English Literature – 2 | 19/02 Class Notes

English Literature – Restoration (1660)

Charles the Second

Restoration Literature

-Every movement in literature is a reaction its predecessor.

Elizabethan literature, all those lyrical poems, enthusiasm, overflow of emotions but following Elizabethan Era, then came Puritans and then came the civil war.

Literature written between this period, this is a period which follows great chaos, civil war. The restoration of monarchy and literature produced by this restoration did not allow any extreme emotions. No religious extremism, no emotional extremism, it underlined and emphasized measure, order and calculation. They emphasized that we should control our emotions and we should not step overlain with them. We should focus on reason.

This is age of the reason.

Charles the Second came to the power from France, he was in exile in France with his family. When the common wealth ended and monarchy was restored he was chosen as the king and came back to England from France. He brought the French influence once upon England. French way of perceiving the world, meeting the people and etc. all about him was French. Included in this French influence was classicsm or neo-classicism, the French were really interested in the classical works from Romans and Greeks, they were fans of the Roman way of life. They translated most of the Roman literature into French and this king read all of the translated words and he was really interested in neo-classicism, when he got back to England, he brought all these with him and these ideas started to spread in England.

Not only literature, but dresses, architecture and etc. was inspired by Romans.

This new king who got the England from France, he wanted to do the same as French and be a fan of Roman life of style, their arhiceture, their dresses and etc.

In restoration we see “wit” as a very crucial part of the literature, so important that a good writer should have it in order be a good writer.
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Reacting against the extravagance of the late Renaissance literature, writers of this period allowed the classical works, stressing restraint, clarity, regularity and good sense.

For them, wit was a crucial characteristic of a good writer and it meant inventiveness and quickness of thought expressed in “most easy language” rather than unnecessary embellishments.
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A major question among restoration writers was whether the writers of classical antiquity (Romans or Greeks) had been better able to imitate human nature than the moderns.

Positing nature as the source and is imitation as the ultimate aim of art, the equation was to define the rules to be followed in any form or genre of writing.

Classical authors were widely translated and imitated by writers such as Dryden, Pope, and Johnson.

For moderns, studying the ancients (Greek writers such as Platon, Eurpides) was supposed to eb the same as studying nature itself.
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With the restoration, criticism of art starts. People question what is an art, what is purpose of an art, is art for art or art for people. People are writing literature of all kinds but are they all art? Can we name as Art?

So, we see criticism of art surfacing in this period and what does art do? What should art imitate? So, there is a thought of Art reflects the nature. In restoration times this idea of what should art imitate and who did it better became a very commonly questions.

(Classical artists vs Modern Artists)

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Dramatic poesy – Dramatic Poetry

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Dryden’s An Essay on Dramatic Poesy

Written in the form of a conversation between four speakers, three of which present the ideals of order, restraint and accuracy characteristics of Neoclassicicsm (Crites, Lisideius, Eugenius).

The fourth spekaer, Neander, representing Dryden himself, embraces the moderns’ innovations, defends English drama against the French and chooses “irregular” Shakespeare over “correct” Jonson.

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This period does not allow irregularity but in his work Dryden he is making a choice, he chooses Shakespeare, who is a very irregular writer writing in extremes such as ambition (Macbeth), Romeo and Juliet (extreme of love). Shakespeare was not a “regular”, whereas Jonson was pretty much “correct”.

Dyrden is defending Shakespare against Dryden and he is defending English literature against French influence and Neoclassicism. He claims that English comes with its innovations and the most perfect man for him is Shakespeare.

In this text, he praises Shakespeare a lot but why? Dryden is defending English here, he is saying we have Shakespare and you don’t to French. Hah they got you French. He says that Shakespeare’s irregularity makes him English and that makes him better than French and Greeks.

He claims that Shakpestre is the most “correct” poet, and this means the one who writes according to the rules (correct poet).

He compares Shakpesare with Ben Johnson, he says that Shakpesare is Homer and Johnson as Virgil.
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Dramatic Rules

Three Unities

  1. Time: In classical drama a dramatic play takes place in the duration one day only. It must take place in the duration of one day.
  2. Place: The play must take place in the same place. So when you are watching a play if the setting is London it must be London throughout the play.
  3. Plot (Action): There must be one major action.

Shakespare did not obey these rules. In the classical times the greeks and the romans wrote according to three unities. In neoclassical times, the French wanted to the same, but English did not want to obey these rules but Shakespare did perfect without obeying these rules and did he fail? No, he did great.

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Samuel Pepis was a scienctist and he was the president of an important organization called Royal Society for Science. Such organizations were very classified. This organization, its purpose was to advance science and learning, there was no politics involved and the members were interested in science solely. They were not in competition, they just wanted to do Science and Samuel was a that kind of a man. He was chosen as the president of this organization and at the same time he was working at Navy. He kept a diary, too but the diary was encrypted, he coded it, he didn’t aim people to read it.

He wrote everyday for 9 years, he wrote about everything in his life. He was constantly fighting with his father and brother, shaming his father for spending too much money, he crtiizwed his wife for her ambition to learn dance etc.

This diary shows us what life looked like in the restoration era. Years later this diary got discovered and it was decoded and everybody started reading it. When Pepis wrote about everything he also wrote about important things such as big fire in London which burnt down 1/3 of the whole city. He wrote about the kinds of gossips that people were doing behind the king and how people in lower classes talked about the royal family and all those changes that were taking in place.

It wasn’t aimed to be a literary works nor do we perceive it as it is, we read it to gather information about the restoration era.

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!10 Downing Street – Home of Presidency!

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We see how people getting increasingly social and urban. Urban life was vigorously expanding in those times. We see particularly following the big fire of London, the restanblishment of the city, it became very organized, the streets are going to be carefully planned, the roads going to be carefully made and the urban life expand. Slowly we see industrialization advancing and businesses thriving.

Many raw materials were being imported from the colonies at America and all these raw materials were in need of being used by different businesses in England and these businesses were usually in the City. We see slowly appearing Coffee Houses in the City where business owners and educated people to come to talk about business, general life affairs and mostly in this coffee houses we see political discussions with different idelogies and we see that who do get into these ideas do not fight with each other but tolerate each other and get to know each other in such places.

Now there is a very influential middle-class and they are making terrific money, they are not nobles, they have no lands but with all these money they started buying lands without titles such as being a lord. One way to get title is marrying ladies from royal families. We see a new class emerge in England and at the same time we see on the political side, we see basic two political parties emerge in England. The Tories supported the kind and Wigs supported Parliament and they were the opposition. These two parties formed in the parliament, supporters of thes parties gathered in the coffee houses they started arguing about their political views but they were not quarreling but modernly exchanging ideas. These coffee houses had this significance of exchange of ideas.

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!Every Sunday was marked as (Lord’s Day) in this diary!

Although with restoration the puritans were suppressed, there were still some puritan practices were ongoing. With the restoration all the theaters were reopened but there were still some practices that did not change such as going to Church on Sunday, the pups were closed on Sundays.

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We see that in his diary that gambling is becoming a sport for not only for money but for fun. Gentleman come together at night to play some card and slowly these slowly evolved into Gentlemen’s Club. We see that with these clubs a new form of sociality but still the religion continues to be an issue, in order to prevent this they made a bloodless revolution and they made a law, they brought someone from William Orange and put him to the throne and the next in line Queen Ann ( The favorite), with Queen Ann the Stewart Dynasty comes to and end but before she dies England, Ireland and Scots agree on union and becomes United Kingdom and slowly England establish itself as an Empire rather than a country. They embraced the flag of Union Jack.

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