the Year Round. From April 1859 to November 1859, Dickens also republished the chapters as eight monthly sections in green covers. All but three of Dickens's previous novels had appeared only as monthly instalments. The first weekly instalment of A Tale of Two Cities ran in the first issue of All the Year Round on 30 April 1859. The last ran thirty weeks later, on 26 November.

Dickens uses literal translations of French idioms for characters who cannot speak English, such as "What the devil do you do in that galley there?!!" and "Where is my wife? ---Here you see me." The Penguin Classics edition of the novel notes that "Not all readers have regarded the experiment as a success."

The seamstress and Carton, an illustration for Book 3, Chapter 15 by John McLenan (1859)
A Tale of Two Cities stands out from most of Dickens's other novels as the one containing the least humour.[citation needed] That is not surprising, as the historical context and focus of the novel, the French Reign of Terror, might be too bleak to allow for the more humorous characters Dickens is often known for.[citation needed] Still, Dickens, in his usual manner, manages to find the opportunity to make a number of wry comments about various aspects of the era and of the darker side of human nature. If a humorous character is to be found anywhere in the novel, it would likely be Jerry Cruncher; however, his occupation as a "resurrectionist" (grave-robber) and his abuse of his wife casts a more sinister light on his character.


In Dickens's England, resurrection always sat firmly in a Christian context. Most broadly, Sydney Carton is resurrected in spirit at the novel's close (even as he, paradoxically, gives up his physical life to save Darnay's—just as Christ died for the sins of the world.) More concretely, "Book the First" deals with the rebirth of Dr. Manette from the living death of his incarceration.

Resurrection appears for the first time when Mr. Lorry replies to the message carried by Jerry Cruncher with the words "Recalled to Life".

Resurrection also appears during Mr. Lorry's coach ride to Dover, as he constantly ponders a hypothetical conversation with Dr. Manette: ("Buried how long?" "Almost eighteen years." ... "You know that you are recalled to life?" "They tell me so.")
He believes he is helping with Dr. Manette's revival and imagines himself "digging" up Dr. Manette from his grave.

Resurrection is a major theme in the novel. In Jarvis Lorry's thoughts of Dr. Manette, resurrection is first spotted as a theme. It is also the last theme: Carton's sacrifice. Dickens originally wanted to call the entire novel Recalled to Life. (This instead became the title of the first of the novel's three "books".)

Jerry is also part of the recurring theme: he himself is involved in death and resurrection in ways the reader does not yet know. The first piece of foreshadowing comes in his remark to himself: "You'd be in a blazing bad way, if recalling to life was to come into fashion, Jerry!" The black humour of this statement becomes obvious only much later on.

Five years later, one cloudy and very dark night (in June 1780), Mr. Lorry reawakens the reader's interest in the mystery by telling Jerry it is "Almost a night ... to bring the dead out of their graves". Jerry responds firmly that he has never seen the night do that.

  It turns out that Jerry Cruncher's involvement with the theme of resurrection is that he is what the Victorians called a "Resurrection Man", one who (illegally) digs up dead bodies to sell to medical men (there was no legal way to procure cadavers for study at that time).

The opposite of resurrection is of course death. Death and resurrection appear often in the novel. Dickens is angered that in France and England, courts hand out death sentences for insignificant crimes. In France, peasants are even put to death without any trial, at the whim of a noble.[citation needed] The Marquis tells Darnay with pleasure that "[I]n the next room (my bedroom), one fellow ... was poniarded on the spot for professing some insolent delicacy respecting his daughter—his daughter!"

Interestingly, the demolition of Dr. Manette's shoe-making workbench by Miss Pross and Mr. Lorry is described as "the burning of the body". It seems clear that this is a rare case where death or destruction (the opposite of resurrection) has a positive connotation, since the "burning" helps liberate the doctor from the memory of his long imprisonment. But Dickens's description of this kind and healing act is strikingly odd:

So wicked do destruction and secrecy appear to honest minds, that Mr. Lorry and Miss Pross, while engaged in the commission of their deed and in the removal of its traces, almost felt, and almost looked, like accomplices in a horrible crime.

Sydney Carton's martyrdom atones for all his past wrongdoings. He even finds God during the last few days of his life, repeating Christ's soothing words, "I am the resurrection and the life". Resurrection is the dominant theme of the last part of the novel.  Darnay is rescued at the last moment and recalled to life; Carton chooses death and resurrection to a life better than that which he has ever known: "it was the peacefullest man's face ever beheld there ... he looked sublime and prophetic".

In the broadest sense, at the end of the novel Dickens foresees a resurrected social order in France, rising from the ashes of the old one.


Charles Dickens: A Tale of Two Cities. With Illustrations by H. K. Browne. London: Chapman and Hall, 1859. First edition

Hans Biedermann writes that water "is the fundamental symbol of all the energy of the unconscious—an energy that can be dangerous when it overflows its proper limits (a frequent dream sequence)." This symbolism suits Dickens's novel; in A Tale of Two Cities, the frequent images of water stand for the building anger of the peasant mob, an anger that Dickens sympathises with to a point, but ultimately finds irrational and even animalistic.

Early in the book, Dickens suggests this when he writes, "[T]he sea did what it liked, and what it liked was destruction." The sea here represents the coming mob of revolutionaries. After Gaspard murders the Marquis, he is "hanged there forty feet high—and is left hanging, poisoning the water." The poisoning of the well represents the bitter impact of Gaspard's execution on the collective feeling of the peasants.

After Gaspard's death, the storming of the Bastille is led (from the St. Antoine neighbourhood, at least) by the Defarges; "As a whirlpool of boiling waters has a centre point, so, all this raging circled around Defarge's wine shop, and every human drop in the cauldron had a tendency to be sucked towards the vortex..." The crowd is envisioned as a sea. "With a roar that sounded as if all the breath in France had been shaped into a detested word [the word Bastille], the living sea rose, wave upon wave, depth upon depth, and overflowed the city..."

Darnay's jailer is described as "unwholesomely bloated in both face and person, as to look like a man who had been drowned and filled with water." Later, during the Reign of Terror, the revolution had grown "so much more wicked and distracted ... that the rivers of the South were encumbered with bodies of the violently drowned by night..." Later a crowd is "swelling and overflowing out into the adjacent streets ... the Carmagnole absorbed them every one and whirled them away."

During the fight with Miss Pross, Madame Defarge clings to her with "more than the hold of a drowning woman". Commentators on the novel have noted the irony that Madame Defarge is killed by her own gun, and perhaps Dickens means by the above quote to suggest that such vicious vengefulness as Madame Defarge's will eventually destroy even its perpetrators.

So many read the novel in a Freudian light, as exalting the (British) superego over the (French) id. Yet in Carton's last walk, he watches an eddy that "turned and turned purposeless, until the stream absorbed it, and carried it onto the sea"—his fulfilment, while masochistic and superego-driven, is nonetheless an ecstatic union with the subconscious.

  Darkness and light
As is common in English literature, good and evil are symbolised by light and darkness. Lucie Manette is the light, as represented literally by her name Lucy; and Madame Defarge is darkness.

Darkness represents uncertainty, fear and peril. It is dark when Mr. Lorry rides to Dover; it is dark in the prisons; dark shadows follow Madame Defarge; dark, gloomy doldrums disturb Dr. Manette; his capture and captivity are shrouded in darkness; the Marquis's estate is burned in the dark of night; Jerry Cruncher raids graves in the darkness; Charles's second arrest also occurs at night. Both Lucie and Mr. Lorry feel the dark threat that is Madame Defarge. "That dreadful woman seems to throw a shadow on me," remarks Lucie.

Although Mr. Lorry tries to comfort her, "the shadow of the manner of these Defarges was dark upon himself". Madame Defarge is "like a shadow over the white road", the snow symbolising purity and Madame Defarge's darkness corruption.

Dickens also compares the dark colour of blood to the pure white snow: the blood takes on the shade of the crimes of its shedders.

"The Accomplices", an illustration for Book 2, Chapter 19 by "Phiz"
Social justice
Charles Dickens was a champion of the maltreated poor because of his terrible experience when he was forced to work in a factory as a child. (His father, John Dickens, continually lived beyond his means and eventually went to debtors' prison. Charles was forced to leave school and began working ten-hour days at Warren's Blacking Warehouse, earning six shillings a week.) His sympathies, however, lie with the revolutionaries only up to a point; he condemns the mob madness which soon sets in. When madmen and -women massacre eleven hundred detainees in one night and hustle back to sharpen their weapons on the grindstone, they display "eyes which any unbrutalised beholder would have given twenty years of life, to petrify with a well-directed gun".

The reader is shown that the poor are brutalised in France and England alike. As crime proliferates, the executioner in England is "stringing up long rows of miscellaneous criminals; now hanging housebreaker ... now burning people in the hand" or hanging a broke man for stealing sixpence. In France, a boy is sentenced to have his hands removed and be burned alive, only because he did not kneel down in the rain before a parade of monks passing some fifty yards away. At the lavish residence of Monseigneur, we find "brazen ecclesiastics of the worst world worldly, with sensual eyes, loose tongues, and looser lives ... Military officers destitute of military knowledge ... [and] Doctors who made great fortunes ... for imaginary disorders". (This incident is fictional, but is based on a true story related by Voltaire in a famous pamphlet, An Account of the Death of the Chevalier de la Barre.)

  So riled is Dickens at the brutality of English law that he depicts some of its punishments with sarcasm: "the whipping-post, another dear old institution, very humanising and softening to behold in action". He faults the law for not seeking reform: "Whatever is, is right" is the dictum of the Old Bailey. The gruesome portrayal of quartering highlights its atrocity.

Dickens wants his readers to be careful that the same revolution that so damaged France will not happen in Britain, which (at least at the beginning of the book) is shown to be nearly as unjust as France. But his warning is addressed not to the British lower classes, but to the aristocracy. He repeatedly uses the metaphor of sowing and reaping; if the aristocracy continues to plant the seeds of a revolution through behaving unjustly, they can be certain of harvesting that revolution in time. The lower classes do not have any agency in this metaphor: they simply react to the behaviour of the aristocracy. In this sense it can be said that while Dickens sympathises with the poor, he identifies with the rich: they are the book's audience, its "us" and not its "them". "Crush humanity out of shape once more, under similar hammers, and it will twist itself into the same tortured forms. Sow the same seed of rapacious licence and oppression over again, and it will surely yield the same fruit according to its kind".

With the people starving and begging the Marquis for food, his uncharitable response is to let the people eat grass; the people are left with nothing but onions to eat and are forced to starve while the nobles are living lavishly upon the people's backs. Every time the nobles refer to the life of the peasants it is only to destroy or humiliate the poor.

Relation to Dickens's personal life
Some have argued that in A Tale of Two Cities Dickens reflects on his recently begun affair with eighteen-year-old actress Ellen Ternan, which was possibly platonic but certainly romantic. Lucie Manette has been noted as resembling Ternan physically.

After starring in a play by Wilkie Collins titled The Frozen Deep, Dickens was first inspired to write Tale. In the play, Dickens played the part of a man who sacrifices his own life so that his rival may have the woman they both love; the love triangle in the play became the basis for the relationships between Charles Darnay, Lucie Manette, and Sydney Carton in Tale.
Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay may also bear importantly on Dickens's personal life. The plot hinges on the near-perfect resemblance between Sydney Carton and Charles Darnay; the two look so alike that Carton twice saves Darnay through the inability of others to tell them apart.

Carton is Darnay made bad.

Carton suggests as much:

'Do you particularly like the man [Darnay]?' he muttered, at his own image [which he is regarding in a mirror]; 'why should you particularly like a man who resembles you? There is nothing in you to like; you know that. Ah, confound you! What a change you have made in yourself! A good reason for talking to a man, that he shows you what you have fallen away from and what you might have been! Change places with him, and would you have been looked at by those blue eyes [belonging to Lucie Manette] as he was, and commiserated by that agitated face as he was? Come on, and have it out in plain words! You hate the fellow.'

Many have felt that Carton and Darnay are doppelgängers, which Eric Rabkin defines as a pair "of characters that together, represent one psychological persona in the narrative".

If so, they would prefigure such works as Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Darnay is worthy and respectable but dull (at least to most modern readers), Carton disreputable but magnetic.

One can only suspect whose psychological persona it is that Carton and Darnay together embody (if they do), but it is often thought to be the psyche of Dickens himself. Dickens might have been quite aware that between them, Carton and Darnay shared his own initials. However, he denied it when asked.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Illustration from a serialised edition of the story, showing three tricoteuses knitting, with the Vengeance standing in the center.
  Charles Dickens

"Great Expectations"
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
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Doyle Arthur Conan

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, in full Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (born May 22, 1859, Edinburgh, Scotland—died July 7, 1930, Crowborough, Sussex, England), Scottish writer best known for his creation of the detective Sherlock Holmes—one of the most vivid and enduring characters in English fiction.


Portrait of Doyle by Herbert Rose Barraud, 1893
  Conan Doyle, the second of Charles Altamont and Mary Foley Doyle’s 10 children, began seven years of Jesuit education in Lancashire, England, in 1868. After an additional year of schooling in Feldkirch, Austria, Conan Doyle returned to Edinburgh. Through the influence of Dr. Bryan Charles Waller, his mother’s lodger, he prepared for entry into the University of Edinburgh’s Medical School. He received Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications from Edinburgh in 1881 and an M.D. in 1885 upon completing his thesis, “An Essay upon the Vasomotor Changes in Tabes Dorsalis.”

While a medical student, Conan Doyle was deeply impressed by the skill of his professor, Dr. Joseph Bell, in observing the most minute detail regarding a patient’s condition. This master of diagnostic deduction became the model for Conan Doyle’s literary creation, Sherlock Holmes, who first appeared in A Study in Scarlet in Beeton’s Christmas Annual of 1887. Other aspects of Conan Doyle’s medical education and experiences appear in his semiautobiographical novels, The Firm of Girdlestone (1890) and The Stark Munro Letters (1895), and in the collection of medical short stories Round the Red Lamp (1894). His creation of the logical, cold, calculating Holmes, the “world’s first and only consulting detective,” sharply contrasted with the paranormal beliefs Conan Doyle addressed in a short novel of this period, The Mystery of Cloomber (1889). Conan Doyle’s early interest in both scientifically supportable evidence and certain paranormal phenomena exemplified the complex diametrically opposing beliefs he struggled with throughout his life.

Although public clamour prompted him to continue writing Sherlock Holmes adventures through 1926, Conan Doyle claimed the success of Holmes overshadowed the merit he believed his other historical fiction deserved, most notably his tale of 14th-century chivalry, The White Company (1891), its companion piece, Sir Nigel (1906), and his adventures of the Napoleonic war hero Brigadier Gerard and the 19th-century skeptical scientist Professor George Edward Challenger.

When his passions ran high, Conan Doyle also turned to nonfiction. His subjects include military writings, The Great Boer War (1900) and The British Campaign in France and Flanders, 6 vol. (1916–20), the Belgian atrocities in the Congo in The Crime of the Congo (1909), as well as his involvement in the actual criminal cases of George Edalji and Oscar Slater.


Arthur Conan Doyle’s notebook for The White Company [Credit: The Newberry Library, Gift of C. Frederick Kittle, 2004 (A Britannica Publishing Partner)]
Conan Doyle married Louisa Hawkins in 1885, and together they had two children, Mary and Kingsley. A year after Louisa’s death in 1906, he married Jean Leckie and with her had three children, Denis, Adrian, and Jean. Conan Doyle was knighted in 1902 for his work with a field hospital in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and other services during the South African (Boer) War.

Conan Doyle himself viewed his most important efforts to be his campaign in support of spiritualism, the religion and psychic research subject based upon the belief that spirits of the departed continued to exist in the hereafter and can be contacted by those still living. He donated the majority of his literary efforts and profits later in his life to this campaign, beginning with The New Revelation (1918) and The Vital Message (1919).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  He later chronicled his travels in supporting the spiritualist cause in The Wanderings of a Spiritualist (1921), Our American Adventure (1923), Our Second American Adventure (1924), and Our African Winter (1929). He discussed other spiritualist issues in his Case for Spirit Photography (1922), Pheneas Speaks (1927), and a two-volume The History of Spiritualism (1926). Conan Doyle became the world’s most renowned proponent of spiritualism, but he faced considerable opposition for his conviction from the magician Harry Houdini and in a 1920 debate with the humanist Joseph McCabe. Even spiritualists joined in criticizing Conan Doyle’s article “The Evidence for Fairies,” published in The Strand Magazine in 1921, and his subsequent book The Coming of the Fairies (1922), in which he voiced support for the claim that two young girls, Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths, had photographed actual fairies that they had seen in the Yorkshire village of Cottingley.

Conan Doyle died in Windlesham, his home in Crowborough, Sussex, and at his funeral his family and members of the spiritualist community celebrated rather than mourned the occasion of his passing beyond the veil. On July 13, 1930, thousands of people filled London’s Royal Albert Hall for a séance during which Estelle Roberts, the spiritualist medium, claimed to have contacted Sir Arthur.

Conan Doyle detailed what he valued most in life in his autobiography, Memories and Adventures (1924), and the importance that books held for him in Through the Magic Door (1907).

Philip K. Wilson

Encyclopædia Britannica

Arthur Conan Doyle  

  Western Literature

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

Eleonora Duse, (born Oct. 3, 1858, near or in Vigevano, Lombardy, Austrian Empire [now in Italy]—died April 21, 1924, Pittsburgh, Pa., U.S.), Italian actress who found her great interpretive roles in the heroines of the Italian playwright Gabriele D’Annunzio and of the Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.


A photograph by Aimé Dupont, 1896

  Most of Duse’s family were actors who played in the same touring troupe, and she made her first stage appearance at the age of four in a dramatization of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables. By the age of 14, when she played Juliet at Verona, her talents were already being recognized by critics; but after her family died she moved from one company to another, without a great deal of success, until her appearance at Naples in 1878. This marked the turning point of her career. Her performance there of the title role in Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin won great acclaim, with audiences and critics united in the opinion that a woman’s anguish had never before been played with such truth.

In 1882 Duse took an opportunity to watch Sarah Bernhardt perform. The French actress’s success in modern roles gave Duse the idea also of appearing in plays by contemporary French dramatists (for she had discovered that Italian audiences were bored by the stale pieces that formed the traditional repertory), and so for three years she acted in a number of plays by the younger Alexandre Dumas.

The first of these was Lionette in La Princesse de Bagdad, in which she scored a triumph. She followed it up with Cesarine in La Femme de Claude. In 1884 she created the title role of Dumas’s latest play, Denise, and also the part of Santuzza in Giovanni Verga’s Cavalleria rusticana.

With Cesare Rossi, a prominent actor-manager, she toured South America in 1885, but after her return to Italy she formed her own company, the Drama Company of the City of Rome, and with it toured throughout Europe as well as the United States.

Eleonora Duse

  In 1894 she met and fell in love with a rising young poet, Gabriele D’Annunzio; she financed his career, and he wrote for her a number of plays. D’Annunzio told the story of their love in his novel Il fuoco (1900; The Flame of Life).

Aside from D’Annunzio’s plays, Duse found an inexhaustible source of self-expression in the dramas of Ibsen.
She never tired of playing Nora in A Doll’s House, Rebecca West in Rosmersholm, Ella Rentheim in John Gabriel Borkman, and, above all, Ellida in The Lady from the Sea.

To the title role in Hedda Gabler she brought a demonic quality, a touch of the fantastic—deeply troubling to Ibsen when he saw her perform it—as though she had gone beyond the frontiers of realism.

The British playwright George Bernard Shaw was one of the many critics fascinated by Duse’s ability to produce an illusion “of being infinite in variety of beautiful pose and motion.”

He confessed that “in an apparent million of changes and inflexions” he had never seen her at an “awkward angle” (Dramatic Opinions and Essays, 1907).

She had a thousand faces; her physical command, range, and choice of gesture were superb; and she had a different way of walking for each part.
Yet the total effect was of more than “naturalistic” acting: Duse acted not only the reality, she also commented on the characters she played—she “knew” far more about Nora, for instance, than Ibsen’s heroine could possibly have known about herself. One of her critics wrote that Duse played what was between the lines; she played the transitions. A tremor of her lips could reveal exactly what went on in her mind; and, where the character’s inner life was lacking, because the dramatist had failed his task, she supplied motivation herself. To watch her was to read a psychological novel.

Eleonora Duse portrayed by Franz von Lenbach

  In 1909 Duse quit the stage, mainly for reasons of health. Financial losses incurred during World War I, however, obliged her to emerge from retirement in 1921. Her acting powers were undiminished, but her health was still not good and interfered with her late career. In 1923 she appeared in London and Vienna before she embarked upon her last tour of the United States. The tour ended in Pittsburgh, where she collapsed. Her body was taken back to Italy, and, in compliance with her request, she was buried there in the small cemetery of Asolo.

The most fluent and expressive actress of her day, Eleonora Duse created afresh every role she played and was different in each of them.
Her gift was in marked contrast to the talented contemporary star of the French theatre, Sarah Bernhardt, a great technician who always strove to project her own personality from the stage, whatever character she might be playing.

Alois M. Nagler

Encyclopædia Britannica


In Goldoni's The Mistress of the Inn, 1891
Eleonora Duse

Eleonora_Duse, circa 1910

Eleonora Duse (Vittorio Matteo Corcos)
A photograph by Aimé Dupont, New York, 1896

Eleonora Duse in Francesa da Rimini
Eleonora Duse
George Eliot: "Adam Bede"
Adam Bede, the first novel written by Eliot George (the pen name of Mary Ann Evans), was published in 1859. It was published pseudonymously, even though Evans was a well-published and highly respected scholar of her time. The novel has remained in print ever since, and is used in university studies of 19th-century English literature.
Plot summary
According to The Oxford Companion to English Literature (1967),

"the plot is founded on a story told to George Eliot by her aunt Elizabeth Evans, a Methodist preacher, and the original of Dinah Morris of the novel, of a confession of child-murder, made to her by a girl in prison."

The story's plot follows four characters' rural lives in the fictional community of Hayslope—a rural, pastoral and close-knit community in 1799. The novel revolves around a love "rectangle" between beautiful but self-absorbed Hetty Sorrel, Captain Arthur Donnithorne, the young squire who seduces her, Adam Bede, her unacknowledged suitor, and Dinah Morris, Hetty's cousin, a fervent, virtuous and beautiful Methodist lay preacher. (The real village where Adam Bede was set is Ellastone[citation needed]on the Staffordshire / Derbyshire border, a few miles from Uttoxeter and Ashbourne, and near to Alton Towers. Eliot's father lived in the village as a carpenter in a substantial house now known as Adam Bede's Cottage).

Adam is a local carpenter much admired for his integrity and intelligence, in love with Hetty. She is attracted to Arthur, the charming local squire's grandson and heir, and falls in love with him. When Adam interrupts a tryst between them, Adam and Arthur fight. Arthur agrees to give up Hetty and leaves Hayslope to return to his militia. After he leaves, Hetty Sorrel agrees to marry Adam but shortly before their marriage, discovers she is pregnant. In desperation, she leaves in search of Arthur but she cannot find him. Unwilling to return to the village on account of the shame and ostracism she would have to endure, she delivers her baby with the assistance of a friendly woman she encounters. She subsequently abandons the infant in a field but not being able to bear the child's cries, she tries to retrieve the infant. However, she is too late, the infant having already died of exposure.

First edition title page.
Hetty is caught and tried for child murder. She is found guilty and sentenced to hang. Dinah enters the prison and pledges to stay with Hetty until the end. Her compassion brings about Hetty's contrite confession. When Arthur Donnithorne, on leave from the militia for his grandfather's funeral, hears of her impending execution, he races to the court and has the sentence commuted to transportation.

Ultimately, Adam and Dinah, who gradually become aware of their mutual love, marry and live peacefully with his family.

Allusions/references to other works
The importance of Wordsworth's Lyrical Ballads to the way Adam Bede is written has often been noted.

Like its model, Adam Bede features minutely detailed empirical and psychological observations about illiterate "common folk" who, because of their greater proximity to nature than to culture, are taken as emblematic of human nature in its more pure form.

So behind its humble appearance this is a novel of great ambition.

Genre painting and the novel arose together as middle-class art forms and retained close connections until the end of the nineteenth century.

According to Richard Stang, it was a French treatise of 1846 on Dutch and Flemish painting that first popularised the application of the term realism to fiction.

Stang, The Theory of the Novel in England, p. 149, refers to Arsène Houssaye, Histoire de la peinture flamande et hollandaise (1846; 2d ed., Paris: Jules Hetzel, 1866). Houssaye speaks (p, 179) of Terborch's "gout tout hollandais, empreint de poesie realiste", and argues that "l'oeuvre de Gerard de Terburg est le roman intime de la Hollande, comme l'oeuvre de Gerard Dow en est le roman familiere.", and certainly it is with Dutch, Flemish, and English genre painting that George Eliot's realism is most often compared.

She herself invites the comparison in chapter 17 of Adam Bede, and Mario Praz applies it to all her works in his study of The Hero in Eclipse in Victorian Fiction.

  Literary significance and criticism
Immediately recognised as a significant literary work, Adam Bede has enjoyed a largely positive critical reputation since its publication. An anonymous review in The Athenaeum in 1859 praised it as a "novel of the highest class," and The Times called it "a first-rate novel." An anonymous review by Anne Mozley was the first to identify that the novel was probably written by a woman. Contemporary reviewers, often influenced by nostalgia for the earlier period represented in Bede, enthusiastically praised Eliot's characterisations and realistic representations of rural life. Charles Dickens wrote: :"The whole country life that the story is set in, is so real, and so droll and genuine, and yet so selected and polished by art, that I cannot praise it enough to you." (Hunter, S. 122) In fact, in early criticism, the tragedy of infanticide has often been overlooked in favour of the peaceful idyllic world and familiar personalities Eliot recreated. Other critics have been less generous. Henry James, among others, resented the narrator's interventions. In particular, Chapter 15 has fared poorly among scholars because of the author's/narrator's moralising and meddling in an attempt to sway readers' opinions of Hetty and Dinah. Other critics have objected to the resolution of the story. In the final moments, Hetty, about to be executed for infanticide, is saved by her seducer, Arthur Donnithorne. Critics have argued that this deus ex machina ending negates the moral lessons learned by the main characters. Without the eleventh hour reprieve, the suffering of Adam, Arthur, and Hetty would have been more realistically concluded. In addition, some scholars feel that Adam's marriage to Dinah is another instance of the author's/narrator's intrusiveness. These instances have been found to directly conflict with the otherwise realistic images and events of the novel.
The Bede family:
Adam Bede is described as a tall, stalwart, moral, and unusually competent carpenter. He is 26 years old at the beginning of the novel, and bears an "expression of large-hearted intelligence."
Seth Bede is Adam's younger brother, and is also a carpenter, but he is not particularly competent, and "...his glance, instead of being keen, is confiding and benign."
Lisbeth Bede is Adam's and Seth's mother. She is "an anxious, spare, yet vigorous old woman, clean as a snowdrop."
Thias (Matthias) Bede is Adam's and Seth's father. He has become an alcoholic, and drowns in Chapter IV while returning from a tavern.
Gyp is Adam's dog, who follows his every move, and looks "..up in his master's face with patient expectation."
The Poyser family:
Martin Poyser and his wife Rachel rent Hall Farm from Squire Donnithorne and have turned it into a very successful enterprise.
Marty and Tommy Poyser are their sons.
Totty Poyser is their somewhat spoiled and frequently petulant toddler.
"Old Martin" Poyser is Mr. Poyser's elderly father, who lives in retirement with his son's family.
Hetty Sorrel is Mr. Poyser's orphaned niece, who lives and works at the Poyser farm. Her beauty, as described by George Eliot, is the sort "which seems made to turn the heads not only of men, but of all intelligent mammals, even of women."
Dinah Morris is another orphaned niece of the Poysers.
Poster for Theatre Royal, Edinburgh
She is also beautiful – "It was one of those faces that make one think of white flowers with light touches of colour on their pure petals" – but has chosen to become an itinerant Methodist preacher, and dresses very plainly.
The Irwine family:
Adolphus Irwine is the Rector of Broxton. He is patient and tolerant, and his expression is a "mixture of bonhomie and distinction". He lives with his mother and sisters.
Mrs. Irwine, his mother, is "...clearly one of those children of royalty who have never doubted their right divine and never met with any one so absurd as to question it."
Pastor Irwine's youngest sister, Miss Anne, is an invalid. His gentleness is illustrated by a passage in which he takes the time to remove his boots before going upstairs to visit her, lest she be disturbed by noise. She and the pastor's other sister Kate are unmarried.
The Donnithorne family:
Squire Donnithorne owns an estate.
Arthur Donnithorne, his grandson, stands to inherit the estate; he is twenty years old at the opening of the novel. He is a handsome and charming sportsman.
Miss Lydia Donnithorne, the old squire's daughter, is Arthur's unmarried aunt.
Other characters
Bartle Massey is the local schoolteacher, a misogynist bachelor who has taught Adam Bede.
Mr. Craig is the gardener at the Donnithorne estate.
Jonathan Burge is Adam's employer at a carpentry workshop. Some expect his daughter Mary to make a match with Adam Bede.
Villagers in the area include Ben Cranage, Chad Cranage, his daughter Chad's Bess, and Joshua Rann.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  George Eliot 

"Silas Marner"
  Western Literature

English Literature - German literature
French literature - Russian literature
American literature
Edward Fitzgerald: "Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam"

The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Persian: رباعیات عمر خیام‎) is the title that FitzGerald Edward  gave to his translation of a selection of poems, originally written in Persian and numbering about a thousand, attributed to Omar Khayyam (1048–1131), a Persian poet, mathematician, and astronomer. A ruba'i is a two-line stanza with two parts (or hemistichs) per line, hence the word rubáiyát (derived from the Arabic language root for "four"), meaning "quatrains".

The nature of a translation very much depends on what interpretation one places on Khayyam's philosophy. The fact that the rubaiyat is a collection of quatrains—and may be selected and rearranged subjectively to support one interpretation or another—has led to widely differing versions. Nicolas took the view that Khayyam himself clearly was a Sufi. Others have seen signs of mysticism, even atheism, or conversely devout and orthodox Islam. FitzGerald gave the Rubaiyat a distinct fatalistic spin, although it has been claimed that he softened the impact of Khayyam's nihilism and his preoccupation with the mortality and transience of all things. Even such a question as to whether Khayyam was pro- or anti-alcohol gives rise to more discussion than might at first glance have seemed plausible.

Edward FitzGerald versions
The translations best known in English are those by Edward FitzGerald (1809–1883).

1st edition – 1859 [75 quatrains]
2nd edition – 1868 [110 quatrains]
3rd edition – 1872 [101 quatrains]
4th edition – 1879 [101 quatrains]
5th edition – 1889 [101 quatrains]

Front cover of Rubaiyat of
Omar Khayyam translated by Edward FitzGerald,
illustrated by Willy Pogány
Of the five editions published, four were published under the authorial control of FitzGerald. The fifth edition, which contained only minor changes from the fourth, was edited after his death on the basis of manuscript revisions FitzGerald had left.

FitzGerald also produced Latin translations of certain rubaiyat.

Rubáiyát of Khayyám

Beginning in 1859, FitzGerald authorized four editions and had a fifth posthumous edition of his translation of the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám (Persian: رباعیات عمر خیام‎), of which three (the first, second, and fifth) differ significantly; the second and third are almost identical, as are the fourth and fifth.

The first and fifth editions are almost equally reprinted and equally often anthologized.

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

Stanza XI above, from the fifth edition, differs from the corresponding stanza in the first edition, wherein it reads: "Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the bough/A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse—and Thou".

Other differences are discernible. Stanza XLIX is more well known in its incarnation in the first edition:

'Tis all a Chequer-board of Nights and Days
Where Destiny with Men for Pieces plays:
Hither and thither moves, and mates, and slays,
And one by one back in the Closet lays.

Illustration by Edmund Joseph Sullivan for Quatrain 11 of Fitzgerald's First Version.
The fifth edition is less familiar: "But helpless Pieces of the Game He plays/Upon this Chequer-board of Nights and Days".
FitzGerald's translation of the Rubáiyát is notable for being a work to which allusions are both frequent and ubiquitous. It remains popular, but enjoyed its greatest popularity for a century following its publication, wherein it formed part of the wider English literary canon.

One indicator of the popular status of the Rubáiyát is that, of the 101 stanzas in the poem's fifth edition, the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations (2nd edition) quotes no less than 43 entire stanzas in full, in addition to many individual lines and couplets. Stanza LI, also well-known, runs:

The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

Lines and phrases from the poem have been used as the titles of many literary works, amongst them Nevil Shute's The Chequer Board, James Michener's The Fires of Spring and Agatha Christie's The Moving Finger; Eugene O'Neill's Ah, Wilderness alludes to the Rubáiyát without being a direct quotation.

Allusions to it are frequent in the short stories of O. Henry; Saki's nom-de-plume makes reference to it. The popular 1925 song A Cup of Coffee, A Sandwich, and You, by Billy Rose and Al Dubin, makes reference to the first of the stanzas quoted above.

Illustration by Edmund Joseph Sullivan for Quatrain 12 of Fitzgerald's First Version.
As a work of English literature FitzGerald's version is a high point of the 19th century and has been greatly influential. Indeed, the term "Rubaiyat" by itself has come to be used to describe the quatrain rhyme scheme that FitzGerald used in his translations: AABA.

However, as a translation of Omar Khayyam's quatrains, it is not noted for its fidelity. Many of the verses are paraphrased, and some of them cannot be confidently traced to any one of Khayyam's quatrains at all. Some critics informally refer to the FitzGerald's English versions as "The Rubaiyat of FitzOmar", a nickname that both recognizes the liberties FitzGerald inflicted on his purported source and also credits FitzGerald for the considerable portion of the "translation" that is his own creation.

In fact, FitzGerald himself referred to his work as "transmogrification". "My translation will interest you from its form, and also in many respects in its detail: very un-literal as it is. Many quatrains are mashed together: and something lost, I doubt, of Omar's simplicity, which is so much a virtue in him" (letter to E. B. Cowell, 9/3/58). And, "I suppose very few People have ever taken such Pains in Translation as I have: though certainly not to be literal. But at all Cost, a Thing must live: with a transfusion of one’s own worse Life if one can’t retain the Original’s better. Better a live Sparrow than a stuffed Eagle" (letter to E. B. Cowell, 4/27/59).

Perhaps the most famous of FitzGerald's verses is this one, of which the final version is much beloved:

Quatrain XI in his 1st edition:

Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse - and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness -
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.

Quatrain XII in his 5th edition:

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness--
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!"

Illustration by Edmund Joseph Sullivan for Quatrain 51 of Fitzgerald's First Version.

The following are several samples of Fitzgerald's translation, concluding with another well-known verse (FitzGerald's quatrain LI in his 1st edition):

Some for the glories of this world; and some
Sigh for The Prophet's Paradise to come;
Ah, take the cash and let the credit go,
Nor heed the rumble of a distant drum

And much as Wine has played the Infidel
And robbed me of my robe of Honour, well ...
I often wonder what the vintners buy
One half so precious as the stuff they sell

For some we loved, the loveliest and best
That from His rolling vintage Time has pressed,
Have drunk their glass a round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest

But helpless pieces in the game He plays
Upon this chequer-board of Nights and Days
He hither and thither moves, and checks ... and slays
Then one by one, back in the Closet lays

"The Moving Finger writes: and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it."

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Ivan Goncharov: "Oblomov"

Oblomov is a novel by Russian writer Goncharov Ivan Aleksandrovich, first published in 1859. Oblomov is the central character of the novel, portrayed as the ultimate incarnation of the superfluous man, a symbolic character in 19th-century Russian literature. Oblomov is a young, generous nobleman who seems incapable of making important decisions or undertaking any significant actions. Throughout the novel he rarely leaves his room or bed and just manages to move from his bed to a chair in the first 50 pages. The book was considered a satire of Russian nobility whose social and economic function was increasingly questioned in mid-nineteenth century Russia.

The novel was popular when it came out, and some of its characters and devices have imprinted on Russian culture and language.
The novel evolved and expanded from an 1849 short story or sketch entitled "Oblomov's Dream. An Episode from an Unfinished Novel", later incorporated as "Oblomov's Dream" ("Son Oblomova") as Chapter 9 in the completed 1859 novel. The novel focuses on the midlife crisis of the main character, Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, an upper middle class son of a member of Russia's nineteenth century landed gentry. Oblomov's distinguishing characteristic is his slothful attitude towards life. While a common negative characteristic, Oblomov raises this trait to an art form, conducting his little daily business apathetically from his bed. While clearly comedic,[citation needed] the novel also seriously examines many critical issues that faced Russian society in the nineteenth century. Some of these problems included the uselessness of landowners and gentry in a feudal society that did not encourage innovation or reform, the complex relations between members of different classes of society such as Oblomov's relationship with his servant Zakhar, and courtship and matrimony by the elite.

Oblomov spends the first part of the book in bed or lying on his sofa. He receives a letter from the manager of his country estate explaining that the financial situation is deteriorating and that he must visit the estate to make some major decisions, but Oblomov can barely leave his bedroom, much less journey a thousand miles into the country.

A flashback reveals a good deal of why Oblomov is so slothful; the reader sees Oblomov's upbringing in the country village of Oblomovka. He is spoiled rotten and never required to work or perform household duties, and he is constantly pulled from school for vacations and trips or for trivial reasons.

Title page of the 1915 English translation
by C. J. Hogarth
In contrast, his friend Andrey Stoltz, born to a German father and a Russian mother, is raised in a strict, disciplined environment, reflecting Goncharov's own view of the European mentality as dedicated and hard-working.

As the story develops, Stoltz introduces Oblomov to a young woman, Olga, and the two fall in love. However, his apathy and fear of moving forward are too great, and she calls off their engagement when it is clear that he will keep delaying their wedding to avoid having to take basic steps like putting his affairs in order.

Oblomov is swindled repeatedly by his "friend" Taranteyev and Ivan Matveyevich, his landlady's brother, and Stoltz has to undo the damage each time. The last time, Oblomov ends up living in penury because Taranteyev and Ivan Matveyevich are blackmailing him out of all of his income from the country estate, which lasts for over a year before Stoltz discovers the situation and reports Ivan Matveyevich to his supervisor.

Olga leaves Russia and visits Paris, where she bumps into Stoltz on the street. The two strike up a romance and end up marrying.

However, not even Oblomov could go through life without at least one moment of self-possession and purpose. When Taranteyev's behavior at last reaches insufferable lows, Oblomov confronts him, slaps him around a bit and finally kicks him out of the house, in a scene in which all the noble traits that his social class was supposed to symbolize shine through his then worn out being. Oblomov has a child with his widowed landlady, Agafia Pshenitsina, whom he marries. They name the child Andrey, after Stoltz, who adopts the boy upon Oblomov's death. Oblomov spends the rest of his life in a second Oblomovka, being taken care of by Agafia Pshenitsina like he used to be as a child. She can prepare many a succulent meal, and makes sure that Oblomov doesn't have a single worrisome thought. Sometime before his death he had been visited by Stoltz, who had promised to his wife a last attempt at bringing Oblomov back to the world, but without success. By then Oblomov had already accepted his fate, and during the conversation he mentions "Oblomovitis" as the real cause of his demise. Oblomov's end is quiet, much like the rest of his life.
The words Oblomovism and Oblomovitis (translations of Russian: обломовщина oblomovshchina) refer to the fatalistic slothfulness that Oblomov exhibits.

Nikolai Dobrolyubov, in his 1859 article "What is Oblomovism?", described the word as an integral part of Russian avos'. Stolz suggests that Oblomov's death was the result of "Oblomovism".

A character named "Oblomov" in art patron Peggy Guggenheim's memoir Out of This Century was identified by poet Stephen Spender as Samuel Beckett, her one-time lover.

Son of Oblomov, a comedy adaptation for the theatre, opened at the Lyric Theatre, Hammersmith, in 1964 and transferred to the Comedy Theatre in the West End the same year. It starred Spike Milligan, who used less and less of the original script until eventually the entire piece was improvised farce; also in the cast were Joan Greenwood, Bill Owen, and Valentine Dyall.

Oblomov was adapted to the cinema screen in the Soviet Union by Nikita Mikhalkov in 1979, as A Few Days from the Life of I.I. Oblomov (Несколько дней из жизни И. И. Обломова; 145 minutes).

Ivan Goncharov: "Oblomov"
The Cast and Crew: Oleg Tabakov as Oblomov, Andrei Popov as Zakhar, Elena Solovei as Olga and Yuri Bogatyrev as Andrei; cinematography by Pavel Lebechev; screenplay by Mikhalkov and Aleksander Adabashyan; music by Eduard Artemyev; produced by Mosfilm Studio (Moscow).

In 1989 BBC TV made an English language dramatisation of the novel, with George Wendt in the title role.

In 2005 BBC Radio 4 made a two-part English language dramatisation, heralding the lead character as a tragic-comic hero for a couch potato generation. It was adapted by Stephen Wyatt, produced and directed by Claire Grove and starred Toby Jones as the lead, supported by Trevor Peacock, Claire Skinner, Clive Swift, Gerard McDermott, Nicholas Boulton, and Richenda Carey. Olga's singing voice was provided by Olivia Robinson, with Helen Crayford on piano.

In 2008 an adaptation was produced for the English service of the Russian national broadcaster, the Voice of Russia.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
see also: Ivan Goncharov
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Hamsun Knut
Knut Hamsun, pseudonym of Knut Pedersen (born August 4, 1859, Lom, Norway—died February 19, 1952, near Grimstad), Norwegian novelist, dramatist, poet, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1920. A leader of the Neoromantic revolt at the turn of the century, he rescued the novel from a tendency toward excessive naturalism.

Knut Hamsun, 1890
  Of peasant origin, Hamsun spent most of his childhood in remote Hamarøy, Nordland county, and had almost no formal education.

He started to write at age 19, when he was a shoemaker’s apprentice in Bodø, in northern Norway.

During the next 10 years, he worked as a casual labourer. Twice he visited the United States, where he held a variety of mostly menial jobs in Chicago, North Dakota, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

His first publication was the novel Sult (1890; Hunger), the story of a starving young writer in Norway. Sult marked a clear departure from the social realism of the typical Norwegian novel of the period.

Its refreshing viewpoint and impulsive, lyrical style had an electrifying effect on European writers.

Hamsun followed his first success with a series of lectures that revealed his obsession with August Strindberg and attacked such idols as Henrik Ibsen and Leo Tolstoy, and he produced a flow of works that continued until his death.

Like the asocial heroes of his early works—e.g., Mysterier (1892; Mysteries), Pan (1894; Eng. trans. Pan), and Victoria (1898; Eng. trans. Victoria)—Hamsun either was indifferent to or took an irreverent view of progress.

In a work of his mature style, Markens grøde (1917; Growth of the Soil), he expresses a back-to-nature philosophy.

But his message of fierce individualism, influenced by Friedrich Nietzsche and Strindberg, remains constant.

Knut Hamsun in July 1939, 79 years
  Consistent to the end in his antipathy to modern Anglo-American culture, Hamsun supported the Germans during their occupation of Norway in World War II.

After the war he was imprisoned as a traitor, but charges against him were dropped in view of his age.

He was, however, convicted of economic collaboration and had to pay a fine that ruined him financially.

Hamsun’s collaboration with the Nazis seriously damaged his reputation, but after his death critical interest in his works was renewed and new translations made them again accessible to an international readership.

Already in 1949, at age 90, he had made a remarkable literary comeback with Paa gjengrodde stier (On Overgrown Paths), which was in part memoir, in part self-defense, but first and foremost a treasure trove of vibrant impressions of nature and the seasons.

His deliberate irrationalism and his wayward, spontaneous, impressionistic style had wide influence throughout Europe, and such writers as Maksim Gorky, Thomas Mann, and Isaac Bashevis Singer acknowledged him as a master.

A six-volume comprehensive edition of Hamsun’s letters, Knut Hamsuns brev, was published in Norwegian (1994–2001), with two volumes of Selected Letters (1990–98) appearing in English translation.

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Heidenstam Verner

Verner von Heidenstam, in full Carl Gustaf Verner von Heidenstam (born July 6, 1859, Olshammar, Sweden—died May 20, 1940, Övralid), poet and prose writer who led the literary reaction to the Naturalist movement in Sweden, calling for a renaissance of the literature of fantasy, beauty, and national themes. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1916.


Verner von Heidenstam
  Ill health forced Heidenstam to spend most of his youth in the central and eastern Mediterranean countries.

His first book of poems, Vallfart och vandringsar (1888; “Pilgrimage and Wander Years”), full of the fables of the southern lands and the philosophy of the East, was an immediate success with the Swedish public.

With his essay “Renässans” (1889) he first voiced his opposition to naturalism and the realistic literary program in Sweden.

His efforts toward the realization of a new Swedish literature include two volumes of poems, Dikter (1895) and his last volume, Nya dikter (1915), many poems of which are translated in Sweden’s Laureate: Selected Poems of Verner von Heidenstam (1919).

He also wrote several volumes of historical fiction, the most important of which are Karolinerna, 2 vol. (1897–98; The Charles Men), and Folkungaträdet (1905–07; The Tree of the Folkungs).

After the turn of the century Heidenstam’s works lost their popular appeal, and he wrote virtually nothing during the last 25 years of his life.

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Housman Alfred Edward
A.E. Housman, in full Alfred Edward Housman (born March 26, 1859, Fockbury, Worcestershire, Eng.—died April 30, 1936, Cambridge), English scholar and celebrated poet whose lyrics express a Romantic pessimism in a spare, simple style.

Alfred Edward Housman
  Housman, whose father was a solicitor, was one of seven children. He much preferred his mother; and her death on his 12th birthday was a cruel blow, which is surely one source of the pessimism his poetry expresses. While a student at Oxford, he was further oppressed by his dawning realization of homosexual desires. These came to focus in an intense love for one of his fellow students, an athletic young man who became his friend but who could not reciprocate his love. In turmoil emotionally, Housman failed to pass his final examination at Oxford, although he had been a brilliant scholar.

From 1882 to 1892 he worked as a clerk in the Patent Office in London. In the evenings he studied Latin texts in the British Museum reading room and developed a consummate gift for correcting errors in them, owing to his mastery of the language and his feeling for the way poets choose their words. Articles he wrote for journals caught the attention of scholars and led to his appointment in 1892 as professor of Latin at University College, London.

Apparently convinced that he must live without love, Housman became increasingly reclusive and for solace turned to his notebooks, in which he had begun to write the poems that eventually made up A Shropshire Lad (1896). For models he claimed the poems of Heinrich Heine, the songs of William Shakespeare, and the Scottish border ballads. Each provided him with a way of expressing emotion clearly and yet keeping it at a certain distance.

For the same purpose, he assumed in his lyrics the unlikely role of farm labourer and set them in Shropshire, a county he had not yet visited when he began to write the first poems. The popularity of A Shropshire Lad grew slowly but so surely that Last Poems (1922) had astonishing success for a book of verse.

Housman regarded himself principally as a Latinist and avoided the literary world. In 1911 he became professor of Latin at Cambridge, teaching there almost up to his death. His major scholarly effort, to which he devoted more than 30 years, was an annotated edition of Manilius (1903–30), whose poetry he did not like but who gave him ample scope for emendation. Some of the asperity and directness that appears in Housman’s lyrics also is found in his scholarship, in which he defended common sense with a sarcastic wit that helped to make him widely feared.

A lecture, The Name and Nature of Poetry (1933), gives Housman’s considered views of the art. His brother Laurence selected the verses for the posthumous volume More Poems (1936). Housman’s Letters appeared in 1971.

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  A.E. Housman 

"A Shropshire Lad", "Last Poems"
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Victor Hugo: "La Legende des siecles"

La Légende des siècles (The Legend of the Ages) is a collection of poems by Hugo Victor, conceived as an immense depiction of the history and evolution of humanity.

Written intermittently between 1855 and 1876 while Hugo worked in exile on numerous other projects, the poems were published in three series in 1859, 1877, and 1883. Bearing witness to the unparalleled poetic talent evident in all Hugo's art, the Légende des Siècles is often considered the only true French epic and, according to Baudelaire's formulation, the only modern epic possible.

The dreaming poet contemplates the "wall of the centuries," indistinct and terrible, on which scenes of the past, present and future are drawn, and along which the whole long procession of humanity can be seen. The poems are depictions of these scenes, fleetingly perceived and interspersed with terrifying visions. Hugo sought neither historical accuracy nor exhaustiveness; rather, he concentrated on obscure figures, usually his own inventions, who incarnated and symbolized their eras. As he proclaims in the preface to the first series, "this is history, eavesdropped upon at the door of legend." The poems, by turns lyrical, epic and satirical, form a view of the human experience, seeking less to summarize than to illustrate the history of humanity, and to bear witness to its long journey from the darkness into the light.
La Légende des Siècles was not originally conceived as the vast work it was to become. Its beginning, the original seed, was in a vague project entitled Petites Epopées ("Little Epics"), which features in the notes and jottings of Hugo from 1848, and which gives no indication of so vast an ambition.

After Les Châtiments and Les Contemplations, his editor, Hetzel, was perturbed by the submission of La Fin de Satan and Dieu, both of which were nearly complete. Seeing that Hugo was ready to proceed yet further down the metaphysical (or even eschatological) road mapped out by the final Contemplations, Hetzel became anxious at the probability of their failure with the public, and preferred the sound of the Petites Epopées which Hugo had mentioned, feeling they would be more in harmony with the spirit of the times. Even though these "epics" were still no more than sketches, in March 1857 Hetzel wrote to Hugo, rejecting Fin de Satan and Dieu, but accepting with enthusiasm the Petites Epopées.
This new commission was nevertheless transformed by the influence of Hugo's latest ideas and most recent works, created with the same dash and fire and in a sort of magma of inspiration: a mixture of poesy, mysticism and philosophy which is characteristic of Hugo's first decade of exile.
This inspiration normally led him to write a large number of poems, more or less brief, which would finally be published as components in projects which were constantly shifting and evolving.

La Conscience, illustration by François Chifflart
In this case Hugo integrated the little epics into his poetical system by casting them as the "human" panel in a triptych of which "God" and "Satan" were the wings, with the implication that they were merely sparse fragments stolen from a greater epic: the whole of human experience itself. On 11 September 1857 Hugo signed a contract with Hetzel, reserving the right to alter the project's title.

Later, Hetzel pronounced himself willing to publish La Fin de Satan and Dieu; but Hugo, perhaps conscious of the difficulties of completing either to his satisfaction, had by that time thrown himself entirely into the new project. He began by taking the French Revolution as the turning point in human history, intending to use a poem entitled La Révolution as a pivot around which La Pitié Suprême or Le Verso de la page would revolve. More titles were written down, but some were discarded or greatly altered, and the section dealing with the 19th century coalesced as L'Océan — La Révolution — le Verso de la page — la Pitié Suprême — Les Pauvres Gens — L'épopée de l'Âne.

Hetzel followed this evolution with alarm, and, fearing that the great philosophical questions would turn these little epics into towering giants, endeavoured to temper Hugo's ardour. After a serious illness in the summer of 1858, Hugo tried to reassure Hetzel by writing in a more straightforwardly narrative vein (e.g. Le Petit Roi de Galice and Zim-Zizimi), and modified his plans—but retained the general ambition, which he declared in a preface. He had hit on the idea of publishing in several instalments, to give himself more time and space within which to work. The title was not decided on until a month after the manuscript's submission. With his gift for phrases, Hugo came up with La Légende des Siècles. Petites Épopées was kept as a subtitle.


First Series
The first series was published in two volumes on 26 September 1859 (see 1859 in poetry) in Brussels. In exile, Hugo dedicated it to his home country:

Livre, qu'un vent t'emporte
En France, où je suis né !
L'arbre déraciné
Donne sa feuille morte.

The framing of the series is resolutely Biblical: opening with Eve (Le sacre de la femme) and closing on La trompette du jugement, the classical world is largely forgotten (the Roman Empire, for which Hugo had little admiration, is represented only by its decadence). Several poems dating from 1857–58 were set aside for a future continuation.

I. D'Ève à Jésus (Le sacre de la femme ; La conscience ; Puissance égale bonté ; Les lions ; Le temple ; Booz endormi ; Dieu invisible au philosophe ; Première rencontre du Christ avec le tombeau)
II. Décadence de Rome (Au lion d'Androclès)
III. L'Islam (L'an neuf de l'Hégire ; Mahomet ; Le cèdre)
IV. Le Cycle Héroïque Chrétien (Le parricide ; Le mariage de Roland ; Aymerillot ; Bivar ; Le jour des rois)
V. Les Chevaliers Errants (La terre a vu jadis ; Le petit roi de Galice ; Eviradnus)
VI. Les Trônes d'Orient (Zim-Zizimi ; 1453 ; Sultan Mourad)
VII. L'Italie — Ratbert
VIII. Seizième siècle — Renaissance. Paganisme (Le Satyre)
IX. La Rose de l'Infante
X. L'Inquisition (Les raisons du Momotombo)
XI. La Chanson des Aventuriers de la Mer
XII. Dix-septième siècle, Les Mercenaires (Le régiment du baron Madruce)
XIII. Maintenant (Après la bataille ; Le crapaud ; Les pauvres gens ; Paroles dans l'épreuve)
XIV. Vingtième siècle (Pleine mer — Plein ciel)
XV. Hors des temps (La trompette du jugement)


Illustration by Victor Hugo (1871)
New Series
Work on the second series began immediately after the first, but Hugo was soon busy with Les Misérables and with completing La Fin de Satan and Dieu. In 1862, with the publication of Les Misérables, Hugo reviewed his earlier plan and gathered together the poems already written: L'Âne, Les Sept Merveilles du Monde (a recent one), La Révolution, and La Pitié Suprême. Again, he delayed work for the sake of novels (Les travailleurs de la mer and L'Homme Qui Rit). In 1870, a decisive moment came, when Hugo decided to keep La Révolution for the future collection Les Quatre Vents de l'esprit, and to fuse together La Légende, Dieu and La Fin de Satan, according to the following plan: La Fin de Satan, first book — L'Océan — Elciis — La Vision de Dante — Les Religions (from Dieu) — La Pitié Suprême. Current events in the 1870s, however, saw upheavals in Hugo's life, and he was once more greatly involved in politics.

La Nouvelle Série was finally published on 26 February 1877 (see 1877 in poetry), Hugo's sixty-fifth birthday. Most of the contents date from 1859 and 1875–1877, and the events of the 1870s make themselves felt: the Paris Commune, the fall of Napoleon III, and the beginnings of the Third Republic.

The collection closes with the formidable Abîme, a vertiginous dialogue between Man, Earth, Sun, and Stars, playing on the numberless steps leading to an infinity behind which stands God, and placing human beings, with all their pettiness, face to face with the Universe.


La vision d'où est sorti ce livre
I. La Terre (La terre – hymne)
II. Suprématie
III. Entre géants et dieux (Le géant, aux dieux ; Les temps paniques ; Le titan)
IV. La ville disparue
V. Après les dieux, les rois (I : Inscription ; Cassandre ; Les trois cents ; Le détroit de l'Euripe ; La chanson de Sophocle à Salamine ; Les bannis ; Aide offerte à Majorien ; II : L'hydre ; Le romancero du Cid ; Le roi de Perse ; Les deux mendiants ; Montfaucon ; Les reîtres ; Le comte Félibien)
VI. Entre lions et rois (Quelqu'un met le holà)
VII. Le Cid exilé
VIII. Welf, Castellan d'Osbor
IX. Avertissements et châtiments (Le travail des captifs ; Homo duplex ; Verset du Koran ; L'aigle du casque)
X. Les Sept merveilles du monde
XI. L'Epopée du ver
XII. Le Poëte au ver de terre
XIII. Clarté d'âmes
XIV. Les chutes (Fleuves et poëtes)
XV. Le Cycle pyrénéen (Gaïffer-Jorge, duc d'Aquitaine ; Masferrer ; La paternité)
XVI. La Comète
XVII. Changement d'horizon
XVIII. Le Groupe des Idylles
XIX. Tout le passé et tout l'avenir
XX. Un poëte est un monde
XXI. Le Temps présent (La Vérité, lumière effrayée ; Tout était vision ; Jean Chouan ; Le cimetière d'Eylau ; 1851 — choix entre deux passants ; Écrit en exil ; La colère du bronze ; France et âme ; Dénoncé à celui qui chassa les vendeurs ; Les enterrements civils ; Le prisonnier ; Après les fourches caudines)
XXII. L'Élégie des fléaux
XXIII. Les Petits (Guerre civile ; Petit Paul ; Fonction du l'enfant ; Question sociale)
XXIV. Là-haut
XXV. Les Montagnes (Désintéressement)
XXVI. Le Temple
XXVII. À L'Homme

Last Series
The New Series had been advertised with the following message: « Le complément de la Légende des siècles sera prochainement publié, à moins que la fin de l'auteur n'arrive avant la fin du livre. » ("The conclusion to the Legend will be published shortly, provided that it is not preceded by the conclusion to the author.")

On 9 June 1883 the fifth and last tome of La Légende des Siècles was published with the subtitle série complémentaire (see 1883 in poetry). Critics who claimed that the "anticlericalism" and "glibness" were evidence of the bitterness of age were mistaken: in fact, Hugo's cerebral edema of June 1878 had already essentially put an end to his work as a writer, and most of the contents dated from long before. It is probable, but not certain, that he had intended to write new poems.

For example, La Vision de Dante (written in 1853) was initially intended for Châtiments, and Les Quatre Jours d'Elciis (written in 1857) was bumped forward from both the First and the New Series, the prologue dating from perhaps 1880. This assemblage of poems with little narrative drive, alternating dark and bright visions, gives the impression of a contemplative and intemporal epilogue, very different from what came before.


Je ne me sentais plus vivant
I. Les Grandes Lois
II. Voix basses dans les ténèbres
III. Je me penchai
IV. Mansétude des anciens juges
V. L'Échafaud
VI. Inferi
VII. Les quatre jours d'Elciis
VIII. Les paysans au bord de la mer
IX. Les esprits
X. Le Bey outragé
XI. La chanson des doreurs de proues
XII. Ténèbres
XIII. L'Amour
XIV. Rupture avec ce qui amoindrit
XV. Les paroles de mon oncle
XVI. Victorieux ou mort
XVII. Le cercle des tyrans
XVIII. Paroles de Géant
XIX. Quand le Cid
XX. La vision de Dante
XXI. Dieu fait les questions
XXII. Océan
XXIII. Ô Dieu, dont l'œuvre va plus loin que notre rêve


Illustration by Victor Hugo (1850)
Collected edition
In September 1883, several months after the appearance of the Last Series, a "complete" edition was issued in which the three series are mixed together and reorganised according to a more or less chronological plan.

No one is entirely sure how close this comes to Hugo's original vision. It is not impossible that Hugo, physically and intellectually enfeebled, and greatly affected by the death of Juliette Drouet, allowed himself to be overly influenced by friends and by the executors of his estate. The rearrangement, which tries to make things easier for the reader by alternating long and short poems, and poems with different moods, has the effect of erasing the internal logic; in particular, the references to current affairs that are found in the New Series are dispersed. Additionally, it introduces bizarreries of chronology: Greek mythology is depicted after Jesus Christ, and El Cid appears before Muhammad. Finally, it often gives the reader the erroneous impression that this final fusion was what Hugo originally intended, as though the original appearance in "series" were a historical accident. Nevertheless, most modern editions adopt this arrangement for the sake of simplicity.

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  Victor Hugo

"The Hunchback of Notre Dame" 

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Hunt Leigh, English author, d. (b. 1784)

Leigh Hunt, Engraved by H. Meyer
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Irving Washington, American author, d. (b. 1783)

Portrait of Washington Irving by John Wesley Jarvis, from 1809
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Jerome K. Jerome

Jerome K. Jerome, in full Jerome Klapka Jerome (born May 2, 1859, Walsall, Staffordshire, Eng.—died June 14, 1927, Northampton, Northamptonshire), English novelist and playwright whose humour—warm, unsatirical, and unintellectual—won him wide following.


Jerome K. Jerome

  Jerome left school at the age of 14, working first as a railway clerk, then as a schoolteacher, an actor, and a journalist.

His first book, On the Stage—and Off, was published in 1885, but it was with the publication of his next books, The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886) and Three Men in a Boat (1889), that he achieved great success; both books were widely translated.

From 1892 to 1897 he was a coeditor (with Robert Barr and George Brown Burgin) of The Idler, a monthly magazine that he had helped found, which featured contributions by writers such as Eden Phillpotts, Mark Twain, and Bret Harte.

Jerome’s many other works include Three Men on the Bummel (1900) and Paul Kelver (1902), an autobiographical novel.

He also wrote a number of plays. A book of Jerome’s memoirs, My Life and Times, was published in 1926.

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De Quincey Thomas, English author, d. (b. 1785)

Thomas de Quincey by Sir John Watson-Gordon.
Thomas De Quincey 

"Confessions of an English Opium-Eater"
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Sand George: "Elle et lui"

George Sand: "Elle et lui"
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Tennyson: "Idylls of the King"

Idylls of the King, published between 1859 and 1885, is a cycle of twelve narrative poems by the English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (Tennyson Alfred) which retells the legend of King Arthur, his knights, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of him, and the rise and fall of Arthur's kingdom.

The whole work recounts Arthur's attempt and failure to lift up mankind and create a perfect kingdom, from his coming to power to his death at the hands of the traitor Mordred. Individual poems detail the deeds of various knights, including Lancelot, Geraint, Galahad, and Balin and Balan, and also Merlin and the Lady of the Lake. There is little transition between Idylls, but the central figure of Arthur links all the stories. The poems were dedicated to the late Albert, Prince Consort. The Idylls are written in blank verse. Tennyson's descriptions of nature are derived from observations of his own surroundings, collected over the course of many years.The dramatic narratives are not an epic either in structure or tone, but derive elegiac sadness in the style of the idylls of Theocritus. Idylls of the King is often read as an allegory of the societal conflicts in Britain during the mid-Victorian era.
Tennyson's sources and adaptations
Tennyson based his retelling primarily on Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur and the Mabinogion, but with many expansions, additions, and several adaptations, a notable example of which is the fate of Guinevere. In Malory she is sentenced to be burnt at the stake but is rescued by Lancelot; in the Idylls Guinevere flees to a convent, is forgiven by Arthur, repents, and serves in the convent until she dies. Tennyson amended the traditional spellings of several names to fit the metre.

Place of writing
Part of the work was written in the Hanbury Arms in Caerleon, where a plaque commemorates the event.

  Publishing chronology
The first set of Idylls, "Enid", "Vivien", "Elaine", and "Guinevere", was published in 1859. "Enid" was later divided into "The Marriage of Geraint" and "Geraint and Enid", and "Guinevere" was expanded.

The Holy Grail and Other Poems appeared ten years later. "The Last Tournament" was published in Contemporary Review in 1871. "Gareth and Lynette" was published the following year.

The final idyll, "Balin and Balan", was published in Tiresias and Other Poems in 1885. The Dedication was published in 1862, a year after the Prince Consort had died; the epilogue, "To the Queen," was published in 1873.
The Idylls
The Coming of Arthur

The first of the Idylls covers the period following Arthur's coronation, his accession, and marriage. The besieged Leodogran, King of Cameliard, appeals to Arthur for help against the beasts and heathen hordes. Arthur vanquishes these and then the Barons who challenge his legitimacy. Afterwards he requests the hand of Leodogran's daughter, Guinevere, whom he loves. Leodogran, grateful but also doubtful of Arthur's lineage, questions his chamberlain, Arthur's emissaries, and Arthur's half sister Bellicent (the character known as Anna or Morgause in other versions), receiving a different account from each. He is persuaded at last by a dream of Arthur crowned in heaven. Lancelot is sent to bring Guinevere, and she and Arthur wed in May. At the wedding feast, Arthur refuses to pay the customary tribute to the Lords from Rome, declaring, “The old order changeth, yielding place to new.” This phrase is repeated by Arthur throughout the work. Tennyson's use of the phrase in both the first and last Idyll, and throughout the work, is indicative of the change in Britain's, and Arthur's, fortunes. At this point, the phrase indicates the passing of Rome and the Heathens; In The Passing of Arthur, it indicates the downfall of Arthur's kingdom.
Gareth and Lynette
Tennyson based "Gareth and Lynette" on the fourth (Caxton edition: seventh) book of Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. No version of the story earlier than Malory's is known; it is possible that Malory created the tale himself, though he may have relied on an older work that is now lost.

Of all the Idylls, “Gareth and Lynette” is sweetest and most innocent. Gareth, Bellicent and Lot's last son, dreams of knighthood but is frustrated by his mother. After a lengthy argument she clinches the matter, or so she thinks, by ordering him to serve as an anonymous scullion in Arthur's kitchens for a year and a day. To her disappointment, he agrees. Upon his arrival incognito at Camelot, Gareth is greeted by a disguised Merlin, who tells him the city is never built at all, and therefore built forever, and warns him that Arthur will bind him by vows no man can keep. Gareth is angered by his apparent tomfoolery, but is himself rebuked for going disguised to the truthful Arthur.

Arthur consents to the boy's petition for kitchen service. After Gareth has served nobly and well for a month, Bellicent repents and frees him from his vow. Gareth is secretly knighted by Arthur, who orders Lancelot to keep a discreet eye on him. Gareth's first quest comes in the form of the cantankerous Lynette, who begs Arthur for Lancelot's help in freeing her sister Lyonors. Rather than Lancelot, she is given Gareth, still seemingly a kitchen servant.
Indignant, she flees, and abuses Gareth sorely when he catches up.

Yniol shows Prince Geraint his ruined castle in Gustave Doré's illustration
On their journey he proves himself again and again, but she continues to call him knave and scullion. Gareth remains courteous and gentle throughout. Throughout the journey to the Castle Perilous, he overthrows the soi-disant knight of the Morning Star, knight of the Noonday Sun, knight of the Evening Star, and finally the most terrible knight of Death, who is revealed as a boy coerced into his role by his older brothers. Tennyson concludes: “And he [Malory] that told the tale in older times / Says that Sir Gareth wedded Lyonors, / But he, that told it later [Tennyson], says Lynette.”
"Enid" was initially written as a single poem but was later divided into two parts: 'The Marriage of Geraint" and 'Geraint and Enid". It is based on one of the Welsh Romances Geraint and Enid of the Mabinogion.
The Marriage of Geraint
Geraint, tributary prince of Devon and one of Arthur's bravest knights, is married to Enid, the only daughter of Yniol. He loves his wife deeply and she responds with equal affection; her only wish is to please him.

At this time, the first rumours about Lancelot and Guinevere begin to spread throughout the court, but as yet there is no proof that any romance really exists. Geraint believes the stories and begins to fear that Enid will follow the bad example of her friend, the queen. His worries begin to plague him and he finally asks Arthur's permission to return to Devon.

After they arrive home, Geraint is very affectionate and attentive to his wife. He totally neglects his duties as a ruler and a knight, for he is obsessed with the idea that Enid has left a lover behind at the palace. Made suspicious by his jealousy, he stays at Enid's side at all times. Before long, Geraint's reputation begins to suffer. His people secretly scoff at him and jeer that his manliness is gone. Enid also is upset by his new and disgraceful way of life, but she is afraid to criticise him since she does not want to cause him any pain.

One morning as they lie in bed, she muses out loud about her sad dilemma and berates herself as a bad wife for remaining silent. Geraint awakens and overhears her last few words. He jumps to the conclusion that she is confessing her infidelity and is infuriated. He angrily shouts that he is still a warrior, despite all rumours, and that he will at once go on a quest to prove his prowess. She alone is to accompany him, taking no baggage and wearing her oldest and most shabby dress.

  Geraint and Enid
Geraint and Enid set out on their journey that very morning. Geraint orders Enid to ride in front of him and not to speak, whatever the provocation. Perhaps, Tennyson hints, this command is because he still loves her and is afraid that in some outburst of his brooding jealousy he will harm her. The two ride on slowly into the bandit-infested wilderness adjoining Devon. Neither speaks, and both look pale and unhappy.

After a while, Enid notices three knights and overhears them planning to attack Geraint. He is riding so listlessly that he inspires no fear in them. She does not wish to disobey his order to her, but is afraid that he might be harmed. Finally she rides back and warns him. Rather than show any gratitude, Geraint criticises Enid for her disobedience and needles her about his suspicion that she really wants him to be defeated. Geraint engages the knights and is victorious. He piles the armour of the dead knights on their horses and makes Enid lead them as she rides.

The same episode is repeated again with three other knights, and once more Geraint chastises Enid for her disobedience. He is triumphant in each fight. Now Enid is forced to lead six captured horses. Geraint has some sympathy for her difficulty handling them, but does not offer to help.

In the afternoon, Geraint and Enid dine with some farm workers and are then guided to an inn for the night. After arranging for accommodations, Geraint continues to be sullen and nasty. Later that evening, they are visited at the inn by the local ruler, Earl Limours, who, by chance, happens to have once been a suitor of Enid's.

Limours is a crude drunkard, and Geraint callously allows him to make all sorts of coarse jokes, much to the distress and embarrassment of Enid. Before leaving for the night, Limours informs Enid that he still loves her and plans the next morning to rescue her from her cruel husband.

When day breaks, Enid warns Geraint of the plot. He, of course, suspects her of having encouraged the earl and is angry. They leave the inn immediately but are pursued by Limours and his followers. In a running fight, Geraint is able to drive them off.

Soon the unhappy couple enters the lawless territory of Earl Doorm the Bull. Suddenly Geraint collapses from his wounds. Enid is powerless to aid him and she sits by his side, weeping while he lies unconscious. After a while, Doorm and his soldiers ride past, returning from a raid. The outlaw earl's curiosity is aroused by the lovely maiden and he questions her. Doorm insists that the wounded knight is dead, but Enid refuses to believe him. The outlaw chieftain has his soldiers bring Geraint's body and Enid to his stronghold.

As they gallop off together on one horse, they meet Edyrn, son of Nudd. He informs them that he is an advance scout for an army led by Arthur to rid this province of thieves and outlaws. He offers to guide them to the king's camp where Geraint reports to Arthur. After Geraint is shamed by the praise Arthur gives him, he and Enid are reconciled in their tent. When Geraint is well again they all return to Caerleon. Later on, the happy couple returns to Devon. Geraint's chivalrous and commendable behaviour as ruler and knight ends all rumours about him.


The Lady of the Lake taking the infant Lancelot, in the Idylls of the King
Balin and Balan
"Balin and Balan" is based on the tale of Sir Balin in Book II of Le Morte d'Arthur. Malory's source was the Old French Post-Vulgate Cycle, specifically the text known as the Suite du Merlin.

The brothers Sir Balin "the Savage" and Balan return to Arthur's hall after three years of exile, and are welcomed warmly. When Arthur's envoys return, they report the death of one of Arthur's knights from a demon in the woods. Balan offers to hunt the demon, and before he departs warns Balin against his terrible rages, which were the cause of their exile. Balin tries to learn gentleness from Lancelot, but despairs and concludes that Lancelot's perfect courtesy is beyond his reach. Instead, he takes the Queen's crown for his shield. Several times it reminds him to restrain his temper.

Then, one summer morning, Balin beholds an ambiguous exchange between Lancelot and the Queen that fills him with confusion. He leaves Camelot and eventually arrives at the castle of Pellam and Garlon. When Garlon casts aspersions on the Queen, Balin kills him and flees. Ashamed of his temper, he hangs his crowned shield in a tree, where Vivien and her squire discover it, and then Balin himself. She spins lies to Balin that confirm his suspicions about Guinevere. He shrieks, tears down his shield, and tramples it. In that same wood, Balan hears the cry and believes he has found his demon. The brothers clash and only too late recognise each other. Dying, Balan assures Balin that their Queen is pure and good.

Merlin and Vivien
Having boasted to King Mark that she will return with the hearts of Arthur's knights in her hand, Vivien begs and receives shelter in Guinevere's retinue. While in Camelot, she sows rumours of the Queen's affair. She fails to seduce the King, for which she is ridiculed, and turns her attentions to Merlin. She follows him when he wanders out of Arthur's court, troubled by visions of impending doom. She intends to coax out of Merlin a spell that will trap him forever, believing his defeat would be her glory. She protests her love to Merlin, declaring he cannot love her if he doubts her. When he mentions Arthur's knights' gossip about her, she slanders every one of them. Merlin meets every accusation but one: that of Lancelot's illicit love, which he admits is true. Worn down, he allows himself to be seduced, and tells Vivien how to work the charm. She immediately uses it on him, and so he is imprisoned forever, as if dead to anyone but her, in a hollow, nearby oak tree.
  Lancelot and Elaine
"Lancelot and Elaine" is based upon the story of Elaine of Astolat, found in Le Morte d'Arthur, the Lancelot-Grail Cycle, and the Post-Vulgate Cycle. Tennyson had previously treated a similar subject in "The Lady of Shalott", published in 1833 and revised in 1842; however that poem was based on the thirteenth century Italian novella Donna do Scalotta, and thus has little in common with Malory's version.

Long ago, Arthur happened upon the skeletons of two warring brothers, one wearing a crown of nine diamonds. Arthur retrieved the crown and removed the diamonds. At eight annual tourneys, he awarded a diamond to the tournament winner.
The winner has always been Lancelot, who plans to win once more and give all nine diamonds to his secret love Queen Guinevere. Guinevere chooses to stay back from the ninth tournament, and Lancelot then tells Arthur he too will not attend.

Once they are alone, she berates Lancelot for giving grounds for slander from court and reminds Lancelot that she cannot love her too-perfect king, Arthur. Lancelot then agrees to go to the tournament, but in disguise. He borrows armour, arms and colours from a remote noble, the Lord of Astolat, and as a finishing touch, agrees to wear his daughter Elaine's token favour, which he has never done "for any woman". Lancelot's flattering chivalry wins over the impressionable young Elaine's heart. Here the Idyll repeats Malory's account of the tournament and its aftermath.

Elaine has thus fallen in love with Lancelot. When he tells her that their love can never be, she wishes for death. She later becomes weak and dies. As per her request, her father and brothers put her on a barge with a note to Lancelot and Guinevere. Lancelot has returned to Camelot to present the nine diamonds to Guinevere. In an unwarranted jealous fury, the Queen hurls the diamonds out the window into the river, just as Elaine's funeral barge passes below. This is fulfilling of a dream Elaine spoke of in which she held the ninth diamond, but it was too slippery to hold and fell into a body of water. Elaine's body is brought into the hall and her letter read, at which the lords and ladies weep. Guinevere privately asks Lancelot's forgiveness. The knight muses that Elaine loved him more than the Queen, wonders if all the Queen's love has rotted to jealousy, and wishes he was never born.

The Holy Grail
This Idyll is told in flashback by Sir Percivale, who had become a monk and died one summer before the account, to his fellow monk Ambrosius. His pious sister had beheld the Grail and named Galahad her "knight of heaven", declaring that he, too, would behold it.

One summer night in Arthur's absence, Galahad sits in the Siege Perilous. The hall is shaken with thunder, and a vision of the covered Grail passes the knights. Percivale swears that he will quest for it a year and a day, a vow echoed by all the knights. When Arthur returns, he hears the news with horror.

Galahad, he says, will see the Grail, and perhaps Percivale and Lancelot also, but the other knights are better suited to physical service than spiritual. The Round Table disperses. Percivale travels through a surreal, allegorical landscape until he meets Galahad in a hermitage.

They continue together until Percivale can no longer follow, and he watches Galahad depart to a heavenly city in a boat like a silver star. Percival sees the grail, far away, not as close or real an image as Galahad saw, above Galahad's head. After the period of questing, only a remnant of the Round Table returns to Camelot. Some tell stories of their quests.

Gawain decided to give up and spent pleasant times relaxing with women, until they were all blown over by a great wind, and he figured it was time to go home.
Doré's illustration "Geraint and Enid Ride Away"
Lancelot found a great, winding staircase, and climbed it until he found a room which was hot as fire and very surreal, and saw a veiled version of the grail wrapped in samite, a heavy silk popular in the Middle Ages, which is mentioned several times throughout the Idylls. "The Holy Grail" is symbolic of the Round Table being broken apart, a key reason for the doom of Camelot.
Pelleas and Ettare
Tennyson's source for "Pelleas and Ettare" was again Malory, who had himself adapted the story from the Post-Vulgate Cycle.

In an ironic echo of "Gareth and Lynette", the young, idealistic Pelleas meets and falls in love with the lady Ettare. She thinks him a fool, but treats him well at first because she wishes to hear herself proclaimed the "Queen of Beauty" at the tournament. For Pelleas' sake, Arthur declares it a "Tournament of Youth", barring his veteran warriors. Pelleas wins the title and circlet for Ettare, who immediately ends her kindness to him. He follows her to her castle, where for a sight of her he docilely allows himself to be bound and maltreated by her knights, although he can and does overthrow them all. Gawain observes this one day with outrage. He offers to court Ettare for Pelleas, and for this purpose borrows his arms and shield. When admitted to the castle, he announces that he has killed Pelleas.

Three nights later, Pelleas enters the castle in search of Gawain. He passes a pavilion of Ettare's knights, asleep, and then a pavilion of her maidens, and then comes to a pavilion where he finds Ettare in Gawain's arms. He leaves his sword across their throats to show that, if not for Chivalry, he could have killed them. When Ettare wakes, she curses Gawain. Her love turns to Pelleas, and she pines away. Disillusioned with Arthur's court, Pelleas leaves Camelot to become the Red Knight in the North.

Gustave Doré's illustration
The Last Tournament
Guinevere had once fostered an infant found in an eagle's nest, who had a ruby necklace wrapped around its neck. After the child died, Guinevere gave the jewels to Arthur to make a tournament prize. However, before the tournament, a mutilated peasant stumbles into the hall. He was tortured by the Red Knight in the North, who has set up a parody of the Round Table with lawless knights and harlots. Arthur delegates the judging of the Tournament to Lancelot and takes a company to purge the evil. "The Tournament of the Dead Innocence" becomes a farce, full of discourtesies, broken rules, and insults. Sir Tristram wins the rubies. Breaking tradition, he rudely declares to the ladies that the "Queen of Beauty" is not present. Arthur's fool, Dagonet, mocks Tristram. In the north, meanwhile, Arthur's knights, too full of rage and disgust to heed their King, trample the Red Knight, massacre his men and women, and set his tower ablaze.

Tristram gives the rubies to Queen Isolt, Mark's wife, who is furious that he has married Isolt of Brittany. They taunt each other, but at the last he puts the necklace about her neck and bends to kiss her. At that moment Mark rises up behind him and splits his skull.

Guinevere has fled to the convent at Almesbury. On the night that she and Lancelot had determined to part forever, Modred, tipped off by Vivien, watched and listened with witnesses to their farewells. Guinevere rejects Lancelot's offer of sanctuary in his castle overseas, choosing instead to take anonymous shelter in the convent. She is befriended by a little novice. But when rumours of war between Arthur and Lancelot and Modred's usurption reach the convent, the novice's careless chatter pricks the Queen's conscience. She describes to Guinevere the glorious kingdom in her father's day, "before the coming of the sinful Queen."
The King comes. She hears his steps and falls on her face. He stands over her and grieves over her, himself, and his kingdom, reproaches her, and forgives her. She watches him leave and repents, hoping they will be reunited in heaven. She serves in the abbey, is later chosen Abbess, and dies three years later.

The Passing of Arthur
This section of the Idylls is a much expanded and altered version of Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur.
In the disastrous last battle, Arthur kills Modred, and, in turn, receives a mortal wound. The entire Round Table has been killed with the exception of Sir Bedivere, who carries the King to a church (Avalon), where Arthur first received Excalibur from the Lady of the Lake. Arthur orders Bedivere to throw the sword into the lake to fulfill a prophecy written on the blade.

Gustave Doré's illustration
Sir Bedivere resists twice, but on the third time obeys and is rewarded by the sight of an arm "clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful" rising from the water to catch the sword. This was the lady of the lake. Sir Bedivere returns to Arthur in the church and tells him what he saw. Arthur believes him and passes with Sir Bedivere watching, as the new sun rises on a new year.
Allegory for Victorian Society
Tennyson sought to encapsulate the past and the present in the Idylls. Arthur in the story is often seen as an embodiment of Victorian ideals; he is said to be "ideal manhood closed in real man" and the "stainless gentleman." Arthur often has unrealistic expectations for the knights of the round table and for Camelot itself, and despite his best efforts he is unable to uphold the Victorian ideal in his Camelot. Idylls also contains explicit references to Gothic interiors, Romantic appreciations of nature, and anxiety over gender role reversals all point to the work as a specifically Victorian one.

In the Victorian age there was a renewed interest in the idea of courtly love, or the finding of spiritual fulfilment in the purest form of romantic love. This idea is embodied in the relationship between Guinevere and Arthur in the poem especially; the health of the state is blamed on Guinevere when she does not live up to the purity expected of her by Arthur as she does not sufficiently serve him spiritually. Tennyson's position as poet laureate during this time and the popularity of the Idylls served to further propagate this view of women in the Victorian age.

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