Victorian Literature


The first decades (1830s to 1860s) of Queen Victoria's reign
produced a vigorous and varied body of literature that attempted to come to
terms with the current transformations of English society, but writers in
the latter decades (1870s to 1900) withdrew into AESTHETICISM, a
preoccupation with sensation as an end in itself. Confronted by the shift
from an agricultural to an industrial urban society and troubled by the
erosion of traditional religious beliefs, the early Victorian writers held
to a moral aesthetic, a belief that literature should provide both an
understanding of and fresh values for a new society. Novelists of the
period explored the difficulty of forming a personal ...

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Thomas CARLYLE in Past and
Present (1843) argued for the re-creation in industrial England of the lost
sense of community between social classes. In contrast, John Stuart MILL
in ON LIBERTY spoke for the fullest development of the individual through
freedom from social restraint. The foremost art critic of the time, John
RUSKIN, articulated the assumptions of many contemporary critics by showing
in The Stones of Venice (1851-53) the interdependence of great art and a
society's moral health.
The major early Victorian poets, too, took the role of secular
prophets, often expressing a longing for the free play of imaginative life.
For Alfred, Lord TENNYSON, the longing found ambivalent expression in his
early lyrics; his major work, In Memoriam (1850), translated personal
grief into an affirmation of religious faith. Matthew ARNOLD, particularly
in his poem Empedocles on Etna (1852), revealed how the spirit of his own
age weakened emotional vitality. Although concerned ...

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PAPER DETAILS
Added: 6/10/2006 08:27:45 AM
Category: English
Type: Premium Paper
Words: 502
Pages: 2

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