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Outlines of English and American Literature
by Long, William J.

The early nineteenth century is notable for the rapid progress of democracy in English government, and for the triumph of romanticism in English literature. The most influential factor of the age was the French Revolution, with its watchwords of Liberty, Equality, Fraternity. English writers felt the stir of the times, and were inspired by the dream of a new human society ruled by justice and love. In their writing they revolted from the formal standards of the age of Pope, followed their own genius rather than set rules, and wrote with feeling and imagination of the two great subjects of nature and humanity. Such was the contrast in politics and literature with the preceding century that the whole period is sometimes called the age of revolution.

Our study of the literature of the period includes: (1) The poets Wordsworth and Coleridge, who did not so much originate as give direction to the romantic revival. (2) Byron and Shelley, often called revolutionary poets. (3) The poet Keats, whose works are famous for their sense of beauty and for their almost perfect workmanship. (4) A review of the minor poets of romanticism, Campbell, Moore, Hood, Beddoes, Hunt, and Felicia Hemans. (5) The life and works of Walter Scott, romantic poet and novelist. (6) A glance at the fiction writers of the period, and a study of the works of Jane Austen. (7) The critics and essayists, of whom we selected these two as the most typical: Charles Lamb, famous for his Essays of Elia; and De Quincey, notable for his brilliant style, his analysis of dreams, and his endeavor to make a science of literary criticism.

Selections for Reading

For general reference such anthologies as Manly's English Poetry and English Prose are useful. The works of major authors are available in various school editions, prepared especially for class use. A few of these handy editions are named below; others are listed in the General Bibliography.

Best poems of Wordsworth and of Coleridge in Athenĉum Press Series. Briefer selections from Wordsworth in Golden Treasury, Cassell's National Library, Maynard's English Classics. Coleridge's Ancient Mariner in Standard English Classics, Pocket Classics. Selections from Coleridge and Campbell in one volume of Riverside Literature.

Scott's Lady of the Lake and Ivanhoe in Standard English Classics; Marmion and The Talisman in Pocket Classics; Lay of the Last Minstrel and Quentin Durward in Lake English Classics; the same and other works of Scott in various other school editions.

Selected poems of Byron in Standard English Classics, English Readings. Best poems of Shelley in Athenĉum Press; briefer selections in Belles Lettres, Golden Treasury, English Classics.

Selections from Keats in Athenĉum Press, Muses Library, Riverside Literature.

Lamb's Essays of Elia in Lake English Classics; selected essays in Standard English Classics, Temple Classics, Camelot Series. Tales from Shakespeare in Ginn and Company's Classics for Children.

Selections from De Quincey, a representative collection, in Athenĉum Press; English Mail Coach and Joan of Arc in Standard English Classics, English Readings; Confessions of an Opium Eater in Temple Classics, Everyman's Library; Revolt of the Tartars in Lake Classics, Silver Classics.

Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in Pocket Classics; the same and other novels in Everyman's Library.


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