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
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.