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Se muestran los artículos pertenecientes a Diciembre de 2012.

It's a White World

lunes, 5 de noviembre de 2012

It's a White World

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Lunes, 03 de Diciembre de 2012 12:30. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Intimations of Immortality

martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

Intimations of Immortality

William Wordsworth

Intimations of Immortality 
 from Recollections of Early Childhood

THERE was a time when meadow, grove, and stream,
    The earth, and every common sight,
            To me did seem
    Apparell'd in celestial light,
The glory and the freshness of a dream.         5
It is not now as it hath been of yore;—
        Turn wheresoe'er I may,
            By night or day,
The things which I have seen I now can see no more.

        The rainbow comes and goes,
        And lovely is the rose;
        The moon doth with delight
    Look round her when the heavens are bare;
        Waters on a starry night
        Are beautiful and fair;  15
    The sunshine is a glorious birth;
    But yet I know, where'er I go,
That there hath pass'd away a glory from the earth.

Now, while the birds thus sing a joyous song,

    And while the young lambs bound  20
        As to the tabor's sound,
To me alone there came a thought of grief:
A timely utterance gave that thought relief,
        And I again am strong:
The cataracts blow their trumpets from the steep;  25
No more shall grief of mine the season wrong;
I hear the echoes through the mountains throng,
The winds come to me from the fields of sleep,
        And all the earth is gay;
            Land and sea  30
    Give themselves up to jollity,
      And with the heart of May
    Doth every beast keep holiday;—
          Thou Child of Joy,
Shout round me, let me hear thy shouts, thou happy  35

Ye blessèd creatures, I have heard the call

    Ye to each other make; I see
The heavens laugh with you in your jubilee;
    My heart is at your festival,  40
      My head hath its coronal,
The fulness of your bliss, I feel—I feel it all.
        O evil day! if I were sullen
        While Earth herself is adorning,
            This sweet May-morning,  45
        And the children are culling
            On every side,
        In a thousand valleys far and wide,
        Fresh flowers; while the sun shines warm,
And the babe leaps up on his mother's arm:—  50
        I hear, I hear, with joy I hear!
        —But there's a tree, of many, one,
A single field which I have look'd upon,
Both of them speak of something that is gone:
          The pansy at my feet  55
          Doth the same tale repeat:
Whither is fled the visionary gleam?
Where is it now, the glory and the dream?

 Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:

The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,  60
        Hath had elsewhere its setting,
          And cometh from afar:
        Not in entire forgetfulness,
        And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come  65
        From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
        Upon the growing Boy,
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,  70
        He sees it in his joy;
The Youth, who daily farther from the east
    Must travel, still is Nature's priest,
      And by the vision splendid
      Is on his way attended;  75
At length the Man perceives it die away,
And fade into the light of common day.

Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;

Yearnings she hath in her own natural kind,
And, even with something of a mother's mind,  80
        And no unworthy aim,
    The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her Inmate Man,
    Forget the glories he hath known,
And that imperial palace whence he came.  85

Behold the Child among his new-born blisses,

A six years' darling of a pigmy size!
See, where 'mid work of his own hand he lies,
Fretted by sallies of his mother's kisses,
With light upon him from his father's eyes!  90
See, at his feet, some little plan or chart,
Some fragment from his dream of human life,
Shaped by himself with newly-learnèd art;
    A wedding or a festival,
    A mourning or a funeral;  95
        And this hath now his heart,
    And unto this he frames his song:
        Then will he fit his tongue
To dialogues of business, love, or strife;
        But it will not be long 100
        Ere this be thrown aside,
        And with new joy and pride
The little actor cons another part;
Filling from time to time his 'humorous stage'
With all the Persons, down to palsied Age, 105
That Life brings with her in her equipage;
        As if his whole vocation
        Were endless imitation.

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie

        Thy soul's immensity; 110
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind,—
        Mighty prophet! Seer blest! 115
        On whom those truths do rest,
Which we are toiling all our lives to find,
In darkness lost, the darkness of the grave;
Thou, over whom thy Immortality
Broods like the Day, a master o'er a slave, 120
A presence which is not to be put by;
          To whom the grave
Is but a lonely bed without the sense or sight
        Of day or the warm light,
A place of thought where we in waiting lie; 125
Thou little Child, yet glorious in the might
Of heaven-born freedom on thy being's height,
Why with such earnest pains dost thou provoke
The years to bring the inevitable yoke,
Thus blindly with thy blessedness at strife? 130
Full soon thy soul shall have her earthly freight,
And custom lie upon thee with a weight,
Heavy as frost, and deep almost as life!

        O joy! that in our embers

        Is something that doth live, 135
        That nature yet remembers
        What was so fugitive!
The thought of our past years in me doth breed
Perpetual benediction: not indeed
For that which is most worthy to be blest— 140
Delight and liberty, the simple creed
Of childhood, whether busy or at rest,
With new-fledged hope still fluttering in his breast:—
        Not for these I raise
        The song of thanks and praise; 145
    But for those obstinate questionings
    Of sense and outward things,
    Fallings from us, vanishings;
    Blank misgivings of a Creature
Moving about in worlds not realized, 150
High instincts before which our mortal Nature
Did tremble like a guilty thing surprised:
        But for those first affections,
        Those shadowy recollections,
      Which, be they what they may, 155
Are yet the fountain-light of all our day,
Are yet a master-light of all our seeing;
  Uphold us, cherish, and have power to make
Our noisy years seem moments in the being
Of the eternal Silence: truths that wake, 160
            To perish never:
Which neither listlessness, nor mad endeavour,
            Nor Man nor Boy,
Nor all that is at enmity with joy,
Can utterly abolish or destroy! 165
    Hence in a season of calm weather
        Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
        Which brought us hither,
    Can in a moment travel thither, 170
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.

El mar evermore

  Then sing, ye birds, sing, sing a joyous song!

        And let the young lambs bound
        As to the tabor's sound! 175
We in thought will join your throng,
      Ye that pipe and ye that play,
      Ye that through your hearts to-day
      Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright 180
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
    Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
      We will grieve not, rather find
      Strength in what remains behind; 185
      In the primal sympathy
      Which having been must ever be;
      In the soothing thoughts that spring
      Out of human suffering;
      In the faith that looks through death, 190
In years that bring the philosophic mind.

And O ye Fountains, Meadows, Hills, and Groves,

Forebode not any severing of our loves!
Yet in my heart of hearts I feel your might;
I only have relinquish'd one delight 195
To live beneath your more habitual sway.
I love the brooks which down their channels fret,
Even more than when I tripp'd lightly as they;
The innocent brightness of a new-born Day
            Is lovely yet; 200
The clouds that gather round the setting sun
Do take a sober colouring from an eye
That hath kept watch o'er man's mortality;
Another race hath been, and other palms are won.
Thanks to the human heart by which we live, 205
Thanks to its tenderness, its joys, and fears,
To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears.



Arboles en otoño

Written 1802-4, pub. in Wordsworth's Poems (1807).  Text from  The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900. Ed. Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. 1919.

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Through the Leaf

martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

Through the Leaf

Through the Leaf

a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 03 de Diciembre de 2012 12:32. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Una incongruencia (más) del PP

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2012

Una incongruencia (más) del PP

El PP presentó en tiempos un recurso contra la reforma del código civil que introdujo el PSOE en cuestiones de matrimonio. Argüía ese recurso que admitir los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo era incongruente con la definición misma de esta institución. Ahora el Tribunal Constituciona aprueba la ley del matrimonio homosexual, en una actuación típica de las que le vienen caracterizando (--para mí esta ley debería haberse calificado como claramente inconstitucional, según explica su propio preámbulo). Habrá votos particulares que nos leeremos por curiosidad, igual que la propia argumentación cuando salga. Pero supongo que la sustancia del argumento será que una cosa que se viene practicando con un apoyo amplio en la sociedad es por tanto constitucional (--lo cual no se sigue, claro).

Se entiende sin embargo que la gente barra para casa según sus intereses o convicciones, por encima de la letra o del espíritu de la ley, que están para interpretarlos, y en última instancia el poder está para ejercerlo por parte de quien lo tiene. Una sentencia como esta es por tanto un acto performativo o realizativo, que no se limita a interpretar lo que hay, sino a transformarlo retroactivamente. Y así se va transformando la constitución, por la puerta trasera pero con efectos muy reales, merced a interpretaciones de este género. Parece interpretar el Tribunal Constitucional, y en esto desborda sus competencias, que su papel se extiende no sólo a interpretar la Constitución, sino a ir actualizando la Constitución a los nuevos tiempos. Cambiándola retroactivamente, mediante una acto de interpretación que en ningún caso podría haber estado en la intención del legislador. Pero es que el Tribunal Constitucional no tiene atribuciones para cambiar la constitución. Es un caso craso de abuso de poder, o de prevaricación—pero a ver qué órgano superior se lo dice así al TC. Quien ejerce el poder de última instancia siempre ha torcido las leyes y las palabras, y con razón o sin razón siempre ha dictado cómo deben interpretarse, como ya decía Humpty Dumpty--nada nuevo allí, por tanto. Y ahora, tras esta sentencia, el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo (homosexuales o no) ya es plenamente constitucional sin discusión posible Quien sostenga lo contrario, muy libre es de opinar, pero sin efectos legales en España, igual que el matrimonio unisexual español no tiene efectos legales en muchas otras partes: son opiniones personales de individuos o de legislaciones particulares.

Ahora, lo que no tiene interpretación ni explicación fácil es que el Partido Popular presentase un recurso de inconstitucionalidad contra la ley, y no procediese a cambiarla al obtener la mayoría absoluta. Porque si constitucional es esta ley, seguramente también es constitucional la que había antes, que nadie la ha declarado inconstitucional, o bien otra que apruebe la mayoría. Otra posibilidad era retirar el recurso, si es la noción que tenían de lo que es o debe ser el matrimonio.  Pero no: el PP mantiene su recurso de inconstitucionalidad, y ahora se come con cuchara una ley que consideraban inconstitucional hasta ayer (supongo). Sospecha uno que no tienen muy claro por qué presentaron ese recurso, y quizá que no tengan en realidad ninguna idea al respecto: lo que decidan otros es conveniente o legal para el PP: su postura en realidad, y pensándolo mejor, es no sabe no contesta.

¡Y aún dirán que no es tolerante el PP con las ideas ajenas!


Aquí el editorial de César Vidal sobre la sentencia del Tribunal Constitucional, contrario al matrimonio homosexual pero todavía más a la argumentación jurídica de esta sentencia. También a Luis del Pino le parece una aberración jurídica. Habría que oír a los homosexuales, o a los heterosexuales, si un razonamiento similar se utilizase para quitarles derechos anticonstitucionalmente. Por ejemplo: "una interpretación evolutiva de la constitución, y la práctica política corriente, nos dice que hoy en día no tiene sentido hablar de libertad de expresión. Entiéndase por tanto que las expresiones de ideas y opiniones sólo se tolerarán y garantizarán si gustan a quien las oye o al sentir mayoritario". Y las demás podrán ser censuradas por las autoridades, si no se autocensuran por prudencia y por olfateo de hacia dónde sopla el viento.

Una apostilla al matrimonio unisexual

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Martes, 04 de Diciembre de 2012 18:57. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

Strange-colored day

miércoles, 7 de noviembre de 2012

Strange-colored day

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 09:44. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Dr. Faustus and Mr. Marlowe

jueves, 8 de noviembre de 2012

Dr. Faustus and Mr. Marlowe

O un comentario sobre desdoblamiento de la personalidad y autorrepresentación ambivalente. Aquí está el final de Dr. Faustus de Christopher Marlowe (texto B) en el que me parece detectar algún elemento de autoproyección por parte del autor—también de familia humilde, como Fausto, también espantado quizá por ver a dónde lo llevaban sus especulaciones impías...

Como poco, se aconseja Marlowe a sí mismo la conveniencia de ser uno de esos sabios que saben evitar caer víctimas de sus propias artes, y se limitan a contemplar el abismo sin caer en él,
wonder at unlawful things, / Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits".

Me parece significativa la mención de Fausto, en este momento del cierre de la obra, a su nacimiento y a su origen, a sus padres ("de origen humilde", se nos dice en el parlamento inicial de la obra), y también a las especulaciones "ateas" procedentes de sus estudios universitarios (la metempsicosis de Pitágoras, el materialismo y la mortalidad del alma, etc.). Exclama también que quemará sus libros. Libros de magia, quizá también los libros del saber y del estudio que le han llevado a desear saber más de lo que debía. Recuerda aquí Fausto a Próspero diciendo que "ahogará su libro" al final de The Tempest, pero no pesa sobre Próspero ninguna condena divina ni diabólica. Quizá Shakespeare fuera más ateo que Marlowe, así por lo bajini... Porque aquí en cambio se trasluce un terror auténtico a la posibilidad de la condenación eterna:

EVIL ANGEL. Now, Faustus, let thine eyes with horror stare
          [Hell is discovered.]
     Into that vast perpetual torture-house:
     There are the Furies tossing damned souls
     On burning forks; there bodies boil in lead;
     There are live quarters broiling on the coals,
     That ne'er can die; this ever-burning chair
     Is for o'er-tortur'd souls to rest them in;
     These that are fed with sops of flaming fire, 
     Were gluttons, and lov'd only delicates,
     And laugh'd to see the poor starve at their gates:
     But yet all these are nothing; thou shalt see
     Ten thousand tortures that more horrid be.

     FAUSTUS. O, I have seen enough to torture me!

     EVIL ANGEL. Nay, thou must feel them, taste the smart of all:
     He that loves pleasure must for pleasure fall:
     And so I leave thee, Faustus, till anon;
     Then wilt thou tumble in confusion.
          [Exit.  Hell disappears.--The clock strikes eleven.]

     FAUSTUS. O Faustus,
     Now hast thou but one bare hour to live,
     And then thou must be damn'd perpetually!
     Stand still, you ever-moving spheres of heaven,
     That time may cease, and midnight never come;
     Fair Nature's eye, rise, rise again, and make
     Perpetual day; or let this hour be but
     A year, a month, a week, a natural day,
     That Faustus may repent and save his soul!
     O lente, lente currite, noctis equi!
     The stars move still, time runs, the clock will strike,
     The devil will come, and Faustus must be damn'd.
     O, I'll leap up to heaven!--Who pulls me down?--
     See, where Christ's blood streams in the firmament!
     One drop of blood will save me:  O my Christ!--
     Rend not my heart for naming of my Christ;

     Yet will I call on him:  O, spare me, Lucifer!--
     Where is it now? 'tis gone:
     And, see, a threatening arm, an angry brow!
     Mountains and hills, come, come, and fall on me,
     And hide me from the heavy wrath of heaven!
     Then will I headlong run into the earth:
     Gape, earth!  O, no, it will not harbour me!
     You stars that reign'd at my nativity,
     Whose influence hath allotted death and hell,
     Now draw up Faustus, like a foggy mist,
     Into the entrails of yon labouring cloud[s],
     That, when you vomit forth into the air,
     My limbs may issue from your smoky mouths;
     But let my soul mount and ascend to heaven!
          [The clock strikes the half-hour.]
     O, half the hour is past! 'twill all be past anon.
     O, if my soul must suffer for my sin,
     Impose some end to my incessant pain;
     Let Faustus live in hell a thousand years,
     A hundred thousand, and at last be sav'd!
     No end is limited to damned souls.
     Why wert thou not a creature wanting soul?
     Or why is this immortal that thou hast?
     O, Pythagoras' metempsychosis, were that true,
     This soul should fly from me, and I be chang'd
     Into some brutish beast! all beasts are happy,
     For, when they die,
     Their souls are soon dissolv'd in elements;

     But mine must live still to be plagu'd in hell.
     Curs'd be the parents that engender'd me!
     No, Faustus, curse thyself, curse Lucifer
     That hath depriv'd thee of the joys of heaven.
          [The clock strikes twelve.]
     It strikes, it strikes!  Now, body, turn to air,
     Or Lucifer will bear thee quick to hell!
     O soul, be chang'd into small water-drops,
     And fall into the ocean, ne'er be found!

          Thunder.  Enter DEVILS.

     O, mercy, heaven! look not so fierce on me!
     Adders and serpents, let me breathe a while!
     Ugly hell, gape not! come not, Lucifer!
     I'll burn my books!--O Mephistophilis!
          [Exeunt DEVILS with FAUSTUS.]

          Enter SCHOLARS.

     FIRST SCHOLAR. Come, gentlemen, let us go visit Faustus,
     For such a dreadful night was never seen;
     Since first the world's creation did begin,
     Such fearful shrieks and cries were never heard:
     Pray heaven the doctor have escap'd the danger.

     O, help us, heaven! see, here are Faustus' limbs,
     All torn asunder by the hand of death!

     The devils whom Faustus serv'd have torn him thus;
     For, twixt the hours of twelve and one, methought,
     I heard him shriek and call aloud for help;

     At which self time the house seem'd all on fire
     With dreadful horror of these damned fiends.

     SECOND SCHOLAR. Well, gentlemen, though Faustus' end be such
     As every Christian heart laments to think on,
     Yet, for he was a scholar once admir'd
     For wondrous knowledge in our German schools,
     We'll give his mangled limbs due burial;
     And all the students, cloth'd in mourning black,
     Shall wait upon his heavy funeral.

          Enter CHORUS.

     CHORUS. Cut is the branch that might have grown full straight,
     And burned is Apollo's laurel-bough,
     That sometime grew within this learned man.
     Faustus is gone:  regard his hellish fall,
     Whose fiendful fortune may exhort the wise,
     Only to wonder at unlawful things,
     Whose deepness doth entice such forward wits
     To practise more than heavenly power permits.

     Terminat hora diem; terminat auctor opus.

Es muy efectiva la "cuenta atrás" del reloj. Se han establecido paralelismos entre la duración fijada para el tiempo de libres deseos de Fausto (24 años) y las 24 horas de duración del día; así pues, al sonar la medianoche, el límite de tiempo interno fijado por la obra refuerza su final. Los finales narrativos y dramáticos son siempre más eficaces con este refuerzo interno, como cuando hay una cita que cumplir, una cuenta atrás que vencer, o una bomba que va a estallar... con el tiempo efectivo de la obra echando una carrera con el tiempo asignado a los personajes.

Que esta dimensión es extraordinariamente eficaz en el final de Dr. Faustus lo pone en evidencia el verso latino que cierra la obra, haciendo coincidir el final del día (no el de Fausto, sino el de Marlowe el autor) con el acto de finalizar la obra. No tiene por qué haber sido el caso literalmente, aunque posiblemente lo fuera; el sentido es simbólico aquí como en otros casos. Pero el sentido que se desprende en este caso en concreto es el paralelismo simbólico entre Marlowe y Fausto—con fines meditativos, o autocríticos, si se quiere, pero para mí muy claros. También Marlowe tiene la sensación de haber estado tentando los límites o haber estado jugando con fuego del infierno. Quizá en sus especulaciones ateas; quizá en su carrera de espía o en sus tratos con los poderosos, vendiéndoles su alma en cierto modo. Se ha adentrado en el saber prohibido como mínimo en esta obra, pero más generalmente en toda la carrera que lo llevó desde lo que debía haber sido su destino, la zapatería de su padre en Canterbury, a saber cosas que no esperaba saber, y a ver cosas que no esperaba ver, cuánto menos hacer. Hasta convertirse en uno de estos forward wits que exploran los límites de la acción y del pensamiento humano, de lo permisible, y de lo que puede osarse decir y pensar.

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 09:47. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

La pequeña embarcación

jueves, 8 de noviembre de 2012

La pequeña embarcación

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 09:48. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Jane Austen


The Real Jane Austen. Dir. Nicky Patterson. BBC, 2002. Online at YouTube (ksotikoula)  http://youtu.be/CbuBte4OMo4


The novel: Miss Burney, Jane Austen.

by Louis Cazamian, from A History of English Literature

Having started in the period which stretches from 1770 to 1800, the literary careers of Miss Burney, Jane Austen, and the poet Crabbe continued well into the decisive years of the Romantic era. But their work, if judged by its essential features, shows the stamp of the years preceding this age. To the characteristic traits of the new literature which, we have seen, were in evidence long before 1800, the reaction of these writers is hostility or reserve. Their artistic impulses swing back to motives, themes, and forms which make them much rather the heirs of the classical tradition in its essence; and their temperaments, to the very end, bear the deep mark of that early choice. Their mental outlook remains that of the close of the eighteenth century.

Of the three, Miss Burney (1) is the least remote from the first flourish of sentimentalism in England; she remains more than half a sentimentalist herself. Richardson she hails as a master; in Evelina she takes from him the idea of a novel in letters, a tone of conscious moralizing, the study of virtue among women as a subject for a plot—a study which remains with her discreet and unobtrusive; and the setting up of a strong contrast between the good and the wicked. From the atmosphere of her own day she acquires the habit of the ever-ready tear, and the lavish display of feeling. But if such traits tend to stamp her as one of a school of writers, wshe has others which single out her talent as one of the most original. The spontaneous vivacity of her verve, the fresh new touch she brings to all her observation of customs and manners, and behind her briliant gift that clear judgment, readily ironical, of a young person in full control of herself, all make her an exponent of satire and realism, in which her innermost nature seems to have dwelt and had its being.

Fashionable society has always delighted in its own reflected image; but never before had it seen itself through the eyes of a young girl of so arch a temperament and so shrewd a nature, who could penetrate from the feminine point of view the weak points of drawing-room life, and in the most delightful manner reverse the picture of it painted by writers of the opposite sex; yet who was able at the same time to flatter the taste of her readers by showing a sincere respect for rank and worldly conventions. There is, to use a phrase not yet then in vogue, a certain snobbery in her work; but it is a quality which enables her more readily to seize in its very essence the superficial, brilliant, and frivolous life she describes; and her description is pleasing, because she has the gift of a witty and animated style. She often shows up the little whims of people with no excess of indulgence; and in some of the figures she has drawn with a rather too pronounced touch of comedy we are reminded of Smollett. In other cases, we think of Fielding, or even of Sterne. The author of Evelina had a precocious and assimilative talent. But Miss Burney does retain a personality, a charm peculiarly her own, a gift of greater precision in her pen pictures of society than any one before her; a rendering of conversation more light, more rapid, and more true. Never before has the real atmosphere of social gatherings and pleasur haunts, with all their gossip, nor the feverish excitement of those momentous days which open with the heroine's entry into society and close with her marriage, been described so successfully. Here is a picture of the aristocracy of the time with its sense of refinement in contrast to its relative lack of delicacy; it must be admitted that Miss Burney herself sometimes shows as slightly blunt taste in the way she upbraids the vulgarity of the middle classes. And this first tentative revelation of the feminine self in the novel, if we leave aside the bold freedom of a Mrs. Behn or a Mrs. Manley, does not conceal that inner ardour of imagination which will often develop in a life whose interests are all bound up in love.

And still, what predominates is common sense, coloured to some extent by the spirit of dry calculation. The term 'Romantic' is hardly ever used except ironically. The pictures of happiness held out are such as a social world will allow in which wealth, birth, and health are yet the almost indispensable conditions of any success. The second novel of Miss Burney, Cecilia, with greater care in the writing, has less of the liveliness of the first; it is yet more closely obedient to the fashions in vogue, whether literary or intellectual. The Memoirs of Madame d'Arblay shows us a woman of sufficient talent and feeling to take in the various interests and picturesque aspects of the social life which surrounds her, and whose image she has preserved, but entirely unable to rise above them.

Those traits reappear in the work of Jane Austen (2) but further developed and chiefly much refined. By virtue of a stronger personality and a keener sense of delicacy in art, she is a writer of the first rank.

Miss Burney had connected the whole fate of her characters with the central crisis in the life of woman, when the possibility of marriage lies directly in her path, and thus had created what may be termed the domestic novel (3). In the hands of Jane Austen the subject is thoroughly sifted, and more strictly reduced to essentials; all the worldliness over which the authoress of Evelina loves to linger is unknown to her or is omitted, because the circle of her experience is more narrow, or indeed purely intimate. Her novels rarely treat of anything save the restricted circle of home life, and all social interests are gathered round it. The atmosphere is one of provincial calm with a very limited outlook, where the extremes of wealth and poverty are unknown. In this little world of country gentry, clergymen, and middle-class people, social intercourse is smooth and simple; few are the incidents which could be called dramatic, so that an observer's attention may concentrate on shades of character. The realism of Jane Austen is more truly psychological than that of Richardson, for it is free from the tragic obsessions of moral conscience. With its greater freedom, it acquires a greater purity. There is an extraordinary degree of truth in the picture it paints of reality—of a group of human beings, their relations one with another, their clashes and affinities, their mutual influences, their conversations.

And this gift is explained by the immediate intuition she brings to her study of character, an intuition so natural and supple that it appears absolutely simple. Her clear-sighted eyes read through the inner minds of those who leve around her, or of the beings whom she invents and animates, just as if those minds were transparent. She seizes them in their depths, although at first we do not get this impression, nor does she claim to give it. Only by a slight tremor in her style,, whose even course is like that of some transparent stream, are we made aware of the tension, the nervous vigour, the effort put forth by her thought to comprehend and surmount the unseen obstacles that bar its progress. And everything dissolves into light. The secret complexities of self-love, the many vanities, the imperceptible quiverings of selfishness, all that a Rochefoucauld had shown up in the strong and bitter note of straightforward denunciation, and which at a later date the pessimistic novel will dissect with such profuseness and intensity of method, is here indicated or suggested so calmly and with so sobre a touch that the author's personal reaction is reduced to a minimum. There is nothing more objective than these stories with their spirit of gentle tolerance, one might even say their naïveté, if a subtle suggestion of irony did not hover over every page, revealing a sharpness of vision that could be unmercifully severe.

The sentimentality of Miss Burney is entirely absent. Everything shows a delicacy of touch, a sense of balance, a serene reasonableness. All Jane Austen's work is transfused with the spirit of classicism in its highest form, in its most essential quality: a safe, orderly harmony among the powers of the mind, a harmony where of necessity the intellect is paramount. So classical, so delicately shaded is that method, that we are strongly reminded of the art of the great French analysts. Jane Austen writes as one who is entirely ignorant of the growing force of Romanticism, which already has spread its power around her; or rather she holds herself aloof, meeting its fascination with ironical immunity. One of her first novels, Northanger Abbey, is a most penetrating criticism of the self-deception practised by those whose souls are intoxicated with the spell of artificial fear. The morbid cult of an emotion that is too readily excited to be genuine is linked up on the one hand with literary conventions, which supply it with its resources; on the other, with a deranged condition of mind and conduct, of which it is drectly the cause; and nothing could improve on the neatness of the dissection. Her attitude towards Romanticism was to grow less critical with the progress of time. In Mansfield Park and Persuasion there is a warming of the thought, a greater tendeness of feeling, and an easier reconciliation with the tone of the epoch. She allows it to be seen here that she is not in complete agreemnt with the hierarchy of social order. But to the end her vision of life remains primarily clear, though not dry. The power of facts, and the material conditions of happiness, are accepted with a simplicity far removed from the slightest hint of revolt; while the moral teaching embodies a wisdom free from all illusions, the fruit of a perfectly healthy heart and mind.

That exquisite analysis is no eenmy to creative power; Jane Austen's work shows us a wealth of character studies. They are not all equally good, those of women being at once more searching and more lifelike than those of men. But if she has reconstructed souls from the inside with the ful and finished touch of the great masters, she has also the talent of picturesque evocation, and knows how to sketch figures with so sure and suggestive a pen that they stand out in a strong and unforgettable relief. Her power of perception is keen and fresh; she immediately grasps the individual traits, and so the odd as well, and at least potentially the comic. Her work represents in an original way the eternal comedy of life with all its whims and fancies; and as reality only awakens in her a spirit of amusement without bitterness, in which self-possession does not exclude a feeling of sympathy, just as her divination of character does not destroy the concrete sense of faces, gestures, and acts, she allows the virtual quaintness of whatever is human to grow active of itself and to tell; and she abundantly possesses the implicit eloquence of humour.

Her range of effects is wonderfully varied, extending as it does from the piquant, youthful gaiety of Pride and Prejudice, where her art is alomost perfect at the first attempt, to the mellow maturity of the last novels, in which it is perhaps less sure, less free from lengthy or weak passages, but is reicher on the other hand in moral significance. But the literary personality behind it all retains throughout her work a unique charm, associated with a most sober distinction of technique and style.



(1). Frances (or more familiarly, Fanny), the second daughter of Doctor Burney, a musician of note, was born in 1753 and introduced at an early age into the fashionable society of London. Her novel, written in secret, Evelina, or a Young Lady's Entrance into the Word, 1778, had a great success; she acknowledged the authorship and in 1782 published Cecilia, or Memoirs of an Heiress. Attached to the court as one of the queen's maids of honour from 1786 to 1791, she married in 1793 General d'Arblay, a French emigrant, and resided in Paris from 1802 to 1812. After the publication of her last two novels—Camilla, 1796; The Wanderer 1814)—she wrote a life of her father (1832), and died in 1840. Her Diary and Letters were published by her niece (1842-6), ed. by W. C. Ward, 1927. Evelina; Diary, ed. Dobson, 1904. See Dobson, Fanny Burney, 1903; M. masefield, The Story of Fanny Burney, 1927.

(2). Jane, youngest child of George Austen, a country parson, was born in Hampshire (1775), received a careful education, and led an uneventful, home-keeping life amid the quiet provincial surroundings of the south. She began to write at an early age, and three of her novels were already completed before the end of the century, but they did not appear in print until a later date. Sense and Sensibility appeared in 1811; Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, Emma in 1816; Northanger Abbey and Persuasion after her death in 1817. A fragment of Love and Freindship [sic] was published in 1922; another in 1925. There are several cheap editions of the novels (see Everyman's Library, etc.; ed. R. W. Chapman, 1923); the Letters were published in 1884. See W. and R. A. Austen-Leigh, Jane Austen, her Life and Letters, 1913; the studies by Goldwin Smith (Great Writers), 1890; Helm, 1909; P. Fitzgerald, 1912; Cornish (English Men of Letters), 1913; Kate and Paul Rague (Jane Austen), 1914, Léonie Villard (Jane Austen), 1914; R. Brimley Johanson, 1927.

(3). The theme had already been adumbrated in the Pamela of Richardson and the Amelia of Fielding.


From George Sampson,
The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature,
1970 ed. (rev. R.C. Churchill)

Jane Austen had in a high degree a gift that some more imposing authors have had in a low degree, or in no degree at all, namely, the gift of self-criticism. She wrote of the life she knew, and never tried to write of the life she did not know. No one understood better than the author of Pride and Prejudice the limits she must not pass. Jane Austen (1775-1817) was born at Steventon, in Hampshire, of which her father was rector. She had one sister, the heroically-named Cassandra, and five brothers, two of whom became distinguished admirals. She was taught by her father, and lived quietly at various homes in Hampshire and in Bath. She did not travel, went to London merely as a visitor, saw nothing of 'high life', and, after a long period of bad health, died at Winchester in her forty-second year. She made no pretensions to be a literary lady, but wrote in the common sitting-room of her family, sharing some of her secrets with her beloved sister. She read the ordinary English classics of her time. She enjoyed Fanny Burney, but shrewdly recognized the places where Fanny was writing beyond her means. She enjoyed Richardson even to the extent of bestowing upon Sir Charles Grandison what seems to modern readers an excess of admiration. And of course she read the current "Gothick" romances with amused contempt.

Her inborn sense of comedy was aroused very early by the absurdities of sentimental novels, and some juvenile literary efforts, not printed till 1922, take the form of burlesques in Richardsonian epistles, which reproduce with impish gravity and humorous restraint the ardours of passionate lovers. Love and Freindship (so spelt), dated 1790, was evidently written for domestic entertainment. It contains, potentially, nearly every quality the writer was to show in her mature works. The swoonings and sudden deaths are managed with immense comic effect. The transition from these juvenilia to her first published books can be found in the fragment of an epistolary novel called Lady Susan, first printed in 1871. It was written about 1794. A little later, Elinor and Marianne, a first sketch for
Sense and Sensibility, was written in letters. The author did not offer it for publication, and never afterwards attempted the epistolary from of the novel. Actually the first of her published novels to be written was Pride and Prejudice, which, under the title First Impressions, was composed during 1796-7. Her father offered it to Cadell, who refused it. First Impressions had been completed some three months when the young author began to re-write Elinor and Marianne as Sense and Sensibility; but this did not appear till 1811. It is thus her first published book, and its success was immediate. In 1798 she began to write Susan, the first draft of Northanger Abbey; and this she sold to a publisher, who, however, failed to issue it, and Jane did not recover her manuscript till 1816. It was posthumously published as Northanger Abbey in 1818, perhaps with some revision, and with apologies for "those parts of the work which thirteen years have made comparatively obsolete". In 1803 or 1804 she began a story which was never finished, and which was first published as The Watsons in 1871, with some other fragments, in the second edition of J. F. Austen-Leigh's Memoir. [Sanditon, a fragment from an unfinished novel, was published in 1925].

After 1803 there came a gap of several years in Jane Austen's literary work. The rejected First Impressions was triumphantly revised, and appeared as Pride and Prejudice in 1813—her second publication. In 1812 she began Mansfield Park, which was published in 1814. Emma was begun in January 1814, finished in March 1815, and published in 1816. Persuasion, last of her regularly published stories, was begun in 1815 and finished in July 1816. The manuscript was still in her hands at her death, and it was published posthumously with Northanger Abbey in 1818. All her books appeared anonymously, but her name was given in the short biographical notice prefixed to the volumes of 1818. In January 1817 she had begun to write a new novel, but after the middle of March could work no more. No reason ahs been ascertained for the gap in her work from 1804 to 1811. The odd fact is that from 1811 to the end she worked steadily.

From this unavoidaby tangled tale of Jane Austen's literary activities there emerge two main facts: first that the dates at which her books were published tell us little about the dates at which they were composed, and next that she was a careful craftsman, prepared to give long consideration to her tasks. The earliest stratum of her work, as we now have it, is represented by Northanger Abbey, which, apparently, was allowed to retain most of its first form. Both theme and treatment support the supposition. A quietly humorous observant girl with a gift for writing would naturally want to ridicule tha passion of women, old and young, for grotesque and exorbitant romances. Catherine, the simple heroine, has naive charm, and is in character, though not in years, much younger than the more critically studied Marianne Dashwood and Fanny Price. Sense and Sensibility represents the next stage. It was written from small experience, and is weaker in character and control than any of the other novels. Pride and Prejudice comes next in 1813. One would be glad to see the first draft which Cadell refused; for the work as published is one of Jane Austen's masterpieces. It has the Shakespearean (and Dickensian) quality of describing absurd and disagreeable people delightfully. Jane Austen's next novel, Mansfield Park, is less brilliant than Pride and Prejudice, but it is the widest in scope of the six. The development of Fanny Price, from the shy little girl into the woman who marries Edmund Bertram, is one of Jane Austen's finest achievements in the exposition of character. This book most clearly shows the influence of Richardson. Emma was written rapidly and confidently after the success of its predecessors. That Emma is loved for her faults as well as for her virtues is testimony to the fineness of Jane Austen's art. Persuasion, written when the author's physical powers were failing, is a quiet story, rich in character and sparing in incident. There is no sign of mental failure.

In Jane Austen's novels there are neither peasants nor noblemen. Her world is comfortably off, and no one seems to work for a living. She never describes great passions or seeks to point any moral. She is completely detached and impersonal. In a national literature a little inclined to excess she represents the triumph of understatement. With complete verisimilitude she gives us commonplace persons, not types, and they reveal themselves completely and consistenly in narrative and conversation of almost extraordinary ordinariness. Jane Austen's poise and self-control, her perfect fitting of her quiet utterance to her quiet purpose, are as clearly marks of creative genius as the exuberance and expansiveness of the more heroic creators. The high praise given to her by Scott and Macaulay is explicable and deserved. They acknowledge the fine artistic sincerity that shone out from the mass of contemporary novelistic rubbish.


from Austen, the 'Regional' Novel, and Scott

From The Short Oxford History of English Literature, by Andrew Sanders (1994)

Wordsworth, goaded by the high poetic standing accorded to Crabbeby the critics of the great early nineteenth-century journals, consistently denigrated his rival's work. In one of his sharper asides he even ventured to compara Crabbe's poetry to Jane Austen's fiction. Though he admitted that her novels were 'an admirable copy of life', he nevertheless insisted that he could not be interested in 'productions of that kind' and, he protested, 'unless the truth of nature were presented to him clarified, as it were, by the pervading light of imagination, it had scarce any attraction in his eyes'.  Wordsworth's comment suggests something of the bredth of the gulf which seemed to separate the new poetry from the staid, older fashion of a literature which aspired merely to represent nature by copying it. The idea of the transforming power of the imagination, which was to become so much a commonplace of subsequent criticism, cannot uniformly be applied to the literature of the English 'Romantic' period, nor can the absence of visionary gleams or pervading lights be now seen as crucially detrimental to a substantial portion of the poetry and the fiction of the period. Jane Austen (1775-1817) was, according to her first biographer, an admirer of Johnson in prose, Crabbe in verse, and Cowper in both; she 'thoroughly enjoyed' Crabbe's work and would sometimes say 'in jest' that if she ever married at all 'she could fancy being Mrs Crabbe'. Such conservative tastes in matrimony and literature should not be viewed as inconsistent either with Austen's own work or with the opinions of many of her original readers.

J. E. Austen-Leigh's memoir of his unmarried aunt assumes that she shared the feeling of 'moderate Toryism which prevailed in her family'. Austen's novels ostensibly suggest little active political commitment or deep involvement in national and international affairs. The class to which she belonged, and which her fiction almost exclusively describes, had largely remained unruffled and unthreatened by the ructions across the Channel, but the immediate aftermath of the French Revolution, the long-drawn-out conflict between Britain and France and the active risk of a French invasion, left few families untouched by the Napoleonic Empire and the domestic and foreign policies of the succession of repressive Tory governments. Although a well-connected cousin of the Austens had died on the scaffold in France, and although the novelist's two younger brothers served as officers in the navy in the great campaign against Napoleon, any discussion of revolutionary politics is eschewed and the war remains a relatively marginal (or at least, largely male) concern even in novels such as Mansfield Park and Persuasion which introduce naval officers as characters. The desperate domestic measures introduced by British governments to counter political dissent, notably the frequent suspension of the Habeas Corpus Act (which secured the liberty of the citizen against arbitrary imprisonment) and the emergency legislation aimed against all kinds of 'sedition' (such as the enforcement of the Combination Acts), are passed over silently. The agricultural depression which left many farm labourers destitute and the widespread evidence of rural pauperism is glanced at only as the occasion of genteel charity or, as in the case of Lady Catherine De Bourgh in Pride and Prejudice, as an occasion for scolding the poor 'into harmony and plenty'. The vast advances in industrialization and imperial expansion, and the social earthquake consequent upon both, elicit mere allusions. The upper-middle-class world of Austen's fiction is seen as secure in its values, its privileges, and its snobberies. It is a society which defines itself very precisely in terms of land, money, and class and it accepts that rank is an essential guinea-stamp. Its awareness of geographical space is generally revealed only with reference to far-flung estates and to the incomes derived from them, and to forays into the fashionable society of London or Bath. Its attachment to nature and to natural scenery is expressed in transitory enthusiasms for picnics at Box Hill and trips to the seaside or for parkland disciplined and tieddied up by landscape gardeners.

Jane Austen is far too subtle, challenging, and inventive a novelist to be usefully defined by negatives. Her work may seem to stand apart from the preoccupations of many of her literary contemporaries, but it remains very much of its time. It is, in many significant ways, defined in Christianly conservative, but not necessarily reactionary, terms against current radical enthusiasms. It should also be seen as standing in, and presenting variations on, an established fictional tradition. Where new writers who had espoused Jacobin libertarianism spoke of rights, Austen refers to duties; where they look for steady human improvement, she remains sceptical about the nature of the fallen human condition. The late eighteenth-century cultivation of sensibility and sentiment, and the new 'Romantic' insistence on the propriety of passion, are consistently countered in her novels by an ironic exposure of affectation and by a steady affirmation of the virtues of restraint. Austen chose her own literary limitations, not simply because she held that 'three or four families in a country village' were an ideal subject for the novel, but because her omissions were considered and deliberate. Her moral message is infused with an ideological insistence on the merits of good conduct, good manners, sound reason and marriages as an admirable social institution. She never scorns love, but she balances its often disconcerting and disruptive nature with a firm advocacy of the complementary qualities of self-knowledge, self-discipline and practicality. Her heroines can be as vivaciously intelligent as Elizabeth Bennet and as witty, egotistic, and independenta as Emma Woodhouse, but both, like the essentially introspective Elinor Dashwood or the passive and self-effacing Fanny Price, are finally brought to mature judgement and, by proper extension, emotional fulfilment. The narrative line of Sense and Sensibility (1811), which balances maturity against impulsiveness, also systematically undermines the attractions of superficial glamour and contrasts conflicting value systems and ways of seeing. In the two other novels which were probably begun in the 1790s and later revised, Northanger Abbey (1818) and Pride and Prejudice (1813), first impressions, illusions and subjective opinions or prejudices give way to detachment, balance, reasonableness and, more painfully, to humiliating reassessment. mere cleverness, wit, or spontaneity, though admirable in themselves, are never allowed to triumph without being linked to some steadier moral assurance.jane austen

The scrupulous pattern of education that Austen requires of her major characters (both male and female) is also required of her readers. Those who merely seek to escape into a delicately placid and undemanding fictional world wilfully misread her novels. Throughout her work, but especially in her three later novels, Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1816) and Persuasion (1818), she obliges readers to participate in the moral processes of disciplined learning, weighing, and judging, and in the gradual establishment of the principle that judgement is contingent upon understanding. This is not to imply that Austen is either priggish or stridently polemic (she is, it should go without saying, one of the most calculatingly amusing of all English novelists), but to suggest that her readers have to be constantly alert to her tone and to her supple narrative method. The relatively restricted world of her novels, and the social and physical confines of her settings, define the limits in which opinions are formed and within which her fools and snobs, her bores and gossips, her prudes and poseurs, must be both endured and accepted. The illusion of actuality which she so succicintly suggests also enforces a response to a society confident of its own codes and values. In Emma, for example, we follow th heroine in her often wayward exploration of manipulations, misapprehensions, niceties, complacencies, and lapses in judgement, but we also see her finding a personal liberation within the enclosure of the society whose rules she learns to respect and use. Austen's often astringent anti-romanticism is nowhere more evident than in Mansfield Park, a novel centred on a heroine suffering from what she admits are 'faults of ignorance and timidity', but also one who embodies, like the man she finally marries, a Christian forbearance which can be seen as informing her grasp of tact and decorum. If the values of the novel, most clearly expressed in the embarrassments surrounding the play-acting which so offend Sir Thomas Bertram, often seem to be at odds with twentieth-century preconceptions of character and social action, for Austen such values are projected as essential to the happy development of human affairs. The relatively sombre tone of Persuasion also emphasized the importance of the process of learning and judging through which all her heroines pass. Anne Elliot is not only Austen's most asuste literary critic (she finds it 'the misfortune of poetry, to be seldom safely enjoyed by those who enjoyed it completely'), she is also her most discriminating woman character, the one whose intelligence most effectively balances the merits of conflicting opinions, ideas, impressions, and feelings. It is against Anne's 'sunny' domestic virtues that the world in which she moves so often seems shallow, worldly, petty, and vain. The freedom which all Austen's lovers attain is a freedom of action and moral decision worked out, not in a deceptively 'gracious' society, but in a post-lapsarian world often unaware that it is in constant need of grace.


From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:

Lady Susan,
a novel by J. Austen, written probably 1793-4, published 1871, from an untitled manuscript dated 1805.

The story consists of letters, written chiefly between the kindly Mrs Vernon and her mother Lady de Courcy, and between the unscrupulous, beautiful Lady Susan (the widouw of Mr Vernon's brother) and her London friend Mrs Johnson. The events occur mainly at Churchill, the country house of the Vernons.

Pride and Prejudice,
a novel by J. Austen, published 1813. It was originally a youthful work entitled 'First Impressions' and was refused by Cadell, a London publisher, in 1797.

Mr and Mrs Bennet live with their five daughters at Lonbourn in Hertfordshire. In the absence of a male heir, the property is due to pass by entail to a cousin, Willliam Collins, who has been presented with a living near Rosings, the Kentish seat of Lady Catherine de Bourgh. Charles Bingley, a rich young bachelor, takes Netherfield, a house near Longbourn, bringing with him his two sisters and his friend Fitzwilliam Darcy, nephew of Lady Catherine. Bingley and Jane, the eldest Bennet girl, fall in love. Darcy, although attracted to the next sister, Elizabeth, offens her by his supercilious behaviour. The aversion is intensified when Darcy and Bingley's sisters, disgusted witth the vulgarity of Mrs Bennnet and her two youngest daughters, effectively separate Bingley from Jane.

Meanwhile the fatuous Mr Collins, urged to marry by Lady Catherine (for whom he shows the most grovelling and obsequious respect), proposes to Elizabeth. When firmly rejected he promplty transfers his affections to Charlotte Lucas, a friend of Elizabeth's who accepts him. Staying with the newwly married couple in their parsonage, Elizabeth again encounters Darcy. Captivated by her in spite of himself, Darcy proposes to her in terms which do not conceal his wounded pride. Elizabeth indignantly rejects him.

On an expedition to the north of England with her uncle and aunt, Mr and Mrs Gardiner, Elizabeth visits Pemperley, Darcy's seat in Derbyshire, believing Darcy to be absent. However Darcy appears and welcomes the visitors. His manner, though grave, is now gentle and attentive. At this point news reaches Elizabeth that her youngest  sister Lydia has eloped with the unprincipled Wickham (son of the late steward of the Darcy estate). With help from Darcy, the the fugitives are traced, their marriage is arranged, and (again through Darcy) they are suitably provided for. Bingley and Jane are reunited and become engaged. In spite, and indeed in consequence, of the insolent intervention of Lady Catherine, Darcy and Elizabeth also become engaged.

Sense and Sensibility,
a novel by J. Austen, which grew from a sketch entitled 'Elinor and Marianne'; revised 1797-8 and again 1809; published 1811.

Mrs Henry Dashwood and her daughters Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret are left in straitened circumstances, because her husband's estate has passed to her stepson John Dashwood. Henry Dashwood, befor his death, had urgently recommended to John that he look after his stepmother and sisters, but John's selfishness defeats his father's wish. Mrs Dashwood and her daughters accordingly retire to a cottage in Devonshire, but not before Elinor and Edward Ferrers, brother of Mrs John Dashwood, have become mutually attracted. However, Edward shows a strange uneasiness in his relations with Elinor. In Devonshire Marianne is thrown into the company of John Willoughby, an attractive but impecunious and unprincipled young man, with whom she falls desperately in love. Willoughby likewise shows signs of a strong affection for her, but he suddenly departs for London, leaving Marianne in accute distress. Eventually Elinor and Marianne also go to London, on the invitation of their tactless and garrulous old friend Mrs Jennings. Here Willoughby shows complete indifference to Marianne, and finally, in a cruel and insolent letter, informs her of his approaching marriage to a rich heiress. Marianne makes no effect to hide her great grief. Meanwhile Elinor has learned, under pledge of secrecy, from Lucy Steele (a sly, self-seeking youn woman) that she and Edward Ferrers have been secretly engaged for four years. Elinor, whose self-control is in strong contrast to Marianne's demonstrative emotions, conceals her distress. Edward's engagement, which had beeen kept secret because of his financial dependence on his mother, now becomes known to her. In her fury at Edward's refusal to break his promise to Lucy, she dismisses him from her sight, and settles on his young brother Robert the property that would otherwise have gone to Edward. At this juncture a small living is offered to Edward, and the way seems open for his marriage with Lucy. but Robert, a fashionable young fop, falls in love with Lucy, who, seeing her best interest in a marriage with the wealthier brother, throws over Edward and marries Robert. Edward, relieved to be released from an engagement he has long and painfully regretted, proposes to Elinor and is accepted. Marianne, eventually accepts the proposal of Colonel Brandon, an old family friend, whose considerable quiet attractions had been eclipsed by his brilliant rival.

Mansfield Park, a novel by J. Austen, begun 1811, published 1814.

Sir Thomas Bertram of Mansfield Park, a stern but kind-hearted man, has two sons, Tom and Edmund, and two daughters, Maria and Julia. His wife, a charming, indolent woman, has two sisters: Mrs Norris, a near neighbour, who is spiteful and selfish, and Mrs Price, the wife of an impecunious officer of marines, with a large family of young children. In order to assist the Prices, Sir Thomas undertakes the charge of the eldest daughter Fanny, a timid child of nine. In spite of her humble situation and the cruelty of Mrs Norris, Fanny becomes an indispensable part of the household. The strength and earnestness of her character is particularly shown during Sir Thomas's absence in the West Indies, when family discipline is relaxed, forbidden private theatricals are mounted, and an unseemly filtration betgins between Maria Bertram, who is already engaged to marry Mr Rushworth, and Henry Crawford, the attractive, worldly brother-in-law of the parson of Mansfield. Against all this Fanny resolutely sets her face. Loving her cousin Edmund, she grieves to see him fascinated by the frivolous Mary Crawford, sister of Henry . Maria having become Mrs Rushworth, Henry turns his attention to Fanny, falls in love with her, and proposes. Fanny unhesitatingly rejects him, incurring the grave displeasure of Sir Thomas for what he regards as a a piece of ungrateful perversity. During a visit paid by Fanny to her own home, matters come to a crisis. Henry, accidentally encountering Maria Rushworth again, runs away with her, and Julia elopes with an unsuitable suitor, Mr Yates. Mary Crawford's failure to condemn her brother's conduct finally opens Edmund's eyes to her true character. He turns for comfort to Fanny, falls in love, and they are married.

Emma, a novel by J. Austen, begun 1814, published 1816.

Emma, a clever, pretty, and self-satisfied young woman, is the daughter, and mistress of the house, of Mr Woodhouse, an amiable old valetudinarian. Her former governess and companion, Anne Taylor, has just left to marry Mr Weston. Emma takes under her wing Harriet Smith, a pretty, pliant girl of 17, daughter of unknown parents, who is parlour-boarder at the school in the neighbouring village of Highbury. Emma schemes for Harriet's advancement. She first prevents Harriet from accepting an offer of marriage from Robert Martin ,an eligible young farmer, as being beneath her. This tampering greatly annoys Mr Knightley, the bachelor owner of Donwell Abbey, who is Emma's brother-in-law. Emma hopes to arrange a match between Harriet and Mr Elton, the young vicar, only to find that he aspires to Emma's own hand. Frank Churchill, the son of Mr Weston by a former marriage, now visits Highbury. Emma first supposes him in love with herself, but presently thinks that Harriet might attract him, and encourages her not to dspair. This encouragement, however, is misunderstood by Harriet, who assumes it is directed at the great Mr Knightley himself, with whom Emma is half unwittingly in love. Emma then suffers the double mortification of discovering, first that Frank Churchill is already engaged to Jane Fairfax, niece of the garrulous old maid Miss Bates; and second, that Harriet has hopes of supplanting her in Mr Knightley's affections. In the end Knightley proposes to the humbled Emma, and Harriet is happily consoled with Robert Martin.

Northanger Abbey, a novel by J. Austen, begun 1798, published posthumously in 1818 with Persuasion.

The purpose of the novel is to ridicule the popular tales of romance and terro, such as Mrs. Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, and to contrast with these the normal realities of life. Catherine Morland, the daughter of a well-to-do clergyman, is taken to Bath for the season by her friends, Mr and Mrs Allen. Here she meets Henry Tilney (son of the eccentric General Tilney) and his plesasant sister, Eleanor. Catherine falls in love with Henry, and has the good fortune to gain his father's approval, which is founded upon the exaggerated report of her parents' wealth given him by the foolish young John thorpe, brother of Catherine's friend Isabella. Catherine is invited to Northanger Abbe, the medieval seat of the Tilneys. Somewhat unbalanced by a too assiduous reading of Mrs Radcliffe's novels, Catherine imagines a mystery in which General Tilney is criminally involved, and suffers severe mortification when her suspeicions are discovered. General Tilney, having now received a second report from John Thorpe representing Catherine's parents as extremely humble, packs her off back to her family. Henry, disobeying his father, follows Catherine to her home, proposes, and is accepted. General Tilney's consent is obtained when he discovers the true financial position of Catherine's family.

Interwoven with the main plot is the flirtation of Captain Tilney, Henry's elder brother, and the vulgar Isabella Thorpe, who is engaged to Catherine's brother; the consequent breaking of the engagement, and the rupture of the frienship between Catherine and Isabella; and Isabella's failure to secure Captain Tilney.

Persuasion, a novel by J. Austen, written 1815-16, published posthumously 1818.

Sir Walter Elliot, a spendthrift baronet and widower, with a swollen sense of his social importance and personal elegance, is obliged to retrench and let his seat, Kellynch Hall. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth, haughty and unmarried, is now twenty-nine; the second, Anne, who is pretty, intelligent, and amiable, had some years before been engaged to a young naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, but had been persuaded by her trusted friend Lady Russell to break off the engagement, because of his lack of fortune and a misunderstanding of his easy nature. The breach had brougth great unhappiness to Anne, and caused indignation in Wentworth. When the story opens annne is twenty-seven, and the bloom of her youth is gone. Captain Wentworth, who has had a successful career and is now prosperous, is thrown again into Anne's society by the letting of Kellynch to Admiral and Mrs. Croft, his sister and brother-in-law. Sir Walter's youngest daughter, Mary, is married to Charles Musgrove, the heir of a neighbouring landowner. Wenworth is attracted by Charles's sisters Louisa and Henrietta, and in time becomes involved with Louisa. During a visit of the party to Lyme Regis, Louisa, being 'jumped down' from the Cobb by Wentworth, falls and is badly injured. Wentworth's partial responsibility for the accident makes him feel an increased obligation to Louisa at the very time that his feelings are being drawn back to Anne. However, during her convalescence Louisa becomes engaged to Captain Benwick, another naval officer, and Wentworth is free to proceed with his courtship. He goes to Bath, where Sir Walter is now established with his two elder daughters and Elizabeth's companion, Mrs Clay, an artful woman with matrimonial designs on Sir Walter. There Wentworth finds another suitor for Anne's hand, her cousin William Elliot, the heir to the Kellynch estate, who is also indulging with an intrigue with Mrs Clay, in order to detach her from Sir Walter. Anne has remained unshaken in her love for Wentworth and moreover learns about the duplicity of William Elliot. Accidentally made aware of Anne's constancy, Wentworth renews his offer of marriage, and is accepted.

In this, Jane Austen's last completed work, satire and ridicule take a milder form, and the tone is more grave and tender.

The Watsons, an unfinished novel by J. Austen, written some time between 1804 and 1807.

The story largely concerns the unremitting efforts of Emma Watson's three sisters to get themselves married. Emma, a pretty, sensible girl, has been brought up by a well-to-do aunt. She returns to her family, who live in gentelel poverty in a Surrey village, where she is surrounded by people in every way inferior to herself. Even her good-natured sister Elizabeth is as intent on a good match as her unpleasant sisters Margaret and Penelope. The other principal characters are Lady Osborne, handsome and dignified, her son, Lord Osborne, a fine but cold young man; mr Howard, a gentlemanly clergyman; and Tom Musgrave, a cruel and hardened flirt. The author left no hint as to the future course of events.

Sanditon, an unfinished novel by J. Austen, written 1817.

Mr Parker is obsessed with the wish to create a large and fashionable resort out of the small village of Sanditon, on the south coast. Charlotte Heywood, an attractive, alert young woman, is invited to stay with the Parkers, where she catches the fancy of Lady Denham, the local great lady. Lady Denham's nephew and niece, Sir Edward and Miss Denham, live near by, and Clara Brereton is staying with her. Edward plans to seduce Clara, but his aunt intends him to marry a West Indian heiress, under the care of a Mrs Griffiths and her entourage, whose visit to Sanditon is anticipated shortly. After a ludicrous series of complications, involving both Mrs Griffith's party and a ladies' seminary from Camberwell, the excited inhabitants of Sanditon find the expected invasion of visitors consists merely of Mrs Griffiths and three young ladies.

This highly entertaining fragment was written early in 1817, when Jane Austen was already suffering from Addison's disease (of which she died on 18 July).

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 21:42. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

A Seagull I Saw

viernes, 9 de noviembre de 2012

A seagull I saw

A seagull I saw by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
A seagull I saw, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 23:16. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Sir Walter Scott

sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012

Sir Walter Scott

From The Short Oxford History of English Literature, by Andrew Sanders (1994) 

In the Preface to Castle Rackrent [1800] Edgeworth had recognized the fluid relationship between her fiction and the writing of history. In a way that prefigures Thackeray's suspicion of the elevation of fancy-dress heroes by historians, she states her preference for a history which looks beyond the 'splendid characters playing their parts on the great theatre of the world' and which begs to be admitted behind the scenes 'that we may take a nearer view of the actors and actresses'.

It was Edgeworth's ability to puncture the pretensions of conventional historians and to establish a 'behind the scenes' picture of society in a state of flux which seems to have inspired Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) to return to the unfinished and abandoned manuscript of Waverley in 1813. Her Irish novels, he later maintained, 'had gone so far to make the English familiar with the characters of their gay and kind-hearted neighbours of Ireland, that she may truly be said to have done more towards completing the Union than perhaps all the legislative enactments by which it has been followed up'. It is an ambitious claim, but no more so than Scott's own professed hope 'that something might be attempted for my own country, of the same kind with that which Misss Edgeworth so fortunately achieved for Ireland—something which might introduce her natives to those of her sister kingdom in a more favourable light than they had been placed hitherto'. What Scott managed to achieve for Scotland was a far broader popular understanding of the distinctive nature of Scottish history and culture, its divisions and contradictions as much as its vitality. If he can at times be accused of having sanitized much in the Scottish tradition of dissent from English norms of government and civilization, he did manage to explore and to explain swathes of northern history ignored by English cultural imperialists and Scottish social progressives alike. In choosing to eschew the Scots dialect, both as a poet and as a novelist, he rendered his work acceptable to a wide audience likely to be alienated by a merely parochial self-assurance. By varying, examining, and imagining vital aspects of national history he also managed to present an analysis of a historical process at work. In drawing on, and adapting for the purposes of prose fiction, something of the method perfected by Shakespeare in his two Henry IV plays, and by intermixing politics and comedy with the fictional and the historical. Scott also shaped aspects of Scottish nationhood to suit his own Unionist and basically Tory ends. He both invented tradition and used it, and if he can be blamed on the one hand with exploting an overtly romantic view of Scotland's past, he must also be allowed to have moved the British novel towards a new seriousness and a new critical respect. In developing the form beyond the fantastic excesses of the Gothic and beyond the embryonic shape moulded by Maria Edgeworth, Scott effectively created the nineteenth-century historical novel. His creation, fostered by the universal popularity of his work, was to have vast influence over European and American literature.

When he published Waverley anonymously in 1814 Scott already possessed a high reputation as the best-selling new poet of his age. Drawing on private research, no his considerable learning, and on memories of this youth spent in the Scottish Borders, he had published the influential collection of ballads, Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1802-3). The Minstrelsy, which went through five editions by 1812, interspersed previously uncollected folk-poetry with verse by the editor himself. Scott may have rigorously over-edited some of the original pieces, but his collection was a triumph of enterpreise matched in importance only by Bishop Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry (1765). His antiquarian enthusiasms marked his entire career as a writer and a collector, but his early translations of Goethe and of German ballads, and an attachment to the history of the Borders, served to stimulate a narrative poetry of his own. The Lay of the Last Minstrel (1805) recounts the story of a family feud in the sixteenth century, replete with sorcery, alchemy, and metaphysical intervention. Scott's energetic, rushing metre, his varying line-length and wandering stress within the lines, and his highly effective introduction of shorter lyrics or songs into the narrative also mark three further long and involved verse tales: Marmion: A Tale of Flodden Field (1808), The Lady of the Lake (1810), and Rokeby (1813). These poems achieved an immediate celebrity and retained the high esteem of succeeding Victorian generations, even, despite their length, being learnt by heart. Their glamour has now faded and, despite occasional patches of still vivid colour, the passage of time has exposed them as threadbare in terms of their subjects and their style.

Scott's novels, an epoch-making phenomenon in their won time, retain more of their original impact on readers despite a relative decline in their critical and popular esteem. His initial, highly successful, impulse to concern himself with Scottish affairs, and yet always to include the observation and experience of a pragmatic outsider (often an English man), links his first nine novels together. The shape and theme of Waverley, which is concerned with the gradual, often unwitting, involvement of a commonsensical English gentleman in the Jacobite rising of 1745 and his exposure to the thrillingly alien culture of the Highland clans, are subtly repeated, with significant variation, in Guy Mannering (1815), Old Mortality (1816), and Rob Roy (1817). It is cleverly reversed in The Heart of Midlothian (1818), a tale set in Edinburgh in the period of anti-government Porteous riots of 1736, by the device of Jeanie Deans's epic walk to London to plead for her sister's life and by the contrast drawn between the somewhat narrow puritanism of Jeanie and the sophisticated but worldly nature of the Hanoverian court. In all these novels Scott exposes his protagonists to conflicting ways of seeing, thinking, and acting; his Scotland is variously divided by factions—by Jacobites and Unionists, Covenanters and Episcopalians, Higland clansmen and urban Lowlanders—and in each he suggests an evolutionary clash of opposites, the gradual convergence of which opens up a progressive future. The fissures of Scottish history are allowed to point the way to a present in which Scotland's fortunes are inexorably bound up with those of liberal, duller, more homogeneous, shop-keeping England. The dialectic established by the narrative offers some kind of movement away from a mere nostalgia for the past and for past manners or factions. As Scott stresses in chapter 72 of Waverley, no European nation had changed so much between 1715 and 1815: 'The effects of the insurrection of 1745 . . . commenced this innovation. The gradual influx of wealth, and extension of commerce, have since united to render the present people of Scotland a class of beings as different from their grandfathers, as the existing English are from those of Queen Elizabeth's time.' In order to suggest the nature and the implications of change to his readers, Scott opens up the past by carefully establishing a picture of men and women moving naturally in a historic environment his characters are no longer represented in the fancy dress of Gothic fiction; they are shown at ease with the objects, furniture, and attitudes of their proper times. Fictional heroes encounter historical ones and are allowed to find them wanting, both being subject to the narrator's own imaginative and ideological interpretation of their development. Equally significantly, the novels present character as being shaped and determined by environment, an environment which is as much local as it is temporal, and as subject to geography as it is to history. If Scott's real sympathies lie in recoring the steady triumphalism of the dominant culture, he is still a tolerant and often persuasive memorializer of lost causes and lost tribes, of dissent and of the alternative perceptions of minorities marginalized by those who hold political and intellectual sway.

In 1820, with the publication of Ivanhoe, Scott's fiction took a fresh, but not always happy, direction in moving abruptly away from Scotland and from recent, even remembered, history. Ivanhoe and two further, and far weakr, stories set in the time of the Crusades, The Talisman and The Betrothed (both 1825), form a continuous discourse which questions the origins and usefulness of the medieval code of chivalry and military honour and distantly reflects on the survival of both into the age of the French Revolution. All three novels, however, require turgidly lengthy explications of historical detail and resort to an often highly artificial dialogue in order to establish the authenticity of their twelfth-century settings. It is a fustian dialogue which contrasts vividly with the far easier evocations of home-spun, local speech which enliven the scottish fiction. Similar faults mar the otherwise lively pictures of Elizabethan England in Kenilworth (1821) and of the period of the Commonwealth in Woodstock (1826). The Fortunes of Nigel (1822) and Quentin Durward (1823) concerned respectively with the adventures of exiled Scottish knights at the courts of James I of England and Louis XI of France, are both vigorous variations on the idea of the upright innocent abroad making his way through mazes of corruption, but the finest of Scott's later works is probably Redgauntlet (1824), an investigation of the dying flame of Scottish Jacobitism seen from the divided perspective of two heroes, the phelgmatic Alan Fairford and the romantic Darsie Latimer. Sadly, illness and financial disaster overshadowed the novelist's last years and his still phenomenal outuput bears the marks of the strain, declining as it does into rambling, but often highly charged, experiments with material which even the polymathic Scott had not properly assimilated.

Despite the anonymity of the 'author of Waverley', a ruse which was maintained on the title-page of all of Waverley's fictional successors, the 'secret' of Scott's authorship was a thoroughly open one. In January 1821 Byron, and unstinted admirer, claimed, without a glimmer of doubt at their authorship, to have read 'all W. Scott's novels at least fifty times'. Scott was, he noted in his journal, the 'Scotch Fielding, as well as a gret English poet', and he characteristically added, '—wonderful man! I long to get drunk with him'. It was Byron, properly George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824), who alone managed to eclipse Scott's primacy as the best-selling poet of the second decade of the nineteenth century, but he never attempted to rival him as a novelist.


from Louis Cazamian, A History of English Literature

The Romantic Period, I. The first generation of poets; 5: The Poetry of Scott. II: The Novel. 1. Walter Scott

The Poetry of Scott.—

At first glance one might be led into thinking that a similar fate had befallen the poems of Southey and those of Scott (1). The latter were very popular from the moment they appeared, being eclipsed only by Byron in the public favour: their immediate and complete success marks the first official triumph of the new school. Neglected, however, after 1815, by their author himself, who had found a vaster field of activity in the novel, and overshadowed by the daring efforts of the second generation of poets, they knew a gradual decline. At the present day the general reader leaves them aside. But with unobtrusive modesty, they continue to live; and as this test of a whole century is probably decisive, everything points to a discreet survival.

They assuredly embody the intentions and influences of Romanticism; but they do not originate, as is the case with Southey's epics, in an intellectual and theoretical source: countless are the natural bonds linking them up with the Scottish soil, with a national past, with a wealth of memories and sentiments which the poet shares with his immediate compatriots, and which a spontaneous sympathy renders accessible to all British readers. The feudalism and medieval customs revived by Scott are part of a not very distant past; the clan spirit, the rich local life of a people steeped in traditions still retain something of that age; therefore the effort of imagination demanded of the reader is neither so great nor so artificial as with other writers. The Lay of the Last Minstrel is definitively placed at the end of that belated transition which joins up the Middle Ages with modern times. The atmosphere of the poem is thus created by a direct intuition in which art and archaeology commingle, blended by the fervour of a warm literary patriotism.

There is nothing, however, as yet of the atmosphere which belongs to the historical novels of Scott, with their humour, their colouring applied with a touch at once lavish and sure. The past is evoked in a spirit romantic before it is human. The choice of descriptive traits, the development of action, and the characterization are a trifle conventional. A secret complacency on the part of the author tends to incline everything towards picturesqueness, pathos, mystery, and even terror, as Scott indeed retains a trace of his youthful enthusiasm for the thrill of the German ballads and for the school of the supernatural. His Romanticism is a synthesis of all the elements which two generations have set free: imaginative emotion, the lure of the past, the taste for chivalry, a sentimental respect for warlike and religious customs, the love of nature, all of which with Scott are strongly individualized through his close familiarity with the Scottish landscape and social life.

However, the dominant characteristic of these poems is to be found in their sobriety of tone. They are subservient to an essential discipline and measure. The descriptive vein is always strongly controlled; the pictures of nature, whether charming, delicate, or powerful, are never luxuriant; tragedy with Scott never reaches the stage of horror, nor is the fanciful element ever developed at the expense of an implicit logic. A faint suggestion of irony hovers at times like a smile over the narrative. The style, with its ease and liquied movement, has remarkable clarity and a striking economy of means. The verse, supple and modelled on the undulating flow of the sentiment, is of a very rhythmic quality. Scott recognized his indebtedness to the model of fluid freedom offered by the Christabel of Coleridge; but he had too sure a touch not to be a born poet. Through all these traits, the indefinable atmosphere of simplicity, wholesomeness, and truth which permeates these flights of the imagination, saving them from any extravagance, one can feel the presence of a very shrewd intellectuality. Scott is one of those semi-classicists by temperament who leave room for the continuity of tradition at the very heart of Romanticism. He is too conservative by instinct to be a thorough revolutionary in any sphere whatsoever.

The persisting charm of his chivalric epics, their lasting hold upon us, thus arise from the fact that below what is but a passing fashion they link up with a balanced, normal art, which a fresh inspiration has revivified. Yet the close proximity of the novesl will always do them harm, since they are too inferior to Scott's prose in the study and development of characters. Beside them, on the other hand, one must not forget the shorter poems—whose form is often that of the ballad—in which Scott has shown a more intense, at times outstanding, gift of lyricism. (2).

Chapter II- The Novel -

1. Walter Scott.—

The poems of Scott belonged to the first generation of Romanticists. His novels (3), in the order of chronology, belonged to the second; but the spirit animating them is still that of the first. There is no indication of their author having been influenced by the change in matters political and intellectual about 1815; he retains his opinions, his temperament, and the natural bent of his imagination. His personality is henceforth too firmly moulded to alter, but develops with greater freedom in a field of wider horizon. While the poetry of this age enlists a great number of the most brilliant talents, Scott's supremacy in the novel is sovereign. For nearly twenty years, everything is eclipsed by his work. His pages have kept an incomparable charm and youthfulness. Neither fashions nor the changes in taste have had any serious effect upon them. Whether appraised or not by enlightened opinion among the critics, they have remained truly popular, and seem almost entirely to have become part of the treasure of permanent literature, and been added to the fund itself of the national heritage.

It would be vain, however, to deny that the years have encroached upon his work. It is not all of an equal quality or resisting power; and it was not given the careful labour which alone assures perfection. It has no doubt, the happy touch, the divine facility, the wealth of a creation of genius. One feels that it wells up from a natural source; it is the outcome of a full inspiration, that has been already prepared by the assimilative play of memory, the activity of thought, the continual exercising of the imagination during half a lifetime. Scott was intimately acquainted with the past of Scotland, which he had explored in documents, history, and legend; he had lived through it again by calling it up in its original setting, and had given it the reality of concrete form by discovering its latent presence in the manners, traditions, and language, in all the existing originality of a people. This unconscious preparation had been so long and full that from the day when the novelist and not the poet laid it under contribution for pictures of a more ample scope, it appeared to be inexhaustible. In it lies the deep value of these reconstructions of history, and by investing them with the gift of life, which it has rendered possible, it supplies them with the atmosphere of a full-flavoured humanity. But Scott certainly allowed himself to be led away too much by the ease of rapid invention; and probably it is to this cause that must be traced, along with the few lapses in form, some more internal flaws which time has brought into prominence.

These are nearly all reducible to certain insufficiencies of the writer's art, to devices which are too facile. In the century which has followed, both the technique of the novel and the requirements of the reader have come to be modified; over and above the theories of the moment, a substantial agreement has been reached concerning some demands which might prove to be of a lasting character. We require sober truth, an objective outlook upon things, or if the writer's fancy and sensibility become a law unto themselves, we are loath to let them have the benefit of an optimism which savours too much of banal convention to be interesting. Fiction plays too important a part in the novel of Scott, and especially the fiction which does not wish to be treated as such. No one save the specialist suffers from the liberties he takes with historical details. The conception of truth, with him, has not yet acquired the scrupulous exactitude which the whole activity of thought in the nineteenth century will impart to it. But the cordial good-naturedness which lends so much winning charm to his work cannot excuse the too easy complacency of his critical sense or artistic conscience. The author is too frequently butting in upon the story; the monologues of the characters, the set conversations of those who rise above the ordinary rank, lose all semblance of reality. The creation of atmosphere in the novels is brought about by a series of conjunctures which too obviously reveal a common end. An aesthetic and moral Providence carries on the story, leading it towards a conclusion which flatters a sentimental and moral preconception no doubt quite worthy in itself, but from which it would seem that a more severe taste has gradually receded. The conventional treatment of love themes, as of the characterization of young heroes and heroines, is in keeping with the fanciful tone of the plots, at least in some of their parts. There is in this whole series of effects a perspective such as that of the theatre, allowable, no doubt, as long as the treatment of truth is only summarily and superficially faithful, but here at variance with the deep and exacting spirit of accuracy that in every other respect animates the realistic imagination of Scott.

It must be recognized, however, that he benefits by the quality of his fault; his art has about it a genuine simplicity, an unpretentiousness, that are restful after the strained objectivity of recent schools. And such blemishes are of slight import; they set a date upon the art of Scott, without ageing it. The only consequence is that the reader must more clearly and more consciously accept the part played by artifice, by one main fiction and by some derived postulates, in the production of an illusion which can in fact never be complete.

The essential point is that this illusion, in far the majority of cases, and if nothing intervenes to impair the normal elasticity of our sense of the real, is a wonderful success. Scott makes us live again in past centuries, and makes innumerable human beings of his invention visible, familiar, and akin to ourselves; whether he entirely creates them, or re-creates their souls and borrows their names from history. His work is one of the happiest attempts ever made to evoke what is no longer extant; it owes its triumph to the iamginative intuition which Romanticism had stimulated, but also to a psychological truth that is sufficiently deep, and to a grasp of man's nature that is broad enough, to satisfy the needs of our minds more constant than a taste for purely historical truth.

The novels form unequal groups according to their themes, varyng in number as in value. Scott loses his force as he wanders from the solid ground of contemporary reality, and from those features of it which are of a durable enough nature to be looked upon as ancient; it is thorugh the present that he interprets and reconstructs the past. Therefore, the periods he chooses by preference are not very remote; his favourite domain stretches from the Reformation to the last civil struggles of the eighteenth century. He organizes his subjects round the great religious or political conflicts which during these two hundred years most seriously impaired the moral unity of the Scottish people; and as the Romanticism of feeling and imagination is above all attracted by lost causes, it is to Puritanism and to the allegiance of the Jacobites that through the force of the tale the involuntary sympathies of the reader are often drawn; a solid proof of the remarkable impartiality of Scott, who as a Tory and a friend of order rtained some kindly feelings for the Stuarts, but who reproved fanaticism without reserve. It was his desire to keep the scales even, to grant to all parties and men the same kindly interest, and here he was almost always successful.

The novels which transport us to England or the Continent, and abandon the opening years of the modern era for the Middle Ages, betray this effort more distinctly; they reach their aim less completely: yet they accomplish some very fine feats; although historians do not spare certain aspects of Ivanhoe, they praise the atmosphere of the work, whil it is generaly agreed that the light shed upon Louis XI and his time by Quentin Durward is not to be disparaged. But still, when all is considered, there are no achievements in this kind which can come up to the scenes enacted in those lowland districts of Scotland, so beloved and cherished by Scott; and for example, to the episodes whose setting is the capital (The Heart of Midlothian, etc.). In the same way, the landscape is evoked with a poetic freshness, which is devoid of all impassioned ardour of exuberance; the description of nature, within these limits, is more widely treated in Scott's prose than in his verse; but the stretches of heath, the peat-lands, the wild valleys of Scotland are more accurately, more forcefully depicted than the vast forests of feudal England.

Set thus in a framework of events largely fictitious, which, however, our sense of truth approves, and standing out against a background of nature and manners which are sufficiently rich in detail to be convincing, picturesque enought to be attractive, and the authority of which is chiefly derived from a national and intimate feeling of sympathetic familiarity, Scott's personages win our full approbation; there is no resisting their vitality. They offer a complete range of characterization, from the most rapid sketches to the most carefully executed portraits; their abundance and diversity astonish us. Their physical being, and the salient peculiarities of their moral being, are what always determine them. At times the analysis goes further, probing to the depths, and aiming at the most individual shades; but Scott is not preoccupied with the psychology that penetrates; he does not seek for complicated tangles of the soul, and consequently hardly comes upon any; on occasion he will be easily satisfied indeed. In certain cases he has desired to make a more searching analysis of a character, and has done so; but as a rule he sums up at one stroke the personality which interests him, grasps it with a vigorous hold, and draws its physiognomy with a broad, firm touch; and having once animated it, he leaves it to radiate the life thus given it to the very end. In this way his characters do not change.

His most unforgettable creations are those of episodic or simple personages, who are devoid of all mystery, and who reveal themselves wholly to us in one flash. Despite the attraction of some impressive figures of rebels, ruined noblemen, and chieftains, it is the ordinary people, such as peasants, shopkeepers, housewives, and servants, who constitute, by virtue of the artisitic relief and intensity of touch with which they are painted, his richest and most attractive gallery of portraits.

And this is because the humbler classes can best voice the humour of Scott. higher up in the social scale, moral dignity imposes a restraint upon the freedom implied in the expression of that humour. It implies a realism of method, an openness in the display of originality, a conscious and discreet revelation of oneself, an art of apparent naïveté and secret roguishness, which scarcely harmonize with the circumspection and reserve of refined manners. In its very essence it savours of the people. It has its roots in a full sense of life, in the experience of all the illogicality which its complexity conceals, in an alert attention to all the perceptible elements through which the solution of his problems reveals itself, in a spontaneously concrete appreciation of the qualities and paradoxes of things.

This deep fertilizing force of the Scottish mind makes its presence felt in all Scott's creations; it is the sole support of whole scenes, episodes, and characters, and is more or less intermingles with nearly all the other sources of interest. His pathos itself is rarely without an after-taste of it. Even the poet's thought elaborates and refines it, and makes it the spiritual aroma of his philosophy. This is the element which imparts to his work an all-pervading spirit of kingliness and light irony, and which tempers the satire with indulgence, the sympathy with amusement. At this degree of superior concentration, humour acts as a kind of twofold wisdom, blending, correcting, and especially relieving the one by means of the other, the bitterness of clear discernment and the sweetness of charity. This suppleness of a judgment which is ever conscious of what is relative becomes reflected in an expression intentionally transposed, which chooses indirevt ways because the hearer derives an added pleasure from unravelling them, and because they better comply with the essential scepticism of a soul that refuses to be dogmatically absorbed in one set mode of feeling. Scott's humour has a ring of Scottish shrewdness and kindliness about it. This note is to be heard throughout his work, and lends a character of unity to the vast comedy of existence; it assumes a different key according to the environment, the age, and the sex of the persons who are shown to us; but a stronger affinity gives all its clearness and charm in the language of simple folks; and the dialiect of Scotland, in various degrees of raciness and purity, is intimately associated with it in its effects of full-flavoured and sly rusticity.

The passages in which this dialect predominates offer special difficulty to the uninitiated reader; but this is easily overcome; and at once, one comes to prefer them. Here it is that the language of Scott enjoys all its advantages. Its easy manner harmonizes with a familiar form of speech. In other places, it has great merits, and lends itself freely to lively or sustained narration, to description, to pathos, to reflections of a moralizing nature; but it does not keep up all these tones with an equal felicity, or rather there are some among these tones which are not happy in themselves.The edifying reflections, and interventions on the part of the author, imply at times a slightly artificial dignity; one finds there, as it were, a vein of phraseology still permeated with the spirit of the eighteenth century, which impairs the otherwise sound quality of a simple, direct style.

On the whole, the superficial flaws in form do not detract in any way from the deep merits of the work. Scott has the genius of the narrator; but he has the corresponding talent no less, and his tale is carried on by a very supple and very steady art, which sets up, develops, and works out to a final close, through a very varied series of moments, a symphonic composition of sovereing bredth. Incidents, pauses, picturesque evocations, and dialogues are interwoven with an instinctive, sure sense of measure; and the semblance of reality which characterizes the various exchanges of talk, especially in the popular scenes, nearly always succeeds in at once convincing us.

The novel of Scott represents a triumph of Romanticism in the imaginative recreation of the past, associated with all the diverse emotions which the tragic or comic drama of life can awaken. It therefore takes the place of the theatre, in which the literature of this period has produced no masterpieces. Certain of the inner tendencies of Romanticism are here exploited to the limit, such as the liking for bygone ages, the luring of the reader's interest away from the present, the dramatic vision of life; it has even its touch of the supernatural and the mysterious (The Bride of Lammermoor, Redgauntlet, etc.). But by virtue of its humour, its sense of balance, the mental calm and self-posssession it implies, it can also claim kinship with the psychological characteristics of classicism. By bringing Romanticism so near to the real and complete life of every day as to confound the one with the other, even if that life be a vanished and miraculously restored one, Scott has given Romanticism an average and normal value, a soundness, an ummunity from any feverishness, that it does not possess even in the poetry of a Wordsworth.

2. Realism; Adventure and Terror in the Novel.—

Despite the illusion created by its superiority, Scott's work in the novel is not isolated, cut off from that of his contemporaries. He recognized his indebtedness to the Irish scenes of Miss Edgeworth (4). Amongst his numerous and mediocre imitators, one should make mention of Galt (5), who in the course of an uncertain career had himself conceived before Scott the idea of exploiting the picturesqueness of Scottish life, but to whom the Waverley novels came as an encouragement and exmple. His best studies are confined to ordinary and familiar ascpects of life; and by feeing this new form of literature from all the historical elements of Romanticism, they turn it in the direction of a minute, humorous, and tenderly inspired realism.

Among the diverse elements brought together in the work of Scott, it is indeed the realism which undoubtedly, after the history, proves the greatest force of attraction. Even in the success of imaginative fiction, literture retains its appreciation of concrete reality; and the distinctive feature of the Romantic novel, as a whole, lies in the boldness with which it adds new provinces to reality. The popularity of Hook (6) is due to the fact that he resolutely brings a democratic and modern spirit to bear upon his atmosphere and subject-matter. Marryat (7) revives the tradition of Sterne and Smollett; to the lively interest of his tale he adds a rich vein of humour, and by his painting of seafaring folks and theif life he has conquered a field in which he remains one of the masters. Miss Mitford (8), in her charming studies of village customs, her landscape descriptions, as exact as they are poetic, foreshadows both the Cranford of Mrs. Gaskell and the work of Richard Jefferies. Lastly, the psychological realism of Jane Austen is handled with a much less delicate touch, and tiwh some worldliness, but not without force, by Mrs. Gore (9).

Meanwhile, the most characteristic, though not the most brilliant, type of Romantic novel, the model of which had been supplied by Mrs. Radcliffe and Lewis, continues to prosper. The supernatural with all its terror is still popular. This branch of literature, very fertile in itself but poor artistically, reaches one of the culminating points in its development with the Melmoth of Maturin (10), a work of striking intensity. The Frankenstein of Mrs. Shelley (11) rises above the mere search after the common thrill of fear; here terror is idealized by being fused with the scientific and philosophical anguish of thought. Through this intermediary we understand the link which exists between this ardour of sensitive imagination and the cult of the emotions, common to the great lyrical poets of the period. Just as Southey, Coleridge, and Scott had all contributed to the collective stimulation which gave us the Tales of Terror by Lewis (1801), we find in Mrs. Shelley's fiction the passionate curiosity as to what lies beyond, the preoccupied interest in the marvellous and the morbid, which entered into Byron and Shelley's daily life during their sojourn in Switzerland (1816).


(1). Walter Scott, born in Edinburgh in 1771, the son of a lawyer, had his imagination fired from the earliest years by the traditions of southern Scotland. He studied at the university of his native town and prepared for the Bar; but his literary vocation was revealed to him in the course of the rambles taken to collect legends and ballads. He learned German, translated the Lenore of Bürger (1795), the Goetz of Goethe (1799), collaborated in the Tales of Wonder of Lewis (1801): published a collection of popular poetry. The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, 1802-3; then original poems: The Lay of the Last Minstrel, 1805; Marmion, 1808; The Lady of the Lake, 1810; The Vision of Don Roderick, 1811; Rokeby, 1813; The Bridal of Triermain, 1813; The Lord of the Isles, 1815; Harold the Dauntless, 1817. After the publication of Waverley, 1814, he devoted his chief attention to the novel; but he still composed numerous short poems (Miscellaneous Poems, 1820; Poetry contained in the Novels, etc., of the Author of Waverley, 1822, etc.). For the rest of his work see below, Chap. II. Poetical Works, ed. by Robertson, 1904; ed. by Lang, 1905; Selections, ed. by A. H. Thompson, 1922. See Veitch, Feeling for Nature in Scottish Poetry, 1887, vol. ii; Morgan, Scott and His Poetry, 1913; Franke, Der Stil in den epischen Dichtungen Scotts, 1909; Sarrazin, Poètes modernes d'Angleterre, 1884; Margraf, Der Einfluss der deutschen Litteratur auf die englische, etc., 1901.

(2). With this generation must be connected the delicate, intimate effusions of Charles Lamb, who was closely associated with the enthusiasm, theories, and projects of Coleridge and his group. His best poems, with their nostalgic emotion, their penetrating simplicity, recall Blake and Wordsworth, but possess, at the same time, an original note. (For the prose work of Lamb, see below, Chap. V). The Works in Prose and Verxe of Charles and Mary Lamb, ed. by Hutchinson, 1908. And among poets of less personal significance, such as Charles Lloyd, there is a more distinct figure, Henry Kirke White (1785-1806) whose early death at 21 took on a symbolic value for this Romantic age. Remains, ed. by Southey, 1807-22; Poems, etc., ed. by Drinkwater, 1908.

(3). The prose work of Sir Walter Scott comprises novels: Waverley, 1814; Guy Mannering, 1815; The Antiquary, 1816; Tales of my Landlord (Old Mortality, 1816; The Heart of Midlothian, 1818; The Bride of Lammermoor, 1819); Rob Roy, 1818; Ivanhoe, 1820; The Monastery, 1820; The Abbot, 1820; Kenilworth, 1821; The Pirate, 1822; The Fortunes of Nigel, 1822; Peveril of the Peak, 1822; Quentin Durward, 1823; St. Ronan's Well, 1824; Redgauntlet, 1824; Tales of the Crusades, 1825; Woodstock, 1826; Chronicles of the Canongate, 1827-28; Anne of Geierstein, 1829; Tales of My Landlord (4th series), 1832. These remained anonymous until almost the last of the series had been published, although the author's identity had been surmised. Their success made Scott a wealthy man, and he led a princely existence in his luxurious abode at Abbotsford; but owing to the failure of a publisher, he had to consecrate the last ten years of his life to exhausting labours. He died in 1832, leaving among other writings: Teh Border Antiquities of England and Scotland, 1814-17, and Provincial Antiquities of Scotland, 1819-26; Lives of the Novelists (Ballantyne's Novelists' Library), 1821-4; Life of Napoleon Buonaparte, 1827; Tales of a Grandfather, 1828-31; History of Scotland, 1829-30. He edited numerous texts, notably, The Works of Dryden, 1808; The Works of Swift, 1814. His Journal (1825-32) was published by Douglas, 1890; Familiar Letters, 1894. The Waverley Novels, Border Edition, A. Lang, 1892-4. Oxford Edition, 1912. Most of the novels have been edited (with notes, etc.) separately. See the numerous biographies (by Lockhart, 1837-8; Hutton, 1878; Yonge, 1888; Norgate, 1906, etc.). Studies by Saintsbury, 1897; Maigron (Le Roman historique, etc., essai sur l'influence de Walter Scott), 1898; Cross (Development of the English Novel, 1899); Hudson, 1901; Lang, 1906; Wyndham, 1908; Elton (Survey of English Literature), 1920; Stalker (The Intimate Life of Sir Walter Scott, 1921); The Letters of Sir Walter Scott, ed. by H. J. C. Grierson, 1932, etc.

(4). See above, Book IV, Chap VI, sect. 2; and the preface to the Waverley novels, edition of 1829.

(5). John Galt, 1779-1839, born in the south-west of Scotland, led an eventflul life and produced a very large number of diverse works. The Annals of the Parish was written before Waverley, but remained unpublished until 1821. See also The Ayrshire Legatees, 1821; The Entail, 1823. Similarly Susan Ferrier (1782-1854) wrote her first novel before reading those fo Scott, but was one of the latter's literary followers (Marriage, 1818; The Inheritance, 1824; Destiny, 1831). With Croly, James, Ainsworth, Scott's influence is continued after 1830.

(6). Theodore Hook, 1788-1841, dramatist, improvisator, etc., published nine volums of short stories, Sayings and Doings, 1824-8; numerous novels, including Jack Brag, 1837.

(7). Frederick Marryat, 1792-1848, after a career as a naval officer, began with Frank Mildmay (1829) a long series of sea novels, including Peter Simple, 1834; Midshipman Easy, 1836, etc. See Life and Letters, 1872; study by Hannay, 1889.

(8). Mary Russell Mitford, 1787-1855, wrote for the stage with creditable success; but it is to her simple, fresh sketches of provincial life (Our Village, Sketches of Rural Character and Scenery, 1819-32) that she owes her privileged place in English hearts. In her descriptions of nature there is a strong local colouring, and the current of regional literature in the nineteenth century has one of its sources in her work, as in that of Scott or Galt. See her Recollections of a Literary Life, 1852; the study by C. Hill (Mary Russell Mitford and Her Surroundings), 1920; Mary Russell Mitford, her Circle, etc., by M. Astin, 1931.

(9). C. G. F. Gore, 1799-1861; Mothers and Daughters, 1831; Mrs. Armytage, 1836.

(10). Charles Robert Maturin, 1782-1824; The Fatal Revenge, 1807; Melmoth the Wanderer, 1820. For his influence in France, see Ch. Bonnier, Milieux d'Art, 1910; A. M. Millen, Le Roman terrifiant, etc. 1915; and study by N. Idman, 1924.

(11). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, daughter of Godwin, 1797-1851; Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus, 1817; The Last Man, 1826.

To be consulted:

Birkhead, The Tale of Terror, 1921, Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. XI, Chap XIII, vol. xii, Chaps. I and XVI; Cross,
Development of the English Novel, 1899; Elton, Survey of English Literature, 1780-1830, 1920; Killen, Le Roman terrifiant, etc., 1915; Lockhart, Memoirs of the Life of Sir W. Scott, etc., new edition, 1903; Maigron, Le Roman historique à l'époque romantique, 1898; Olcott, The Country of Sir Walter Scott, 1913; Scarborough, The Supernatural in Modern English Fiction, 1917; Veitch, History and Poetry of the Scottish Border, 2nd edition, 1893.

La novela histórica: Parámetros para su definición

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Miércoles, 05 de Diciembre de 2012 23:19. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Pasa un velero y gaviotas

sábado, 10 de noviembre de 2012

Pasa un velero y gaviotas

Pasa un velero y gaviotas

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Jueves, 06 de Diciembre de 2012 14:55. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Mary Shelley

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2012

Mary Shelley

From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851), only daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. In 1814 she left England with P. B. Shelley, and married him in 1816 on the death of his wife Harriet. Only one of their children, Percy, survived infancy. She is best remembered as the author of Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus (1818), but wrote several other works. Valperga (1823) is a romance set in 14th-cent. Italy.
mary shelleyThe Last Man (1826), a novel set in the future, describes England as a republic, and the gradual destruction of the human race by plague; its narrator, Lionel Verney, finds himself as the last survivor amidst the ruined grandeurs of Rome in the year 2100, an interesting variation on the 'noble savage' motif (see PRIMITIVISM). The same motif is seen in Lodore (1835). She wrote other novels, biographies, and short stories, most of which were published in The Keepsake; some have science fiction elements, others are Gothic or historical, and many are continental in setting. Her Rambles in Germany and Italy, in 1840, 1842, and 1843 (1844) was well received. She also edited her husband's poems (1830) and his essays, letters, etc. (1840).

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (Online at Project Gutenberg)

—a Gothic tale of terror by M. Shelley, published 1818.

Technically an epistolary novel told through the letters of Walton, an English explorer in the Arctic, the tale relates the exploits of Frankenstein, an idealistic Genevan student of natural philosophy, who deiscovers at the University of Ingolstadt the secret of imparting life to inanimate matter. Collecting bones from charnel-houses, he constructs the semblance of a human being, and gives it life. The creature, endowed with supernatural strength and size and terrible in appearance, inpires loathing in whoever sees it. Lonely and miserable (and educated in human emotion by studies of Goethe, Plutarch, and Paradise Lost), it turns upon its creator, and, failing to persuade him to provide a female counterpart, eventually urders his brother, his friend Clerval and his bride Elizabeth. Frankenstein pursues it to the Arctic to destroy it, but dies in the pursuit, after relating his story to Walton. The monster declares that Frankenstein will be its last victim, and disappears to end its own life. This tale inspired many film versions, and has been regarded as the origin of modern science fiction, though it is also a version of the myth of the Noble Savage (see PRIMITIVISM), in which a nature essentially good is corrupted by ill treatment. it is also remarkable for its description of nature, which owes much to the Shelley's admiration for Worldsworth, Coleridge, and in particular the Ancient Mariner.



From The Short Oxford History of English Literature, by Andrew Sanders (1994)

The critical umbrella of the term 'Gothic' has been taken to cover a number of anomalous texts which allow both for a converegence and for a conflict of the natural and the supernatural. The contrast presented by William Beckford's oriental fantasy Vathek (1786) and mary Shelley's proto-science fiction Frankenstein (1818) is particularly pointed. Neither novel is narrowly 'Gothic', dispensing as they both do with medieval trappings and the diabolic in favour of an investigation of esoteric forbidden knowledge. Beckford (1759-1844), the heir to a phenomenal fortune, was able, like Walpole, to act out his fantasies in the architectural pleasure-domes he built for himself and amid the extraordinary collections of artifacts which he assembled. Like Fonthill Abbey and Lansdown Tower, his short, exotic romance Vathek (originally written in French) offered an escape from the plodding, orderly pleasures of the life of an eighteenth-century gentleman. The dissolute and disillusioned Arabian hero of the tale thirsts for power, both secular and material, and for a supernatural control over life and death, appetites which are sated only by entry into the caverns of the underworld, secret halls which belatedly force him upon wisdom that his cravings are empty. Vathek and his hedonistic companions are finally condemned to lose the gift of hope and to 'wander in an eternity of unabating anguish . . . the punishment of unrestrained passion and atrocious deeds'. Vathek is a Rasselas bereft of much of its moral philosophy, a study of unhappy yearning and unfulfilment.

Frankenstein works on quite a different level. Mary Shelley (1797-1851), the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, and the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, conceived her novel as a divertissement during a wet summer in Switzerland with her husband and Byron. Talk in this literary circle had, according to the novelist's own introduction to her work, dwelt on philosophy and nature, on the origins and meaning of life, on the myth of Prometheus, and on the enterprise of modern science. The proposal that each member of the circle should writer a 'ghost story' stimulated a sleepless night and a fertile, unconscious drift into 'terror' on Mary Shelley's part. Frankenstein is, however, more than simply a recall of her 'thrall of fear'; it is a morally probing exploration of responsibility and of the body of knowledge which we now call 'science'. The tendency amongst Byron's associates to push ideas to extremes, and to test sensation and experience, is here developed as a study of the consequences of experiment and of moving into the unknown. Frankenstein is also an imaginative expatiation of the principles of liberty and human rights so dear to the novelist's parents. The interconnected layers of the fiction lead from one variety of intellectual ambition to another, from the first-persona account of the solitary explorer, Robert Walton, to the confessions of Dr Frankenstein (the 'modern Prometheus' of the subtitle) and of his unhappy creation. Like the legendary Prometheus, Frankenstein's enterprise is punished, but not by a jealous heaven; his suffering is brought upon him by a challenge to his authority on the part of the creature that he has rashly made. A parallel is drawn not only between classical myth and modern experiment, but also between the story of Frankenstein's miserable creature and that of Adam. This artificial man, like the ruined, questioning Adam, turns to accuse his creator with an acute and trained intelligence (he has also grasped the theological and educational implications of Paradise Lost, a recitation of which he has overheard). Like Adam he insists on both his loneliness and, later, his wretchedness. He also comes to recognize how much he has in common with Milton's Satan ('When I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me'). Envy, defeat, and unhappiness express themselves in a course of jealous destruction which he sees as vindicating his separate existence. The novel ends where it began in a wild and frozen polar landscape, a wasteland which both purges and purifies the human aberrations represented by Frankenstein and his flawed experiment. The shifting ice is no only effectively placeless, it also allows for the opening of new perspectives and uncertainties. Frankenstein is no meditation on historical, pictorial, or mythological terros; its fascination and its power lie in its prophetic speculation.

Mary as the Monster

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Jueves, 06 de Diciembre de 2012 14:56. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Dos flores de la pasión

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2012

Dos flores de la pasión

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Jueves, 06 de Diciembre de 2012 22:00. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Buscando gente por Twitter

domingo, 11 de noviembre de 2012

Buscando gente por Twitter

Parece que se ha lanzado Twitter ya como medio masivo, así que me lanzo yo también a utilizarlo más estos últimos meses. La clave de Twitter frente a facebook es que puedes ver lo que publica la gente, sin necesidad de que te acepten como amigo—o sea, que te haces amigo por obligación, lo cual es otra manera de decir que es un microblog, no una red social primordialmente. Y lo de micro es crucial: frente a los blogs, tienes tiempo de leer a mucha más gente en Twitter. Ya tenía yo un microblog, esta cbox, incrustada en mi blog normal; pero no es suscribible, o sea que está entre microblog y microweb. Si supiera cómo incrustar Twitter en mi blog, igual lo dejaba. Pero a los que voy, he empezado a buscar conocidos y familiares, y no crean que he encontrado a tantos. A algún familiar, más que a conocidos; amigos ya no sé si tengo, aparte de los de Facebook. Pero pensando gente interesante, inaudita, challenging, a la que seguir, que me digan cosas no oídas o me hagan pensar... pues no sé ni a quién buscar. A alguien iré encontrando, quiérase que no; me entretiene bastante el grupo alrededor de Libertad Digital. Pero cosas inesperadas tampoco es que digan.

En cuanto a instituciones... la Universidad de Zaragoza tiene un Twitter, pero abandonado. Aquí está: Universidad Zaragoza, https://twitter.com/unizar

Otros diversos Twitters abandonados encuentro, relacionados con filología o con la facultad. Apuesto a que un twitter abandonado no resucita, pero quién sabe. Los que encuentro de narratología o de literatura inglesa no parecen muy centrados... o están abandonados. Seguiremos buscando. Parece que en Twitter, como en tantos otros empeños (aprender ruso, hacer gimnasia), empezar es fácil; persistir, no tanto.

Blogs en la Facultad



A photo on Flickr

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Viernes, 07 de Diciembre de 2012 17:45. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Blogs

A Tale of Two Cities



A TV movie version (1980) of Charles Dickens's novel on the French Revolution, and on the memorable story of Sidney Carton's sacrifice, directed by Ralph Thomas:

There are other film versions of the novel. The full version of Ralph Thomas's 1958 movie can be seen on YouTube as well. And Jack Conway's 1935 version with Ronald Colman can be recommended as an outstanding classic.

A Tale of Two Cities. Vitagraph, 1911.

A Tale of Two Cities. Dir. Frank Lloyd. Cast: William Farnum, Jewel Carmen, Joseph Swickard, Herschell Mayall, Rosita Marstini. 1917.

A Tale of Two Cities. Dir. Jack Conway. Script by W. P. Lipscomb and S. N. Behrman, based on Dickens's novel. Cast: Ronald Colman, Elizabeth Allan, Edna May Oliver, Reginald Owen, Basil Rathbone, Blanche Yurka, Isabel Jewell, Walter Catlett, Henry B. Walthall, H. B. Warner, Donald Woods, Mitchell Lewis. Music by Herbert Stothart. Photog. Oliver T. Marsh. Prod. David O. Selznick. MGM, 1935. (Reissued in computer colored version).

A Tale of Two Cities. Dir. Ralph Thomas. Based on the novel by Charles Dickens. Cast: Dirk Bogarde, Dorothy Tutin, Cecil Parker, Stephen Murray, Athene Seyler, Christopher Lee, Donald Pleasence, Ian Bannen. UK, 1958.
    _____. A Tale of Two Cities. Dir, Ralph Thomas. Online at YouTube (coachBswife) 29 Dec. 2011.*

A Tale of Two Cities. TV series. Dir. Jim Goddard, Written by John Gay, based on Charles Dickens's novel. Cast: Peter Cushing, Kenneth More, Barry Morse, Flora Robson, Billie Whitelaw, Alice Krige, Musc by Allyn Ferguson. Ed. Bill Blunden. Photog, Tony Imi, Prod. Norman Rosemont. Marble Arch productions, 1980.*
    _____. A Tale of Two Cities. Dir. Jim Goddard. Online at YouTube (Xaad60) 13 April 2012,*

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 13:00. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

Los de Hernani 6

lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2012

Los de Hernani 6

Los de Hernani 6 by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Los de Hernani 6, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 19:28. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Alfred, Lord Tennyson

From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble. 

Alfred Tennyson,
first Baron Tennyson (1809-92), was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he joined the Apostles and became acquainted with A. H. Hallam. In 1829 he won the chancellor's medal for English verse with 'Timbuctoo'. Poems by Two Brothers (1827) contains some early work as well as poems by his brothers Charles and Frederick (...). Poems, Chiefly Lyrical (1830, including 'Mariana') was unfavourably reviewed by Lockhart and John Wilson. In 1832 he travelled with Hallam on the Continent. Hallam died abroad in 1833, and in that year Tennyson began In Memoriam, expressive of his grief for his lost friend.

He became engaged to Emily Sellwood, to whom, however, he was not married until 1850. In Dec. 1832 he published a further volume of Poems (dated 1833), which included 'The Two Voices', 'Oenone', 'The Lotos-Eaters', and 'A Dream of Fair Women'; 'Tithonus' (1860) was composed 1833-4. In 1842 appeared a selection from the previous two volumes, many of the poems much revised, with new poems, including 'Morte D'Arthur' (the germ of the Idylls), 'Locksley Hall', 'Ulysses', and 'St Simeon Stylites'. In 1845 he published The Princess and in 1850 In Memoriam, and in the latter year he was appointed poet laureate in succession to Wordsworth. He wrote his 'Ode' on the death of Wellington in 1852 and 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in 1854, having at this time settled in Farringford on the Isle of Wight.

Tennyson's fame was by now firmly established, and Maud, and other Poems (1855) and the first four
Idylls of the King  (1859) sold extremely well. Among the many friends and admirers who visited Farringford were Edward Fizgerald, Edward Lear, Coventry Patmore, Arthur Hugh Clough, F. T. Palgrave, and William Allingham. Prince Albert called in 1856, but Queen Victoria never visited him, preferring to summon him to Osborne or Windsor. Enoch Arden Etc. appeared in 1864. The Holy Grail and Other Poems  (including 'Lucretius') in 1869 (dated 1870). 'The Last Tournament' in the Contemporary Review in 1871, and Gareth and Lynette, etc. in 1872. His dramas Queen Mary and Harold were published in 1875 and 1876, and The Falcon, The Cup, and Becket in 1884, in which year he was made a peer. In 1880 appeared Ballads and Other Poems, including 'The Voyage of Maeldune', 'Rizpah', and 'The Revenge'. He published Tiresias, and Other Poems in 1885, and The Foresters appeared in 1892. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, and a life by his son Hallam appeared in 1897.

In his later years there were already signs that the admiration Tennyson had long enjoyed was beginning to wane. Critical opinion has tended to endorse Auden's view that 'his genius was lyrical', and that he had little talent for the narrative, epic, and dramatic forms to which hedevoted such labour. More recently there has been a revival of interest in some of the longer poems, e.g. 'Locksley Hall', The Princess, and 'Enoch Arden'.


From The Norton Anthology of English Literature, 7th ed., vol. 2. 

Whether or not Alfred Tennyson was the greatest of the Victorian poets, as affirmed by many critics today, there is no doubt that in his own lifetime he was the most popular of poets. On the bookshelves of almost every family of readers in England and the United States, from 1850 onward, were the works of a man who had incontestably gained the title that Walt Whitman longed for, "The Poet of the People" (Whitman, in fact, called Tennyson, colorfully, "the Boss"). Popularity inevitably provided provocation for a reaction in the decades following his death. In the course of repudiating their Victorian predecessors, the Edwardians and Georgians established the fashion of making fun of Tennyson's great achievements. Samuel Butler (1835-1902), who anticipated early twentieth-century tastes, has a characteristic entry in his Notebooks: "Talking it over, we agreed that Blake was no good because he learnt Italian at sixty in order to study Dante, and we knew Dante was no good because he was so fond of Virgil, and Virgil was no good because Tennyson ran him, and as for Tennyson—well, Tennyson goes without saying." In the second half of the twentieth century, Butler's flippant dismissal of Tennyson expresses an attitude that is no longer fashionable. The delights to be found in this superb 'lord of language'—as Tennyson himself addresses his favorite predecessor, Virgil—have been rediscovered, and Tennyson's stature as one of the major poets of any age has been reestablished.

Like his poetry, Tennyson's life and character have been reassessed in the twentieth century. To many of his contemporaries he seemed a remote wizard, secure in his laureate's robe, a man whose life had been sheltered, marred only by the loss of his best friend in youth. During much of his career Tennyson may have been isolated, but his was not a sheltered life in the real sense of the word. Although he grew up in a parsonage, it ewas not the kind of parsonage one encounters in the novels of Jane Austen. It was a household dominate by frictions and loyalties and broodings over ancestral inheritances, in which the children showed marked strains of instability and eccentricity.

Alfred was the fourth son in a family of twelve children. One of his brothers had to be confined to an insane asylum for life; another was long addicted to opium, another had violent quarrels with his father, the Reverend Dr. George Tennyson. This father, a man of considerable learning, had himself been born the eldest son of a wealthy landowner and had, therefore, expected to be the heir to his family's estates. Instead he was disinherited in favour of his younger brother and had to make his own livelihood by joining the clergy, a profession that he disliked. After George Tennyson had settled in a small rectory in Somersby, his brooding sense of dissatisfaction led to increasingly violent bouts of drunkenness, despite which he was able to serve as tutor for his sons in classical and modern languages to prepare them for entering the university.

Before leaving this strange household for Cambridge, Alfred had already demonstrated a flair for writing verse—precocious exercises in the manner of Milton or Byron or the Elizabethan dramatists. He had even published a volume in 1827, in collaboration with his brother Charles, Poems by Two Brothers. This feat drew him to the attention of a group of gifted undergraduates at Cambridge, "the Apostles," who encouraged him to devote his life to poetry. Up until that time, the young man had known scarcely anyone outside the circle of his own family. Despite his massive frame and powerful physique, he was painfully shy; and the friendships he found at Cambridge as well as the intellectual and political discussions in which he participated served to give him confidence and to widen his horizons as a poet. The most important of these frienships was with Arthur Hallam, a leader of the Apostles, who later became engaged to Tennyson's sister. Hallam's sudden death, in 1833, seemed an overwhelming calamity to his friend. Not only the long elegy In Memoriam but many of Tennyson's other poems are tributes to this early friendship.

Alfred's career at Cambriddge was interrupted and finally broken off in 1831 by family dissensions and financial need, and he returned home to study and practice the craft of poetry. His early volumes (1830 and 1832) were attacked as 'obscure' or 'affected' by some of the reviewers. Tennyson suffered acutely under hostile criticism, but he also profited from it. His volume of 1842 demonstrated a remarkable advance in taste and technical excellence, and in 1850 he at last attained fame and full critical recognition with In Memoriam. In the same year, he became poet laureate in succession to Wordsworth. The struggle during the previous twenty years had been made especially painful by the long postponement of his marriage to Emily Sellwood, whom he had loved since 1836 but could not marry, because of poverty, until 1850.waterhouselady2

His life thereafter was a comfortable one. He was as popular as Byron had been. The earnings from his poetry (sometimes exceeding £ 10,000 a year) enabled him to purchase a house in the country and to enjoy the kind of seclusion he liked. His notoriety was enhanced, like that of Bernard Shaw and Walt Whitman, by his colorful appearance. Huge and shaggy, in cloak and broad-brimmed hat, gruff in manner as a farmer, he mpressed everyone as what is called a "character." The pioneeering photographer Julia Cameron, who took magnificent portraits of him, called him "the most beautiful old man on earth." Like Dylan Thomas in the twentieth century, he had a booming voice that electrified listeners when he read his poetry, "mouthing out his hollow o's and a's, / deep-chested music." Moreover, for many Victorian readers, he seemed not only a great poetical phrase maker and a striking individual but also a wise man whose occasional pronouncements on politics or world affairs represented the national voice itself. In 1884 he accepted a peerage. In 1892 he died and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

It is often said that success was bad for Tennyson and that after In Memoriam his poetic power seriously declined. That in his last forty-two years certain of his mannerisms became accentuated is true. One of the difficulties of his dignified blank verse was, as he said himself, that it is hard to describe commonplace objects and "at the same time to retain poetical elevation." This difficulty is evident, for example, in Enoch Arden (1864), a long blank verse narrative of everyday life in a fishing village, in which a basketful of fish is ornately described as "Enoch's ocean spoil / In ocean-smelling osier." In others of his later poems, those dealing with national affairs, there is also an increased shrillness of tone—a mannerism accentuated by Tennyson's realizing that like Dickens he had a vast public behind him to back up his pronouncements.

It is foolish, however, to try to shelve all of Tennyson's later productions. In 1855 he published his experimental monologue Maud, perhaps his finest long poem, in which he displays the bitterness and despair its alienated hero feels toward society. In 1859 he published four book of his Idylls of the King, a large-scale epic that occupied most of his energies in the second half of his career. The Idylls uses the body of Arthurian legend to construct a vision of the rise and fall of civilization. In this civilization, women at once inspire men's highest efforts and sow the seeds of their destruction. The Idylls provides Tennyson's most extensive social vision, one whose concern with medieval ideals of social community, heroism, and courtly love and whose despairing sense of the cycles of historical change typifies much social thought of the age.

W. H. Auden stated that Tennyson had "the finest ear, perhaps, of any English poet." The interesting point is that Tennyson did not "have" such an ear: he developed it. Studies of the original versions of his poems in the 1830 and 1832 volumes demonstrate how hard he worked at his craftsmanship. Like Chaucer or Keats or Pope, Tennyson studied his predecessors assiduously to perfect his technique. Anyone wanting to learn the traditional craft of English verse can study with profit the various stages of revision that such poems as The Lotos-Eaters were subjected to by this painstaking and artful poet. Some lines of 1988 by the American poet Karl Shapiro effectively characterize Tennyson's accomplishments in these areas:

Long-lived, the very image of English poet,
Whose songs still break out tears in the generations,
Whose poetry for practitioners still astounds,
Who crafted his life and letters like a watch.

Tennyson's early poetry shows other skills as well. One of these was a capacity for linking scenery to states of mind. As early as 1835, J. S. Mill identified the special kind of scene painting to be found in early poems such as Mariana: "not the power of producing that rather vapid species of composition usually called descriptive poetry . .  . but the power of creating scenery, in keeping with some state of human feeling so fitted to it as to be the embodied symbol of it, and to summon up the state of feeling itself, with a force not to be surpassed by anything but reality."

The state of feeling to which Tennyson was most intensely drawn was a melancholy isolation, often portrayed thorugh the consciousness of an abandoned woman, as in Mariana. Tennyson's absorption with such emotions in his early poetry evoked considerable criticism. His friend R. C. Trench warned him, "Tennyson, we cannot live in Art," and Mill urged him to "cultivate, and with no half devotion, philosophy as well as poetry." Advice of this kind Tennyson was already predisposed to heed. The death of Hallam, the religious uncertainties that he had himself experienced, together with his own extensive study of writings by geologists, astronomers, and biologists, led him to confront many of the religious issues that bewildered his and later generations. The result was In Memoriam (1850), a long elegy written over a period of seventeen years, embodying the poet's reflections on our relation to God and to nature.

Was Tennyson intellectually equipped to deal with the great questions raised in In Memoriam? The answer may depend on a reader's religious and philosophical presupppositions. Some, such as T. H. Huxley, considered Tennyson an intellectual giant, a thinker who had mastered the scientific thought of his century and fully confronted the issues it raised. Others dismissed Tennyson, in this phase, as a lightweight. Auden went so far as to call him the "stupidest" of English poets. He went on to say, "There was little about melancholia that he didn't know; there was little else that he did." Perhaps T. S. Eliot's evaluation of In memoriam is the more accurate: the poem, he wrote, is remarkable not "because of the quality of its faith but because of the quality of its doubt." Tennyson's mind was slow, ponderous, brooding; for the composition of In Memoriam such qualities of mind were assets, not liabilities. In these terms we can understand when Tennyson's poetry really fails to measure up: it is when he writes of events of the moment over which his thoughts and feelings have had no time to brood. Several of his poems are what he himself called "newspaper verse." They are letters to the editor, in effect, with the ephemeral heat and simplicity we expect of such productions. The Charge of the Light Brigade, inspired by a report in the Times of a cavalry charge at Balaclava during the Crimean War, is one of the best of his productions in this category.

Tennyson's poems of contemporary events were inevitably popular in his own day. So too were those poems in which, as in Locksley Hall, he dipped into the future. The technological changes wrought by Victorian inventors and engineers fascinated him. Sometimes they gave him an assurance of human progress as swaggeringly exltant as that of Macaulay. At other times the horrors of industrialism's by-products in the slums, the persistence of barbarity and bloodshed, the greed of the newly rich, destroyed his hopes that humanity was evolving upward. Such a late poem as The Dawn embodies an attitude that he found in Virgil: "Thou majestic in thy sadness at the doubtufl doom of human kind."

For despite Tennyson's fascination with technological developments, he was essentially a poet of the countryside, a man whose being was conditioned by the recurring rhythms of rural rather than urban life. He had the country dweller's awareness of traditional roots and a sense of the past. It is appropiate that most of his best poems are about the past, not about the present or future. Even in his childhood, Tennyson said that "the words 'far, far away' had always a strange charm for me"; he was haunted by what he called "the passion of the past." The past became his great theme, whether it be his own past (as in The Valley of Cauteretz), his country's past (as in The Idylls of the King), the past of humankind, the past of the world itself:

There rolls the deep where grew the tree.
   O earth, what changes hast thou seen!
   There where the long street roars hath been
The stillness of the central sea.

Tennyson is the first major writer to express this awareness of the vast extent of geological time that has haunted human consciousness since Victorian scientists exposed the history of the earth's crust. In his more usual vein, however, it is the recorded past of humankind that inspires him, the classical past in particular. Classical themes, as Douglas Bush has noted, "generally banished from his mind what was timid, parochial, sentimental .  .  . and evoked his special gifts and more authentic emotions, his rich and wistful sense of the past, his love of nature, and his power of style."

One returns, finally then, to the question of language. At the time of his death, a critic complained that Tennyson was merely "a discoverer of words rather than of ideas." The same complaint has been made by George Bernard Shaw and others—not about Tennyson but about Shakespeare.

The Kraken
Below the thunders of the upper deep,
Far, far beneath the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides, above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered an enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages, and will lie
Battening upon huge sea worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.


From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature:


Mariana' and 'Mariana in the South', (1832), two poems by Tennyson, suggested by Shakespeare's Mariana of 'the moated grange' in Measure by Measure. Both describe women waiting hopelessly and in desolate loneliness for their lovers.


a dramatic monologue in blank verse by Tennyson, published in 1885, but composed in 1833. The prophet Tiresias, blinded and doomed to 'speak the truth that no man may believe' as a consequence of glimpsing Athene nake, urges Menoecceus, son of Creon, to sacrifice himself for Thebes.

Ulysses, a poem by Tennyson, composed 1833, published 1842. In a dramatic monologue Ulysses describes how he plans to set forth again from Ithaca after his safe return from his wanderings after the Trojan war, 'to sail beyond the sunset'. The episode is based on Dante (Inferno, xxvi). It expresses the poet's sense of 'the need of going forward and braving the struggle of life' after the death of A. H. Hallam.

Tithonus, a dramatic monologue in blank verse by Tennyson, published in the Cornhill Magazine in 1860, then in 1864, but composed in 1833. Tithonus is granted perpetual life but not perpetual youth by Aurora, and in a dramatic monologue he longs for death; like In Memoriam, the poem reflects Tennyson's anxiety about the nature of personal immortality.

The Lady of Shalott

Locksley Hall,
a poem in trochaics by Tennyson published 1842.

It consists of a monologue spoken by a disappointed lover, revisiting the desolate moorland home by the sea where he had been brought up by an unsympathetic uncle, and where he fell in love with his cousin Amy; she returned his love, but, through family pressure, accepted another suitor. The narrator proceeds to rail against the modern world of steamship and railways, and ends with an ambiguous acceptance of 'the ringing grooves of change'—a phrase that the notoriously poor-sighted Tennyson wrote while under the impression that the new railways ran in grooves, not on rails.

The Princess,
A Medley, a poem by Tennyson, published 1847. Some of the well-known lyrics ('The splendour falls', 'Ask me no more: the moon may draw thesea') were added in the third edition of 1840, but others, including 'Tears, idle tears' (composed in 1834 at Tintern) and 'Now sleeps the crimson petal, now the white' were included in the first.

A prince has been betrothed since childhood to Princess Ida, daughter of neighbouring King Gama. She becomes a devotee of women's rights, abjures marriage, and founds a university. The prince and two companions, Cyril and Florian, gain admission to the university disguised as women, and are detected by the two tutors, Lady Psyche and Lady Blanche, who from different motives conceal their knowledge. The deceit is presently detected by Ida, but not before the prince has had occasion to rescue her from drowning. Her determination is unshaken, and a combat ensues, between fifty warriors led by the prince and fifty warriors led by Gama's son, during which the three comrades are wounded. The university is turned into a hospital, the prince urges his suit, and he wins Ida, envisaging a future in which 'The man [may] be more of woman, she of man'. It formed the basis of the satirical Gilbert and Sullivan opera Princess Ida.

In Memoriam A. H. H.,
a poem by Tennyson, written between 1833 and 1850 and published anonymously in the latter year. The poem was written in memory of A. H. Hallam. It is written in stanzas of four octosyllabic lines rhyming a b b a, and is divided into 132 sections of varying length.

It is not so much a single elegy as a series of poems written over a considerable period, inspired by the changing moods of the author's regret for his lost friend, and expressing his own anxieties about change, evolution, and immortality, the last a subject which continued to perturb him deeply. The epilogue is a marriage-song on the occasion of the wedding of the poet's sister Cecilia to Edward Lushington; Hallam had himself been engaged to his sister Emily.

From The Norton Anthology of English Literature:

Like most of Tennyson's writings, In Memoriam shws his debt to earlier poetry. In its celebration of male friendship, as Christopher Ricks has shown, the poem has many affinities with Shakespeare's Sonnets, and as an elegy it is, of course in the tradition of Milton's Lycidas and Shelley's Adonais. Its structure, however, is strikingly different. Resembling a song cycle more than a symphony, it is made up of individual lyric units, seemingly self-sustaining, that may be enjoyed by themselves even though the full pleasure to be derived from each component depends on its relationship to the poem as a whole. The circumstances of the poem's composition help to explain how this new kind of elegy was evolved. The sudden death of Arthur Hallam at the age of twenty-two had a profound effect on Tennyson. The young poet had cherished Hallam not only as his closest friend and the fiancé of his sister but as an all-wise counselor on whose judgment he depended for guidance. This fatherly prop having been pulled away, Tennyson was overwhelmed with doubts about the meaning of life and humanity's role in the universe, doubts reinforced by his own study of geology and other sciences. As a kind of poetic diary recording the variety of his feeelings and reflections he began to compose a series of lyrics. These "short swallow flights of song," as he calls them, written at intervals over a period of seventeen years, were later arranged into one long elegy in which a progressive development from despair to some sort of hope, as in section 95, is recorded.

Some of the early sections of the poem resemble traditional pastoral elegies, including those portraying the voyage during which Hallam's body was brought to England for burial (sections 9 to 15 and 19). Other early sections portraying the speaker's loneliness, in which even Christmas festivities seem joyless (sections 28 to 30), are more distinctive. With the passage of time, indicated by anniversaries and by recurring changes of the seasons, the speaker comes to accept the loss and to assert his belief in life and in an afterlife. In particular the recurring Christmases (sections 28, 78, 104) indicate the stages of his development, yet the pattern of progress in the poem is not a simple unimpeded movement upward. Dramatic conflicts recur throughout. Thus the most intense expression of doubt occurs not at the beginning of In Memoriam but as late as sections 54, 55, and 56.

The quatrain form in which the wole poem is written is usually called the "In Memoriam stanza", although it had been occasionally used by earlier poets. So rigid a form taxed Tennyson's ingenuity in achieving variety, but it is one of several means by whihch the diverse parts of the poem are knitted together.

The introductory section, consisting of eleven stanzas, is commonly referred to as the "Prologue," although Tennyson did not assign a title to it. It was written in 1849 after the rest of the poem was complete.


I sometimes hold it half a sin
    To put in words the grief I feel,
    For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
    A use in measured language lies;
    The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
    Like coarsest clothes against the cold;
    But that large grief which these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.


And was the day of my delight 
    As pure and perfect as I say?
    The very source and fount of day
Is dashed with wandering isles of night.

If all was good and fair we met,
    This earth had been the Paradise
    It never looked to human eyes
Since our first sun arose and set.

And is it that the haze of grief
    Makes former gladness loom so great?
    The lowness of the present state,
That sets the past in this relief?

Or that the past will always win
    A glory from its being far,
    And orb into the perfect star
We saw not when we moved therein?

The Charge of the Light Brigade, a poem by Tennyson, first published in the Examiner in 1854 only weeks after the famous charge (25 Oct. 1854) at Balaclava, near Sebastopol, during which, owing to a misunderstood order, 247 officers and men out of 637 were killed or wounded. The line 'Someone had blundered', suggested by a phrase in a report in The Times, was omitted from the version published in 1855 (Maud, and Other Poems) but later reinstated.

Maud, a poem by Tennyson, published 1855.

The poem is a monodrama in sections of different metres, in which the narrator, a man of morbid temperament, describes the progress of his emotions: first describing his father's death and his family's ruin, both contrived by the old lord of the Hall; then expressing his growing love for Maud, the old lord's daughter, and the scorn of her brother, who wishes her to marry a vapid 'new-made' lord, his triumph at winning Maud; their surprisal and her brother's death in a duel; his own flight abroad and ensuing madness; and his final re-awakening to hope in the service of his country. The poet contains several of Tennyson's best lyrics ('I have led her home', 'Come into the garden, Maud'), but some contemporary critics found it obscure or morbid.

Enoch Arden, a narrative poem by Tennyson, published 1864.

Enoch Arden, Philip Ray, and Annie Lee are children together in a little seaport town; both boys love Annie, but Enoch wins and marries her. They live happily for some years, until Enoch is compelled through temporary adversity to go as boatswain to a merchantsman. He is shipwrecked, and for more than ten years nothing is heard of him; Annie, consulting her Bible for a sign, puts her finger on the text 'Under the palm tree', which, after a dream, she interprets to mean that he is in heaven. She marries Philip, who has long watched over her. Tennyson then turns to Enoch on his desert island, which is described in a fine, clear, bright Parnassian passage, and contrasted with the 'dewy meadowy morning-breath of England' for which he yearns. He is rescued and returns home, but when he discovers that Annie has remarried does not reveal himself, resolving that she shall not know of his return until after his death.

'Rizpah', a poem by Tennyson, published in Ballads and other poems (1880), the monologue of a mother who collects the unhallowed bones of her son at night from the foot of the gallows and buries them secretly in the churchyard.

Idylls of the King, a series of 12 connected poems by Tennyson, of which Morte d'Arthur, subsequently incorporated in 'The Passing of Arthur', was composed in 1833 after A. H. Hallam's death and published in 1842. In 1855-6 he began writing the first Idyll, which was to becom 'Merlin and Vivien', which he followed with 'Enid', later divided into 'The Marriage of Geraint' and 'Geraint and Enid'. The first four were published in 1859 as 'Enid', 'Vivien', 'Elaine', and 'Guinevere' and constituted, though with many revisions, roughly half of the final version. In 1869 followed 'The Coming of Arthur', 'The Holy Grail', 'Pelleas and Ettarre', and 'The Passing of Arthur' 'The Last Tournament' was published in the Contemporary Review in 1871, then, with 'Gareth and Lynette' in 1872. 'Balin and Balan', written 1872-4, did not appear until 1885. The sequence as now printed first appeared in 1891.

The poems present the story of Arthur, from his first meeting with Guinevere to the ruin of his kingdom and his death in the 'last, dim, weird battle of the west'. The protagonists are Arthur and Guinevere, Launcelot and Elaine, but the design embraces the fates of various minor characters. The adultery of Guinevere and Launcelot is seen as one of the forces that destroys the idealism and bright hopes of the Round Table, and the scene in which the guilty Guinevere 'grovelled with her face against the floor' before Arthur to listen to his long denunciatory speech was received with great enthusiasm; his forgiveness of her ('Lo! I forgive thee, as Eternal God / Forgives') moved the poet himself to tears.

'Morte d'Arthur', a poem by Tennyson written 1833-4, published 1842, subsequently incorporated in 'The Passing of Arthur' (1869), preceded by 169 lines and followed by 29, where it formed one of the Idylls of the King. It describes the last moments of Arthur after the battle, with Mordred's forces, and includes his elegy on the Round Table, delivered to Sir Bedivere: 'The old order changeth, yielding place to new . . .'

Becket, a tragedy by Tennyson, published 1884, based on the quarrel between Henry II and Thomas Becket, interwoven with the story of Henry's love for Fair Rosamund.


In the Valley of Cauteretz

ALL along the valley, stream that flashest white,   
Deepening thy voice with the deepening of the night,   
All along the valley, where thy waters flow,   
I walked with one I loved two and thirty years ago.   
All along the valley while I walked to-day,           
The two and thirty years were a mist that rolls away;   
For all along the valley, down thy rocky bed,   
Thy living voice to me was as the voice of the dead,   
And all along the valley, by rock and cave and tree,   
The voice of the dead was a living voice to me.


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Started Early, Took My Dog

martes, 13 de noviembre de 2012

Started Early, Took My Dog

Started Early, Took My Dog

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 19:33. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes


Una vieja versión fílmica de la comedia de Ben Jonson, sobre estafadores lanzados a disfrutar del engaño. Película de tiempos de la Francia nazi, por cierto.


Volpone. Dir. Maurice Tourneur. Script by Jules Romains, based on Ben Jonson's work. Cast: Harry Baur, Louis Jouvet, Fernand Ledoux, Marion Dorian, France: Ile de France Films, 1941.*
    Online at YouTube (elise paris) 28 Sept. 2012.*
Más reciente, también hay una producción teatral filmada en DVD:

By Ben Jonson. Greenwich Theatre production, dir, Elizabeth Freestone, Cast: Richard Bremmer (Volpone), Mark Hadfield (Mosca), Conrad Westmaas (Nano/Avvocato), Harvey Virdi (Androgyno/Avvocato), Edmund Kinglsey (Castrone/Peregrine/Avvocato), Maxwell Hutcheon (Corbaccio), Tim Steed (Corvino), James Wallace (Sir Politic Would-Be), Aislin McGuckin (Celia), Peter Bankole (Bonario/Corvino's Servant), Brigid Zengeni (Lady Would Be). Prod. Film dir. Chris Cowey. DVD. London: Stage on Screen, 2010.*

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 19:34. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

La Banda la Porra toma la Universidad

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012

La Banda la Porra toma la Universidad

Hoy, día de huelga general convocada por UGT y Comisiones Obreras—pero no por CSIF, sindicato mayoritario en la función pública— me encuentro con la Universidad de Zaragoza cerrada a cal y canto, con los accesos encadenados y grupos de sindicalistas montando guardia y jaleándose consignas—que esos hoy no hacen huelga, muy en contra de lo que predican.

Como ya no estoy para hablar con paredes ni para que me den de leches, llamo a la Unidad de Seguridad. El jefe de seguridad no está, pero me atienden un par de empleados que al parecer tampoco están de huelga, y han podido entrar a su oficina, esté donde esté. Les pregunto si hay proyectos de abrir la universidad, y me dicen que ahora no que está la cosa demasiado animada de sindicalistas.

Les pregunto si no se piensa permitir el acceso a quienes no quieran hacer huelga, y me dicen que quizá conforme avance la jornada se tranquilice la cosa y alguno pueda entrar más tarde. "Sí, claro," le digo, "cuando ya ha quedado claro que esto está cerrado y que hoy no viene nadie". Me dice que en cualquier caso lo tendría que hacer la policía pero que eso depende del Rector. Y el Rector, pregunto, ¿no está por permitir el acceso al campus?  "Bueno, está previsto que dentro de unas horas vaya al campus a ver si logra apaciguar la cosa". —"¿Pero entonces no piensa permitir a la policía que despeje las entradas?" —"Bueno", me dice, "eso sería si sucediese alguna emergencia, pero estando todo tranquilo...." 

—"O sea," digo, "que la banda la porra toma la universidad por la fuerza, no permite el acceso a nadie, y eso se considera que no es una emergencia, y que todo está tranquilo"?

—....  No, si yo ya le entiendo... pero bueno, así está el tema.

—Bueno, pues que conste que ha llamado un profesor al menos para protestar. Para protestar por la actuación del Rector, que según entiendo es quien ha tomado la decisión de dejar el campus cerrado.

Y así es como se respeta el derecho a la huelga en nuestra universidad, tan característica ella de este país.  ¿Derecho a la huelga? Qué va. Huelga obligatoria, esa es la manera en que entienden las libertades los convocantes de esta huelga y quienes les apoyan. Que, por si no lo saben, son Comisiones, la UGT, el PSOE, izquierda unida, y las izquierdas nacionalistas, chuntas y demás. Si les votan, ya saben: están votando a la Banda la Porra. En la universidad muchos lo hacen, es lo que se llama desde hace tiempo la trahison des clercs. Los revolucionarios de despacho, fascinados por el olor a tigre, inventando luchas imaginadas e ignorando la que tienen delante. Allá cada cual cómo vende su criterio.


Envío a última hora este artículo al Boletín de la Universidad de Zaragoza, que si no igual no llega la noticia a la comunidad universitaria. ¿Hay apuestas de que no me lo publican? Porque ayer fue una jornada de normalidad.


Aquí la foto del Heraldo. "Intentan impedir el acceso", dice el periódico. Como no vayas con guardaespaldas y un bate de béisbol, cualquiera pasa...

la banda la porra

Ahora, que se echa de ver que son estudiantes de los de matrícula, gente preocupada por la calidad de la educación. Menuda panda de facinerosos. Con la anuencia del Rector, que cada vez que hay huelga cuida muy bien de que campen a sus anchas ellos, y de que la policía no entre.

 65 comentarios sobre la huelga obligatoria en la Universidad

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 19:37. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Universidad

Franco mileurista

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012

Franco mileurista

Procedente de ese hontanar de la cultura popular, las cadenas de emails de Internet, presentamos aquí una fotocopia de la última nómina de Franco:

ultima nomina franco

Obsérvese la expresión: a Franco "se le ha reclamado y satisfecho la nómina". Viene a ser ésta de poco más de mil euros al cambio actual. Evidentemente eran otros tiempos, y el gasto del Estado en políticos y políticas era mucho menor se mire como se mire.


Compárese con la última nómina de los diputados.

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 23:03. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

Samson Agonistes

Una conferencia de YaleCourses sobre el drama poético de John Milton:

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Lunes, 10 de Diciembre de 2012 23:06. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Exquisite moments

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012

Exquisite moments

Notes on an article by Kate Haffey published in Narrative 18.2 (2010):

"Exquisite Moments and the Temporality of the Kiss in Mrs. Dalloway and The Hours."

More than thirty years after it occurred, Clarissa Dalloway still remembers the kiss between herself and Sally Seton as 'the most exquisite moment of her whole life' (Woolf 35). In scholarship on Mrs. Dalloway, this moment has most commonly been read as evidence of a repressed lesbian identity or dismissed as representing the innocence of childhood friendship. More recently, however, the kiss between Sally and Clarissa has sparked conversation among queer theorists regarding its relationship to temporality."danceme15

"The queer moment, as constructed by Sedgwick, is thus able to disrupt the progressive temporality that insists individuals move linearly through a set of life-stages." (144).

"Like Sedgwick's text, Mrs. Dalloway  also enacts a temporality in which Clarissa is able to transcend the divide between her adolescent and her adult selves. Because of this, I am suggesting that we read the moments between Clarissa and Sally as 'queer moments', as moments that disrupt the common distinctions between adolescence and manhood, as moments that make nonsense of the developmental narratives that critics try to impose on them" (144).

"Mrs. Dalloway is a text that itself insists on the power of moments" (144)

"The difference betwwen these two positions in time has momentarily dissolved, and the adult and the child exist simultaneously" (145)

"In her adult life, Clarissa carries with her the 'present' that Sally has given her. The 'religious feeling' associated with this relationship is sometimes able to burn through the layers of time ("the radiance burnt through").

"Clarissa feels 'somehow bery like him—the young man who had killed himself', and 'she felt glad that he had done it' (186). Clarissa's gladness seems to be centered on the fact that Septimus would plunge to his death rather than give up his 'treasure'. She understands the desire to die in order to preserve something 'exquisite'. Clarissa's way of preserving this 'treasure', however, is quite different from Septimus's" (146).

"Clarissa thus married Richard because he allows for space, both mental and physical. She does not marry him to join herself emotionally to someone else, but to preserve a space for herself" [A Room of one's own]. By Clarissa's fiftieth year, she is sleeping in a narrow bed in her own room in the attic" (147).

"This 'thing . . . that mattered', this thing that Septimus 'had preserved', is 'his treasure'—that thing without which life is not worth living (184). Could 'it' also be what Clarissa finds 'with a shock of delight, as the sun rose, as the day sank" (185), the treasure of her youth, her 'present'—that exquisite kiss with Sally—that Clarissa has been holding onto for all these years?" (148).

"This is not a text about moving from the past into the future, but rather one about the preservation of the past in the present." (149).

"For Clarissa, then, it is this 'present', this kiss with Sally, that remains, that returns to disrupt linear narratives of development. It is a moment of queer temporality; it hangs between life and death, between youth and adulthood, and crashes thorugh all the barriers meant to keep the past and the present separate" (149).

"Woolf is able to present a queer temporality that disrupts and questions traditional forms of narration and traditional plots" (149).

Woolf: "I have no time to describe my plans, I should say a good deal about The Hours & my discovery; how I dig out beautiful caves behind my characters; I think that gives exactly what I want; humanity, humour, depth. The idea is that the caves shall connect, & and each comes to daylight at the present moment". (149).

"In other parts of her journal, Woolf refers to this method as her 'tunneling process' (Hungerford 164). This tunneling process is the means by whicvh the past ends up side by side with the present in Mrs. Dalloway. Cunningham's prose seems to enact the same process, but his text also attempts to understand the riddle of the 'exquisite moment' as it exists in Woolf's text" (149).

"In this way, The Hours is very much a text about the experience of time, both about the duration of time passing and about the moments that seem to rupture the experience of duration" (150).

"In this way, Cunningham's text is not merely a re-telling of Mrs. Dalloway or a rehashing of its themes; instead, the novel demonstrates exactly what these queer moments make possible—a different relation to the future" (151).

"And like the Clarissa in Woolf's novel, Clarissa Vaughan also has a kiss in her past that often returns to disrupt her present. Her kiss, however, was with Richard, a gay man who is currently her best friend. For Clarissa, it is this kiss that is transgressive and not her relationship with Sally. By switching the gender of these characters, Cunningham is able to more clearly delineate the significance of the kiss. These moments hold such power not because they are same-sex kisses (indeed, one is not) but because they exist outside an imaginable, scripted future. The queer moment disrupts not only hetero-normative time but also homo-normative time. It complicates those temporalities that naturalize the development through conventional life-stages." (152).

From The Hours:

He says, "Here we are. Don't you think?"
"Pardon me?"
"We're middle-aged and we're young lovers standing beside a pond. We're everything, all at once. Isn't it remarkable?"
"Yes." (The Hours 67)
kissing the ceiling

"Echoing lines from Mrs. Dalloway in a different context, Richard's statement positions the kiss as a gateway thorugh which these 'middle-aged' individuals and these 'young lovers' can exist simultaneously. In this way he seems to echo Clarissa Dalloway's visions of herself as both young and old." (153)

"The feeling that 'anything could happen' is a feeling of not knowing the future. And not to know or anticipate the future is to be able to fully occupy the present. In this instant, Clarissa was able to slip out of the normal temporality of her life, of worrying about the future, of trying to makes sense of the present, and fully occupy the moment" (154)

"Indeed, to be in the temporality of everyday life is to anticipate the future based on what one knows about the past. This is the type of temporality that Laura experiences when she talks about 'continuance' (Cunningham 206). It is the belief that the future will be merely a repetition of the past. The moment, however, is able to disrupt this kind of temporality, the temporality of cause and effect, of past projected into the future. For both Clarissa and Kitty, a kiss allows them to occupy the present momentarily and to feel the elation of a future that is on the horizon but is not yet decided" (154-5).

"This does not mean that the moment is outside of narrative, for certainly these moments I have described exist within frames of narrative, but moments disrupt the flow of time in the novel without any definitive teleological purpose. They simply are." (155)

Cunningham: ..."all the vivid, pointless moments that can't be told as stories" (The Hours 132)

Not lyric vs narrative, not the interruption of a lyrical moment before narrative goes on. "Narrative does press on, but the queer moment remains. It is a remnant of a previous time that continues. And in this case, part of what continues on is a relation to an unpredictable future." (155).

Arnold Bennett on Mrs. Dalloway:  "What Bennett's criticisms show is the way in which 'the moment' interferes with and disrupts traditional model of narrative" (158).

In The Hours, "The hours in which 'our lives seem  . . . to burst open and give us everything we've ever imagined' are placed in opposition to the hours that continue relentlessly forward (225). But it is the pleasure of 'an hour here or there' that we hope for 'more than anything'. These are the 'vivid, pointless moments', as Clarissa Vaughan states earlier, 'that can't be told as stories' (132).

"as Woolf and Cunningham have shown, to occupy the moment can also mean recognizing the connection between disparate moments in time and enacting crossings across perceived divides" (159).

"In both texts, the kiss is explored as a kiss rather than as a stop along the way to sex, a climax. The kiss itself partakes of an interesting and strange temporality"; "within queer
 temporality the moment is not merely 'enough'; it is the opening to a future that is not yet decided" (159).

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Martes, 11 de Diciembre de 2012 11:47. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Warehouse of Heads

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2012

Warehouse of Heads

 Warehouse of Heads 

Warehouse of Heads, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

Hoy termina Ivo con sus deberes de lectura de Peter Wilkins, y empieza con King's Solomon's Mines. Aún seguimos empleando los viejos libros de lectura de Longman que compró papá en los años 60.


Martes, 11 de Diciembre de 2012 11:48. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Fotos de la huelga


En Libertad Digital. Las hay muy buenas:

huelga 14N

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Martes, 11 de Diciembre de 2012 11:49. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Pequeños asesinatos cotidianos

jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2012

Pequeños asesinatos cotidianos

Los matoncillos y sus seguidores, los abusones de clase y del barrio, los de las novatadas, los cabecillas populares, los que no tienen problemas de socialización...   muchos pequeños asesinos a diario, luego te los encuentras en cualquier parte, la sociedad está hecha de ellos.

La menor que se suicidó en Ciudad Real sufría acoso desde que subía al bus escolar

Y como es ambiental, se les deja hacer. El mundo es ansí. Después de todo, sólo se suicida quien quiere...

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Martes, 11 de Diciembre de 2012 11:51. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cómo somos

Charles Dickens

jueves, 15 de noviembre de 2012

Charles Dickens

(From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble)

Charles John Huffham Dickens (1812-70), born in Portsmouth, the son of a clerk in the Navy pay office. He spent the happiest period of his boyhood in Chatham; this was followed by a period of intense misery which deeply affected him, during which his father was imprisoned for debt in the Marshalsea and he himself (aged 12) worked in a blacking warehouse. Memories of this painful period inspired much of his fiction, notably the early chapters of David Copperfield. He then worked as an office boy: studied shorthand, and became reporter of debates in the Commons for the Morning Chronicle. He contributed to the Monthly Magazine (1833-5), to the Evening Chronicle (1835), and to other periodicals the articles subsequently republished as Sketches by Boz, Illustrative of Every-Day Life and Every-Day People (1836-7); these attracted much attention and led to an approach from Chapman and Hall which resulted in the creation of Mr. Pickwick, and the publication in 20 monthly numbers (beginning April 1836) of The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club, published in volume form in 1837, when Dickens was only 25 years old. After a slow start the series achieved immense popularity, and Dickens, with his young wife Catherine Hogarth, embarked on a promising future, courted by publishers, admired by the public, and befriended by celebrities. On Christmas Day 1836 he met John Forster, who became his close friend and biographer.

In 1837 (a year overshadowed by the death of his much-loved sister-in-law Mary) Oliver Twist began to appear in monthly numbers in Bentley's Miscellany, a new periodical of which Dickens was the first editor. It was followed by Nicholas Nickleby, also in monthly numbers. In 1840 a new weekly was launched, written wholly by Dickens, called Master Humphrey's Clock; it was originally intended to carry short sketches as well as instalments of the full-length novels The Old Curiosity Shop (1840-1) and his long-deliberated Barnaby Rudge (1841), but the novels proved so popular that the linking by 'Master Humphrey' was dropped. In 1842 he and his wife visited America, where he was rapturously received. His first impressions were favourable, but disillusion followed and his American Notes (1842) caused much offence in America, as did his portrayal of American stereotypes in Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4). While in America he advocated international copyright and the abolition of slavery.

The sales of Martin Chuzzlewit were disappointing, but the demands of the public and his own growing family were met by the success of A Christmas Carol (1843), the first of a series of Christmas books (The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man), works described by him as 'a whimsical sort of masque intended to awaken loving and forebearing thoughts'. In 1844 he paid a long visit to Italy, which produced Pictures from Italy contributed to the Daily News, a new radical paper founded by Dickens in 1846 and briefly edited by him. He began Dombey and Son (1848) during a visit to Switzerland in 1846. In 1850 he started the weekly periodical Household Words, which he continued to edit until his death. In this he published much of his later writings, including the Christmas stories that replaced the Christmas books. David Copperfield appeared in monthly numbers in 1849-50; Bleak House in 1852-3; and A Child's History of England (a work which manifests his own historical bias: his heroes were Alfred and Cromwell) appeared irregularly in 1851-3. Hard Times appeared in 1854. Little Dorrit in 1855-7, A Tale of Two Cities in 1859, Great Expectations in 1860-1, and Our Mutual Friend in 1864-5.

During these years of intense productivity he also find time for his large family, for a vast circle of friends, aand for philantropic enterprises, at times combined with his passion for amateur theatricals; it was a fund-raising performance of Wilkie Collins's The Frozen Deep in 1857, in aid of Jerrold's family, that introduced him to the young actress Ellen Ternan. His admiration for her further strained his deteriorating relationship with his wife, and he and Catherine separated in 1858. He defied scandal, protested his own innocence (and that of his sister-in-law Georgina, for many years his devoted housekeeper, whose name gossip had also linked with his), and continued to appear in public, distracting himself from domestic sorrow by throwing his restless energy into public readings of his own works. These, though immensely successful, were physically and emotionally exhausting. He revisited America in 1867-8, delivered a series of readins there, and on his return continued to tour the provinces. He died suddenly in 1870, leaving unfinished his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood.dickens

Dickens captured the popular imagination as no other novelist had done and, despite some murmurs against his sensationalism and sentimentality and his inability to portray women other than as innocents or grotesques, he was also held in high critical esteem, admired by contemporaries as varied as Queen Victoria and Dostoevsky. But it was no until [the twentieth] century that he began to attract serious academic attention; see in particular G. Orwell, 'Charles Dickens'  in Inside the Whale (1940), H. House, The Dickens World (1941), and E. Wilson, 'Dickens: The Two Scrooges' (1941). Later criticism has tended to praise the complexity of the sombre late works at the expense of the high-spirited humour and genius for caricature traditionally labelled 'Dickensian'. Mention should also be made of the series of distinguished illustrators inseparably connected with his work, which includes H. K. Browne ('Phiz'), Leech, Cruikshank, G. Cattermole, and S. L. Fildes; also of his collaboration with Wilkie Collins in various stories which appeared in Household Words.

J. Forster, The Life of Dickens (1872-4); Edgar Johnson, Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph (1952); G. H. Ford, Dickens and His Readers: Aspects of Novel Criticism since 1836 (1955); P. A. W. Collins, Dickens and Crime (1962); P. Collins (ed.), Dickens: The Critical Heritage (1971). A collected edition of Dickens's c. 14,000 letters, instigated by Humphry House, was published under the general editorship of Madeline House, Graham Storey, and Kathleen Tillotson, vols. i-xi (1965-99), vol. xii (2001).


Some works:

Pickwick Papers (The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club), a novel by Dickens, first issued in 20 monthly parts Apr. 1836-Nov. 1837, and as a volume in 1837 (when Dickens was only 25 years old).

Mr Samuel Pickwick, general chairman of the Pickwick Club which he has founded, Messrs Tracy Tupman, Augustus Snodgrass, and Nathaniel Winkle, members of the club, are constituted a Corresponding Society of the Club to report to it their journeys and adventures, and observations of characters and manners. This is the basis on which the novel is constructed, and the Club serves to link a series of detached incidents and changing characters, without elaborate plot. The entertaining adventures with which Mr Pickwick and his associates meet are interspersed with incidental tales contributed by various characters. The principal elements in the story are: (1) the visit of Pickwick and his firends to Rochester and their falling in with the specious rascal Jingle, who gets Winkle involved in the prospect of a duel (fortunately averted). (2) The visit to Dingley Dell, the home of the hospitable Mr Wardle, the elopement of Jingle with Wardle's sister, their pursuit by Wardle and Pickwick, and the recovery of the lady; followed by the engagement of Sam Weller as Picwick's servant. (3) The visit to Eatanswill, where a parliamentary election is in progress, and Mr. Pickwick makes the acquaintance of Pott, editor of a political newspaper, and Mrs Leo Hunter. (4) The visit to Bury St Edmunds, where Mr Pickwick and Sam Weller are fooled by Jingle and his servant Job Trotter. (5) The pursuit of Jingle to Ipswich, where Mr Pickwick inadvertently enters the bedroom of a middle-aged lady at nigh; is in consequence involved in a quarrel with Mr Peter Magnus, her admirer; is brought before Mr Nupkins, the magistrate, on a charge of intending to fight a duel; and obtains his release on exposing the nefarious designs of Jingle on Nupkins's daughter. (6) The Christmas festivities at Dingley Dell. (7) The misapprehensions of Mrs. Bardell, Mr Pickwick's landlady, regarding her lodger's intentions, which lead to the famous action of Bardell v. Pickwick for breach of promise of marriage, in which judgement is given for the plaintiff, with damages £750. (8) The visit to Bath, in which Winkle figures prominently, firs in the adventure with the blustering Dowler, and secondly in hiis courtship of Arabella Allen. (9) The period of Mr Pickwick's imprisonment in the Fleet in consequence of his refusal to pay the damages and costs of his action; and the discovery by Jingle and Job Trotter in that prison, and their relief by Mr Pickwick. (10) The affairs of Tony Weller (Sam's father) and the second Mrs Weller, ending in the death of the latter and the discomfiture of the pious humbug and greedy drunkard Stiggins, deputy shepherd in the Ebenezer Temperance Association. (11) The affairs of Bob Sawyer and Benjamin Allen, medical students and subsequently struggling practitioners. The novel ends with the happy marriage of Emily Wardle and Augustus Snodgrass.

Nicholas Nickleby, a novel by Dickens, published 1838-9.

Nicholas, a generous, high-spirited lad of 19, his mother, and his gentle sister Kate are left penniless on the death of his father. They appeal for assistance to his uncle, Ralph Nickleby, a griping usurer, of whom Nicholas at once makes an enemy by his independent bearing. He is sent as usher to Dotheboys Hall, where Wackford Squeers starves and maltreats 40 urchins under pretence of education. His special cruelty is expended on Smike, a half-witted lad left on his hands and employed as a drudge. Nicholas, infuriated by what he witnesses, thrashes Squeers and escapes with Smike, who becomes his devoted friend. For a time he supports himself and Smike as an actor in the provincial company of Vincent Crummles; he then enters the service of the brothers Cheeryble, whose benevolence and good humour spread happiness around them. Meanwhile Kate, apprenticed to Madame Mantalini, dressmaker, is by her uncle's designs exposed to the gross insults of Sir Mulberry Hawk, one of his associates. From this persecution she is released by Nicholas, who breaks Sir Mulberry's head and makes a home for his mother and sister. Nicholas himself falls in love with Madeline Bray, the support of a selfish father and the object of a conspiracy of Ralph Nickleby and another reovolting old usurer, Gride, to marry her to the latter. Ralph, whose hatred for Nicholas has been intensified by the failure of his plans, knowing Nicholas's affection for Smike, conspires to remove the latter from him; his plots are thwarted with the help of Newman Noggs, his eccentric clerk, but nevertheless Smike falls a victim to consumption, and eventually dies in the arms of Nicholas. Copnfronted with ruin and exposure, and finally shattered by the discovery that Smike was his own son, Ralph hangs himself. Nicholas, befriended by the Cheerybles, marries Madeline, and Kate marries the Cheeryble's nephew Frank. Squeers is transported, and Gride is murdered.

Barnaby Rudge, a novel by Dickens published in 1841 as part of Master Humphrey's Clock. The earlier of Dickens's two historical novels, it is set at the period of the Gordon anti-popery riots of 1780, and Lord George Gordon himself appears as a character. Like the later A Tale of Two Cities, it contains powerful evocations of mob violence, culminating in the sack of Newgate. Dickens wrote, 'my object has been to convey an idea of multitudes, violence and fury; and even to lose my own dramatis personae in the throng'.

Reuben Haredale, a country gentleman, has been murdered, and the murderer is never discovered. His brother Geoffrey Haredale, a Roman Catholic, and the smoothe villain Sir John Chester (who models himself on Lord Chesterfield) are enemies; Chester's son Edward is in love with  Haredale's niece Emma, and the elders combine, despite their hatred, to thwart the match. The Gordon riots, secretly fomented by Chester, supervene. Haredale's house is burned and Emma carried off. Edward saves the lives of Haredale and Emma and wins Haredale's consent to his marriage with the latter. Haredale discovers the murderer of his brother, the steward Rudge, father of the half-witted Barnaby and the blackmailer of Barnaby's devoted mother Mrs Rudge. Rudge is hanged, Barnaby (who had been swept along as unwitting participant in the riots) is reprieved from the gallows at the last moment, and Chester is killed by Haredale in a duel.

The vivid description of the riots forms the principal interest of the book, which also displays Dickens's concern with the demoralizing effect of caputal punishemnt in the character of Dennis the Hangman aand Hugh, the savage hostler who turns out to be Chester's son. Other characters involved in the plot include the upright locksmith Gabriel Varden, with his peevish wife and their coquettish daughter Dolly; Simon Tappertit, his aspiring and anarchic apprentice, and Miggs, his mean and treacherous servant; John Willett, host of the Maypole Inn, and Joe, his gallant sons, who finally wins Dolly; and Grip, Barnaby's raven.

Martin Chuzzlewit, The Life and Adventures of, a novel by Dickens, published 1843-4.

Martin, the hero, is the grandson of old Martin Chuzzlewit, a wealthy gentleman made misanthropical by the greed of his family. The old man has reared Mary Graham, a young orphan to look after him, and regards her as his daughter. Young Martin is in love with Mary, but the grandfather, mistrusting his selfish character, repudiates him and gets him dismissed from his position as pupil to his cousin Mr. Pecksniff, architect and arch-hypocrite. Martin, accompanied by the indomitably cheerful Mark Tapley as his servant, sails for America to seek his fortune. He goes as an architect to the faudulent Eden Land Corporation, where he loses his money and nearly dies of fever. (This part gave great offence in the USA). He then returns to England, his experiences having reformed his selfish attitudes. His grandfather has meanwhile established himself and Mary in Pecksniff's household and pretended to place himself under his direction, thus satisfying himself of Pecksniff's meanness and treachery. (Pecksniff tries to inveigle and bully Mary into marrying him). He exposes the hypocrite, restores his grandson to favour, and gives him Mary's hand.

A sub-plot concerns Jonas Chuzzlewit, the son of old Martin's brother, a character of almost incredible villainy. Her murders his father (in intention if not in fact), marries Mercy Pecksniff and treats her with the utmost brutality; murders the director of a bogus insurance company, by whom he has been taken in and blackmailed; is detected; and finally poisons himself.

The book contains many memorable minor characters: Tom Pinch, Pecksniff's gentle loyal assistant, and his sister Ruth; Pecksniff's daughters Charity and Mercy (Cherry and Merry); and Mrs Gamp, the disreputable old nurse; while 'Todgers's' is an eccentric London boarding house.

David Copperfield, a novel by Dickens, published 1849-50. 'Of all my books', wrote Dickens, 'I like this the best', and it has always been a favorite with a wide public. It is (in some of its details) Dickens's veiled autobiography.

David Copperfield is born at Blunderstone (of which the original is the village of Blundeston) in Suffolk, soon after the death of his father. His mother, a gentle, weak woman, marries again, and her second husband Mr Murdstone, by cruelty disguised as firmness and abetted by Miss Murdstone his sister, drives her to an early grave. Young Copperfield, who has proved recalcitrant, is sent to schoool, where he is bullied by the tyrannical headmaster Creakle, but makes two friends in the brilliant and fascinating Steerforth and the good-humoured plodding Traddles. Thence he is sent to menial employment in London, where he lives a life of poverty and misery, enlivened by his acquaintance with the mercurial and impecunious Mr Micawber and his family. He runs away and walks penniless to Dover to throw himself on the mercy of his aunt Betsey Trotwood, an eccentric old lady who had renounced all interest in him from his birth because, contrary to her firm expectation, he had been born a boy instead of a girl. He is kindly received and given a new home, which he shares with an amiable lunatic, Mr Dick. This poor gentleman is perpetually engaged on a memorial regarding his own affairs, but is unable to complete it owing to the inevitable intrusion into it of King Charles's head. Copperfield continues his education at Canterbury, living in the house of Miss Trotwood's lawyer Mr. Wickfield, whose daughter Agnes, a girl of exceptionally sweet and high-minded disposition, exercises a powerful influence on the rest of his life. He then enters Doctors' Commons, being articled to Mr Spenlow, of the firm of Spenlow and Jorkins. Meanwhile he has come again into touch with Steerforth, whom, ignorant of his true character, he introduces to the family of his old nurse Clara Peggotty, married to Barkis the carrier. The family consists of Mr Peggotty, a Yarmouth fisherman, his nephew Ham, and the latter's cousin Little Em'ly, a pretty, simple girl whom Ham is about to marry. The remaining inmate of Mr Peggotty's hospitable home is Mrs Gummidge, another dependant and a widow whose peevish laments for her forlorn condition are patiently borne by Mr Peggotty. Steerforth induces Em'ly to run away with himl, thereby producing intense misery in the Peggotty household. Mr Peggotty sets out to find her, following her through many countries, and finally recovering her after she has been cast off by Steerforth. The latter's crime also brings unhappiness to his mother and to her protégée Rosa Dartle, who has long loved Steerforth with all the suppressed violence of a passionate nature. The tragedy finds its culmination in the shipwreck and drowning of Steerforth, and the death of Ham in trying to save him.

Meanwhile Coppefield, blind to the affection of Agnes Wickfield, marries Dora Spenlow, a pretty empty-headed child, and becomes famous as an author. Dora dies after a few weeks of married life and Copperfield, at first disconsolate, awakens to a growing appreciation and love of Agnes. Her father has fallen into the toils of a villanous and cunning clerk, Uriah Heep, who under the cloak of fawning humility has obtained complete control over him, reduced hism to the verge of imbecility, and nearly ruined him. Uriah also aspires to marry Agnes. But his misdeeds, which include forgery and theft, are exposed by Micawber, employed as his clerk, with the assitance of Traddles, now a barrister. Uriah is last seen in prison, under a life sentence. Coppefield marries Agnes. Mr Peggotty, with Em'ly and Mrs. Gummidge, is found prospering in Australia, where Mr Micawber, relieved of his debts, appears finally as a much-esteemed colonial magistrate.

Bleak House, a novel by Dickens, published in monthly parts 1852-3.

The book contains a vigorous satire on the abuses of the old court of Chancery, the delays and costs of which brought misery and ruin on its suitors. The tale centres in the fortunes of an uninteresting couple, Richard Carstone, a futile youth, and his amiable cousin Ada Clare. They are wards of the court in the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, concerned with the distribution of an estate, which has gone on so long as to become a subject of heartless joking as well as a source of great profit to those professionally engaged in it. The wards are taken to live with their kind elderly relative John Jarndyce. They fall in love and secretly marry. The weak Richard, incapable of sticking to any profession and lured by the will-o'-the wisp of the fortune that is to be his when the case is settled, sinks gradually to ruin and death, and the case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce comes suddenly to an end on the discovery that the costs have absorbed the whole estate in dispute.

When Ada goes to live with John Jarndyce she is accompanied by Esther Summerson, a supposed orphan, one of Dickens's saints, and the narrative is partly supposed to be from her pen.

Sir Leicester Dedlock, a pompous old baronet, is devotedly attached to his beautiful wife. Lady Dedlock hides a dreadful secret under her haughty and indifferent exterior. Before her marriage she has loved a certain Captain Hawdon and has become the mother of a daughter, whom she believes dead. Hawdon is supposed to have perished at sea. IN fact the daughter lives in the person of Esther Summerson, and Hawdon in that of a penniless scrivener. The accidental sight of his handwriting in a legal document reveals to Lady Dedlock the fact of his existence, and its effect on her alerts the cunning old lawyer Tulkinghorn to the existence of a mystery.  Lady Dedlock's enquiries bring her, through the medium of a wretched crossing-sweeper, Jo, to the burial ground where her former lover's miserable career has just ended. Jo's unguarded reveleation of his singular experience with this veiled lady sets Tulkinghorn on the track, until he possesses all the facts and tells Lady Dedlock that he is going to expose her next day to her husband. That night Tulkinghorn is murdered. Bucket, the detective, presently reveals to the baronet what Tulkinghorn had discovered, and arrests a former French maid of Lady Dedlock, a violent woman, who has committed the murder. Lady Dedlock, learning that her husband knows her secret, flies from the house in despair, and is found dead near the grave of her lover, in spite of the efforts of her husband and Esther to save her.

Much of the story is preoccupied with Esther's devotion to John Jarndyce, her acceptance of his offer of marriage from a sense of duty and gratitude, though she loves a young doctor, Woodcourt; Jarndyce's discovery of the state of her heart, and his surrender of her to Woodcourt.

There are a host of interesting minor characters, among whom may be mentioned Harold Skimpole (drawn 'in the light externals of character' from Leigh Hunt), who disguises his utter selfishness under an assumption of childish irresponsibility; Mrs Jellyby, who sacrifices her family to her selfish addiction to professional philanthropy; Jo, the crossing-sweeper, who is chivied by the police to his death; Chadband, the pious, eloquent humbug; Turveydrop, the model of deportment; Krook, the 'chancellor' of the rag and bone department, who dies of spontaneous combustion; Guppy, the lawyer's clerk, Guster, the poor slavey; the low stationer Snagsby; Miss Flite, the little lunatic lady who haunts the Chancery courts; and Jarndyce's friend, the irascible and generous Boythorn (drawn from W. S. Landor).

For many of Dickens's contemporaries, this novel marked a decline in his reputation; individual characters (notably Jo and Bucket) were praised but it was charged with verbosity and 'absolute want of construction'. Later readers, including G. B. Shaw, Chesterton, Conrad and Trilling, have seen it as one of the high points of his achievement, and the herald of his last great phase.

Great Expectations, a novel by Dickens, which first appeared in All the Year Round 1860-1, published in book form in the latter year.

It recounts the development of the character of the narrator, Philip Pirrip, commonly known as 'Pip', a village boy brought up by his termagant sister, the wife of the gentle, humorous, kindly blacksmith Joe Gargery. He is introduced to the house of Miss Havisham, a lady half-crazed by the desertion of her lover on her bridal night, who, in a spirit of revenge, has brought up the girl Estella to use her beauty as a means of torturing men. Pip falls in love with Estella, and aspires to become a gentleman. Money and expectations of more wealth come to him from a mysterious source, which he believes to be Miss Havisham. He goes to London, and in his new mode of live meanly abandons the devoted Joe Gargery, a humble connection of whom he is now ashamed. Misfortunes come upon him. His benefactor proves to be an escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, whom he, as a boy, had helped; his great expectations fade away nad he is peniless. Estella marries his sulky enemy Bentley Drummle, by whom she is cruelly ill-treated. Taught by adversity, Pip returns to Joe Gargery and honest labour, and is finally reunited to Estella who has also learnt her lesson. Other notable characters in the book are Joe's uncle, the impudent old impostor Pumblechook, Jaggers, the skilful Old Bailey lawyer, and his good-hearted clerk Wemmick; and Pip's friend in London, Herbert Pocket.

It appears from Forster's life of Dickens that the author originally devised a less happy ending to the story, which he altered in deference to the advice of Bulwer-Lytton.

Our Mutual Friend, a novel by Dickens, published in monthly parts between May 1864 and Nov. 1865.

John Harmon returns from the exile to which he has been sent by a harsh father, a rich dust-contractor; he expects to receive the inheritance to which his father has attached the condition that he shall marry a certain girl, Bella Wilfer. Bella is unknown to him, and he confides to a mate of the ship which is bringing him home his intention of concealing his identity until he has formed some judgement of his allotted wife. The mate lures him to a riverside haunt, attempts to murder him, throws his body into the river, and is in his turn murdered and his body likewise thrown into the river. Harmon revocers and escapes, the mate's body is found after some days, and, owing to Harmon's papers found upon it, it is taken to be that of Harmon. Harmon's intention of remaining unknown is thus facilitated; he assumes the name of John Rokesmith and becomes the secretary of the kindly, disinterested Mr Boffin, old Harmon's foreman, who, in default of young Harmon, inherits the property. He is thrown into close contact with Bella, a flighty minx, who is adopted by Boffin and who is turned by her first taste of wealth into an arrogant, mercenary jade. Rokesmith nevertheless falls in love with her and is contemptuously rejected. Harmon's identity is now discovered by the amiable Mrs Boffin, and the Boffins, devoted to their old master's son and convinced of Bella's soundness of heart, contrive a plot to prove her. Boffin pretends to be transformed by his wealth into a hard and griping miser, and heaps indignities on Harmon, who is finally dismissed with contumely. Bella, awakened to the evils of wealth and to the merits of Rokesmith, flies from the Boffins and marries her suitor. His identity presently comes to light, and with his assistance the scheme of a one-legged old villain, Silas Wegg, to blackmail Boffin is exposed.

Concurrently with this main theme runs the story of the love of Eugene Wrayburn, a careless, insolent young barrister, for Lizzie Hexam, daughter of a disreputable boatman. His rival for her affections, Bradley Headstone, a schoolmaster, attempts to murder Wrayburn. The latter is saved by Lizzie and marries her. Among the notable characters in the book are the Veneerings, types of social parvenus; the good Jew Riah; the blackmailing waterside villain Rogue Riderhood; Jenny Wren, the dolls' dressmaker; Bella Wilfer's grotesque father, mother, and sister; and the spirited Betty Higden, an old woman with a haunting dread of the workhouse.

Many early reviewers agreed with H. James, who found the novel 'forced' and 'wanting in inspiration', but later critics (including Humphry House and E. Wilson) have praised it highly, stressing in particular the complex use of the dirt-money symbolism.


From Louis Cazamian, A History of English Literature ("The Idealistic Reaction"):

phiz little dorrit
Dickens and the social novel.—

(a). DICKENS. There is not any injustice to Dickens (1) in going straight to the central feeling which gives life to his work; and that feeling is social. Thorough it he is linked with a whole group of writers, and has a place in a great movement of the time.

No novelist before Dickens had treated the lower middle classes on such broad lines or in so frank a way. He studies them not as a detached, superior kind of observer, but as one of their own level; a symphathy, an immediate community of impressions, and, as it were, an instinctive fraternity, thus impregnate his study. Be the tone that of pathos or of humour, the mediocre lives on which he focuses his and our attention come, as if naturally, to acquire the dignity of art. Such is the permanent foundation of his realism. But below it, in the inner realms of consciousness, we feel the quivering image, the anguish of soul-debasing poverty. The unforgettable experince of his early youth—that humiliating phase of his life—becomes thus one of the decisive elements in the formation of his personality. Even when those hardships had been left behind, Dickens could never forget them. It was this dim memory, at the secret core of his very life-success, that continued to sustain the energy of his effort to secure his material independence at all risks. It helped to intensify as well the multiple suggestions of active charity which made Dickens an apostle, and turned his work into a gospel of humanitarianism.
Considered from this point of view, Dickens has his place in the idealistic reaction [to 19th-century industrial capitalism]. His influence combined itself with that of Carlyle, whose authority as a teacher he accepted or felt. But his most important significance is not that he shared in the philantropical crusade, that he showed up abuses, or prepared those fits of moral compunction from which reforms have sprung. Despite the practical benefits which did accrue from such a task, it cannot be said that Dickens was always happily inspired in this direction (2); indeed his art suffered from the bitter or strained mood which usually goes with a thesis of denunciation. Above all, he has stimulated the national sensibility which was slowly wasting away in the dry atmosphere of a utilitarian age; he has re-established balance and a more wholesome order in the proportionate values of the motives of life. This psychological action is brought to its most precise and most effectual pitch in his impassioned attack on the frame of mind which supports the individualistic theory of the economists. And here the criticism of the novelist succeeds in shaking the moral foundations of a doctrine. Dickens has contributed to the salutary weakening of dogmatic egoism. On this point, his teaching comes into line with that of Carlyle and Ruskin; he takes up his stand with the prophets of sentiment against the harder advocates of rationalism. In other respects, his temperament holds him aloof from their mystic exaltation. He retains a firm hold on reality; and never loses the sense of the average conditions which all useful activities must fulfil. An ardent believer in progress, moderate in his views, and of an optimistic turn of mind, he lives and thinks in complete accord with the middle-class opinions of his day.

And this middle class for Dickens is that of London, of the ancient cities, and the agricultural districts of the south. He knows nothing about the feverish existence of the working classes in the midlands and in the north, or if he does, his knowledge is very imperfect. The problems he touches upon in the course of his novels do not concern the industrial crowds which had recently developed, but rather a class of long standing, with settled and traditional characteristics. Instead of bringing us into direct contact with the epoch of machinery, and the new world, he leads us back towards the past. While his intentions are anything but reactionary, his instictive preferences tend in this direction. The customs and habits he describes most readily savour somewhat of the archaic; only rarely does he venture beyond the field of observation which he had viewed in his youth. The joviality, the cordiality he depicts or teaches are those of a society that is still patriarchal, and that has been just perceptibly altered, but not invaded and upset by modern life. Railways will never be anything else than a sensational wonder for Dickens; it is by the jingling of the stage-coach harness that his imagination is wakened into spontaneous play.

Just as the background in his novels dates from 1825 or 1830, and underneath the symptoms of a changing age tends to link up with the eighteenth century, so his inner nature, attuned to the spirit of an animated, picturesque, and familiar life, finds itself in harmony with a fairly average and a permanent type of the English temperament. Dickens appealed to the very heart of England, and she recognized herself in his pages because he offered her a picture of herself which she loved to seee; he showed her an England at her best. In a nation of very mixed tendencies—like every other nation in this respect—he singles out the features of genial humanity and organizes them into a whole; the author himself assumes, and often gives to his characters, an expression of sympathy, the smile of humour, and the cheeriness of a kind heart. This composite portrait, in which not only Mr. Pickwick but many others have their shares, has the value of a synthetic image; the moral preferences of Dickens enter into every one of its lineaments. These preferences comprise, with a warm expansiveness of heart, a liking for the peculiarities of character, and almost a taste for eccentric oddities; a realism both psychological and descriptive, without system or rigour, which springs from a lively sense of buoyant curiosity, full of an instinctive trust of life. Thus it was that the very great success of Dickens's work had the efficacy of a deep influence; that his novels told in favour of solidarity, against the egoistic spirit of the age; and that his popularity, which waned for a time after his death, has now again come into its own, and no limit can be set to its duration.

Dickens wrote rapidly. His strenuous energy was not always a substitute for careful art. His faults in taste and in style, the failings of his intuitive verve, are obvious; his literary individuality lacks polish. He sacrifices balance for the sake of intense effects; his expression obeys monotonous habits; he repeats himself to excess. His pathos is cheap or exaggerated; his imagination in its continual effort to emphasizee the character of things tends rather to distort them; his vision, fond of agitated outlines, is apt to lose the very sense of repose. There is working, at the very core of his genius, a persistent spirit of Romanticism, which subordinates the actual truth, like the soberness, of every feature to emotional or picturesque values; his realism is stirred by a feverish force of hallucination. And throughout the whole of his work the effusion and the expression of self disturb or contradict the relative objectivity, without which there could be no novel of real life. At every turn in his stories we come upon the favourable or unfavourable opinions of the author—a kind of sentimental commentary on his own work; and these instances of bias, intensified by polemical preferences and arguments, too often bore or annoy the reader.

These blemishes, which the contemporaries of Dickens found easy to tolerate, while the succeeding generation censured them severely, are to-day seen in a more mellow perspective as connected with the sovereign gifts of an inspired artist. As a creator, Dickens is prodigious. The picture he has painted of the social world is one of the richest in the range of literature. His perception of things and of character is remarkable for its direct keenness and fresh vigour while not unlimited in scope, it is, nevertheless, very wide; coloured as it is by the writer's personality, it possesses the quality of an incomparable liveliness. There is nothing scientific about it, nor does it seek to be so. It takes from reality only what interests it; and as the need which it obeys are those of emotion and humour, the real is organized into a show of varied interest, always intense in effect, and of a tone either dramatic of facetious. Into this world no one can penetrate unless he has bowed to the artist's will; but such is the power of his charm that our critical faculty is disarmed. Few are the readers wholly proof against the spell.

At the first glance our eye is caught by the swarming host of human figures. Over the vast fresco of his work, Dickens has thrown them in plenty; they give to every part the pulsation of life itself. Still, their quality is far from equal. The writer has not created them thorugh one and the same intuition of their original beings; he has not felt them all grow upon him with one and the same imperiousness. Their features may have been suggested from the outside by a caprice of the imagination, by a preconceived feeling, or by the demands of the plot; they may represent superficial or deductive intentions; instead of being nourished from the deeper personality of the novelist, they may be, as it were, engrafted upon more exterior eleemnts—mere desires for antithesis or effect. Then it is that, being less directly connected with the very substance of their maker, they they more colosely resemble one or other of his feature, and less closely resemble life. They bear the stamp of his caprice, of a bent in his mind, of some partiality in his outlook; and being devoid of any lineaments proper to themselves which might have played the part of an addition or a corrective, they are nothing but that impoverished expression of their creator's personality. There is in the work of Dickens a whole range of artificial creatures, arbitrarily drawn by his somewhat crude dramatic sense, by his hasty aversions, by his taste for drollery which often approaches caricature
. And so it happens that his personages have no other interest but what they may owe to satire, melodrama, or farce.
miss havisham
But into the satire, pathos, or farce many of his heroes infuse the superior virtue of an irresistible vitality. These bear a no less recognizable imprint of their origin; a Pickwick, a Sam Weller, a Jingle, a Micawber, a Peggotty, a Dick Swiveller, a marchioness, quite as much as a David Copperfield, are members of one family, whose common rather is easily divined; they all have something of his readily compassionate humanity, and some gleam of his humour. Nevertheless, they are themselves, and develop according to their own principles. So extreme is their diversity that they exemplify in every respect the essential individuality of human beings. But they all have an irrefutability, a witchcraft to them; no one thinks of discurssing them; they come forth, and we accept them; they possess the solidity, the volume of three-dimensional figures; the personality which supports them has transferrred itself entirely into them, has shaped them out according to the mysterious instinct of all its powers. This creative process, identical with that which one can find in the masterpieces of the stage, is carried thorugh with admirable abundance and variety. Yet here again we find many grades. The best of the personages are not usually those whom Dickens has studied most deliberately and consciously. it is not often that his traitors, heroes, or heroines have quite as much flavour, as much vivaciousness or irresistible truth, as the less prominent characters which he has dashed off with a freer hand. In the episodical parts of his work his spontaenous verve very often joins an unforgettable vigour to the literal accuracy of the outlines. And it is here, perhaps, that his masterly skill is seen at its best.

What is true of the characters is also true of the action. The most elaborately worked-out plots, in Dickens, are not the most satisfactory. Where the thesis is stressed, as in the historical and in the purely social novels (Barnaby Rudge, A Tale of Two Cities, Hard Times), we feel that too rigid an intention is at work; and that effort towards a concentration on a single purpose makes the whole book somwhat strained. Dickens does not possess the gift of compact logical or artistic writing. The type of anrrative which best suits his inventive genius savours very much of the old picaresque model; his favourite theme is that of life, a life which lasts, which renews itself, and which is born, as it were, of itself. In the opening chapters of Pickwick the connecting thread is of the most slender; later it gains strength, without allowing the reader to forget the purely comic purpose with which the work began; and a plot revolving round the biography of a central character (as in Nicholas Nickleby, David Copperfield) imparts a supple unity to the best novels. In his later work Dickens endeavoured to brace up this rather lax construction; Great Expectations is a novel of a strong and sober texture, which taes a place apart from all the rest.

The profusion of his scenic settings answers to the abundance of his personages. The backgrounds are painted with an ample brush, and the lavishness of details breathers a kind of exhilaration. Description, with Dickens, is more than a means; very often it is an end in itslef. It contributes to the general effect, but with such varied and powerful resources at its command that it subordinates the other elements of the narrative to itself. Thus the novel tends to become all evocative and imagination, the instrument of realism, carries the search for intense truth right to the domain of purely lyrical vision. The writer's senses are quick and keen; nature, the aspects of concrete life, the picturesqueness of things, eagerly absorbed, are transferred to his work in facile patches, not so much highly coloured as vibrating, astir with a nervous quiver of each contour. The material universe appears as made up of broken lines, pronounced gestures, and rapid motions. Supremely suggestive, this art has its limitation in a certain instability, a kind of flickering exaggeration. The rhythm in the succession of images, with Dickens, often shows some slight morbidness.

In his calmer and less feverish spells of work, this gift of infusing with life all that appeals to the senses has the happiest results. He calls up before our eyes scene after scene of a truth made striking, and which yet our feeling of normal life is willing to accept: so accurately is the individual character of things thrown into relief, and so much realistic flavour is mixed up with the lecquence, the moving poetry, or the fanciful drollery, which are the main objevct and indeed the soul of the picture.

The reason is that the language which has to express both those emotions and those images is naturally rife with them. Dickens is a great writer by virtue of the spontaneity of his verve, and this with a minimum of art. His vocabulary has superabundant wealth; it wells up naturally and easily; all the inherent genius of the English race for concrete perception goes to nourish it. It carries with it, and turns to use, the contents of other veins of speech—learned words, technical terms; but the main inexhaustible stream is drawn from the fund of a racy, national, in no way particularized experience. The refining process of culture is less perceptible here than in the works of many other writers. Dickens, like Carlyle, has his touches of vulgarity—hardly perceptible, at once forgotten under the spell of his delicately generous heart. The highest quality of his style is its movement: a movement which is at times strained and difficult to follow, but, in its uninterrupted onward flow, carries on the narration or dialogue without any fear of stagnating inertia. In certain respects the conversations in Dickens's novels are unequalled; the most familiar tones, those of arteless comedy or of expressive self-revelation, have in the mouths of his characters a frankness, and appropriateness reaching to perfection. On the other hand, when the situation tends to be artificial, and the verve less spontaneous, an unreal note is immediately perceptible in the dialogue. For the latter has no value in itself; Dickens does not seek to be objective by sistem and rule; those among his personages who are replete with life have a voice of their own, just as they have an individual physiognomy; the others speak in a somewhat artificial tone, which sounds like a thinly veiled echo of the author's own voice.

No analysis can grasp the essential originality of such a work; its power of persuasion, which sweeps away our reserves, makes us forgive all the faults of too insistent a method, of a sentimental search for pathos, of an excessive striving after comic effects. Each of these weaknesses is compensated by merits of greater importance.
Everything considered, it is due to his talent of sympathy, to his sense of the pitiful tragedy of daily life, and to a rich vein of inventive comedy, that Dickens redeems all his blemishes, and keeps his place in the front rank. The Christmas Carol is a pretty good example both of his faults and of his charm; few have read it without feeling at times annoyed, and much more often won over to the writer's will.

This art has a deep human quality. As its chief instruments are tears and laughter, and above all the poignancy and flavour of their fusion, Dickens is a prominent figure in the lineage of humorists. His humour, that is to say, the temperament of his reaction to the alternate aspects of life, is rich because it is formed of intense elements, his sensibility being keenly alive to the moving significance as well as to the odd nature of things. But this alone would not constitute humour, if it did not contain a principle of self-control, the faculty to dominate and to mix, according to the preferences of an intuitive art, the succesive compelementary impulses of his being. As a humorist, Dickens is amenable to discipline, to a psychological duality, one side of his mind watching the other. It is due to the presence of this salutary element that his art, threatened in other respects with a too definite Romanticism, acquires restraint, dignity, and the complexity of manifold planes, which, otherwise, it might have lacked.

Among the English novelists, Dickens is neither the most consummate artist, nor the finest psychologist, nor the most accomplished realist, nor the most seductive of tale writers; but he is probably the most national, the most typical, and the greatest of them all.

In his own sphere there is none in his time who can approach him. The novel of social inspiration, however, attracts the talents of original writers: from 1840 to 1850 this kind engrosses most of the vitality of English fiction.

(b). Disraeli, Mrs. Gaskell, Kingsley, the Brontës.—  (...).

christmas carol


(1). Charles Dickens, born at Portsmouth in 1812, the son of a small naval functionary, spent his early years in Kent and received an incomplete education; in London, where his father had been imprisoned for debts, he was employed in a blacking warehouse. After this period of struggle he passed some time in a private school, and went into a solicitor's office, then worked for various newspapers in the capacity of Parliamentary reporter or provincial correspondent. In 1833 he began his pen pictures of life with Sketches by Boz (published in volume form, 1836). The demand of a publisher for the text of a humorous collection of stories, to which illustrations were to be supplied, resulted in the series of The Pickwick Papers (published 1836-7). Their success was tremendous and placed him in the front rank of writers. He then published in monthly instalments Oliver Twist (1837-8), Nicholas Nickleby (1838-9), The Old Curiosity Shop, Barnaby Rudge (1840-41). A voyage to the United States supplied him with American Notes (1842), and also inspired his
Martin Chuzzlewit (1843-4). In 1843-8 appeared the Christmas Books (A Christmas Carol, etc.); then Dombey and Son (1847-8). David Copperfield (1849-50), Bleak House (1852-3), Hard Times (1854), Little Dorrit (1857-8), A Tale of Two Cities (1859), Great Expectations (1860-1), Our Mutual Friend (1864). He died in June 1870, leaving the incomplete novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1870). He had given many public readings in England and in America (1858-68); edited periodicals (Household Words, All the Year Round); written for the stage; published Pictures from Italy (146), A Child's History of England (1852-4), etc. Works, Gadshill ed., 1897, etc.; Bibliographical ed., 1902; Imperial ed., 2903, etc. Letters, 3 vols., 1880-1. See the critical biographies by Forster (1872-4); Ward (English Men of Letters), 1882; Marzials (Great Writers), 1887; P. Fitzgerald, 1905; Chesterton, 1906; Langton, 1894; Gissing (Charles Dickens, a Critical Study), 1898; Cazamian (Roman social en Angleterre), 1903; Munro (Dickens et Daudet), 1908; Barlow (Genius of Dickens), 1909; W. Dibelius (Charles Dickens), Leipzig, 1922; Delattre (Les Cent Chefs-d'œuvre étrangers), idem (Dickens et la France), 1927.

(2). He denounced the new Poor Law and the workhouse system; the rigours of the penal code as of the penitentiary system; the slowness of justice; the neglect of children; the carelessnesss and cruelty of aa great number of private-school masters; the harsh laws for the protection of game; the bad state of sanitation in the poorer quarters of cities; the parallel excesses of the workers' unions and of the egoism of employers; the economic doctrine of laissez-faire and the social indifference which had been set up as a principle, etc.

Aspectos de la técnica narrativa en Hard Times, de Charles Dickens

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JoseAngel: Una buena de Tejero, mira: http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/11/22/espana/1353576099.html
22 nov 12, 00:36
JoseAngel: El club de los albinos: http://www.rtve.es/alacarta/videos/documentos-tv/documentos-tv-club-albinos/1242508/
21 nov 12, 15:03
JoseAngel: Ya decíamos que Einstein era un mutante: http://www.abc.es/ciencia/20121119/abci-cerebro-einstein-diferente-201211191341.html
20 nov 12, 23:17
JoseAngel: Me enlazan la bibliografía en la universidad de Mount Mercy, Iowa: http://mtmercy.libguides.com/content.php?pid=366242&sid=2997754
20 nov 12, 22:47
JoseAngel: Un año con Rajoy al frente del gobierno: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-20/editorial-de-cesar-vidal-20112012-51729.html
20 nov 12, 10:45
JoseAngel: Casi no quepo por la escalera.
20 nov 12, 10:44
JoseAngel: Sueño: tras un concierto de guitarra folk en el zaguán, subiendo por una estrecha escalera de caracol hasta el desván de la memoria.
19 nov 12, 21:31
JoseAngel: H.G. Wells's World Brain: http://people.lis.illinois.edu/~wrayward/Wellss_Idea_of_World_Brain.htm
19 nov 12, 17:33
JoseAngel: Parace que tenemos un amaguillo de acoso administrativo. Habrá que mover papeles al respecto.
19 nov 12, 08:39
JoseAngel: La corrupción consentida, y aclamada, en Cataluña: http://www.libertaddigital.com/espana/2012-11-16/federico-pese-a-los-datos-de-las-cuentas-secretas-en-suiza-no-pasara-nada-1276474450/
18 nov 12, 16:07
JoseAngel: Tragedia y Dinámica de Fuerzas en el Cognitive Linguistics eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalBrowse&journal_id=1314084
17 nov 12, 13:22
JoseAngel: Un tratamiento para el suicidio: http://t.co/6X5LJnhr
16 nov 12, 15:54
JoseAngel: Catalunya ens ROBA: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-16/tertulia-de-federico-con-carina-mejias-51571.html
16 nov 12, 09:51
JoseAngel: Por supuesto, el Boletín de la Universidad de Zaragoza ha censurado este artículo: http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2012/11/la-banda-la-porra-toma-la-universidad.html
16 nov 12, 00:21
JoseAngel: The Cognitive Benefits of Being Bilingual: http://dana.org/news/cerebrum/detail.aspx?id=39638
15 nov 12, 22:32
JoseAngel: Sueldo de los diputados: https://docs.google.com/open?id=1zPkkK-p-i5UzIYcpwsDh6WzELRRIp1B60dIHYyjZHSq_epe3F7PgcDIIy1RU
15 nov 12, 20:08
JoseAngel: Hola Sally, Otra vez me he olvidado de cerrar esto.
15 nov 12, 17:33
Sally: Hola
15 nov 12, 17:16
JoseAngel: Un país que es un corral: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-15/federico-a-las-7-graves-altercados-en-la-huelga-general-51514.html
15 nov 12, 13:27
JoseAngel: Halliwell on Greek poetics: http://ndpr.nd.edu/news/35601-between-ecstasy-and-truth-interpretations-of-greek-poetics-from-homer-to-longinus/
15 nov 12, 10:56
JoseAngel: Salgo en el Aesthetics&Philosophy of Art eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalbrowse&journal_id=950359
15 nov 12, 00:09
JoseAngel: Jose Angel Garcia Landa Author Rank is 3,400 out of 210,634 (over 98,4 %)
14 nov 12, 22:15
JoseAngel: El Pensamiento Alicia de la huelga general: http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/cristina-losada/el-pensamiento-alicia-de-la-huelga-general-66379/
14 nov 12, 22:15
JoseAngel: Hola Lila.
14 nov 12, 22:11
lila: hola
14 nov 12, 20:47
JoseAngel: La canalla piquetera: http://videos.libertaddigital.tv/2012-11-14/7-minutos-de-insultos-y-ataques-a-una-comerciante-IT2QJtkWIvw.html
14 nov 12, 19:39
JoseAngel: El planeta errante, valga la redundancia: http://www.eso.org/public/spain/news/eso1245/
14 nov 12, 12:32
JoseAngel: The Blind Prophet: http://youtu.be/zFwh5WecOiM
14 nov 12, 10:57
JoseAngel: La novela histórica: Parámetros para su definición: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2175483
14 nov 12, 10:42
JoseAngel: En Internet no estamos de huelga.
13 nov 12, 23:01
JoseAngel: No a la huelga OBLIGATORIA. No al matonismo. No a la intimidación. Que son demasiado evidentes en cada huelga general.
12 nov 12, 19:31
JoseAngel: La structure de "La Mort le roi Artu": http://t.co/f4WGBAca
12 nov 12, 18:47
JoseAngel: El delirio Messianico de Mas, y el deshaucio de España en Cataluña: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-12/tertulia-de-federico-botella-contra-el-pp-51378.html
11 nov 12, 21:26
JoseAngel: Lidia Falcón le zurra a Mas, a Cumberyansie y a la "izquierda" catalana: http://blogs.publico.es/dominiopublico/6076/donde-esta-la-izquierda-en-catalunya/
10 nov 12, 20:32
JoseAngel: La sentencia sobre el matrimonio unisexual en Sin Complejos: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-10/sin-complejos-programa-completo-101112-51324.html
10 nov 12, 15:34
JoseAngel: Me voy a dar una vuelta.

10 nov 12, 15:16
JoseAngel: Twitter y otros medios sociales en cifras http://www.blogpocket.com/2012/11/08/twitter-y-otros-medios-sociales-en-cifras/
10 nov 12, 14:59
JoseAngel: 10 consejos para triunfar en Twitter: http://www.blogpocket.com/2012/10/23/10-consejos-para-triunfar-en-twitter/
10 nov 12, 14:21
JoseAngel: Es intolerable la megafonía que hay en el centro de Zaragoza. Qué PESTE de Ayuntamiento.
10 nov 12, 12:54
JoseAngel: Viendo la de James Bond, Skyfall. Argumento absurdo, pero muy bien filmada: todo imagen y sonido.
9 nov 12, 12:54
JoseAngel: Se extienden por Europa los recortes del sueldo de los profesores: http://www.ibercampus.es/articulos.asp?idarticulo=15886
9 nov 12, 00:54
JoseAngel: Pobre Constitución española: http://www.libertaddigital.com/opinion/emilio-campmany/pobre-constitucion-espanola-66299/
9 nov 12, 00:19
JoseAngel: Escaleras de gallegos: http://cronicasbarbaras.blogs.com/.a/6a00d8341c603c53ef017c3332475e970b-pi
8 nov 12, 14:32
JoseAngel: Norman Holland on the willing suspension of disbelief: http://www.psyartjournal.com/article/show/n_holland-the_willing_suspension_of_disbelief_a_ne
7 nov 12, 23:36
JoseAngel: Claves del triunfo de Obama: http://fonoteca.esradio.fm/2012-11-07/editorial-de-cesar-vidal-7112012-51214.html
7 nov 12, 13:10
JoseAngel: El matrimonio unisexual también se va asentando en USA. De momento sólo entre parejas. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/us/politics/same-sex-marriage-voting-election.html?hp&_r=0
7 nov 12, 09:50
JoseAngel: A Flowchart to Happiness: http://www.mariakonnikova.com/2012/05/a-flowchart-to-happiness/
7 nov 12, 09:43
JoseAngel: Mi artículo sobre Darwin, en el Human Cognition in Evolution and Development eJournal: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/JELJOUR_Results.cfm?form_name=journalbrowse&journal_id=1314112
7 nov 12, 08:26
JoseAngel: Mi bibliografía en Lesekost: Links zur Literatur: http://www.lesekost.de/litlinks/HHL01L.htm
6 nov 12, 23:39
JoseAngel: Alienation from social interaction.
4 nov 12, 12:16
JoseAngel: Catastrofismo y retrospección: Hermenéutica narrativa en la biología y en la historia: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228175448
4 nov 12, 12:05
JoseAngel: Catastrophism and Hindsight: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228175455
3 nov 12, 22:45
JoseAngel: The Theatre of the Restoration: http://vanityfea.blogspot.com.es/2012/10/the-theatre-of-restoration-by-louis.html
3 nov 12, 20:23
JoseAngel: Descubren cosas en el pasado remoto que aún se ven: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1636020/0/supernova/mas-lejana/universo/
3 nov 12, 19:00
JoseAngel: Somos de lo más: http://www.ibercampus.es/articulos.asp?idarticulo=16050
3 nov 12, 14:34
JoseAngel: Dos Cuchillos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VA37Bn-r9UY
3 nov 12, 11:08
JoseAngel: Autorretrato del Curiosity en Marte: http://cdn.20minutos.es/img2/recortes/2012/11/02/83105-396-550.jpg
2 nov 12, 23:12
JoseAngel: Slavoj Zizek, Señales del futuro: http://t.co/R6eDXyVE
2 nov 12, 13:26
JoseAngel: Sarah Brightman fighting: http://youtu.be/B7lB0oA3So4
2 nov 12, 10:35
JoseAngel: Obras Completas, vol. LXXIV: http://www.unizar.es/departamentos/filologia_inglesa/garciala/z12-10.html
1 nov 12, 23:06
JoseAngel: Mozart, serenata nº 10: http://youtu.be/0mYUMctFm60
1 nov 12, 21:26
JoseAngel: Hombre por recomendar... igual era MELANCHOLIA, de Lars von Trier.
1 nov 12, 19:17
Edu: ¿ Que peli era una que me recomendate la última vez en Biescas?
1 nov 12, 18:24
JoseAngel: Muere Agustín García Calvo: http://www.20minutos.es/noticia/1635181/0/fallece/escritor/agustin-garcia-calvo/
1 nov 12, 16:22
JoseAngel: Me llega un visitante de Plaisance-du-Touch, Midi-Pyrenées, qué cosas.
1 nov 12, 15:38
JoseAngel: Estrena blog Esperanza Aguirre con un bofetón intelectual al abyecto Caamaño: http://esperanza.ppmadrid.es/respuesta-a-caamano-sobre-el-tribunal-constitucional/
1 nov 12, 15:26
JoseAngel: Vandalismo sindical en Barcelona: www.libertaddigital.com/espana/2012-10-31/sindicalistas-asaltan-y-destrozas-tiendas-de-zara-y-apple-en-barcelona-1276473073/
1 nov 12, 14:44
JoseAngel: Mi Media Grid en Twitter: https://twitter.com/i/#!/JoseAngelGLanda/media/grid
1 nov 12, 14:27
JoseAngel: Wellek on Bakhtin on Dostoevsky: http://www.utoronto.ca/tsq/DS/01/031.shtml
1 nov 12, 00:38
JoseAngel: Language and Psychoanalysis: http://www.language-and-psychoanalysis.com/

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Jueves, 13 de Diciembre de 2012 21:51. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Personales

El meollo del razonamiento

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2012

El meollo del razonamiento

El Tribunal Constitucional ya ha dado a conocer la justificación de su resolución que declaraba constitucional el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo. Vayamos al meollo del razonamiento—por qué puede entenderse, dicen, que aunque la Constitución habla de que varón y mujer podrán contraer matrimonio, también puede entenderse que permite los matrimonios entre personas del mismo sexo. Comienzan admitiendo objeciones:

"Teniendo estos argumentos presentes, es trasladable a nuestro razonamiento la afirmación mantenida por el TEDH respecto del art. 12 CEDH, consistente en que “en los años 50, el matrimonio era, evidentemente, entendido en el sentido tradicional de unión entre dos personas de sexo diferente” (STEDH en el asunto Schalk y Kopf c. Austria, de 22 de noviembre de 2010, § 55). En el año 1978, cuando se redacta el art. 32 CE era entendido mayoritariamente como matrimonio entre personas de distinto sexo, también en el seno de los debates constituyentes.

(Lo de "mayoritariamente" será un chiste del ponente, supongo. Ahora bien, dicen:)

Lo que el constituyente se planteaba en el año 1978 respecto del matrimonio no tenía nada que ver con la orientación sexual de los contrayentes, sino con la voluntad de desligar el matrimonio y la familia, de proclamar la igualdad de los cónyuges en el seno de la institución, y de constitucionalizar la separación y la disolución."


Lo otro, habría que aclarar, no sólo no se discutía, sino que estaba fuera de toda discusión. Admiten los miembros del TC, además, que

"desde una estricta interpretación literal, el art. 32 CE sólo identifica los titulares del derecho a contraer matrimonio, y no con quién debe contraerse aunque, hay que insistir en ello, sistemáticamente resulta claro que ello no supone en 1978 la voluntad de extender el ejercicio del derecho a las uniones homosexuales."

En efecto, esa voluntad ni de lejos se acercaron a ella los redactores de la constitución. Pero, pasa a decir  el TC en la sentencia, la Constitución es "un árbol vivo"—que, "a través de una interpretación evolutiva, se acomoda a las realidades de la vida moderna como medio para asegurar su propia relevancia y legitimidad."

Uno pensaría más bien que si no se ve como relevante y legítimo ese artículo que presupone la diferencia de sexos en el matrimonio, será que la Constitución no es un árbol vivo, sino un árbol muerto— y que por eso hay que actualizarla en este punto. Si está vivo, o sea, operativo, ese artículo, se entiende perfectamente lo que dice, según acaban de subrayar los propios miembros del Tribunal Constitucional. Repitiendo punto por punto la lógica que animaba el preámbulo de la ley de Zapatero, explican estos "magistrados" lo clarísimamente que está expuesto, en la norma a vulnerar, el principio que van a vulnerar con su interpretació—el principio que el legislador ha decidido remover. Con la salvedad de que ellos ni son el legislador, ni tienen autoridad, en absoluto, para cambiar la Constitución.

El cambio se sustenta, dicen, precisamente en los grandes principios que consagra la constitución: en que estos "grandes principios son de aplicación a supuestos que sus redactores no imaginaron."

A ver, no es que no imaginasen, sino que eran rechazados de plano, en la misma presuposición que define la institución del matrimonio (para los constituyentes, digo, no para mí ni para Perico los palotes). No es una cuestión de falta de imaginación de lo que puede darse en el mundo universo ahora o en el futuro, sino una declaración y establecimiento de qué es legal y qué no lo es, y cuáles son los sujetos a quienes la ley se aplica.

El tribunal constitucional ve su papel como sigue: para preservar los principios constitucionales en un nuevo contexto, porque las normas cambian,

"van actualizando esos principios paulatinamente y porque el Tribunal Constitucional, cuando controla el ajuste constitucional de esas actualizaciones, dota a las normas de un contenido que permita leer el texto constitucional a la luz de los problemas contemporáneos, y de las exigencias de la sociedad actual".

Pero aquí hay una petición de principio: se parte en el razonamiento del Constitucional de que la diferencia de sexo entre quienes contraen matrimonio no es uno de esos grandes principios básicos que hay que mantener y adaptar a los tiempos. Es un detalle accidental, no sustancial y prescindible. Para ellos. Pero es todo lo contrario de lo que establece la Constitución por el hecho mismo de dar el principio de diferencia sexual por presupuesto y sentado.... y ya tenemos, por tanto, un razonamiento perfectamente circular, que se levanta a sí mismo del suelo tirando los cordones de sus zapatos.

El razonamiento del TC es un razonamiento jurídicamente grotesco, pues convierte la Constitución en letra muerta que puede ser interpretada "evolutivamente" por el Tribunal Constitucional para actualizarla a los tiempos que corren—pero por la puerta falsa, o sea, saltándose el procedimiento establecido por la propia constitución para su propia actualización.  Viene a ser la consagración final de la perversión legal que ha ido añadiendo a la Constitución parches y florituras, bolsas y bolsillos enteros de mini-constituciones paralelas o sobreañadidas, como son los estatutos de autonomía.

Para más inri, estos retorcedores de concetos arguyen que su jurisprudencia creativa (que no evolutiva) es necesaria para defender el espíritu de la constitución en contradicción directa con su letra— "a riesgo, en caso contrario, de convertirse en letra muerta." Dicen los matadores de la letra.

Todos los razonamientos del Tribunal Constitucional sobre la conveniencia de reconocer el matrimonio entre personas del mismo sexo les deberían haber llevado a proponer una reforma constitucional, visto que la Constitución lo descarta absolutamente de sus presupuestos. O mejor a callarse, pues no es papel del Tribunal Constitucional el proponer reformas constitucionales. Y si no es ése su papel, imaginen si tendrá atribuciones para cambiar la Constitución, que es lo que han hecho con su "interpretación evolutiva"—darle un nuevo significado, retroactivamente. Ah, pero no, no retroactivamente, porque sólo será válido el matrimonio gay a partir de la ley de Zapatero. ¿O sea que fue Zapatero el que cambió la constitución, cambio que es reconocido como válido y acorde a los tiempos por el Tribunal Constitucional? Pues ya acaban de contradecir otro principio básico de los que venían recitando—que una norma de carácter inferior no puede cambiar una de carácter superior.

Todos los demás razonamientos y refutaciones de las alegaciones dependen de éste: de la capacidad del TC para decidir que la letra y espíritu de la constitución en este punto no están protegidos por la propia constitución, sino que son alterables según la valoración que prefiera darles el intérprete, visto lo que la práctica social juzga aceptable.

Como bien dice uno de los votos particulares contrarios a la resolución, el de Juan José González Rivas, "4. Se sostiene como argumento básico de la sentencia la necesidad de una interpretación evolutiva de la Constitución y en mi opinión, tal evolución ha de respetar la esencia de las instituciones comprendiendo su espíritu y finalidad pues, en este caso, el matrimonio tiene un carácter fundamental y una finalidad esencial basada en la unión entre personas de distinto sexo, requisito que no puede quedar eliminado por una interpretación evolutiva que no preserve su garantía constitucional." O, como dice Andrés Ollero, "El derecho al matrimonio da opción a insertarse en una institución, pero no a redefinirla." Actúa el Constitucional, en efecto, como si la diferencia sexual entre hombres y mujeres se hubiese declarado irrelevante a efectos legales, con el paso de los tiempos. Pero ello no es así en nuestra legislación; por tanto esta resolución no es una interpretación ajustada a los principios interpretativos habituales, sino una intervención—ingeniería social de esa que promovía Zapatero.

En fin, es un poema de los tiempos que corren, esta sentencia, y prueba de lo que valen la lógica y la jurisprudencia donde hay voluntad política de torcerlas, y consignas que obedecer.

Por otra parte se arma un bollo el Constitucional cuando mezcla la cuestión de la orientación sexual, pues lo relevante en la legislación constitucional no es la orientación sexual de las personas, a la que no se alude en ningún momento (se la da por presupuesta, de hecho, otra cuestión que habría que actualizar en una hipotética reforma constitucional)—sino únicamente a la diferencia de sexo. Pero la sentencia del Constitucional salta de una cosa a otra, como se ve en la frase resaltada en rojo arriba, o en rojo abajo:

"optó en cambio por generalizar el régimen único del matrimonio para cualquier persona, independientemente de su orientación sexual, opción ésta ajustada a la Constitución y que parece responder a la lógica de que dos relaciones jurídicas equiparables -matrimonio entre personas de distinto sexo y unión civil entre personas del mismo sexo- y con similares efectos reciban la misma denominación."

Pero es que las leyes no tienen por qué responder a la lógica de quien las interpreta. Tienen su propia lógica, o su propia ilógica, y no están para adecuarlas a la lógica particular que tenga el juez o magistrado, sino para interpretar y aplicar la lógica que ellas mimas presuponen y expresan. ¿Que las quieren cambiar? Pues cámbienlas, si pueden, pero no ustedes, que no tienen autoridad para ello—Háganlo por el procedimiento establecido: no diciendo, por ejemplo, que donde dice monarquía ha de entenderse república—por ir con los nuevos tiempos.

Y en suma, concluyen que ne la ley Zapatero "la opción escogida es respetuosa con los dictados del texto constitucional". Pues mire, NO. La Constitución decía, y dice, y presuponía, y presupone, todo lo contrario. Ahora que, lo que es de aplicación en España y lo que va a misa no es la constitución, por supuesto, sino lo que sigue la dirección en que sopla el viento. 


La constitución y el remiendo que la enmienda. No hay nada nuevo en estos remiendos à la mode, contra lo que parece creer el Tribunal Constitucional, pues de estas componendas ya se escribió la sátira hace tiempo. De estas reinterpretaciones retroactivas mediante anexos y codicilios ya habló Swift en A Tale of a Tub, cuando los hermanos quieren alterar el testamento del padre que les obligaba a mantener su chaqueta tal como la heredaron:

A while after, there came up all in fashion a pretty sort of flame-coloured satin for linings, and the mercer brought a pattern of it immediately to our three gentlemen.  “An please your worships,” said he, “my Lord C--- and Sir J. W. had linings out of this very piece last night; it takes wonderfully, and I shall not have a remnant left enough to make my wife a pin-cushion by to-morrow morning at ten o’clock.”  Upon this they fell again to rummage the will, because the present case also required a positive precept, the lining being held by orthodox writers to be of the essence of the coat.  After long search they could fix upon nothing to the matter in hand, except a short advice in their father’s will to take care of fire and put out their candles before they went to sleep .  This, though a good deal for the purpose, and helping very far towards self-conviction, yet not seeming wholly of force to establish a command, and being resolved to avoid farther scruple, as well as future occasion for scandal, says he that was the scholar, “I remember to have read in wills of a codicil annexed, which is indeed a part of the will, and what it contains hath equal authority with the rest.  Now I have been considering of this same will here before us, and I cannot reckon it to be complete for want of such a codicil.  I will therefore fasten one in its proper place very dexterously.  I have had it by me some time; it was written by a dog-keeper of my grandfather’s, and talks a great deal, as good luck would have it, of this very flame-coloured satin.”  The project was immediately approved by the other two; an old parchment scroll was tagged on according to art, in the form of a codicil annexed, and the satin bought and worn.

De esto también podríamos hacer una interpretación evolutiva.

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Jueves, 13 de Diciembre de 2012 21:53. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

George Eliot


Mary Ann Evans, born in 1819 in Warwickshire, a keen student, gave herself a varied education, frequented the centres of advanced thought, translated the Leben Jesu of Strauss (1846), the Essence of Christianity of Feuerbach (1854); contributed to the Westminster Review, knew Spencer, and Lewes whose life she shared and who encouraged her to write works of imagination. She published, under the name of George Eliot, novels: Scenes of Clerical Life (in Blackwood's Magazine, 1857; in a volume, 1858), which had a great success; Adam Bede, 1859; The Mill on the Floss, 1860; Silas Marner, 1861; Romola, 1863; Felix Holt the Radical, 1866; Middlemarch, 1871-2; Daniel Deronda, 1876; poems: The Spanish Gipsy, 1868; The Legend of Jubal, etc., 1874; essays, The Impressions of Teophrastus Such, 1879, etc. After the death of Lewes (1878), she married J. W. Cross, and died the same year, 1880. Her correspondence was utilized by her husband for her biography (Life and Letters, 1885), Works, Warwick ed., 1901-3. See study by M. Blind, 1883; Cooke, 1883; C. Thomson, 1901; L. Stephen, (English Men of Letters), 1902; Olcott, 1911; Gardner (Inner Life of George Eliot), 1912; Deakin (Early Life of George Eliot), 1913; M. L. Cazamian (Le Roman et les Idées en Angleterre), 1923; S. Pfeiffer, George Eliots Beziehungen zu Deutschland, 1925; E. S. Haldane, George Eliot and Her Times, 1927; A. Paterson, George Eliot's Family Life and Letters, 1928.


George Eliot: A Scandalous Life. A BBC documentary (2002).

George Eliot (Mary Ann, later Marian, Evans) (1819-80), the youngest surviving child of Robert Evans, agent for an estate in Warwickshire. In her girlhood she was particularly close to her brother Isaac, from whom she was later estranged. At school she became a convert to evangelicalism; she was freed from this by the influence of Charles Bray, a freethinking Coventry manufacturer (a development which temporarily alienated her father), but remained strongly influenced by religious concepts of love and duty; her works contain many affectionate portraits of Dissenters and clergymen. She pursued her education rigorously, reading widely, and devoted herself to completing a translation of Strauss's Life of Jesus, which appeared without her name in 1846. In 1850 she met J. Chapman, and became a contributor to the Westminster Review; she moved to 142 Strand, London, in 1851, as a paying guest in the Chapman's home, where her emotional attachment to him proved an embarrassment. She became assistant editor to the Westminster Review in 1851, and in the same year met Spencer, for whom she also developed strong feelings, which were not reciprocated, though the two remained friends. In 1854 she published a translation of Feuerbach's Essence of Christianity; she endorsed his view that religious belief is an imaginative necessity for man and a projection of his interest in his own species, a heterodoxy of which the readers of her novels only gradually became aware. At about the same time she joined G. H. Lewes in a union without legal form (he was already married) that lasted until his death; they travelled to the Continent that year and set up house together on their return. He was to be a constant support throughout her working life and their relationship, although its irregularity caused her much anxiety, was gradually accepted by their friends. 'The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton', the first of the Scenes of Clerical Life, appeared in Blackwood's Magazine in 1857, followed by 'Mr. Gilfil's Love Story'  and 'Janet's Repentance'; these at once attacted praise for their domestic realism, pathos, and humour, and speculation about the identity of 'George Eliot', who was widely supposed to be a clergyman or possibly a clergyman's wife. She began Adam Bede (1859) in 1858; it was received with great enthusiasm and at once established her as a leading novelist. The Mill on the Floss appeared in 1860 and Silas Marner in 1861. In 1760 she visited Florence, where she conceived the idea of Romola, and returned to do further research in 1861; it was published in the Cornhill in 1862-3. John Blackwood, son of William Blackwood, was uable to meet her terms; by this time she was earning a considerable income from her work. Felix Holt, the Radical appeared in 1866. She travelled in Spain in 1867, and her dramatic poem The Spanish Gypsy (conceived on an earlier visit to Italy, and inspired by Tintoretto) appeared in 1868. Middlemarch was published in instalments in 1871-2 and Daniel Deronda, her last great novel, in the sameway in 1874-6. She was now at the height of her fame, and widely recognized as the greatest living English novelist, admired by readers as diverse as Turgenev, H. James and Queen Victoria. In 1878 Lewes died. Her Impressions of Teophrastus Such appeared in 1879, and in 1880 she married the 40-year-old John Walter Cross, whom she had met in Rome in 1869 and who had become her financial adviser. The marriage distressed many of her friends, but brought the reconciliation of af a congratulatory note from her brother Isaac, who had not communicated with her since 1857. She died seven months later.

After her death her reputation declined somewhat, and L. Stephen indicated much of the growing reaction in an orbituary notice (1881) which praised the 'charm' and autobiographical elements of the earlier works, but found the later novels painful and excessively reflective. V. Woolf defended her in an essay (1919) which declared Middlemarch to be 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people', but critics like David Cecil and Oliver Elton continued to emphasize the division between her creative powers and supposedly damaging intellect. In the late 1940s a new generation of critics, led by Leavis (The Great Tradition, 1948), introduced a new respect for and understanding of her mature works; leavis praises her 'traditional moral sensibility', her 'luminous intelligence', and concludes that she 'is not as transcendently great as Tolstoy, but she is great, and great in the same way'.

As well as the novels for which she is remembered, she wrote various poems, including 'O may I join the choir invisible' (1867), 'Agatha' (1869), Brother and Sister (1869), a sonnet sequence recalling her happy childhood, 'The Legend of Jubal' (1870), and 'Armgart' (1871), also the short stories 'The Lifted Veil' (1859) and 'Brother Jacob' (1864). Her letters and journals were edited by Cross (3 vols., 1885); her complete letters were edited by G. S. Haight (9 vols., 1954-78), who also wrote a life (1968). A Writer's Notebook 1854-1879 and Uncollected Writings were edited by Joseph Wiesenfarth (1981). See also George Eliot: A Life by Rosemary Ashton (1996).

George Eliot

By Louis Cazamian, from A History of English Literature (1937):

George Eliot is a writer whose fame is menaced. She is a victim of the discredit which opinion to-day throws upon her generation, and which will pass with time. Graver, however, are the reasons for disfavour which concern her personality. The upholders of tradition have never forgiven her bold ventures in philosophic thought, nor excused that act in her life which, though it agreed with the ethics of the heart, jarred with the principles admitted by custom. Critical spirits, or lovers of pure art, are not without resenting either the moderation of her thought, or the weightiness which her intellectuallity often gives her prose. Some have always looked upon her with mistrust, while many would be tempted to think that she was too prudent in her opinions. Even among here admirers, there are few who do not find in her work a faint suspicion of heaviness. In the study of her novels, therefore, one must keep oneself immune from a prejudiced hostility which, undoubtedly, is unjust, and at the same time not be influenced by the intemperate zeal which might be aroused by the feeling that one was pleading a cause.

It is perhaps best to divide her work in two parts. There is no question of leaving the first entirely aside, altough very probably much of it must be given up. George Eliot had of necessity to pay for the crisis which brougth about her emancipation, which raised her from the status of a young country girl to be the equal of the most scholarly minds of the time, and transformed the daughter of Puritan parents into a pupil of Spencer and Comte. Her independence, won after a long and strenuous struggle, was to leave its mark upon her for life. It gave her a taste for discussion, awakened the desire in her to explain her own conduct, or that of the beings she created, in the most explicit and logical manner; it inspired her with the familiar love and respect of formulated principles. All the intellectuality and fondness for reasoning which seemed to be part and parcel of her very being, deprived or tended to deprive her of a certain happy spontaneity, afforded her less scope for the play of instinct, and made purely artistic creation less natural to her, while rendering more natural the painstaking efforts of artificial labour. Since her vocation was to write, and to be a novelist, she did much during the first thirty years of her life to direct what was to be her gift of invention towards lucid and dry forms of expression.

Although her imaginative resources were thus impoverished, she gained in other respects. There is always a strengthening virtue in the conquest of one's own personality. The moral nobility of her inner development with its honesty of purpose, its courageous determination, not only lent a deeper spiritual quality to her thought, but imparted to all that she wrote a fragance of ardent sincerity which compensates for many failings of her aesthetic judgment.

Thus it can be said that her realism was conscious and systematic; all the gifts of her intellectual culture contributed to it, while in it the influence of science,which she had thoroughly imbibed, is everywhere manifest. She had made a study of history as of exegesis; she was acquainted with the psychology of the Utilitarians, and had accepted the doctrine of evolution as soon as it was first explained. As an inevitable result of the mental discipline of her youth, she felt the need of precision and objectivity, and dwelt upon the idea that any object of study, no matter what it be, has its own infinite value. The construction of her novels, the substance of her analyses, and much of her imagery, recall this scientific schooling of her thought. But realism to her is much more than a mere method, or even an intellectual necessity; it is an emotion and a creed, and this she has explained with perfect clearness. All the modest virtues and vices of humble folks, hover mediocre or ill-favoured they may be, become attractively interesting to her, and the source of this interest is love. Her words ring with the supreme appeal of a common brotherhood and common sufferings, and whatever stress she may lay on the solidarity between men which nature enforces and which intelligence comes to recognize, her ethical beliefs spring from that spontaneous gift of the heart: sympathy.

It is no easy task, therefore, to divide what is fresh and natural in her work from what remains dry and lifeless, or rather to distinguish between the causes which give rise to these conflicting elements. Besides, they are often combined. The most barren wastes in her prose are not without some oases, just as the vistas of refreshing green are broken by flat stretches of stony dreariness. But, upon the whole ,a great number of her arguments, of her intentions, and most of the expressions which these naturally called forth, are more directly related, no doubt, to dialectics than to poetry, in the sense in which every artist is a poet. The bare framework of her ideas is often too much in evidence; not infrequently, the situations and characters allow the reader a glimpse of the inner architecture which backs and supports them; and her style, through many a page, through whole chapters and episodes, has the indefinable quality that suggests a lesson in psychology, ethics, or history.

The value of the philosophy imparted in the deliberate teaching of George Eliot's novels, and the literary intentions which she enunciates most openly, have and will retain their particular merit, even if we prefer to find in other parts of her work its most precious assets iand its most vital interest. In Adam Bede she expounds the doctrine granting each of us the initiative which works out our moral and religious destiny; The Mill on the Floss is devoted to a study of the collaboration of character with circumstances in the fulfilment of fate: Silas Marner treats of all the hidden forces which shape man's personality through the contact of his fellows; the subject of Felix Holt is the prominent part played by the education of the individual in any matter dealing with social reform, etc. Such are the main themes of the novels; but there are others which form, so to speak, the background, and which are really of deeper significance as well as more substantial; the interdependence of all human beings; the intricate workings of consequence which propagate the influence of a given act, for good or for evil, beyond our visible horizon, in ever-widening circles; and more esspecially, the pathetic quality of the most common human emotions.

All this, undoubtedly, has its value. But this doctrine is not transmuted completely enough into the silent preconceptions of creative imagination itself; it is not sufficiently dissolved into the plastic elements of her art; it remains a doctrine, asserting and expressing itself as such. And it is just in these avowed assertions that the weakness of George Eliot's work is to be found. Similarly, the laboured exertions of her will have added no supreme achievement to her fictions. The scholarly historical setting of Romola may be estimable, but it leaves us cold; Daniel Deronda is a strong but unsuccessful attempt, because it is almost entirely artificial. Even in the most vigorous and spontaneous among her novels, there are passages, and features, which explain these partial failures.

The other part of her work bears the stamp of true imagination. It is no less rich in persuasive ideas, for it breathes the communicative ardour of fraternal sympathy, the keen and kindly perception of the inner life of souls, and a powerful sense of that hard-won heroic virtue, to the height of which we all have, some time or other, to rise. All the doctrine of George Eliot is here, implied in the very facts of her stories. But at the same time it allows of artistic creation, and even expresses itself through it. The touching Scenes of Clerical Life, almost the whole of Adam Bede, much of Silas Marner, the main part of The Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch, belong to this order of spontaneous and concrete invention. It is more than enough to guarantee the fame of a great writer.

For in works such as these there is a livening and animating force at the base of the writer's art. From her experience of life, from her knowledge of self, or from an intuitive revelation, she draws the material for an imaginary world, which has in it the essence of reality. And this world is ample enough to allow for all possible contrasts, and call forth smiling amusement as well as loving compassion; it can even arouse a feeling of angry irony. The humour of George Eliot is not the least of her qualities; it is a salutary and pleasing element, which introduces an invigorating freshness into her prose. More often of a tender, playful, even delicate nature, it grows satirical at times, and acquires then a sharp edge which contradicts, as in the portrait of the Dodsons (The Mill on the Floss) the general lesson of symphathy; but none among her readers will object to this. The study of Mrs. Poyser in Adam Bede is an unalloyed source of joy; in Silas Marner there are lively scenes of rural realism.

The world in which the imagination of George Eliot finds itself at greatest ease is that of the provinces, the home of her early years; and, no doubt, her creative faculty is not to the same degree dramatic; she is essentially a revealer of self. But the beings she creates represent, as it were, imaginary aspects or developments of her ego, and acquire the quality of truth by reason of this vital bond. Some are women, such as Dinah Morris (Adam Bede) and Dorothea (Middlemarch), some are men, as Amos Barton, Silas Marner, and Philip Wakem (The Mill on the Floss), but it is plain that they take after the authoress herself, and that her personality passes into them all.

Once, however, she has taken herself as the direct object of study, and created her masterpiece in Maggie Tulliver (The Mill on the Floss). The first two hundred pages of this novel are, probably, the most nearly perfect she has written; for the faithful evocation of scenic detail as well as of manners, and the astonishing acccuracy of the psychology, are the outcome of an immediate and infallible impulse, translating into workds the ever-present wisdom of the past.

From Scenes of Clerical Life to Middlemarch, George Eliot is an incomparable painter of the lower circles of English provincial life, and of a whole order of souls who, simple as social values go, are nevertheless spirtually complex, torn by scruples, and by the anguish of moral conflicts. In this sphere, her art derives its value from its truth as much as from the emotional interest it creates, and indissolubly from both.

No doubt she was aware of this, or, at the end, she recognized it. Her intellectual zeal, and already cautious and open to all human feelings during the years of her ardent youth, grew still more tempred, gentle, modest, and tender in the course of her life. She preserved the religion of truth without retaining its dogmatism. The philosophy of The Mill on the Floss left ample scope to what is inexplicable, to the hazards which cannot be avoided by every upright and sincere thinker. In Middlemarch, the psychology tends more clearly towards an intuitive idea of mind and consciousness. Her most powerful novel, even if it is not the most inspired or the most harmoniously constructed, is the last in which the activity of her courageous, ever-moving mind has been expressed in terms of scenes and figures familiar to herself, and thus endowed with artistic reality.

To be consulted: E. Bouvier, La Bataille réaliste, 1914; Brunetière, Le Roman naturaliste, 1884; Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. xiii, Chaps. IX, X, XII; M. L. Cazamian, Roman et Idées en Angleterre, 1923; J. W. Cross, Life and Letters of George Eliot, 1885; W. L. Cross, The Development of the English Novel, 1899; David Sauvageaot, Le Réalisme et le Naturalisme dans la littérature et l'art, 1890; Elton, Survey of English Literature, 1830-80, 1920; R. Las Vergnas, W. M. Thackeray, etc., 1932; Phelps, Advance of the English Novel, 1919; Philips, Dickens, Reade, Collins, Sensation Novelists, 1919; F. T. Russell, Satire in the Victorian Novel, 1920; Sadleir, Excursions in Victorian Bibliography, 1922; Saintsbury, Trollope Revisited, 12920; Walker, The Literature of the Victorian Era, 1910.


From The Oxford Companion to English Literature:

Adam Bede,
a novel by George Eliot, published 1859.

The plot was suggested by a story told to George Eliot by her Methodist aunt Elizabeth Evans of a confession of child-murder made to her by a girl in prison. The action takes place at the close of the eighteenth cent. Hetty Sorrel, pretty, vain, and self-centred, is the niece of the genial farmer Martin Poyser of Hall Farm. She is loved by Adam Bede, the village carpenter, a young man of dignity and character, but is deluded by the attentions of the young squire, Arthur Donnithorne, and is seduced by him, in spite of Adam's efforts to save her. Arthur breaks off relations with her, and Hetty, broken-hearted, agrees to marry Adam. But before the marriage she discovers she is pregnant, flies from home to seek Arthur, fails to find him, is arrested and convicted of infanticide, and saved from the gallows at the last moment, her sentence commuted to transportation through Arthur's intervention. In prison she is comforted by her cousin Dinah Morris, a Methodist preacher, whose strong, serious, and calm nature is contrasted with hers throughout the novel. In the last chapters, Adam discovers that Dinah loves him; his brother Seth, who had long and hopelessly loved Dinah, resigns her to him, with a fine unselfishness.

The novel was immediately acclaimed for its realitsm for its picturesque portrayal of rural life, and for its humour; Mrs Poyser was greeted as a comic creation on the level of Dickens's Sam Weller and Mrs Gamp. Some critics objected ot its insisence on the 'stratling horrors of rustic reality' (Saturday Review) and its 'obstetric' details. H. James in 1866 found Hetty Sorrel 'the most successful' of George Eliot's female figures.

The Mill on the Floss, a novel by George Eliot, published 1860.

Tom and Maggie, the principal characters, are the children of the honest but ignorant and obstinate Mr Tulliver, the miller of Dorlcote Mill on the Floss. Tom is a prosaic youth, narrow of imagination and intellect, animated by conscious rectitude and a disposition to control others. Maggie in contrast is highly strung, intelligent, emotional, and, as a child, rebellious. From this conflict of temperaments, and from Maggie's frustrated sense of purpose, spring much of her unhappiness and the ultimate tragedy. Her deep love of her brother is thwarted by his lack of understanding, and she turns to Philip Wakem, the deformed son of a neighbouring lawyer, for intellectual and emotional companionship. Unfortunately lawyer Wakem is the object of Mr Tulliver's suspicion and dislike, which develop into hatred when Tulliver is made bankrupt as a result of litigation in which Wakem is on the other side. Tom, loyal to his father, discovers the secret friendship of Maggie and Philip, and forbids their meetings: Maggie reluctantly complies. After Mr Tulliver's death, accelerated by a scene of violence in which he thrashes the lawyer, Maggie leaves the mill for a vist at St Ogg's to her cousin Lucy Deane, who is to marry the handsome and agreeable Stephen Guest. Stephen, though loyal in intention to Lucy, is attracted by Maggie, and she by him. A boating expedition on the river leads, partly by Stephen's design, partly by accident, to Maggie's being irremediably compromised; Stephen implores her to marry him, but she refuses. Her brother turns her out of the house, and the society of St Ogg's ostracizes her. She and her mother take refuge with the loyal friend of her childhood, the packman Bob Jakins. Only Lucy, Philip, and the clergyman Dr Kenn show sympathy. The situation seems without issue, but in the last chapter a flood descends upon the town, and Maggie, whose first thought is her brother's safety, courageously  rescues him from the mill. There is a moment of recognition and reconciliation before the boat overturns, and both, locked in a final embrace, are drowned.

The portrayal of childhood, of rural life, and the subsidiary characters of Mrs Tulliver's sisters, the strong-minded Mrs Glegg and the melancholy Mrs Pullett, with their respective spouses, delighted most critics, though the book was felt to lack the charm of Adam Bede; Maggie's lapse into passion, the character of the lightweight Stephen, and the arbitrary tragedy of the denouement enraged others. It remains, however, one of the most widely read of her works.

Romola, a novel by George Eliot, published 1863.

The background of the novel is Florence at the end of the 15th century, the troubled period, following the expulsion of the Medici, of the expedition of Charles VIII, distracted counsels in the city, the excitement caused by the preaching of Savonarola, and acute division between the popular party and the support of the Medici. The various historical figures, including Charles VIII, Machiavelli, and Savonarola himself, are drawn with great care, as well as the whole picturesque complexion of the city, through the novel is generally held to be overloaded with detail, and has never been one of her most admired. The story is that of the purification by trials of the noble-natured Romola, devoted daughter of an old blind scholar. Into their lives comes a clever, adaptable young Greek, Tito Melema, whose self-indulgence develops into utter perfidy. He robs, and abandons in imprisonment, the benefactor of his childhood, Baldassare. He cruelly goes through a mock marriage ceremony with the innocent little contadina Tessa. After marrying Romola he wounds her deepest feelings by betraying her father's solemn trust. He plays a double game in the political intrigues of the day. Nemesis pursues and at last overtakes him in the person of old Baldassare, who escapes from imprisonment crazed with sorrow and suffering. Romola, with her love for her husband turned to contempt, and her trust in Savonarola destroyed by his falling away from his high prophetic mission, is left in isolation, from which she is rescued by the discovery of her duty in self-sacrifice. The novel was illustrated by Leighton, much to George Eliot's satisfaction.

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 18:25. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Wistful dog

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2012

Wistful Dog 2

Wistful Dog 2 by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Wistful Dog 2, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 19:01. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Toads Revisited

viernes, 16 de noviembre de 2012

Toads Revisited


Philip Larkin
                        Toads Revisited
Walking around in the park
Should feel better than work:
The lake, the sunshine,
The grass to lie on, 
Blurred playground noises
Beyond black-stockinged nurses -
Not a bad place to be.
Yet it doesn't suit me. 
Being one of the men
You meet of an afternoon:
Palsied old step-takers,
Hare-eyed clerks with the jitters, 
Waxed-fleshed out-patients
Still vague from accidents,
And characters in long coats
Deep in the litter-baskets - 
All dodging the toad work
By being stupid or weak.
Think of being them!
Hearing the hours chime, 
Watching the bread delivered,
The sun by clouds covered,
The children going home;
Think of being them, 
Turning over their failures
By some bed of lobelias,
Nowhere to go but indoors,
or friends but empty chairs - 
No, give me my in-tray,
My loaf-haired secretary,
My shall-I-keep-the-call-in-Sir:
What else can I answer,
When the lights come on at four
At the end of another year?
Give me your arm, old toad;
Help me down Cemetery Road.

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 19:02. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Mars in August

sábado, 17 de noviembre de 2012

Mars in August

Mars in August by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
Mars in August, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 19:03. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

David Copperfield


David Copperfield. Dir. Peter Medak. Teleplay by John Goldsmith, based on the novel by Charles Dickens. Cast: Hugh Dancy, Max Dolbey, Michael Richards, Eileen Atkins, Anthony Andrews, Frank McCusker, Sally Field, Edward Hardwicke, Freddie Jones, Nigel Davenport, Emily Hamilton, Julie Cox, Sarah Smart, Alan Howard, Alec McCowan, Paul Bettany, Judy Cornwell, Murray Melvin, Dudley Sutton, Lesley Manville, Peter Woodthorpe, Vernon Dobtcheff. Music by Shaun Davey. Ed. Ron Davis. Prod. Des, Michael Pickwoad. Photog, Elemér Ragályi. Co-prod. Morgan O'Sullivan. Exec, prod. Robert Halmi, Jr,, and David V. Picker. Prod, Greg Smith and John Davis. Hallmark Entertainment. 



Micawber's advice to young Copperfield — which Spanish economy ministers would do well to heed: http://youtu.be/eVxF4z-R2YM

You shouldn't spend more than your income. What you can't pay, you can't keep.

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 19:04. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

El Rectorado de la Universidad de Zaragoza cede ante los sindicalistas

sábado, 17 de noviembre de 2012

El Rectorado de la Universidad de Zaragoza cede ante los sindicalistas

Así lo cuenta Noticias Jóvenes. Reproduzco aquí el artículo. En cambio, en el Boletín de la UZ, o en su web—¿huelga? ¿qué huelga? ¿piquetes? ¿qué piquetes?—estas cosas no aparecen, por favor.  Las huelgas generales son, como siempre, un día de normalidad y de reivindicación democrática. Universidad más hipócrita no sé si la habrá.

Unión de Estudiantes (Nov 16, 2012) Zaragoza
Desde Unión de Estudiantes nos vemos obligados a criticar los hechos ocurridos en el campus de San Francisco, así como pedirle al Rector una explicación justificada de lo sucedido. Ponemos de manifiesto mediante esta nota de prensa la lamentable actuación que ha tenido el rector y su equipo durante el transcurso de la huelga general convocada el miércoles por los sindicatos.
Este colectivo se hizo eco el martes de esta semana que unos operarios estaban colocando una pancarta en el que su contenido era claramente a favor de la huelga general, estos mismos operarios constataron nuestras sospechas, que estaban cumpliendo un trabajo dirigidos directamente por Rectorado de la Universidad de Zaragoza.
Con este antecedente partidista quedaba claro que se repetiría los sucesos de hace 11 meses. Desde el primer momento del día de la huelga general ha sido imposible entrar en el Campus de San Francisco por parte de los estudiantes debido a la intimidación de piquetes “informativos” que desde una actuación violenta han prohibido el paso a todo aquel estudiante que había elegido en libertad, el ir ese día a ejercer el derecho de estudiar.
Días antes de la huelga nos pusimos en contacto con el Rector para asegurarnos que haría preservar la seguridad del Campus y de sus estudiantes y que por lo tanto haría efectiva la orden de dejar entrar a la Policía en el Campus de San Francisco.
Como ya pasó en la última huelga general el Rector de la Universidad de Zaragoza ha cedido ante los sindicalistas en vez de ceder ante lo verdaderamente importante que son los estudiantes y su seguridad.
Unión de Estudiantes quiere criticar de pleno esa actuación y pedirle al Rector que medite cual es su posición de una vez por todas. Porque podemos llegar a entender desde este colectivo que la Universidad de Zaragoza utiliza a la policía cuando más le conviene.

Le convino utilizar a la Policía cuando desde la Universidad de Zaragoza se le dio comba al brazo político de ETA dándole mediante una conferencia un medio para justificar sus asesinatos por medio de la política, sin embargo ahora no es el caso, se ha dejado a los sindicatos que ejerzan la intimidación y la violencia hacia alumnos sin que la Policía pueda intervenir.

Queremos dejar claro y rotundamente que desde Unión de Estudiantes se respeta plenamente el derecho a huelga recogido en nuestra Constitución, pero también respetamos el derecho al trabajo y al estudio.

Nos queremos centrar como colectivo en los actos sindicalistas en la facultad de Derecho ya que somos el colectivo más representado en Junta de Facultad de Derecho. La actuación de los sindicalistas e incluso de algún vicerrector de la Universidad ha sido más que deleznable. Se ha increpado, insultado, amenazado a estudiantes e incluso profesores que querían libremente ir a su puesto de trabajo o a su lugar de estudio.

Compañeros nuestros de Unión de Estudiantes han estado presentes en el momento que alumnos querían abrir la puerta para poder entrar a la Facultad de Derecho y uno de los vicerrectores desde dentro de la universidad bloqueaba la puerta para que no pudieran entrar tanto alumnos como personal de la Universidad. Al final las puertas de la facultad de Derecho se abrieron sobre las 11 de la mañana.

Pese a todo nuestro respeto tanto a la huelga general como al derecho a trabajar y a estudiar, pero ya es hora de que los sindicatos respeten en muchos casos a los demás que no quieren ejercer ese derecho. La huelga no es una obligación.

Unión de Estudiantes quiere que algún día se convoquen huelgas generales desde el respeto y la democracia, quizás sea ahí donde ellos ganaran en discurso, con menos violencia e intimidación con aquellos que libremente no quieren ejercer el derecho a huelga.

Álvaro Sierra García

Presidente de Unión de Estudiantes

Pero el personal universitario, en términos generales, ya no reconoce un abuso cuando lo ve. O, mejor dicho, lo reconoce, y aplicando el doublethink orwelliano, calla y mira a otra parte. Lo cual es mucho peor aún.

La Banda la Porra toma la Universidad

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Viernes, 14 de Diciembre de 2012 19:06. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Universidad




Oliver! Dir. Carol Reed. Film version of Lionel Bart's musical based on Dickens's novel. Screenplay by Vernon Harris. Cast: Ron Moody, Oliver Reed, Shani Wallis, Mark Lester, Jack Wild, Harry Secombe, Hugh Griffith, Sheila White. Panavision. Columbia Pictures, 1968. (6 oscars including Best Picture, Director, Art Direction, Scoring, special prize for choreographer Onna White).

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 13:30. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine

Two Seagulls

domingo, 18 de noviembre de 2012

Two Seagulls

 Two Seagulls


Two Seagulls, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 13:37. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes




From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble.

Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life, a novel by George Eliot, published 1871-2.

The scene is laid in the provincial town of Middlemarch, Loamshire, during the years of the agitation immediately preceding the first Reform Bill [1832]. It has a multiple plot, with several interlocking sets of characters. Dorothea Brooke, an ardent, intelligent, idealistic young woman, under the negligent though affordable care of her eccentric uncle, marries the elderly pedant Mr Casaubon, despite the doubts of her sister Celia, her neighbour and suitor Sir James Chettam (who later marries Celia), and Mrs Cadwallader, the rector’s outspoken wife. The marriage proves intensely unhappy; Dorothea realizes during a disastrous honeymoon in Rome that Casaubon’s scholarly plan to write a great work, a ’Key to all Mythologies’, are doomed, as are her own aspirations to share and aid her husband’s intellectual life, and her respect for him gradually turns to pity. She is sustained by the friendship of Casaubon’s young cousin Will Ladislaw, a lively, light-hearted, goodnatured young man, detested by Casaubon, who begins to suspect that Dorothea’s feelings for Ladislaw are questionable; his irritation is increased by the fact that he fears he has acted justly but not generously by his impoverished kinsman. Shortly before he dies,with characteristic meanness, he adds a codicil to his will by which Dorothea forfeits her fortune if she marries Ladislaw.

Meanwhile other threads have been added to the remarkably broad canvas of the novel. We follow the fortunes of Fred and Rosamund Vincy, son and daughter of the mayor of Middlemarch; the extrovert Fred, unsuitably destined to be a clergyman, is in love with his childhood sweetheart Mary Garth, a practical, shrewd young woman, daughter of Caleb Garth, a land agent. Mary, who at the opening of the novel is nursing her disagreeable and aged realtive Mr Featherstone, will not pledge herself to Fred unless he abandons his father’s plan for him to enter the Church , and proves himself stable and self-sufficient. Rosamund, the town’s beauty, sets herself to capture the ambitious, idealistic, and well-connected doctor Tertius Lydgate; she succeeds, and their marriage, wrecked by her selfishness, insensitivity, and materialism, proves as unhappy as the Casaubons’. Lydgate finds himself heavily in debt, and and against his better judgement borrows money from Mr Bulstrode, the mayor’s brother-in-law, a religious hypocrite; Lydgate’s career is ruined when he finds himself in a scandal concerning the death of Raffles, an unwelcome visitor from Bulstrode’s shady past. Only Dorothea, now widowed, maintains faith in him, but she is severly shocked to find Ladislaw and Rosamund together in what seem to be compromising circumstances. Rosamund finally rises above self-interest to reveal that Ladislaw has remained faithful to the memory of Dorothea, though with no prospect of any happy outcome. Dorothea and Ladislow at last confess their love to one another; she renounces Casaubon’s fortune and marries him. Fred, partly sobered by the spectacle of Lydgate’s decline, and encouraged by Caleb Garth to enter his own prfoession, marries Mary, Lydgate is condemned to a successful and fashionable practice and dies at 50, his ambitions frustrated.

Through the histories of these characters, George Eliot analyses and comments upon the social and political upheavals of the period, contrasting the stauch Tory attitudes of Chettam and the Cadwalladers with the growing demand for Reform, somewhat unsatisfactorily espoused by Mr Brooke, more satisfactorily by Ladislaw, awho in the last chapter becomes ’an ardent public man’ and a member of Parliament, with Dorothea’s support. The importance of marital loyalty is also widely illustrated, not least in Mrs Bulstrode’s support of her husband in his disgrace.

George Eliot’s reputation reached its height with Middlemarch, despite some complaints that the action was slow or the tone didactic; H. James found faults in its organization, but concluded, ’It sets a limit . . . to the development of the old-fashioned English novel’ (1874). Its status as one of the greatest works of English fiction was confirmed by Leavis (The Great Tradition, 1948), despite his doubts about the indulgent portrayal of Dorothea.


Middlemarch: Online at Project Gutenberg


And a TV adaptation by the BBC:

Middlemarch. Dir Anthony Page, Screenplay by Andrew Davies, based on George Eliot’s novel. Cast: Rufus Sewell, Jonathan Firth, Juliet Aubrey, Robert Hardy, Peter Jeffrey, Caroline Harker. Prod, Louis Marks, BBC, 1994. Online at YouTube (LadyLewly):

(episode 3):

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 13:39. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

My Fair Lady


My Fair Lady. Dir. George Cukor. Screenplay by Alan Jay Lerner, based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Cast: Audrey Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Stanley Holloway, Wilfrid Hyde-White, Gladys Cooper, Jeremy Brett, Theodore Bikel. Photog. Harry Stradling. Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner and music by Frederick Loewe, from their musical based on George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion. Music supervisor André Previn, Scenery & prod. Des. Cecil Beaton. Prod. Jack L. Warner, Panavision. Warner Bros., 1964.

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 13:42. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cine


lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012


Nos comunica el Director del departamento:

En el Congreso de AEDEAN de Málaga, celebrado la semana pasada, Carmen
Pérez-Llantada ha recibido el Premio Leocadio Martín Mingorance al
mejor libro de investigación en Lengua y Lingüística de 2012, por su
obra _Scientific Discourse and the Rhetoric of Globalization: The
Impact of Language and Culture_, publicado por Continuum. El libro
trata del papel del inglés en la investigación científica y en el
contexto de la globalización.
Qué cosas, el premio de AEDEAN (Asociación Española de Estudios Anglo-Norteamericanos) me lo dieron a mí hace 20 años, y aún no soy catedrático, ni lo seré. Claro que el expediente de la Dra. Pérez-Llantada, que ella sí es catedrática desde hace varios años, lo han visto con mejores ojos que al mío los tribunales de oposiciones y las fuerzas vivas que nos rodean...  C'est la vie. Pues enhorabuena.


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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 17:16. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cátedra

Something of a Ship

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

Something of a ship 2

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 17:17. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Gerard Manley Hopkins

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

Gerard Manley Hopkins

From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

Gerard Manley (1844-89). In 1863 he went to Balliol College, Oxford, where he wrote much poetry, including 'Heaven-Haven' and 'The Habit of Perfection'. He came under the influence of the Oxford Movement and Newman, and in 1866 was received into the Roman Catholic Church. In 1868 he resolved to become a Jesuit and symbolically burned his poems, though he sent some copies to his friend Bridges for safekeeping. He was professor of rhetoric at Roehampton 1873-4, then studied theology at St Beuno's in North Wales (1874-77), where he also learned Welsh.

A new phase of creativity began in 1876. Inspired by the loss of the Deutschland in December 1875, which had among its passengers five Franciscan nuns exiled for their faith, Hopkins wrote his most ambitious poems, 'The Wreck of the Deutschland'. In 1877 he composed some of his best-known poems, including 'The Windhover' and 'Pied Beauty'. After ordination he was sent to Chesterfield, then London, then Oxford, where he wrote 'Henry Purcell'. Work in various industrial parishes followed, including an exhausting spell in Liverpool (1880-1) where he was oppressed by a sense of his own failure as a preacher.naufragio

In 1884 he was appointed to the chair of Greek and Latin at University College, Dublin. There he became ill and deeply depressed, and wrote (mainly in 1885) a number of 'Dark Sonnets', powerfully expressing his sense of exile and frustration; these include 'Carrion Comfort' and 'No worst, there is none'. He also managed to produce in these last years less desperate poems, including 'Harry Ploughman' and 'That Nature is a Heraclitean Fire'. He died of typhoid.

Apart from work in anthologies (including Poets . . . of the Century, 1893, and Bridges's own The Spirit of Man, 1916), nothing was published until 1918, when Bridges produced his Poems; Bridges had judged the public not ready to receive Hopkins's 'oddity', but initial bewilderment was followed by steadily rising admiration. His poems, letters, and journals reflect his sense of vocation (sometimes conflicting) as priest and poet, his technical interest in prosody, and his search for a unifying sacramental view of creation. His concepts of 'inscape', 'instress' and 'sprung rhythm' have given rise to a large body of aesthetic theory. By 'inscape' he seems to have meant 'the individual or essential quality of the thing'; 'instress' refers to the energy which sustains an inscape, and flows into the mind of the observer. Both words were coined by Hopkins. 'Sprung rhythm' he considered less an innovation than a return to the rhythms of speech and of earlier forms of verse. But the great (though delayed) impact of Hopkins's work may be seen less in terms of technical innovation than as a renewal of poetic energy, seriousness, and originality, after a period marked by much undistinguished and derivative verse.

Sprung rhythm
(or 'abrupt rhythm'), a term invented by G. M. Hopkins to describe his own idiosyncratic poetic metre, as opposed to normal 'running' rhythm, the regular alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Hopkins maintained that sprung rhythm existed, unrecognized, in Old English poetry and in Shakespeare, Dryden, and Milton (notably in Samson Agonistes). It is distinguished by a metrical foot consisting of a varying number of syllables. The extra, 'slack' syllables added to the established patterns are called 'outriders' or 'hangers'. Hopkins demonstrated the natural occurrence of this rhythm in English by pointing out that many nursery rhymes employed it, e.g.

Díng, Dóng, Béll,

Pússy's in the wéll

He felt strongly that poetry should be read aloud, but seems to have felt that the words themselves were not enough to suggest the intended rhythms, and frequently added various diacritical markings. Some critics have suggested that sprung rhythm is not a poetic metre at all, properly speaking, merely Hopkins's attempt to force his own personal rhythm into an existing pattern, or recognizable variation of one, and that his sprung rhythm is in fact closer to some kinds of free verse or polyphonic prose.

From Andrew Sanders,
Short Oxford History of English Literature
("High Victorian Literature"):

To Dickens and other Victorian progressives, the assertiveness of the Oxford Movement and the magnetism of the revived Roman Church seemed to be dangerous examples of 'Ecclesiastical Dandyism', an undoing of national history and a self-indulgent withdrawal from more urgent concerns. The career of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-89) might certainly have suggested the impropriety of such a withdrawal had the nature of his twin vocations to the Jesuit priesthood and to poetry been more widely known to his contemporaries. His converstion to Roman Catholicism at Oxford, and his decision to enter the Society of Jesus in 1868, efectively cut him off from the mainstream of contemporary English life. The failure of his Jesuit superiors to recognize and encourage his idiosyncratic poetic talent also severed him from the body of prospective readers to which he most earnestly sought to appeal. He burned much of his early work on his ordination and took up poetry again only in 1875 with the startingly radical 'The Wreck of the Deutschland', a poem which the editor of the Jesuit periodical, The Month, decided that he 'dared not print'. No representative edition of Hopkins's poetry appeared until 1918.

Hopkins was fortunate in the poet-friends with whom he corresponded, Richard Watson Dixon and Robert Bridges (1844-1930), the latter his literary executor and editor. These non-Jesuit correspondents were the recipients of the theories that he attempted to articulate and of the often extraordinary poems that were developed in relation to these experimental ideas. After 1918 his work found the wide receptive audience which it had earlier been denied, but Hopkins's experiments, like the culture from which they emerge, remain essentially of the nineteenth century. As his Journals reveal, he observed nature in painstaking detail, patiently examining flowers and leaves, intently noting the effects of light and shade, and delighting in gradations of texture and colour. Given the stringency of his Jesuit surroundings, his immediate culture may have been of aesthetic deprivation, but his habits of observation and recording had been long acquired. His attention to the exactness of things is indeed akin to that of the Pre-Raphaelite painters (if not to Pre-Raphaelite poetry) and his methods of analysis indicate a scrupulous Ruskinian apprenticeship. Hopkins's intellectual disciplines certainly benefited from his study of theology, and in particular from his somewhat eccentric (given the prejudices of his teachers) pleasure in the thought of the thirteenth-century philosopher Duns Scotus ('who of all men most sways my spirits to peace'). His poetry may have been far too idiosyncratic to appeal to the somewhat saccharine tastes of his contemporary co-religionists, but his structures derive from highly disciplined and often traditional ways of thinking, seeing, translating, and writing.

Most of Hopkins's surviving poems are distinctly God-centred. His is a God who resolves contradictions as the fount of all that is and as the Creator who draws all the Strands of Creation back to himself. Created nature is in itself immensely precious, for the glory and wonder of God is implicit in it. In 'Pied Beauty' Hopkins celebrates harmonized oppositions, dapples and 'all things counter, original, spare, strange' because they express the energy and vitality of the visible world, a world held together by a divine force that constantly regenerates it. Undoing, desolation, and the 'problem of pain' are however never eliminated from his most searching poems. At times it is humankind which mars the integrity of beauty by unfeelingly trampling 'the growing green', by felling the 'especial' sweetness of a line of poplars, or by caging skylarks, but Hopkins is never simply or naïvely 'green'. His poems also explore the presence of violence in the realm of the parahuman. Despite the wonder of it, the windhover's ecstatic swoop is none the less predatorial, breaking lines and straining words as it falls.

I caught this morning morning's minion, king-
  dom of daylights dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,
  As a skate's heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend; the hurl and gliding
  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding
Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of, the mastery of the thing.

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here
   Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion
Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion
Shine, and blue-beak embers, ah my dear,
  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

The windhover's beauty is 'brute', yet its 'brutality' is of the essence of its animal perfection. Hopkins's poem gasps at the wonder of a creature whose free movement and concentrated strength stir an awesome sense of the presence of the Creator-Redeemer (its subtitle directs it 'To Christ our Lord'). Elsewhere in his work, most notably in the complex theological framework of 'The Wreck of the Deutschland' and the parallel poem 'The Loss of the Eurydice', Hopkins ponders the mystery of human suffering by forging parallels with a paradoxical Christ, the Man of Sorrows, and the Suffering Servant who is, at the same time, the Divine Judge and the Merciful Redeemer. He pulls dissolution into resolution by seeing patterns, not simply in the seasons or in the forms of nature, but also in religious imagery, in the observances of the Christian calendar, and in the ultimate meaning of the universe. The very intricacy of his verse is an attempt to express and recvord something of the multifariousness of the visible and aural world. The very 'difficulty' and the contortion of his poetry, its intellectual leaps and its violent 'metaphysical' yoking together of images, offer a momentary statis and a fusion of divergent insights and impressions. Hopkins found order where other Victorians saw anarchy; he recognized purpose where many of his contemporaries begain to despair over what they presumed was an increasingly meaningless fragmentation. Even in his dark, straining, disappointing, despairing last sonnets ('No worst, there is none', 'To seem the stranger lies my lot', I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day', 'Patience, hard thing!', 'My own heart let me have more pity on') there still remains the conviction that somehow a barely comprehended God comprehends all things.

The Fates of Men

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 17:21. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Mind at the End of Its Tether

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

Mind at the End of Its Tether

A desparing conclusion to a life of daring thought, by H. G. Wells—Mind at the end of its Tether (1946)

This is the conclusion of his last work, in which he argues that everything is ultimately founded upon nothing, an insight extracted from his own impending death. Wells foresees the extinction of the human species and the complete disappearance of the Great Globe itself (yea), the Universe:

The searching skepticism of the writer's philosophical analysis has established this Antagonist as invincible reality for him, but all over the earth and from dates immemorial, introspective minds, minds of the quality of the brooding Shakespeare, have conceived a disgust of the stress, vexations and petty indignities of life and taken refuge from its apprehension of a conclusive end to things, in mystical withdrawal. On the whole mankind has shown itself tolerant, sympathetic and respectful to such retreats. That is the peculiar human element in this matter; the recurrent refusal to be satisfied with the normal real world. The question "Is this all?" has troubled countless unsatisfied minds throughout the ages, and, at the end of our tether, as it seems, here it is, still baffling but persistent.

To such discomfited minds the world of our everyday reality is no more than a more or less entertaining or distressful story thrown upon a cinema screen. The story holds together; it moves them greatly and yet they feel it is faked. The vast majority of the beholders accept all the conventions of the story, are completely part of the story, and live and suffer and rejoice and die in it and with it. But the skeptical mind says stoutly, "This is delusion".

sisifo"Golden lads and lasses must, like chimney sweepers, come to dust."

"No," says this ingrained streak of protest: "there is still something beyond the dust."
But is there?

There is no reason for saying there is. That skeptical mind may have overrated the thoroughness of its skepticism. As we are now discovering, there was still scope for doubting. The severer our thinking, the plainer it is that the dust-carts of Time trundle that dust off to the incinerator and there make an end to it. Hitherto, recurrence has seemed a primary law of life. Night has followed day and day night. But in this strange new phase of existence into which our universe is passing, it becomes evidence that events no longer recur. They go on and on to an impenetrable mystery, into the voiceless limitless darkness, against which this obstinate urgency of our dissatisfied minds may struggle, but will struggle only until it is altogether overcome.

 Our world of self-delusion will admit none of that. It will perish amidst its evasions and fatuities. It is like a convoy lost in darkness on an unknown rocky coast, with quarrelling pirates in the chartroom and savages clambering up the sides of the ships to plunder and do evil as the whim may take them. That is the rough outline of the more and more jumbled movie on the screen before us. Mind near exhaustion still makes its final futile movement towards that "way out or round or through the impasse".

That is the utmost now that mind can do. And this, its last expiring thrust, is to demonstrate that the door closes upon us for evermore.

There is no way out, or round or through.

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Sábado, 15 de Diciembre de 2012 19:43. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Cómo somos

H.G. Wells

lunes, 19 de noviembre de 2012

H. G. Wells

From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature:

H(erbert) George Wells (1866-1946), the son of an unsuccessful small tradesman, was appreniced to a draper in early life, a period reflected in several of his novels. For some years, in poor health, he struggled as a teacher, studying and writing articles in his spare time. In 1903 he joined the Fabian Society, but was soon at odds with it, his sponsor G. B. Shaw, and Sidney and Beatrice Webb. His literary output was vast and extremely varied. As a novelist he is perhaps best remembered for his scientific romances, among the earliest products of the new genre of science fiction. The first, The Time Machine (1895), is a social allegory set in the year 802701, describing a society divided into two classes, the subterranean workers, called Morlocks, and the decadent Eloi. This was followed by The Wonderful Visit (1895), The Island of Doctor Moreau (1896), The Invisible Man (1897), The War of the Worlds (1898, a powerful and apocalyptic vision of the world invaded by Martians), When the Sleeper Wakes
(1899), The First Men in the Moon (1901), Men Like Gods (1923) and others. Another group of novels evokes in comic and realistic style the lower-middle class world of his youth. Love and Mr Lewisham (1900) tells the story of a struggling teacher; Kipps (1905) that of an aspiring draper's assistant; The History of Mr Polly (1920) recounts the adventures of an inefficient shopkeeper who liberates himself by burning down his own shop and bolting for freedom, which he discovers as man-of-all-work at the Potwell Inn.

Among his other novels, Ann Veronica (1909) is a feminist tract about a girl who defies her father and conventional morality by running away with the man she loves. Tono-Bungay (1909) is a picture of English society in dissolution, and of the advent of a new class of rich, embodied in Uncle Ponderevo, an entrepreneur intent on peddling a worthless patent medicine. The Country of the Blind, and other Stories (1911), his fifth collection of short stories, contains the memorable 'The Door in the Wall'. The New Machiavelli (1911), about a politician involved in a sexual scandal, was seen to mark a decline in his creative power, evident in later novels, which include Mr Britling Sees It Through (1916) and The World of William Clissold (1926). He continued to reach a huge audience, with his massive The Outline of History (1920) and its shorter offspring A Short History of the World (1922), and with many works of scientific and political speculation (including The Shape of Things to Come, 1933); the dark pessimism of his last prediction, Mind at the End of Its Tether (1945) may be seen in the context of his own ill health and the course of the Second World War.

His Experiment in Autobiography (1934) is a striking portrait of himself, his contemporaries (including Arnold Bennett, Gissing, and the Fabians) and their times.

From The Edwardian Novel, by Andrew Sanders (The Short Oxford History of English Literature): 

In the mainstream English fiction of the early 1900s the religious doubts of the preceding twenty years, and the reaction against Victorian repression and social or famillial oppression, are gradually marginalized. There remained a pervasive desire to articulate the unsaid and to give voice to formerly silent social groups—to women above all—and also to the often conventional, generally ignored petty bourgeoisie. The common man (and woman) briefly moved to centre stage before being ushered off again according to the élitist tastes of the Modernists. Although 'Modernist' writing, which has its roots in the early 1900s, looked to formal experiment, to verbal pyrotechnics, to synchronic play, and to the extraordinary in character and expression, more traditional writers, most notably Arnold Bennett and H. G. Wells, developed existing lines of story-telling and diachronic movememnt in order to delineate the 'ordinary'. To Arnold Bennett, writing in his disappointingly unadventurous study The Author's Craft (1914), the mind of the ideal novelist should be 'permeated and controlled by common sense'. This 'common sense' precluded a break with a received view of character and with the supposed stability of the narrative form. For both Bennett and Wells the acceptance of literary convention brought considerable popular and financial success (Bennet's The Card of 1911, for example, sold fifteen thousand copies within three years of publication). It also later entailed the overshadowing of their reputations by the canonical acceptance of the work of those of their younger contemporaries whose self-propagandizing had established 'Modernist' principles as the leading ideas of the new age.

As H. G. Wells generously acknowledged through the narrator of his The New Machiavelli (1911), there were hordes of men in 'the modern industrial world' who had 'raised themselves up from the general mass of untrained, uncultured poorish people in a hard industrious selfish struggle', but it was only in Arnold Bennett's novels that he had ever found a picture of them. These self-made, self-admiring small capitalists were now of a different breed from Dickens's Rouncewells and Gaskell's Thorntons, but they were generally despised by writers who rejected their enterprise, their vulgarity, and their belief in the virtue of work and reward. Bennett (1867-1931) is not habitually a fictional delineator of financial success, but he can be a meticulous analyst of the motives behind thrift, solidity, hard work, and public virtue. In this his models were, ironically enough, the great French anti-bourgeois writers Flaubert, Maupassant, and Zola rather than Dickens or Gaskell. His own affection for France and the French tradition gave him, as the Parisian episodes in The Old Wives' Tale suggest, a usefully detached perspective on his own birthplace, and the real focuso of his fiction, the five drab towns of the Staffordshire Potteries.

Bennet's work oscillates interestingly between the poles of an insistent provinciality and domesticity and a taste for the exotic and the peregrinatory. Many of his novels either describe, or merely contain, a hotel, that temporary centre of a wanderer's life, that home-from-home that is never home. An overwritten early work, Grand Babylon Hotel (1902), and a late documentary novel, Imperial Palace (1930), indicate something of the continuing force of his fascination, but the sections of The Old Wives' Tale dealing with Sophia Scales's Paris Pension and wihth the two sisters' sojourn at Buxtion serve to ramify the idea of the hotel as a no man's land of comfort, tidiness, and impersonality. Bennett's finest fiction works through the establishment of contrasts, between situation and aspiration, between enclosure and flight, between endurance and escape, between security and insecurity. The sequence of three novels set in the Five Towns, Clayhanger (1910), Hilda Lessways (1911), and These Twain (1916), are haunted by Darius Clayhanger's memories of the humiliation of the workhouse and by his son Edwin's attempts to escape from the cloying world of his father's respectable business. Bennett's masterpiece, The Old Wives' Tale (1908), traces the divergent fortunes of two sisters from the mid- to the late nineteenth century against the backgrounds of a slowly and unwillingly changing English industrial town and the turbulent Paris of the 1860s and 1870s. The small and provincial are counterbalanced by the metropolitan and the sophisticated, and generations conflict, converge, divide, and die. Bennett intricately relates his characters to the shaping topography, geography, class, and culture that surrounds them, but he always brings them back to acquired habit, the parochiality, and to plod. Similar qualities, exposed in a drab London setting, distinguish Riceyman Steps (1923). This post-First World War novel recalls physical and spiritual loss and wounding, but it centres on the limited ambitions and perceptions of a suburban bookseller, his wife, and his barely literate servant. The narrowness of the world Bennett describes is silently contrasted with that of the dusty and unopened books on the shelves of a shop whose contents are finally dispersed. Throughout the book the arbitrariness of commercial value is suggested (even down to a possessive attachment to the shop's dust) but its final pages allow for a questioning of literary value, of words on the page and the act of reading them. Without being a classic 'Modernist' text Riceyman Steps unobtrusively suggests many of the central experimental ideas of contemporary Modernism.

The work of H(erbert) G(eorge) Wells (1866-1946) has many parallels with that of the shop-keeping world of Bennett, but it has a far more evident political edge and a sometimes perversely 'scientific' programme. Wells is one of the few English writers to be well read in modern science and in the scientific method; he was also ambiguously persuaded both of the advantages of a socialistically and scientifically planned future and of the inherently anti-humanist bent of certain aspects of scientific progress. His science-fiction novels, The Time Machine (1895), The Island of Dr Moreau (1896), and The War of the Worlds (1898), still function as alarmist prophecies a century after their first publication. The Island of Dr Moreau is a chilling, almost Swiftian, fable of vivisection and genetic engineering. Moreau, a tyrannical exile on a pacific island, is also a post-Darwnist Frankenstein, torturing and metamorphizing animals in his 'House of Pain' only to be destroyed as his horrid creations rever to their brutal types.

Wells's English social fiction contrasts starkly with such fantasies though even here science and men of science have leading roles. In Tono Bungay (1909) that role is divided between two Ponderevos: the small-town apothecary uncle who makes a fortune out of spurious water-tonic, and the expermintal nephew ho re-establishes the lost family fortune by building battleships. Wells's socialismm, a wayward, belligerent, and questioning socialism, also runs through his most demanding stories. In Tono Bungay the narrator moves between three Englands: the defunct, privileged world of the country house, the narrow perspectives of the draper's shop, and the heady exhilaration of market capitalism and invention. All three are found wanting, but he remains unpersuaded by an English brand of socialism which 'has always been a little bit too human, too set about with personalities and foolishness'. There is an individualism about Wells's arguments and the characters who mouth them whch matches that of his sometime firend and Fabian socialist colleague, Shaw. In Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul (1905) the critique of capital is more emphatic, and the socialist characters more sympathetic and influential, but the nation and the society observed in the book are seen as ruled by Stupidity 'like the leaden goddess of the Dunciad, like some fat, proud flunkey, like pride, like indoence, like all that is darkening and heavy and obstructive in life'. It is a stupidity which, it seems, no ideals can pierce. Even in the generally optimistic The History of Mr Polly (1910) the muddling nature of English society can be avoided only when the narrative endorses a fantasy of escape into a rural idyll. Wells's last major novel, before he retreated into writing the popular histories and digests of science with which he entertained his readers for thirty years, is The New Machiavelli of 1911. It is in part a personal testament, written from the point of view of a pragmatic Member of Parliament, as well as a perceptive account of parliamentary life in the early years of the twentieth century.  Like Ann Veronica (1909) the book is forthright in its discussion of marriage and of women's rights, describing, very much from a male perspective, a 'gradual discovery of sex as a thing collectively portentous that I have to mingle with my statecraft if my picture is to be true'. It also contains sops for the supporters of women's suffrage, forcibly stating a case for the ceasing of 'this coddling and browbeating of women' and for the 'free and fearless' participation of women in the collective purpose of mankind'.  (...)


Things to Come

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:16. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Santuario das Aparicións 2

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

Santuario das Aparicións 2

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:17. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Oscar Wilde

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

Oscar Wilde

From The Short Oxford Companion to English Literature:

Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde (1854-1900), studied at Trinity College, Dublin, then at Magdalen College, Oxford, where in 1878 he won the Newdigate Prize for his poem ’Ravenna’. His flamboyant aestheticism attracted attention, much of it hostile; he proclaimed himself a disciple of Pater and the cult of ’Art for Art’s sake’ mocked in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Patience (1881). Wilde undertook a lecture tour of the United States in 1882, after the publication of his first volume of verse, Poems (1881). In 1884 he married, and in 1888 pubished a volume of fairy-stories, The Happy Prince and other tales, written for his sons. In 1891 followed Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, and other stories
and his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, a Gothic melodrama. Wilde claimed in his preface, ’There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all’. He published A House of Pomegranates (1891), fairy-stories; and The Duchess of Padua (1891), a dull verse tragedy. He achieved theatrical success with his comedies Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892); A Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895); and his masterpiece The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Salomé (now known chiefly for Richard Strauss’s opera), written in French, was refused a licence, but performed in Paris in 1896 and published in 1894 in an English translation by Lord Alfred Douglas with illustrations by Beardsley. Lord Alfred’s father, the marquess of Queensberry, disapproved of his son’s friendship with Wilde and publicly insulted the playwright. This started a chain of events which led to Wilde’s imprisonment for homosexual offences in 1895. He was declared bankrupt while in prison and wrote a letter of bitter reproach to Lord Alfred, published in part in 1905 as De Profundis. He was released in 1897 and went to France where he wrote The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), inspired by his prison experience. In exile he adopted the name Sebastian Melmoth, after the romance by Maturin. He died in Paris. His other writings include critical dialogues (’The Decay of Lying’ and ’The Critic as Artist’, 1891) and The Soul of Man under Socialism, a plea for individualism and artistic freedom, first published in the Fortnightly Review in 1891.

A volume of letters, ed. R. Hart-Davis, appeared in 1962.


 From  Andrew Sanders’s The Short Oxford History of English Literature:  

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900) was a Dubliner distinguished by both his class and his education. He was also the son of a romantically inclined mother who dabbled in nationalist verse. Wilde himself only ever flirted fancifully with what was, in the 1880s, the particularly vexed and pressing question of Irish Home Rule. Having left Dublin to study at Oxford, he seems thereafter to have aspired to shine in England and, as far s was possible, to be the central figure in a fashionable metropolitan coterie of artists, writers, and wits. He also acted out the parts of a London socialite and of an amusingly provocative social critic. Underlying all Wilde’s life and work (he readily acknowledged there was an intimate relationship between the two) there were, however, both a seriousness and an acute, but amused, awareness that he was acting. Wilde’s homosexuality, both covertly and overtly expressed in what he wrote during the 1890s, might at first have seemed little more than a gesture to an imported French décadence; after the terrible fall marked by his trial and imprisonment (a fall which in some ways he seems to have deliberately courted), the alienating bias of his art became manifest. The contrived style of much of his prose, the excessive elaboration of his poetry, and the aphoristic and paradoxical wit of his plays, are all subversive. They do more than reject mid-victorian values in life and art in the name of aestheticism; they defiantly provoke a response to difference.
oscar wilde
Amid a welter of affectation, Wilde’s essays suggest that he could, when it suited him, be a perceptive, rather than simply a naughty critic. He always questions institutions, moral imperatives, and social clichés; he rarely suffers fools gladly. From the refinedly outrageious lectures he gave to Colorado miners in the early 1880s (kitted out in velvet knee-breeches) to the calculatedly annoying challenges to conventional literary morality publicly expressed during his first trial, Wilde enjoyed his chosen roles as an aesthete and an iconoclast. His Platonic dialogue, The Decay of Lying (1889) and the two parts of The Critic as Artist (1890) suggest something of the aphoristic dialogue of his later comedies (though his plays would rarely allow an authoritative voice to be so pointedly interrupted, or occasionally qualified, by a convenient stooge). The inspirer of these dialogues may have been Plato, but the sentiments are Pater’s and the lexical virtuosity is characteristically Wilde’s. He offers the kind of criticism which delights in snaring butterflies rather than breaking them on wheels. He can be memorably cruel ([Mrs Humphry Ward’s] Robert Elsmere is squashed by the observation that it is Arnold’s Literature and Dogma ’with the literature left out’) and an initially flattering suggestion can be cleverly turned on its head (’Meredith is a prose Browning, and so is Browning’). Wilde’s central arguments are, however, derived from an awareness that art is far more than a mere imitation of nature. ’A Truth in Art’, he remarks in The Truth of Masks (1891), ’is that whose contradictory is also true’. In The Decay of Lying there is also a recurrent plesaure in insisting that ’the telling of beautiful untrue things is the proper aim of Art’. Wilde’s longest and most provocatively serious essay, The Soul of Man under Socialism (1891), does not argue primarily for a new social order or for a redistribution of property, but for a larger and expanding idea of freedom, a liberation from drudgery and the rule of machines. The future achievement of a socialist order offers the prospect of what Wilde candidly sums up elsewhere as ’enjoyment’.

Wilde’s delight in provocation, and his exploration of alternative moral perspectives, mark his most important work of fiction, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). The novel’s Preface presents a series of attitudinizing aphorisms about art and literature which end with the bald statement: ’All art is quite useless’. The narrative that follows is a melodramatic, Faustian demonstration of the notion that art and morality are quite divorced. It is, nevertheless, a text riven by internal contradictions and qualifications. Aestheticism is both damned and dangerously upheld; hedonism both indulged and disdained. Dorian Gray is a tragedy of sorts with the subtext of a morality play; its self-destructive, darkly sinning central character is at once a desperate suicide and a martyr. Wilde’s stage tragedies have less interest and far less flair. His first play, Vera: or, The Nihilists (1880) suggests a pretty minimal mastery of theatre technique and an even thinner grasp of the Russian political realities which it attempts to dramatize. His blank-verse drama, The Duchess of Padua (written in Paris in 1883), never even reached the stage, while A Florentine Tragedy, begun in 1894 when Wilde as at the height of his powers, remained unfinished until 1897. Quite the most powerful and influential of his tragedies, Salome, was written in French and translated into English in 1894 by Wilde’s lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. The play, which draws on the Bible account of the death of John the Baptist and on Flaubert’s story Herodias, was not produced in England until 1931 (a victim both of its outrageous treatment of Bible history and of its author’s reputation). The striking, overwrought imagery of Salome, and its shocking juxtapositions of repulsion and sexual desire, of death and orgasm, were particularly powerfully transformed in the German version which became the libretto of Richard Strauss’s revolutionary opera of 1915.

Wilde’s comedies of the 1890s have a far surer place in the theatre. The Importance of Being Earnest (1895) has indeed been accorded an unchallenged canonical status which is witnessed by its probably being the most quoted play in the English language after Hamlet. Lady Windermere’s Fan: A Play about a Good Woman (1892) was Wilde’s first supreme success on the London stage. It has distinct parallels with its comic successor, A Woman of No Importance (1893), in that it centres on the discovery of a dire secret and is at its most animated and conspicuously Wildean in the witty speeches of a dandified male aristocrat. Both plays have a noticeable feminist bias in that they stress the innate strength of their central female characters, a strength which draws on, and finally masters, a certain puritanism. In April 1895, at the time of Wilde’s arrest, charged with illegal homosexual practices, both the carefully plotted An Ideal Husband (1895) and its successor The Importance of Being Earnest were playing to large London audiences. As the scandal developed, first Wilde’s name was removed from the hoardings outside the theatres, then the runs of both plays were abruptly terminated. The real achivement of these plays lies neither in their temporary notoriety, nor teally in their polished and anti-sentimental artifices, but in their undercurrents of boredom, disillusion, alienation and, occasionally, real feeling. In both, despite their delightful evocations of flippancy and snobbery, and despite their abrupt shifts in attitudes and judgements, Wilde triumphed in capturing a fluid, intensely funny, mood of ’irresponsibility’ which challenges all pretension except that of the artifice of the plays themselves.

Hegel on Wilde

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:19. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

The plot of Volpone

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

The plot of VOLPONE

From The Oxford Companion to English Literature: 

or The Fox, a comedy by Jonson, performed by the King's Men in 1605-6, printed 1607.
Volpone, a rich Venetian without children, feigns that he is dying, in order to draw gifts from his would-be heirs. Mosca, his parasite and confederate, persuades each of these in turn that he is to be the heir, and thus extracts costly presents from them. One of them, Corvino, even attempts to sacrifice his wife to Volpone in hope of the inheritance. Finally Volpone overreaches himself. To enjoy the discomfiture of the vultures who are awaiting his death, he makes over his property by will to Mosca and pretends to be dead. Mosca takes advantage of the situation to blackmail Volpone, but rather than be thus defeated Volpone chooses to reveal all to the authorities. They direct that Volpone shall be cast in irons until he is as infirm as he pretended to be, Mosca whipped and confined to the galleys, Corvino made parade in ass's ears, and his wife be returned to her family with a trebled dowry. A secondary plot involves Sir Politic Would-be, an English traveller who has absurd schemes for improving trade and curing diseases, and his Lady, a loquacious, hectoring pedant. Sir Politic is chastened when Peregrine, a wiser English traveller, pretends to have him arrested for treason. The names of the principal characters, Volpone (the fox), Mosca (the fly), Voltore (the vulture), Corbaccio (the crow), Corvino (the raven), indicate their roles and natures.


This plot is summarised by Jonson himself in an acrostic poem at the start of the play:

                 The argument
V olpone, childless, rich, feigns sicks, despairs,
O ffers his state to hopes of several heirs,
L ies languishing: his parasite receives
P resents of all, assures, deludes; then weaves
O ther cross plots, which ope themselves, are told.
N ewe tricks for safety are sought; they thrive: when bold,
E ach tempts the other again, and all are sold.


A film version from the 1940s—in French, unfortunately. And a video of the epilogue.

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:21. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Aquella foto de las ramas

martes, 20 de noviembre de 2012

Aquella foto de las ramas

 Aquella foto de las ramas 

Aquella foto de las ramas, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:22. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Donde Mas nos duele

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

Donde Mas nos duele

Un artículo de Fernando García de Cortázar en el ABC, donde trata a Artur o Arturo Mas y a los secesionistas catalanes con el infinito desprecio intelectual y moral que se merecen: 

SIEMPRE me ha molestado la impertinencia que confunde la sobriedad de los catalanes con una falta de sentido del humor, con una ausencia de cordialidad o con un lastre de arrogancia. Por el contrario, he apreciado esa forma de tomarse en serio a uno mismo que se basa en la prudencia para huir de la exageración, y que nunca confunde la ponderación con la indiferencia ni la exaltación con la autenticidad. Me temo que las cosas han cambiado, y que la más grave responsabilidad que habrán de asumir los dirigentes nacionalistas catalanes será, paradójicamente, haber traicionado la consistencia envidiable de un carácter. Porque, frente a determinadas maneras de comprender la sociedad, cuyo violento patetismo ha dejado huellas indelebles en nuestra historia, las virtudes cívicas de los catalanes siempre habían huido de la combustión sentimental en que se ha convertido la atmósfera de las elecciones del 25 de noviembre.
Al catalán le distinguía una mezcla de serenidad y fina ironía indispensables para mantener una distancia de seguridad ante los problemas, que nos permite resolverlos en lugar de reducirnos a la condición de meros portavoces. Se trataba de una ejemplar manera de vivir, de una relación austera con la realidad a la que disgustaban las frases ampulosas y el estrépito de las consignas. No era un asunto de buenos modales, sino una simple cuestión de civismo. No era una opción estética, sino una convicción moral. Se trataba de un saber estar que, en el fondo, siempre es un resultado de saber quién se es. Se trataba, sobre todo, de comprender que nunca se está tan cerca del ridículo como cuando las palabras y los gestos disfrazan su inconsistencia con los hábitos de la solemnidad. No son estos tiempos de crisis los mejores para la lírica. Pero no hay tiempo alguno que se merezca esta épica de andar por casa, este heroísmo de mesa camilla, esta exhibición muscular de forzudos de feria patriótica, este recuento de vísceras que presagian una utopía diseñada en los circuitos institucionales del mismo Estado que se pretende repudiar.
Los nacionalistas catalanes protestan airadamente cuando muchos consideramos, dentro y fuera de Cataluña, que se está produciendo una grave y tal vez irreparable pérdida de la calidad democrática construida con tanto esfuerzo en los últimos treinta años. Lamento que no se vea en lo que está ocurriendo algo mucho más peligroso que el debate legítimo entre opciones políticas, entre modelos de Estado, entre proyectos de sociedad. Lamento que la sensibilidad de los observadores se haya degradado hasta el punto de no ver que lo más dañino para el futuro no se encuentra en los temas de los que se habla, sino en el tono que se utiliza. Si el guión nos preocupa, el escenario nos alarma. Poco debería extrañarnos, al fin y al cabo, porque el nacionalismo siempre ha sabido que su hábitat natural es el de la apariencia, aunque pretenda presentarse como defensor de lo sustancial. Siempre ha entendido que su discurso comunitario funciona como llamada a la unanimidad, aunque intente comportarse como celador del pluralismo. Siempre ha demostrado que se encuentra cómodo en el monólogo de las afirmaciones tajantes, aunque pretenda basarse en el derecho al debate y en la atención a los matices.
¿Cómo no va a preocuparnos lo que está sucediendo en Cataluña, cuando no asistimos a un conflicto político, sino a la sustitución de la política por la simple manifestación de una identidad indiscutible? En uno de los ejercicios de demagogia más abyectos que puedo recordar en nuestra democracia, la consigna del «derecho a decidir» se expresa en un contexto en el que ya se ha decidido lo fundamental. A los ciudadanos de Cataluña no se les ha ofrecido un campo de opciones entre las que pueden elegir, sino que se les fuerza a la insoportable tensión de un dilema que sólo puede satisfacer a quienes, a falta de cultura democrática, han sacado por fin sus sobradas y sobrantes inclinaciones plebiscitarias. Por ello, la convocatoria de las elecciones se ha planteado ya como un plebiscito. Porque, en su escenificación por tierra, mar y aire de los medios de comunicación catalanes y de los propios centros del poder institucional, en el temario a superar por quienes aspiran a obtener una plaza de ciudadanos, la cuestión fundamental y única es la de la independencia de Cataluña.
Ninguno de los sucios juegos de manos del nacionalismo va a cogernos desprevenidos. Ni siquiera que sus magos profesionales hayan convertido el rancho cuartelero de una penitenciaría patriótica en el falsario banquete del festín de una democracia. Los catalanes no van a elegir, porque la más importante de las decisiones ha sido ya tomada. Antes de que se convoque cualquier consulta sobre la independencia, los ciudadanos de Cataluña han sido llevados a un proceso que nada tiene que ver con las nueve ocasiones en las que han elegido a sus representantes en el Parlamento autonómico. No es extraño que los promotores de esta circunstancia la hayan presentado como un momento excepcional, porque de eso se trata: de haber decretado un estado de excepción que, en su mismo planteamiento, ha liquidado, tal vez de forma irreparable, el concepto nuclear de soberanía sobre el que se levantaron la democracia española y las instituciones autonómicas de Cataluña.
Que nadie se extrañe del aparato publicitario con el que se asume esta fractura cívica de tan extrema gravedad. Que Artur Mas aparezca en un cartel electoral con los brazos extendidos, como Moisés ante el mar Rojo, bajo el lema contundente de «la voluntad de un pueblo» es una prueba del ambiente en el que hace tiempo se vive el final de la política en Cataluña. Mas no aparece como un dirigente, sino como un redentor. No trata de imprimir fuerza a su liderazgo, sino de ensancharlo con los dispositivos religiosos del mesianismo. No aparece como el representante de un partido que habla en nombre de una parte de los ciudadanos, sino como la encarnación de un pueblo entero, como la personificación caudillista de una voluntad general. Que no se equivoque él y que no se equivoquen quienes no se han sentido demasiado cómodos ni con el gesto ni con el lema. Son perfectamente coherentes con lo que lleva haciéndose desde hace meses. La discreta estatura política de Mas, la más que delgada línea roja de sus aptitudes como ideólogo, han hallado la coyuntura propicia de unas circunstancias extremas. Los líderes a los que admiramos fueron aquellos que edificaron la normalidad sobre las ruinas de la exasperación, cuando Europa trataba de recuperar su rumbo en el corazón del siglo XX. Aquellas figuras ejemplares no aumentaron su talla levantándose sobre la voluntad del pueblo, sino representándolo con la modestia y el sentido de la proporción que siempre observamos en quien es portador de la grandeza. Quien en las dificultades de la patria no ve un desafío que le pone a prueba, sino una oportunidad que la desintegra en beneficio propio, poco tiene que ver con los hombres y mujeres a los que veneramos, constructores reales de aquella libertad que, gracias a ellos, recuperamos. Un político mediocre no pertenece a ese rango por muchos ejercicios de vanidad que desarrolle o por muchos actos de servidumbre intelectual que oficien los funcionarios de su causa. En el mejor de los casos, será sólo el ejemplar elocuente de una época de crisis de la democracia y de flaqueza de la libertad.

Acción contra el separatismo catalán

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:24. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

Washington Irving

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

Washington Irving

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature, 6th ed., ed. Hart and Leininger: 

Washington Irving (1783-1859) was born in New York City, the youngest of 11 children of a wealthy merchant who had sided with the rebels in the Revolution. Precocious and impressionable, the boy was early influenced by the literary interests of his brothers William and Peter, but in 1798 concluded his education at private schools and entered a law office. His legal studies soon lost their appeal, although he continued in various offices until 1804, varying his occupation by a frontier journey (1803) through upper New York state and into Canada, and by writing for the Morning Chronicle and The Corrector, newspapers edited by his brother Peter. For the Chronicle (1802-3) he wrote the "Letters of Jonathan Oldstyle, Gent.," a series of youthful satires on New York society, which won him recognition. To restore his failing health and to further his education, he traveled in Europe (1804-6) where he collected material later used in stories and essays.

Although he was admitted to the bar upon his return,  he lost interest in the law and turned seriously to literature. Salmagundi; or, The Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq., and Others (1807-8) is a series of satirical miscellanies concerned with New York society. The leading essays were written by Irving, his brothers, and William Irving’s brother-in-law., J. K. Paulding, all members of the group known as the ’Nine Worthies’ or ’Lads of Kilkenny’ of ’Cockloft Hall’. Federalist in politics, conservative in social attitude, and humorous in intention, these early essays represent the position and manner to which Irving was to cling throughout his career. He was now famous as author, wit, and man of society, and, to further his reputation, turned to the creation of the comic Dutch-American scholar Diedrich Knickerbocker, on whose burlesque History of New York he was occupied until 1809. This work, called ’the first great book of comic literature written by an American’, although ostensibly concerned with the history of the Dutch occupation was also a Federalist critique of Jeffersonian democracy and a whimsical satire on pedantry and literary classics.

Before its completion, Irving suffered a tragic loss in the death of his fiancée, Matilda Hoffman.According to sentimental biographers, who disregarded later love affairs, he remained a bachelor to be faithful to her memory. Certainly he was profoundly affected at the time. In spite of the success of the History, he deserted creative literature during the next six years, when he was occupied in business with his brothers, in collecting the poems of Thomas Campbell (1810), in editing the Analetic Magazine (1813-14), a popular miscellany of reprints from foreign periodicals, and in social and political activities in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington. Toward the end of the War of 1812, he served as an aide-de-camp to the governor, and in 1815 he planned a cruise to the Mediterranean with Decatur; but, when this becvame impossible, he sailed alone for Liverpool, to take charge of the family business there.

During the next two years he tried desperately to maintain the failing business, but in 1818 it went into bankruptcy, and he was forced to write for a living. He had already been impressed by the beauties of the English countryside as interpreted by the romantic poets, and, encouraged by Scott, now returned to writing his most successful work, The Sketch Book (1819-20), containing familiar essays on English life, and Americanized versions of European folk tales in "Rip van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." As Geoffrey Crayon, the pseudonym by which the book was signed, Irving was now a celebrity, lionized in English and French society, and the intimate of such men as Scott, Byron, and Moore. In Paris (1820) he wrote plays with J. H. Payne, a collaboration to which he occasionally returned for several years. Bracebridge Hall (1822) is another book of romantic sketches, less important than The Sketch Book, but equally well received.

Continuing in his search for fictional materials, Irving now traveled in Germany (1822-23), spending the winter at Dresden, where he fell in love with an English girl, Emily Foster, who seems to have refused his proposal of marriage. After a year in Paris, he returned to England and published Tales of a Traveller (1824), so adversely criticised that Irving was nearly discouraged  from further literary activity. After two unproductive years in France, during which he is supposed to have vied with Payne for the affections of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, he became a diplomatic attaché in Spain (1826-29), living for a time in Madrid at the home of the biographer Obadiah Rich, and engaged in research for his scholarly but popular History of the Life and Voyages of Christopher Columbus (1828), based principally on the work of the Spanish scholar Navarrete. This was followed by A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada (1829) and a ’Spanish Sketch Book’, The Alhambra (1832), recounding Spanish legends and describing the famous monument.

Irving was secretary of the U.S. legation in London (1829-32), and then returned to New York, after an absence of 17 years, to be welcomed enthusiastically as the first American author to achieve international fame. Again seeking picturesque literary  backgrounds, he made an adventurous trip to the Western frontier. This was described in A Tour on the Prairies, published as a part of The Crayon Miscellany (3 vols., 1835). The tour also resulted in Astoria (1836), an account of the fur-trading empire of John Jacob Astor, written with Pierre Irving; and the Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U.S.A. (1837). Irving’s Western Journals were published in 1944.

After a few years at his home, Sunnyside, during which he declined the nomination for mayor of New York City and the secretaryship of the navy offered him by Van Buren, as well as giving up a plan to write a Conquest of Mexico in favor of Prescott, Irving returned to his favorite place of exile, becoming minister to Spain (1842-45). His position was made difficult by the Spanish insurrection (1843), and after his resignation two years later he spent a year in London on a diplomatic mission concerning the Oregon Question. Again at Sunnyside, he passed the remaining 13 years of his life in company of his beloved nieces and innumerable friends, acknowledged as the leading American author, in spite of his waning powers, as evidenced in Oliver Goldsmith (1840), a biography of one of his literary masters; A Book of the Hudson (1849) and Wolfert’s Roost (1855) collection of sketches; Mahomet and his Successors (2 vols., 1849-50), conventional biographies; and the monumental Life of Washington (5 vols., 1855-59), planned as early as 1825, but completed in the last year of his life, just before his health finally failed. Bare of the graces of his early writing, this triumph of scholarship crowned an erratic career that seldom retained its literary focus for more than a few years at a time, but which served in many ways to consolidate the culture of the U.S. and Europe. Unlike his contemporary, Cooper, Irving saw the European past in an aura of romance, and, except for the gentle satire of his early works, consistently avoided coming to grips with modern democratic life. His graceful, humorous, stylistically careful writing is in the tradition of Addison, Steele, and Goldmith. In subject and method he sought the traditional and the picturesque. A scholarly edition of his Complete Works began publication in 1969.

Salmagundi; or, the Whim-Whams and Opinions of Launcelot Langstaff, Esq. and Others, satirical essays and poems, publishd in 20 periodical pamphlets (Jan. 24, 1807-Jan. 25, 1808) by Washington and William Irving and J. K. Paulding, who used such pseudonyms as Anthony Evergreen, Jeremy Cockloft the Younger, Will Wizard, and Pindar Cockloft, Esq. The work was collected in book form (1808).

Modeled on the Spectator, these whimsical pieces travesty contemporary New York tastes, society, and politics, showing the authors’ aristocratic Federalism. The ’letters’ of the visiting Mustapha-Ru-a Dub Keli Kahn to Asem Haac-hem satirically describe the ’mobocratic’ and ’logocratic’ Jeffersonian democracy, while other essays and poems deal in a humorous, pseudo-learned style with such various topics as fashions in women’s clothing, the vulgarity of parvenus, theatrical and musical criticism, style in literature, and caricatures of celebrities. A second series of Salmagundi papers was written by Paulding alone (May 1819-Sept. 1820).

A History of New York, From the Beginning of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, by Diedrich Knickerbocker, burlesque history by Irving, published in 1809 and revised in 1812, 1819, and 1848. It satirized the methods of contemporary historians, the heroic style of epic poetry, and men and events during the Dutch administration as well as during its own period. Although Irving follows the history of New Netherland as then known, his satirical intention causes him to alter or disregard facts, as when, in the figure of William the Testy (William Kieft) he draws a Federalist caricature of Jefferson. According to the preface, the fictitious chronicler was "a small brisk looking old gentleman . . . a very inquisitive body . . . although a little queer in his ways."

Book I contains a cosmogony and description of the world, parodying contemporary histories, and a burlesque account of the discovery and peopling of America. Book II chronicles the voyage of Hudson, early Dutch colonization, and the founding of New Amsterdam, and gives traditional portraits of Dutch colonial types. Book III describes the "golden reign of the stolid governor Wouter Van Twiller, who was "exactly five feet six inches in height, and six feet five inches in circumference," and whose head was "a perfect sphere"; the profound deliberation of his burgomasters over their pipes; conditions in early New Amsterdam; the hostility of the neighboring Yankees of Connecticut; and the establishment of Fort Goed Hoop. Book IV tells of the governorship of William the Testy, so learned that he was "good for nothing"; his pugnacity; his war "by proclamation" with the Yankees; his many laws, partisan quarrels, and border disputes. Books V, VI, and VII chronicle the reign of Peter Stuyvesant (Peter the Headstrong): his political reforms and military adventures in Delaware; and his unsuccessful defense of New Amsterdam against the conquering British force.

The Sketch Book, familiar essays and tales by Irving, written under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., published serially in the U.S. (1819-20) and in book form in England (1820). Its genial humor and graceful style made it successful both in the U.S. and abroad, where American authors were not yet recognized. Most of the sketches concern his observations as an American visitor in England (e.g. ’Westminster Abbey,’ ’The Christmas Dinner,’ ’Stratford-on-Avon,’ ’John Bull,’ and ’The Stage-Coach’) but six chapters deal with American scenes. Of these ’Rip van Winkle’ and ’The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ are adaptations of German folk tales to the New York backgrounds of Diedrich Knickerbocker. ’English Writers of America’ opposes the criticisms of the U.S. by British tourists; ’Traits of Indian Character’ is a romantic defense of the American tribes; ’Philip of Pokanoket’ is an account of King Philip; and ’The Angler’ is a whimsical self-exposure of the author as preferring to read Izaak Walton rather than pursue the art of angling in person.

Rip van Winkle, tale by Irving, published in The Sketch Book (1819-20). Joseph Jefferson is famous for his acting of the title role in a dramatic version, which he made with Boucicault in 1865. Rip, an indolent, good-natured Dutch-American, lives with his shrewish wife in a village on the Hudson during the years before the Revolution. One day, while hunting in the Catskills with his dog Wolf, he meets a dwarf-like stranger dressed in the ancient Dutch fashion. He helps him to carry a keg, and with him joins a party silently engaged in a game of ninepins. After drinking of the liquor they furnish, he falls into a sleep which lasts 20 years, during which the Revolutionary War takes place. He awakes as an old man, returns to his altered village, is greeted by his old dog, who dies of the excitement, and finds that his wife has long been dead. Rip and his associates are almost forgotten, but he hoes on to live with his daughter, now grown and the mother of a family, and soon wins new friends by his generosity and cheerfulness.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, short story by Irving, possibly based on a German source. It was published in The Sketch Book (1820) . An operetta, The Headless Horseman (1936), with music by Douglas Moore and libretto by Stephen Vincent Benét, is based on it.

Ichabod Crane, an assertive, ingenuous Yankee schoolmaster, lanky and angular in appearance, lives among the Dutch folk in Sleepy Hollow on the Hudson, in post-Revolutionary days. He loves Katrina Van Tassel, daughter of a rich farmer, and is the victim of many pranks by the friends of his chief rival for her affections, Brom Van Brunt or Brom Bones, a reckless horseman and neighbourhood hero. At an autumn quiltin party at Van Tassel’s the guests entertain themselves with stories of ghosts and witches, and Brom tells of the headless horseman said to haunt the region. Ichabod is discouraged in his suit for Katrina, and on his way home, late at night, riding a borrowed plow horse, is frightened by a headless apparition that rides after him and throws a round object at his head. Ichabod is never again seen in Sleepy Hollow, although the next morning the round object is discovered to be a pumpkin.Brom marries Katrina, and Ichabod’s tale becomes a legend of the countryside.

Bracebridge Hall; or, The Humorists: A Medley,  49 tales and sketches by Irving, published in 1822 under the pseudonym Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. Resembling its predecessor, The Sketch Book, the collection includes stories with English, French, and Spanish settingss, but is chiefly remembered for "Dolph Heyliger" and its sequel, "The Storm-Ship," which recount the adventures of a New York lad who undertakes to discredit the legend of a haunted house, but encounters its ghost and recovers a fabulous buried treasure, as well as marrying an heiress. Americanized versions of the Flying Dutchman theme are presented in "The Storm-Ship," and other stories in the volume are also based on European folklore.

Tales of a Traveller, 32 stories and sketches by Irving, published in 1824. The volume, resembling its predecessors The Sketch Book and Bracebridge Hall, was the product of notes and anecdotes gathered mainly during a tour of Germany (1822-23). The first three sections deal with European backgrounds: "Strange Stories by a Nervous Gentleman," "Buckthorne and His Friends," and "The Italian Banditti’; while the fourth section, "The Money-Diggers," contains five tales "found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knickerbocker," set in New York, and dealing with buried-treasure legends about Captain Kidd and other pirates.

The Alhambra, 41 sketches by Irving, published in 1832 and revised and enlarged 1852, the result of the author’s residence (1829) in the ancient Moorish palace at Granada in Spain. His purpose was "to depict its half-Spanish, half Oriental character; .  . . to revive the traces of grace and beauty fas fading from its walls; to record the regal and chivalrous traditions . . . and the whimsical and supertitious legends of the motley race now burrowing among its ruins." Tales of medieval Moorish Spain are interspersed with architectural and other descriptions, and anecdotes of the author’s experiences among the native residents.

The Crayon Miscellany is a series of three volumes published under this pseudonym [Geoffrey Crayon, pseudonym of Irving].  The books are A Tour of the Prairies, Legends of the Conquest of Spain, and Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey.

A Tour on the Prairies,  autobiographical narrative by Irving, published as the first volume of The Crayon Miscellany (1832), in which he was accompanied by Charles J. Latrobe, a British traveler; Count de Pourtalès, a Swiss youth, Henry L. Ellsworth, a Government commissioner; and a little swarthy, meagre, wiry French creole, amed Antoine, but familiarly dubbed Tonish, a kind of Gil Blas of the frontier’. From Fort Gibson, in the present Oklahoma, Irving and his companions traveled westward, living among the frontiersmen and in camps and buffalo-hunting grounds of the Pawnee, Osage, and Creek tribes. Irving was particularly interested in gathering examples of folklore, and the Tour recounts such legends as that of the Pacing Mustang. The descriptions of Western life are presented in Irving’s characteristically softened and picturesque manner, and when compared with Ellsworth’s manuscript account show many omissions and alterations of fact.

The Adventures of Captain Bonneville (1837), narrative by Washinton Irving from the papers of Captain Benjamin Louis Eulalie de Bonneville (1796-1878). Bonneville, a West Pointer, led expeditions through the western slopes of the Rockies in 18323-35. Irving, at work on his novel Astoria, met Bonneville at the home of John Jacob Astor, bought the explorer’s papers an maps, and shaped his story as a kind of sequel to Astoria.

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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:25. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. sin tema

An Overview of American Literature

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2012

An Overview of American Literature

Links to the website of the Norton Anthology of American Literature:

Before 1820:

Stories of the Beginning of the World
Native American Trickster Tales
Hannah Dustan
Christopher Columbus (1451-1506)
Álvar (o Álvaro) Núñez Cabeza de Vaca (c. 1490–1558)
Thomas Harriot (1560-1621)
Samuel De Champlain (c. 1570-1635)
Thomas Morton (c. 1579-1647)
John Smith (1580-1631)
William Bradford (1590-1657)
John Winthrop (1588-1649)
Roger Williams (c. 1603-1683)
Anne Bradstreet (c. 1612-1672)
Mary Rowlandson (c. 1636-1711)
Edward Taylor (c. 1642-1729)
Cotton Mather (1663-1728)
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
Samson Occom (1723-1792)
J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur (1735-1813)
John Adams (1735-1826) and Abigail Adams (1744-1818)
Thomas Paine (1737-1809)
Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826)
Olaudah Equiano (1745?-1797)
Judith Sargent Murray (1751-1820) and Hannah Webster Foster (1762-1837)
Phillis Wheatley (c. 1753-1784)
Royall Tyler (1757-1826)

A ver, ¿y Brockden Brown? ¿No es más importante que Samson Occom? Hasta William Hill Brown, si nos ponemos.


Washington Irving (1783-1859)
James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851)
Catherine Maria Sedgwick (1789–1851)
William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878)
William Apess (1798-1839)
Lydia Maria Child (1802–1880)
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892)
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Margaret Fuller (1810-1850)
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)
Fanny Fern (1811–1872) and Elizabeth Drew Stoddard (1823–1902)
Harriet Jacobs (c. 1813-1897)
Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)
Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
Herman Melville (1819-1891)
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

—¿Y William Prescott? Ah, que eso ya no  es literatura.


Native American Chants and Songs
Charlot (c. 1831-1900)
Mark Twain (Samuel L. Clemens) (1835-1910)
Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton (1835-1895)
William Dean Howells (1837-1920)
Constance Fenimore Woolson ( 1840-1894)
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914?)
Sarah Winnemucca (1844-1891) and Zitkala Sa (1876-1938)
Sarah Orne Jewett (1849-1909)

Kate Chopin (1850-1904)
Booker T. Washington (1856?-1915)
Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932)
Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1860-1935) and Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945)
Bret Harte (1836-1902) and Mary Austin (1868-1934)
W. E. B. Du Bois (1868-1963)
James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and Paul Lawrence Dunbar (1872-1906)
Jack London (1876-1916)

Es una selección curiosa, esta que incluye a Sara Winnemucca y Zitkala Sa pero no a Stephen Crane. Habrá que completarla. O reducirla, si no.


Black Elk (1863-1950)
Edwin Arlington Robinson (1869-1935)
Willa Cather (1873-1947)
Amy Lowell (1874-1925)
Robert Frost (1874-1963)
Susan Glaspell (1876-1882)
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)
T. S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Eugene O’Neill (1888-1953)
Raymond Chandler (1888-1965)
Claude McKay (1889-1948)

Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)

Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960)
Nella Larsen (1891-1964)

Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)
E. E. Cummings (1894-1962)
Jean Toomer (1894-1967)
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)

William Faulkner (1897-1962)
Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
Hart Crane (1899-1932)
Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938) and Richard Wright (1908-1960)
Sterling Brown (1901-1989) and Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Carlos Bulosan (b. 1911)

Curioso que no aparezca Vladimir Nabokov, tan estadounidense al menos como Black Elk, y más literato. Debe ser por lo de mudarse a Suiza, a donde no fue Black Elk.

American literature from 1945

Prose 1945-

Eudora Welty (b. 1909)
Tennessee Williams (1911-1983)
John Cheever (1912-1982)
Ralph Ellison (1914-1994)
Saul Bellow (b. 1915)
Grace Paley (b. 1922)
Jack Kerouac (1922-1969)
James Baldwin (1924-1987)
Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964)
Ursula K. Le Guin (b. 1929)
Donald Barthelme (b. 1931)
Toni Morrison (b. 1931)
John Updike (b. 1932)
Thomas Pynchon (b. 1937)
Raymond Carver (b. 1938)
Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995)
Maxine Hong Kingston (b. 1940)
Gloria Anzaldúa (b. 1942)
Alice Walker (b. 1944)
Annie Dillard (b. 1945)
David Mamet (b. 1947) and Sam Shepard (b. 1943)
Leslie Marmon Silko (b. 1948)
Art Spiegelman (b. 1948)
Louise Erdrich (b. 1954) and Sherman Alexie (b. 1966)
Richard Powers (b. 1957)
Jhumpa Lahiri (b. 1967)

Curioso, también, que no aparezca Philip Roth, ni Jerzy Kosinski, ni Paul Auster...  En fin, selecciones del Reader’s Digest, que es lo que es la literatura.

Poetry 1945-

Robert Penn Warren (1905-1989)
Theodore Roethke (1908-1963)
Charles Olson (1910-1970)
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
Robert Hayden (1913-1980)
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)
John Berryman (1914-1972)
Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
Richard Wilbur (b. 1921)
Denise Levertov (1923-1997)
A. R. Ammons (1926-2001)
James Merrill (1926-1995)
Robert Creeley (b. 1926)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Galway Kinnell (b. 1927)
John Ashbery (b. 1927)
Anne Sexton (1928-1974)
Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)
Gary Snyder (b. 1930)
Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)
Michael S. Harper (b. 1938)
Simon J. Ortiz (b. 1941)
Billy Collins (b. 1941)
Louise Glück (b. 1943) and Cathy Song (b. 1955)
Joy Harjo (b. 1951)
Rita Dove (b. 1952)
Li-Young Lee (b. 1957)

Me podían haber puesto a David Foster Wallace, o a Danielewski, o a alguno de estos jóvenes genios à la mode, Jonathan Franzen, o Foer. O a Stephen King o George R. R. Martin, por qué no, que la gente los lee más que a Li-Young Lee. Cada cual pone a quien estima oportuno.


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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 20:40. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Muchas visitas y poco personal

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2012

Muchas visitas y poco personal

Últimamente mi Blog de notas está siendo más visitado que mi bibliografía. Esta ha pasado de una media de 100 visitas diarias hace unos años, a las míseras 30 de hoy. Bueno, 30 en la portada, que la gente llega más, me parece, a las puertas traseras donde no hay contador. En cuanto al blog, tiene más del doble estos días. Algunos contadores le siguen dando pocas visitas, por ejemplo este Feedjit, que junta las suyas y las de la bibliografía. Aunque tiene en todo caso menos visitas que Vanity Fea (su alter-doppelgänger, que anda por las 300 diarias), estos días se ha colocado el Blog de Notas entre las páginas personales más visitadas de España según el contador de Motigo. En primera página estoy. Y eso que está siendo el blog menos personal que nunca, pues últimamente lo dedico a poner materiales para clase y cosas de literatura. Por eso será.

De todas maneras, mejor hablar de lo personal a través de la literatura, como dijo Arnold el lenguaje de la experiencia y los sentimientos,

All pains the immortal spirit must endure,
All weakness which impairs, all griefs which bow,
Find their sole speech in that victorious brow.

 —la de Shakespeare decía.



A photo on Flickr



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Domingo, 16 de Diciembre de 2012 23:55. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Blogs

Darwin's Big Bang

jueves, 22 de noviembre de 2012

Darwin's Big Bang

Charles Darwin was not much concerned with evolutionary cosmogony, unlike his grandfather Erasmus.  In Eramus Darwin's The Economy of Vegetation we find an eighteenth-century imaginative equivalent of the Big Bang, a great narrative of creation in which the role given to God is as mythical as that of the sylphs and fairies and nymphs of primeval fire—only a "sublime allegory". The function of the fairy element in Darwin's poems, often ridiculed by literary historians and scientists alike, is clear enough when seen in this context. It is a a way of including the Christian account of the creation as just one more element of the mythical apparatus, no more true from a scientific viewpoint than the sylphs and the nymphs.  erasmus darwin

Both the verse and the notes come from the first part of Erasmus Darwin's The Botanic Garden (1788, online at Project Gutenberg). The theory of biological evolution is also sketched out in the notes, following Buffon's ideas.

From canto I of  Poem I, The Economy of Vegetation:
    I. "NYMPHS OF PRIMEVAL FIRE! YOUR vestal train
     Hung with gold-tresses o'er the vast inane,
     Pierced with your silver shafts the throne of Night,
100 And charm'd young Nature's opening eyes with light;
     When LOVE DIVINE, with brooding wings unfurl'd,
     Call'd from the rude abyss the living world.
     "—LET THERE BE LIGHT!" proclaim'd the ALMIGHTY LORD,
     Astonish'd Chaos heard the potent word;—
105 Through all his realms the kindling Ether runs,
     And the mass starts into a million suns;
     Earths round each sun with quick explosions burst,
     And second planets issue from the first;
     Bend, as they journey with projectile force,
110 In bright ellipses their reluctant course;
     Orbs wheel in orbs, round centres centres roll,
     And form, self-balanced, one revolving Whole.
     —Onward they move amid their bright abode,
     Space without bound, THE BOSOM OF THEIR GOD!

[Nymphs of primeval fire. l. 97. The fluid matter of heat is perhaps the most extensive element in nature; all other bodies are immersed in it, and are preserved in their present state of solidity or fluidity by the attraction of their particles to the matter of heat. Since all known bodies are contractible into less space by depriving them of some portion of their heat, and as there is no part of nature totally deprived of heat, there is reason to believe that the particles of bodies do not touch, but are held towards each other by their self- attraction, and recede from each other by their attraction to the mass of heat which surrounds them; and thus exist in an equilibrium between these two powers. If more of the matter of heat be applied to them, they recede further from each other, and become fluid; if still more be applied, they take an aerial form, and are termed Gasses by the modern chemists. Thus when water is heated to a certain degree, it would instantly assume the form of steam, but for the pressure of the atmosphere, which prevents this change from taking place so easily; the same is true of quicksilver, diamonds, and of perhaps all other bodies in Nature; they would first become fluid, and then aeriform by appropriated degrees of heat. On the contrary, this elastic matter of heat, termed Calorique in the new nomenclature of the French Academicians, is liable to become consolidated itself in its combinations with some bodies, as perhaps in nitre, and probably in combustible bodies as sulphur and charcoal. See note on l. 232, of this Canto. Modern philosophers have not yet been able to decide whether light and heat be different fluids, or modifications of the same fluid, as they have many properties in common. See note on l. 462 of this Canto.]

[When Love Divine. l. 101. From having observed the gradual evolution of the young animal or plant from its egg or seed; and afterwards its successive advances to its more perfect state, or maturity; philosophers of all ages seem to have imagined, that the great world itself had likewise its infancy and its gradual progress to maturity; this seems to have given origin to the very antient and sublime allegory of Eros, or Divine Love, producing the world from the egg of Night, as it floated in Chaos. See l. 419. of this Canto.

The external crust of the earth, as far as it has been exposed to our view in mines or mountains, countenances this opinion; since these have evidently for the most part had their origin from the shells of fishes, the decomposition of vegetables, and the recrements of other animal materials, and must therefore have been formed progressively from small beginnings. There are likewise some apparently useless or incomplete appendages to plants and animals, which seem to shew they have gradually undergone changes from their original state; such as the stamens without anthers, and styles without stigmas of several plants, as mentioned in the note on Curcuma, Vol. II. of this work. Such is the halteres, or rudiments of wings of some two-winged insects; and the paps of male animals; thus swine have four toes, but two of them are imperfectly formed, and not long enough for use. The allantoide in some animals seems to have become extinct; in others is above tenfold the size, which would seem necessary for its purpose. Buffon du Cochon. T. 6. p. 257. Perhaps all the supposed monstrous births of Nature are remains of their habits of production in their former less perfect state, or attempts towards greater perfection.]

[Through all his realms. l. 105. Mr. Herschel has given a very sublime and curious account of the construction of the heavens with his discovery of some thousand nebulae, or clouds of stars; many of which are much larger collections of stars, than all those put together, which are visible to our naked eyes, added to those which form the galaxy, or milky zone, which surrounds us. He observes that in the vicinity of these clusters of stars there are proportionally fewer stars than in other parts of the heavens; and hence he concludes, that they have attracted each other, on the supposition that infinite space was at first equally sprinkled with them; as if it had at the beginning been filled with a fluid mass, which had coagulated. Mr. Herschel has further shewn, that the whole sidereal system is gradually moving round some centre, which may be an opake mass of matter, Philos. Trans. V. LXXIV. If all these Suns are moving round some great central body; they must have had a projectile force, as well as a centripetal one; and may thence be supposed to have emerged or been projected from the material, where they were produced. We can have no idea of a natural power, which could project a Sun out of Chaos, except by comparing it to the explosions or earthquakes owing to the sudden evolution of aqueous or of other more elastic vapours; of the power of which under immeasurable degrees of heat, and compression, we are yet ignorant.

It may be objected, that if the stars had been projected from a Chaos by explosions, that they must have returned again into it from the known laws of gravitation; this however would not happen, if the whole of Chaos, like grains of gunpowder, was exploded at the same time, and dispersed through infinite space at once, or in quick succession, in every possible direction. The same objection may be stated against the possibility of the planets having been thrown from the sun by explosions; and the secondary planets from the primary ones; which will be spoken of more at large in the second Canto, but if the planets are supposed to have been projected from their suns, and the secondary from the primary ones, at the beginning of their course; they might be so influenced or diverted by the attractions of the suns, or sun, in their vicinity, as to prevent their tendency to return into the body, from which they were projected.

If these innumerable and immense suns thus rising out of Chaos are supposed to have thrown out their attendant planets by new explosions, as they ascended; and those their respective satellites, filling in a moment the immensity of space with light and motion, a grander idea cannot be conceived by the mind of man.]

Obsérvese que, sobre el universo en expansión, previene y responde Darwin una objeción que al parecer se le escapó a Newton—el colapso gravitacional. Este no había aplicado su teoría de la gravitación universal con coherencia, pues según su modelo si lo entendemos literalmente, el universo debería culminar en un Big Crunch, una conclusión que no extrajo sin embargo Newton, como ya señaló Laplace por esos años, sin por ello llegar tampoco a una solución satisfactoria que demostrase la estabilidad del sistema solar. La solución de Darwin es la formación del universo por  una explosión instantánea y continuada de todo el "caos" original su conjunto, seguida de explosiones menores locales y dispersas—como podrían ser las supernovas. Si bien esta noción está presentada de modo más narrativo que matemático, es una hipótesis puede parecer vista desde hoy más correcta que la de los científicos que le precedieron y siguieron hasta bien entrado el siglo XX.

Victorian Dark Matter

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Lunes, 17 de Diciembre de 2012 18:51. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Evolución

Santa María, dans le grand vacarme du monde


Santa María, dans le grand vacarme du monde

Santa María, dans le grand vacarme du monde 
Santa María, dans le grand vacarme du monde, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Martes, 18 de Diciembre de 2012 09:23. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Atención a Analecta Malacitana


Atención a Analecta Malacitana

En Analecta Malacitana me han publicado un artículo, más en concreto en el número 33, de diciembre de 2012 de AnMal Electrónica, que acaba de salir.  Y el artículo que allí pueden leer se titula "Atención a la Atención (Sociobiología, estética y pragmática de la atención)". 

Resumen: Revisión de algunas de las recientes teorías evolucionistas, sociobiológicas y cognitivas sobre la atención, y en especial sobre modalidades de atención ligadas al lenguaje y a la interacción social, y examen de la relevancia que tienen para reformular cuestiones centrales en la interpretación literaria y la teoría crítica. 

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Martes, 18 de Diciembre de 2012 09:24. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Semiótica

La huelga en Radio Unizar


La huelga en Radio Unizar

Aquí  el audio de un programa sobre la huelga en Radio Unizar. La gente está a favor de protestar, o de que los demás protesten, pero por lo que se ve, casi ninguno de los que entrevistan se ha sumado a la huelga activamente. Y desde luego no están porque les impongan la protesta obligatoria.

Se habla de altercados en Derecho y Ciencias, aunque el día fue "tranquilo" en general (claro, si la alternativa es tener altercados... mejor me quedo en casa). Para mi gusto hay poco énfasis en la coacción por parte de la emisora: ahora, oyendo a los entrevistados, casti toda la gente protesta contra los piquetes que la emisora llama "informativos", y denuncia las coacciones. Si no hubiese piquetes, dice el único que está medio a favor de ellos, la huelga sería un fracaso porque todo el mundo iría a trabajar. Por tanto, hay que pastorearlos, se sobreentiende (es la opción psoe/iu/ugt/comisiones).

Hasta uno de los entrevistados, que va a la manifestación "con su sindicato" se queja de que todos los sindicatos son unos ladrones, pero que de alguna manera hay que protestar. 

En cuanto a la emisora, no se moja y presenta todo como una variedad de opiniones, muy en la línea de la Universidad. ¿Que cierran el acceso a todos los centros? Bueno, pues es una mera anécdota, cosas normales que pasan en una huelga. De profesores y estudiantes no entrevistan a ninguno con nombre y apellidos para que cuente cómo le fue.

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Martes, 18 de Diciembre de 2012 12:31. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Universidad

El coche-casa que vimos dos veces


El coche-casa que vimos dos veces

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Martes, 18 de Diciembre de 2012 12:32. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

James Fenimore Cooper

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature:

William Cooper (1754-1809), father of J. F. Cooper, settled on the shores of Otsego Lake in central New York (1790) and founded the town which bears his name. At one time his land holdings aggregated more than 750,000 acres, and he prospered as a land agent. He adopted a policy of installment payments for his tenants, and kept his land free of the Anti-Rent Wars. A staunch Federalist, he was a member of Congress 1795-97, 1799-1801, and often left his magnificent home to show his prowess as a wrestler in some neighboring shanty. He died as the result of a blow struck to him by a political opponent. His son's Chronicles of Cooperstown (1838) tells of his settlement, which he himself vigorously describes in A Guide to the Wilderness (1810).

James Fenimore
COOPER (1789-1851), was born at Burlington, N.J., the son of William Cooper, who in 1790 removed his family to Otsego Hall, a manorial estate at Cooperstown on Otsego Lake, west of Albany, N.Y. Educated at the local school and in Albany, Cooper went to Yale, from which he was dismissed (1806). During the next five years he served at sea as a foremast-hand, was a midshipman in the navy (1808-11), and left to marry and settle as a country gentleman at Mamaroneck. He moved to Cooperstown (1814), but in 1817 moved again to a farm at Scarsdale.

At 30 he was suddenly plunged into a literary career, when his wife challenged his claim that he could write a better book than the English novel he was reading to her. The result was Precaution (1820), a conventional novel of manners in genteel English society. His second book, The Spy (1821), was an immediate success and established Cooper's typical attitude towards plot and characterization, being significant for its use of the American scene as the background of a romance. In The Pioneers (1823) he began his series of Leather-Stocking Tales, but in his rapid quest for unusual subjects he turned to the sea in The Pilot (1823), intending to prove that a sailor could write a better novel than the landsman Scott had done in The Pirate (1822).
James Fenimore Cooper
Established as a leading American author, he moved to New York City, where he founded the Bread and Cheese Club. To further his position as the outstanding American novelist, he planned to write 13 national romances, one for each of the original states, but wrote only Lionel Lincoln (1825), dealing with Revolutionary Boston. Encouraged by the success of The Pioneers and the growing interest in the clash between savagery and civilization on the frontier, he continued his history of the pioneer scout Natty Bumppo in The Last of the Mohicans (1826) and The Prairie (1827). While traveling abroad (1826-33), nominally as U.S. consul at Lyons, he published The Red Rover (1827), The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish (1829) and The Water-Witch (1830), romances about America and life on American ships. In addition, he wrote The Bravo (1831), The Heidenmauer (1832), and The Headsman (1833), a trilogy intended to dispel the glamor of feudalism and to show its decline before the rise of democratic liberalism. A Letter  . . . to General Lafayette (1831) champions republics against monarchies, and Notions of the Americans (1828) is an answer to English critics of U.S. society and government.

Upon his return, Cooper in turn was repelled by the absence of what he considered to be public and private virtue, the abuses of democracy, and the failure to perceive the best elements of the life he had conjured up in his novels. A Letter to His Countrymen (1834), petulantly expressing his conservatism, was followed by his satire, The Monikins (1835), and four volumes of Gleanings in Europe (1837-38), containing brilliant descriptions and pungent social criticism. The American Democrat (1838), a full statement of his aristocratic social ideals, was followed by Homeward Bound (1838) and Home as Found (1838), fictional statements of these themes.

During the ensuing years, the press attacked his books and personal character, and he brought suits for libel against various Whig papers, arguing his own cases so successfully that he was regularly victorious. He returned to live at Cooperstown, where his favorite companion and amanuensis for the rest of his life was his daughter Susan, whose books describe their home. Here he carried his war with the press to a war with the people concerning property rights, in which, although he was constantly vindicated, he stood alone and unpopular.

Meanwhile he wrote a scholarly History of the Navy (1839), whose simplicity and gusto were overlooked in a controversy centering on his treatment of the Battle of Lake Erie. With the publication of The Pathfinder (1840) and The Deerslayer (1841) he completed the epical Leather-Stocking series, and in a burst of creative energy wrote 16 works of fiction, a great amount of controversial literature, and some scholarly and factual works. Mercedes of Castile (1840) deals with the first voyage of Columbus; The Two Admirals (1842) is a story of the British Navy before the Revolutionary War; and Wing-and-Wing (1842) is concerned with a French privateer in the Mediterranean. Ned Meyers (1843) is the fictional biography of a former shipmate, and the Lives of Distinguished American Naval Officers (1846) supplements the History of the Navy. Wyandotté (1843) deals with the outbreak of the Revolution in New York; Le Mouchoir (1843), republished as The Autobiography of a Pocket-Handkerchief, is a short romance of New York society and class distinctions; Afloat and Ashore (1844) and its sequel
Miles Wallingford (1844) seem to present a sefl-portrait of Cooper; The Crater (1848) is a Utopian social allegory; and Jack Tier (1848), The Oak Openings (1848) and The Sea Lions (1848) are all swift-moving historical romances. Cooper's last novel, The Ways of the Hour (1850), concerned with the perversions of social justice, is a forerunner of the modern mystery novel. Another late work is an unpublished comedy, Upside Down, or Philosophy in Petticoats, produced in New York. Of the novels written after 1840, the most important are those in the trilogy known as the Littlepage Manuscripts: Satanstoe (1845), The Chainbearer (1845), and The Redskins (1846), tracing the growing difficulties between propertied and propertyless classes in New York. A collection of Letters and Journals (6 vols., 1960-68), by James F. Beard gathers all known previously unpublished manuscripts.

Cooper's achievement, although uneven and the result of brilliant improvisation rather than a deeply considered artistry, was nevertheless sustained almost to the close of a hectic, crowded career. His worldwide fame attests his power of invention, for his novels have been popular principally for their variety of dramatic incidents, vivid descriptions of romantic scenes and situations, and adventurous plots. But a more sophisticated view caused a revival of interest in the mid-20th century concentrating on Cooper's novels in their creation of tension between different kinds of society, the settlement and the wilderness, and between civil law and natural rights as these suggest issues of moral and mythic import.



The Spy:
A Tale of the Neutral Ground,
romance by Cooper, published in 1821, and dramatized by C. P. Clinch (1822).

Harvey Binch, supposed to be a Loyalist spy but secretly in the intelligence service of General Washington, operates in the "neutral ground" of his native Westchester Country, New York, and aids his neighbors, Henry Wharton, a Loyalist who pretends to be neutral, his daughters Sarah and Frances, and a son, Captain Henry Wharton of the British army. In 1780, Washington, in his accustomed disguise as Mr. Harper, is sheltered at the Wharton home, where he is impressed by the rebel sympathies of Frances. To repay the family's hospiitality, Birch warns Captain Henry of his impending capture, but the young man, refusing to leave, is taken by a rebel force under Captain Jack Lawton. Frances appeals to her fiancé, the patriot Major Peyton Dunwoodie, but meanwhile Captain Henry escapes during a battle, only to be recaptured with Colonel Wellemere, Sara's British admirer. Birch is almost captured by Lawton, who mistakes him for a spy, but in their struggle he spares Lawton's life, a good deed repaid by Lawton when Birch is later turned over to him by the "Skinners," a band of marauding patriots. The wedding of Wellemere and Sarah is interrupted by Birch, who reveals that Wellemere is already married, and the Englishman escapes during a raid by the marauders, who destroy the Wharton home. Captain Henry is sentenced to be executed as a spy, but Birch helps him escape, and Frances, seeking them, goes to Birch's mountain retreat, where she finds "Mr. Harper" and persuades him to end the pursuit of her brother. Birch takes Captain Henry to a British ship, Frances and Dunwoodie are married, Lawton is killed in battle, and Birch, ending his service to Washington, refuses rewards, preferring to remain an itinerant peddler.

The Pioneers; or, The Sources of the Susquehanna, romance by Cooper, published in 1823. It is the fourth in plot sequence of the Leather-Stocking Tales.

During the decade after the Revolutionary War, Judge Marmaduke Temple, a retired Quaker merchant, is the leading landowner of Otsego County on the New York frontier, having acquired the estate of the Loyalist father of his friend Edward Effingham. While hunting deer he accidentally shoots Oliver Edwards, young companion of Natty Bumppo ("Leather-Stocking), a veteran frontiersman. The judge and his daughter Elizabeth befriend the young man, who becomes their overseer, although persisting in his mysterious association with Bumppo and old chief Chingachgook (John Mohegan), who is rumored to be his father. Elizabeth and her friend Louisa Grant, the rector's daughter, disdain the company of the supposed half-breed. After Bumppo is released from jail, following his arrest for shooting deer out of season, Elizabeth visits him and is trapped by a forest fire. She is saved by Edwards, but Chingachgook dies after his rescue by Bumppo. Elizabeth and Edwards now admit their love, and his identity is made known when a searching party discovers demented old Major Effingham, and it is revealed that Edwards is his grandson, that Bumppo had been an employee of his family, and that Chingachgook had adopted them into his tribe. The young couple is betrothed and given half of the judge's estate.

The Pilot,  romance by Cooper, published in 1823. The unnamed hero is supposed to represent John Paul Jones.

During the Revolutionary War, the schooner Ariel and an unnamed frigate appear off the coast of England near the residence of Colonel Howard, an expatriated South Carolina Loyalist. Lieutenants Griffith and Barnstable love Howard's two nieces, but their romances are thwarted by conflicting political views. The officers return to their shps with the mysterious "Pilot," who takes charge of the frigate. The schooner puts to sea through a channel that the frigate cannot navigate, but, during a terrible storm, the Pilot guides his ship to safety through a difficult shoal passage. The mission of the Americans is to capture prominent Englishmen, in order to force a modification of British impressment, and they decide to raid the guarded Howard residence. In the attempt, the Pilot and others are captured, but make their escape despite the precautions of villainous Christopher Dillon, a suitor of one of the girls. Dillon warns the crew of a British cutter, which is, however, defeated in battle by the Ariel. Long Tom Coffin, a daring old salt, is sent with the captured Dillon to attempt an exchange , but attempts to escape, is recaptured and taken back to the ship, which is wrecked in a strom. Only Barnstable and a few others survive. The Pilot captures the Howards, and imprisons them on the cutter. In a fierce battle with British warships, the frigate escapes through the shoal waters. Colonel Howard has been wounded, but before he dies he surrenders to the inevitability of American victory in the war, and permits the marriage of his nieces with the officers. The Pilot goes to Holland, while his ship sails for America.

Lionel Lincoln;
or, The Leaguer of Boston,
a romance by Cooper, published in 1825 and dramatized as The Leaguer of Boston.

Lionel Lincoln arrives at Boston (April 1775) as an officer with the British troops. On shipboard he has met an old man, "Ralph," who is actually his father, Sir Lionel, supposed to be in an English insane asylum. Another companion, whose true identity is unknown to either of them, is Job Pray, Lionel's half-wit stepbrother, who guides them to the house of his mother, Abigail. The latter is terrified at the sight of Sir Lionel. They go then to the home of Mrs Lechmere, Lionel's aunt, with whose granddaughter, Cecil Dynever, Lionel falls in love. Job serves among the Minute Men at Lexington, and, althought Lionel's father fails to convince his son of the justice of the rebel cause, Ralph saves his son's life during the battle. The young man vainly attempts to solve the mystery of their relationship, before he is called to serve at Bunker Hill. Seriously wounded, he is nursed to recovery by Cecil, and the two marry, encouraged by the strange insistence of Mrs. Lechmere, who soon dies. Finally Sir Lionel explains the various mysteries. Mrs. Lechmere, years before, had wished him to marry her daughter, but instead he had married her ward, Lionel's mother, whose death caused him to become temporarily insane. Somewhat earlier, he had assumed the character of "Ralph," during his liaison with Abigail. Mrs. Lechmere has insisted on the marriage of Cecil and Lionel in order to achieve her long cherished scheme of union between the families. The story ends with the sudden deaths of Sir Lionel, Abigail, and Job, the British evacuation of Boston, and the departure for England of Lionel and Cecil.

The Last of the Mohicans, romance by Cooper, published in 1826, is the second of the Leatherstocking Tales.

While the French and Indians besiege Fort William Henry on Lake George (1757), Cora and Alice Munro, daughters of the English commander, are on their way to join their father, accompanied by Major Duncan Heyward, Alice's fiancé, the singing teacher David Gamut, and the treacherous Indian Magua, who secretly serves the French. Magua's plan to betray the party to the Iroquois is foiled by the scout Hawkeye (Natty Bumppo) and his companions, old chief Chingachgook and his son Uncas, only survivors of the Mohican aristocracy. Escaping, Magua obtains Iroquois aid and returns to capture the girls. He promises them safety if Cora will become his squaw, but she refuses, and Hawkeye arrives to rescue them. Reaching the fort, they remain until Munro surrenders to Montcalm, who gives them a safe-conduct. When they leave they are set upon by Indians, and the sisters are captured. Hawkeye pursues them, finding Cora imprisoned in a Delaware camp and Alice in a Huron camp. Uncas is captured by the Hurons, and Heyward enters the camp in disguise, rescuess Alice, and with Uncas escapes to the Delaware camp, where they are cordially received. Old chief Tamenund, learning Uncas's identity, hails him as his destined successor. Magua then claims Cora s his rightful property, and Uncas is unable to object, but, joined by the English, leads his tribe against the Hurons. When Magua attempts to desert, Uncas follows, and tries to rescue Cora. Uncas and Cora are killed, and Hawkeye shoots Magua, who falls from a precipice to his death. The others return to civilization, except Hawkeye, who continues his frontier career.

Audiobook: The Last of the Mohicans:


The Prairie, romance by Cooper, published in 1827. It is the fifth in plot sequence of the Leather-Stocking Tales.

Natty Bumppo, though nearly 90 in 1804, is still competent as a frontiersman and trapper on the Western plains, clinging to his faithful hound Hector and his rifle Killdeer. He encounters an emigrant train led by surly Ishmael Bush and his rascally brother-in-law Abiram White, in whose party are also the naturalist Dr. Obed Battins; a woman captive concealed in a covered wagon; her attendant, Ellen Wade; and the bee-hunter Paul Hover, who is in love with Ellen. The old trapper barely averts an Indian raid on the train., which he then guides to a safe camp. He is joined by a young soldier, Duncan Uncas Middleton, whom he is overjoyed to recognize as a descendant of an old friend, Duncan Heyward (see Last of the Mohicans). Middleton, on an army mission, is also seeking his betrothed, Doña Inez de Certavallos, who has been kidnapped for ransom. Discovering that she is Ishamel's captive, he rescues her with the aid of the trapper. With Paul and Ellen, they leave the emigrants, only to be captured by the Sioux. Escaping, they are endangered successively by a prairie fire and a buffalo stampede, but saved by the skill of Bumppo. Recaptured by the Sioux, they are rescued by a successful Pawnee attack, but during the confusion Ishmael captures them. He accuses Bumppo of the murder of one of his men, but Abiram is found to be guilty. After his friends find safety with Middleton's soldiers, Bumppo finally yields to the weakness of his years, and dies quietly, surrounded by his Pawnee and white friends.

The Red Rover, romance by Cooper, published in 1827 and dramatized by S. H. Chapman (1828).

Lieutenant Henry Ark, on the track of the Red Rover, a notorious pirate, disguises himself as a common sailor ("Wilder") and enlists a second in command of the mysterious Dolphin. When the captain of the merchant ship Caroline is accidentally injured, Ark is sent to take his place. Both ships sails immediately from Newport, and the youthful commander's skillful seamanship disturbs the superstitious crew of the Caroline, who desert him. He is left with the two passengers, Gertrude Grayson and her governess, Mrs. Wyllys, to escape the sinking ship in a small boat, from which they are rescued by the Dolphin. Captain Heidegger (the Rover) is attracted to Mrs. Wyllys, and becomes friendly with Ark, confessing to him that he had been a seaman in the royal navy, but that his loyalty to the colonies had led him into a quarrel in which he killed an officer and escaped to become a pirate. Ark's former ship, the Dart, is now sighted, and when the Rover goes aboard her, disguised as a naval officer, he learns Ark's true identity. Returning, he is persuaded to put the women and Ark aboard the Dart. A fierce battle ensues, in which the pirate is victorious. Ark is about to be hanged, when it is revealed that he is actually Paul de Lacey, the long-lost son of Mrs. Wyllys. At this, the Rover sets his prisoners free, sends them ashore, dismisses his crew, burns his ship, and disappears. After the close of the Revolutionary War, 20 years later, he is brought, dying, to the home of De Lacey, who has married Gertrude. He discloses that he is the brother of Mrs. Wyllys, and that after ending his piracies he reformed, led a virguous life, and served honorably in the patriot cause.

The Wept of Wish-ton-Wish, romance by Cooper, published in 1829. In England it was titled The Borderers (1829) and The Heathcotes (1854). An anonymous dramatization was produced (1834) and published (1856).

In 1666 in the Connecticut settlement of Wish-ton-Wish the old colonist Mark Heathcote is threatened by Indian attacks, but he is aided by the advice and warning of the mysterious stranger Submission (the regicide Goffe) and a captive Indian lad who is especially befriended by Heathcote's daughter-in-law, Ruth. The boy disappears during an attack, taking with him her small daughter, also named Ruth. The main part of the story deals with King Philip's War, ten years later. The Heathcote settlement is attacked by Indians under Metacomet (King Philip) and Conanchet (Canonchet), the latter being the former boy captive, now grown and a chief of the Narragansett. His wife, Narra-mattah, is the kidnapped Ruth, and when the Heathcotes are captured, she and Conanchet save them from execution. A few days later, Conanchet's intervention in behalf of Submission and the Heathcotes results in his capture and execution in Philip's camp, following a chase by his old enemies, the Pequot and Mohegan, under their chief, Uncas. Narra-Mattah dies beside the body of her husband, and her mother dies soon afterward, "the wept of Wish-ton-Wish".

The Water Witch, romance by Cooper, published in 1830. Several dramatic versions, including one by R. P. Smith, were produced in 1830 and 1831.

Set in the region of New York City at the close of the 17th century, the story is a concerned with the admirable small brigantine Water Witch and its pirate captain, known as "The Skimmer of the Seas," whose romantic abduction of a beautiful heiress, Alinda de Barberie, begins the action. Pursued by the English sloop of war, the Coquette, whose commander, Captain Ludlow, is Alinda's suitor, the Water Witch manages to escape, though remaining in Lond Island Sound, until the Coquette is engaged in battle by two French ships. The Skimmer of the Seas cannot desert his fellow countrymen in time of danger, and joins forces with Ludlow, helping to destroy the enemy craft. Ludlow is doubly grateful when his fiancée is restored to him, and offers his protection to the patriotic pirate, but The Skimmer of the Seas embarks for new adventures in his own favorite, the Water Witch.

The Heidenmauer, or, The Benedictines, romance by Cooper, published in 1832.

In 16th-century Bavaria the Benedictines of the abbey of Limburg strive to maintain their temporal power in the town of Dürkheim, which they finally lose to the feudal lord Count Emich of Leiningen-Hartenburg. This theme, showing a society emerging from domination by Catholicism and superstition to secular rule and critical Protestantism, is amplified by a subplot dealing with the love and marriage of the count's forester, Berchtold Hintermayer, with Meta Frey, daughter of a leading citizen of Dürkheim. The title refers to a ruined fortress near the town, home of the hermit Baron Odo von Ritternstein, once the fiancé of Meta's mother.

The Headsman, or, The Abbaye des Vignerons, romance by Cooper, published in 1833.

During the early 18th century, Balthazar, headsman or executioner of Berne, conceals the identity of his supposed son Sigismund so that the youth may not be forced to continue the family's hereditary profession. Sigmund loves Adelheid, daughter of Baron Melchior de Willading, but, when questioned concerning his birth, he reveals his secret. Adelheid continues to love him, and it is later disclosed, when Balthazar is unjustly accused of murder, that Sigismund is actually the son of the Doge of Genoa, having been stolen as a child.

The American Democrat, or Hints on the Social and Civil Relations of the United States of America, critical work by Cooper, published in 1838.

Returning from Europe in 1835, the author was struck by "a disposition in the majority to carry out the opinions of the system to extremes, and a disposition in the minority to abandon all to the current of the day," and he writes in order to express "the voice of simple, honest and ... fearless truth" on the peculiarities of the American system in theory and practice. Following an introduction and general chapters on government and republican theories, he discusses government in the U.S., especially with regard to the doctrine of state rights. The 43 brief chapters that follow are concerned with "Distinctive American Principles," "Equality," "Liberty," "Advantages of a Democracy," "Disadvantages of a Democracy," "Prejudice," "The Private Duties of Station," ""Language," "Demagogues," "The Press, "Property," and similar subjects, all discussed from the point of view of a conservative thinker who is convinced of the value of an aristocratic system.

The Monikins, allegorical satire by Cooper, published in 1835.

Sir John Goldencalf meets Noah Poke, a Yankee sea captain, in Paris, where they become acquainted with four monkeys who have been traveling in Europ: Dr. Reasono, Lord Chatterino, Lady Chatterissa, and Mistress Vigilance Lynx. The Knight and the captain, after being enlightened concerning the superior institutions of these "Monikins," accompany them to their homeland in the polar regions. Sir John visits the countries of Leaphigh (England), whose society is founded upon a rigid system of castes and a false social hierarchy; Leapthrough (France), which he considers unprincipled, erratic, and selfish; and Leaplow (the U.S.), where the leveling tendency of democratic politics has destroyed virtue and distinction. Leaplow isgj governed according to a National Allegory (the Constitution), by a Great Sachem (President), Riddles (senators), a Legion (representatives), and Supreme Arbitrators (Supreme Court). The system operates by the institution of contrasting parties, "Perpendicular" and "Horizontal," sometimes supplemented by a third group, "Tangents." These parties are led by the Godlikes, who bow to the dominant commercial interests, allowing society to become "the great moral eclipse," in which "the great moral postulate of principle" is overshadowed by "the great immoral postulate known as interest," and public opinion is manipulated by scheming demagogues and a powerful press. When Sir John returns to England, he marries his patient fiancée, Anna Etherington, while Captain Poke returns to Connecticut.

The Bravo, romance by Cooper, was published in 1831 and dramatized by R. P. Smith in 1837.

In Venice of the Renaissance, Jacopo Fontoni, to win freedom for his unjustly imprisoned father, pretends to be a "bravo" or hired assassin for the Senate, but he actually works against it by aiding the Neapolitan Don Camillo Monforte to win the hand of Violetta Tiepolo, the senators' wealthy ward, whose frotune they want to retain by marriage to a Venetian. When unrest follows the lovers' escape and the death of Jacopo's friend Antonio, Jacopo is falsely accused of murder and is executed at the behest of the Senate.

Homeward Bound; or, The Chase, novel by Cooper, published in 1838. Home as Found is a sequel.

Edward and John Effingham, New York landowners, with Edward's daughter Eve, have spent several years in Europe, and now sail for home on the American packet Montauk, commanded by Captain Truck. Their fellow passengers include the vulgar American, Steadfast Dodge; foppish Sir George Templemore; Mr. Sharp, a handsome young English aristocrat; and Mr. Blunt, an American adventurer, who falls in love with Eve. The Montauk encounters many hazards during the voyage: a port officer attempts to arrest a steerage passenger and is ordered off the ship; it is chased by the English war sloop Foam; in order to escape, Captain Truck heads for the tBay of Biscay and is caught in a storm; anchored for reparis on the Afican coast, it is attacked by Arab raiders, who are beaten off. Finally crossing the ocean, the packet arrives off Sandy Hook, only to find the waiting Foam, whose captain recognizes Mr. Sharp as the real Templemore and explains that his mission ahs been to arrest the imposter, a fleeing defaulter. Mr. Blunt reveals that he is actually Paul Powis, and is learned that John Effingham is his long-lost father.

Home as Found, novel by Cooper, published in 1838 as a sequel to Homeward Bound. In it, Cooper satirizes his neighbours at Cooperstown, and, as a result of the controversies and libel suits which followed, he was himself satirized in an anonymous novel, The Effinghams; or, Home as I Found It (1842).

After their return from Europe, the Effinghams open their house in New York City, where they participate in many social affairs, during whose course their young relative Grace Van Cortland is wooed by Sir George Templemore. After Grace and Sir George go to England to be married, the Effinghams go to their estate at Templeton, a small upstate community, where they are joined by Paul Powis, John Effingham's newly found son, who is the suitor of his cousin Eve. Mlle Viefville, Eve's vivacious maid, marries Aristabulus Bragg, the village lawyer and an inveterate "booster," while other Tempelton citizens are depicted as hypocritical demagogues or foolish democrats. Paul gives up his life of travel and adventure to marry Eve, and the Effinghams settle down to their duties as landowners and civic leaders.

The Pathfinder, or The Inland Sea, romance by Cooper, published in 1840 as the third in plot sequence of the Leatherstocking Tales.

In 1759, Mabel Dunham is on her way to join her father at the British fort at Oswego, Lake Ontario, acompanied by her uncle, Charles Cap; Arrowhead, a Tuscarora Indian; his wife, Dew-in-June; Pathfinder, the scout aged about 40; the Mohican chief Chingachgook; and Jasper Western, a young sailor called Eau-douce by the French. Arrowhead and his wife disappear during skirmishes with the Iroquois, but the others reach Oswego. Then Dunham, Cap, Pathfinder, Mabel, and Lieutenant Muir, who wants to marry her, sail on Jasper's Scud to relieve a post in the Thousand Islands. Jasper's loyalty is suspected and he is returned to Oswego. While Dunham and his men are off destroying French supply boats, the rest are warned by Dew-in-June of an Iroquois attack to be led by Arrowhead. Cap and Muir are seized, Dunham is badly wounded, and Mabel, who defends the blockhouse, promises to wed Pathfinder if he protects her father. After Jasper and Chingachgook rout the Iroquois, Jasper is arrested by Muir as a traitor. Muir is proved the only guilty one and is killed by Arrowhead. Dunham dies, hoping Mabel and Pathfinder will marry, but Jasper has won Mabel's love.

The Deerslayer, romance by Cooper, published in 1841. An anonymous dramatization was produced the same year. The romance is the first in plot sequence of the Leather-Stocking Tales.

At Lake Otsego, during the 1740s, early in the French and Indian Wars, lives the trapper Thomas Hutter, with his daughters Judith and Hetty. The frontiersmen, giant Hurry Harry and Natty Bumppo, known as Deerslayer among the Delaware Indians, help Hutter to resist an Iroquois attack adn return to his log fortress. There Deerslayer is joined by his friend, the Mohican chief Chingachbook, and they attempt to ransom Hutter and Hurry Harry, who have bben captured. Feeble-minded Hetty slips away to the Iroquois camp, where she is unharmed because of the Indians' veneration for the demented, and before her return she sees her father and Harry, as well as Chingachgook's bride Hist, also a captive. The trapper and Harry are released, but Deerslayer, who helps his friend rescue Hist, is captured, and Hutter is later killed. Judith, who discovers that she and Hetty are not Hutter's children but are actually of noble birth, tells Deerslayer, when he is released on parole, that she loves him. She tries to prevent his return to the Iroquois, but he keeps his word, returns, and is about to be tortured. Judith appears, delaying the executioners until Chingachgook arrives with a troop of British soldiers. Hetty is killed, and Judith disappears. Although Deerslayer later learns that Judith married one of the titled British officers, he always treasures romantic memories of the affair.

Wing-and-Wing, romance by Cooper, published in 1842.

On the island of Elba, at the height of the Napoleonic empire, lives Ghita Caraccioli, granddaughter of the Neapolitan admiral and beloved of the French privateer Raoul Yverne. Raoul's ship is the Wing-and-Wing, a lugger carrying British colors but actually preying on British shipping. The romantic privateer visits Ghita, who refuses to marry him unless he becomes a Catholic and gives up his occupation. He is nearly trapped by the arrival of an English frigate, the Proserpine, but with the aid of his lieutenant, Ithuel Bolt, a Yankee soldier of fortune, he manages to reach his ship. The Proserpine pursues the Wing-and-Wing for several exciting days, but by his daring and superior seamanship the privateer escapes. The notorious execution of Admiral Caraccioli by order of Lord Nelson takes place at Naples, and Ghita, present for a last interview with her grandfather, is joined by Raoul in disguise. Attempting to take her and her uncle to their home, Raoul and Ithuel are apprehended. Ithuel is released on the condition that he serve again in the British navy, but Raoul is sentenced to death. A delay is granted, for the unjust Caraccioli execution has had an unfortunate effect on the people, and Ithael and Ghita help Raoul to escape. They regain the Wing-and-Wing, but the ship is soon wrecked on a dangerous reef. The British attack, and Raoul is fatally wounded, but Ithuel helps Ghita to escape.

Ned Meyers, biography of a former shipmate, cast as a novel by Cooper, and published in 1843.

Afloat and Ashore, romance by Cooper (1844). Miles Wallingford is a sequel.

Miles and Grace Wallingford, orphaned children of a Revolutionary naval officer, are raised on their Hudson River estate by the Rev. Mr. Hardinge, with his children Rupert and Lucy. Miles and Lucy have already fallen in love when the two boys run away to New York, accompanied by the black slave Neb. They sign on the John, a ship bound for the Indies, which is commanded by Captain Robbins, a friend of Miles's father. Miles and Neb become favorites of the mate, Mr. Marble. In the Strit of Sunda the John escapes capture by Malay pirates, but is afterward wrecked off Madagacar. The survivors reach the isle of Bourbon and ship home on the Tigris, but Robbins dies during hte voyage. Rupert and Miles reach new York in time to deny reports of their death, and Rupert enters a lawyer's office. Miles ships under Mr. Marble as third mate of the
Crisis, enlisting Neb as a seaman. After various adventures, they reach England and sail for the Pacific. They engage in trade on the South American coast, have their ship stolen by the crew of a wrecked French privateer, rebuild the privateer, retake the Crisis, and sail for China. When he returns to America after this voyage, Miles becomes master of his own ship, the Dawn.

Miles Wallingford,
romance by Cooper, published in 1844 as a sequel to Afloat and Ashore.

Believing his childhood sweetheart, Lucy Hardinge, loves another man, Miles decides to remain a bachelor, makes a compact with a cousin to will their property to one another, and with his friends Marble and Neb, a black, sets sail in his ship, the Dawn, to Hamburg. Anxious to reach Hamburg to pay off a mortgage on his estate, he is harried when his ship is seized first by the British for carrying French goods, then by the French, and, after a second escape, is wrecked. Taken aboard a British warship, Miles is imprisoned and his friends pressed into service. Escaping to New York, Miles finds his cousin is dead and his estate seized by a distant relative, Daggett, who has Miles jailed for debt. Lucy, though plagued by the problem of her spendthrift brother Rupert, provides bail for Miles. Once freed, Miles dispossesses Daggett and marries Lucy.

Satanstoe, novel by Cooper, published in 1845 as the first of the Littlepage Manuscripts.

Cornelius ("Corny") Littlepage is reared as an 18th-century country gentleman on the family estate Satanstoe, in Westchester County, New York, guided by his grandfather, Captain Hugh Littlepage, and Mr. Worden, an English parson. With his friends, Dick Follock, descendant of a Dutch family, and Jason Newcome, the shrewd Yankee schoolmaster, he visits New York City, whose aspect and wayss are described, with views of the theater and the black festival of "Pinkster." Corny falls in love with Dirck's cousin, Anneke Mordaunt, a belle whose other suitors include Dirck and Major Bulstrode. The fathers of Dirck and Corny send the young men with Jason and Mr. Worden to Albany to survey large grants of land where they plan to settle tenant farmers. The Mordaunts are there for like reasons, and all are befriended by Guert Ten Eyck, a young "buck'" of the town, who loves Anneke's companion, Mary Wallace. Bulstrode is also present as the troops prepare for battles in the French and Indian War. Guert and Corny go to Mooseridge, the Littlepage lands, where their work is interrupted by the war. Susquesus, an Onondaga scout, guides them to the troops at Ticonderoga. After the British defeat there, they go to Ravensnest, the Mordaunt estate, where they fight off an Indian attack in which Guert is mortally wounded. At the end Anneke and Corny wed.

The Chainbearer,
novel by Cooper, published in 1845 as the second part of his Littlepage Manuscripts.

Mordaunt, son of Cornelius Littlepage and heir to his New York estates, is educated at Princeton, and in the last year of the Revolutionary War is an ensign in the company of the bluff Dutch surveyor Andries Coejemans, called Chainbearer, who later goes to Ravensnest and Mooseridge, the Littlepage frontier estates, as chief surveyor. There Mordanut joins him, and falls in love with his niece Dus Malbone. Mordaunt and the Indian guide Susquesus are captured while spying on Aaron Thousandacres, a surly squatter who has been plundering the timber at Ravensnest. Sussquesus escapes to summon Chainbearer, who comes to parley with Thousandacres. The Squatter demands that Dus marry his son, and when the indignant uncle refuses there is analtercation in which he is killed. Thousandacres is killed by a posse while resisting arrest, and members of the Littlepage family arrive in time to learn of the betrothal of Mordaunt and Dus.

The Redskins, or, Indian and Injin, novel by Cooper, published in 1846 as the third of the Littlepage Manuscripts, dealing with the Anti-Rent War.

Much of the land in New York state is held by absentee landlords, in the manner of feudal estates, and during the 1840s there is a popular anti-rent uprising. Bands of agitators, armed and disguised as "Injins," intimidate wealthy families and raid their property. Hugh Littlepage and his uncle Roger visit their estate, Ravensnest, to investigate the activities of the redskins. Hugh becomes engaged to Mary Warren, daughter of the local rector, although Seneca Newcombe, an unscrupulous lawyer, attempts to arrange a match between Hugh and his daughter Opportunity. Hugh and Roger have been disguised as German peddlers, but they reveal themselves to the family after they are recognized by the faithful old Indian Susquesus and the black servant Jaap. A band of anti-renters arrives in "Injin" disguise and is contrasted unfavorably with a group of Western Indians who come to confer with Susquesus. Hugh, aided by Mary and the real Indians, discovers and foils the arson plot of Newcombe and the anti-renters. The sheriff disperses the raiders, and, when Ravensnest is finally made safe again, Hugh and Mary are married.

The Oak Openings,
or, The Bee-Hunter, romance by Cooper, published in 1848.

In Michigan, at the opening of the War of 1812, the bee-hunter Benjamin Boden, called Le Bourdon ("The Drone"), is joined at his "Honey Castle") (Château au Miel) by the drunken settler Gershom Waring, and the Indians Elksfoot and Pigeonswing. He learns that the British have captured the fort at Mackinaw, and the Pigeonswing ia  U.S. army messenger, while Elksfoot is a British spy. On his way with Waring to the latter's home, Boden finds the corpse of Elksfoot, who has been scalped by Pigeonswing. At Waring's home, he meets the settler's wife and his attractive sister Margery, and wins their gratitude by destroying Waring's supply of liquor. Just before the arrival of a band of pro-British Potawatami, they abandon the cabin. After rescuiing Pigeonswing, they are joined by Parson Amen and the American corporal Flint, both bound for Mackinaw in the company of a renegade Indian, Onoah, or Scalping Pete. At Boden's 'Castle', they are surrounded by the Potstwatami, with whom Pete pretends to parley while actually plotting the massacre of the whites. He is friendly to Boden, however, and urges him to marry Margery, so that the two may escape. They do marry, and afterward Amen and Flint are killed, but, with the aid of Pigeonswing and the repentant Pete, the other whites escape.

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Martes, 18 de Diciembre de 2012 18:01. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

That Rose

sábado, 24 de noviembre de 2012

That Rose

That Rose by JoseAngelGarciaLanda
That Rose, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Jueves, 20 de Diciembre de 2012 16:17. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Cold Song




Una canción de Dryden y Purcell, de hace más de trescientos años, cantada por Sting.

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Jueves, 20 de Diciembre de 2012 16:18. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Música

She Stoops to Conquer

sábado, 24 de noviembre de 2012

She Stoops to Conquer

Tom Davis's introduction to Oliver Goldsmith's play (E. Benn / Norton, 1979)

The Author

Oliver Goldsmith was born an Irishman, the second son of a not very affluent clergyman, probably in the village of Pallas, County Westmeath, probably in 1730. Soon afterwards the family moved to the village of Lissoy, one of the candidates for the role of Auburn in Goldmith's famous pastoral The Deserted Village. The intensity of the longing for the idealized village of the poem is mirrored by the intensity with which Goldsmith attempted to desert his own village background: as an entrant to Trinity College, Dublin (1745); in two attempts to emigrate to America; in a flight to Dublin, intending to study law in London (both in 1750-52); finally, and successfully, as a medical student at the university of Edinburgh (1752). He stayed there two years, in considerable poverty—his extravagance not being met by his only source of income, a small allowance from his uncle—before the urge to travel took him, without a degree and after what can only have been a superficial education in medicine, for a by no means grand tour of Europe. Not much is known of his travels, except for the probably rather fictitious accounts given by Goldsmith himself; he seems to have visited Flanders, France, Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, living (as he was always to do) on the edge of destitution. He survived, to emerge in London in 1756, trying one job after another to subsist. Apothecary's assistant, unsuccessful (and unqualified) physician, possibly proof-reader, certainly an usher in a boy's school.

Gradually, however, he felt his way into the literary life. In 1757 he was writing articles on a regular basis for the Monthly Review, and earning a steady and reasonable income from it; by 1762 he had established himself as a writer worth respecting, with a wide set of friends in the literary world, including Samuel Johnson, whose career had run somewhat parallel to his. Although in 1760 he was earning the comfortable salary of £100 a year for writing two articles a week for John Newbery, these being the letters of a fictitious Chinaman reporting his amusing and penetratingly naïve impressions of England, he remained constatnly in debt, his money draining away on gambling (which he was very bad at), elaborate and rather tasteless clothes, and other extravagances. In 1762 Newbery became his patron, landlord, and banker, and made him a strict allowance, to be debited against the credit earned by work done. This action explicitly acknowledged him to be the foremost journalistic talent in the stable of one of the most prominent publishers of the day, and worth the investment of a shrewd businessman. He took at this point another crucial step: he signed a contract for a Survey of Experimental Philosophy; that is, in order to make immediate money he was prepared to use the distinctive assurance and clarity of his prose style in producing compilations, translations, and other hack productions on matters of popular interest: a History of England (1764), a Roman History (1769), another History of England (1771), and the posthumously published Grecian History and History of the Earth and Animated Nature (1774). His life was to be bedevilled by debt, squandered advances, deadlines, and undone work; this is why, out of the voluminous quantity of his writings, relatively little is read now.

In 1764, however, he produced a major poem: The Traveller, or a Prospect of Society, a meditative account of his own wanderings in Europe. This piece was, remarkably, the first he had published under his own name, and it brought him fame, respect, and adulation. He was an eminent man; a founder-member, for instance, of what is still one of the most exclusive clubs in London: Dr Johnson's Club, whose membership has included most of the most eminent, witty, and talented people of their day. Reynolds (who became Goldsmith's closest friend), Sheridan, Gibbon, Burke, Fox, Garrick, Boswell, and so on for a long list.

In 1766 The Vicar of Wakefield was published. This wry, charming, and subtle tale, the Book of Job absurdly retold as comedy, whose sale had been used by Johnson to rescue the author from the bailiffs, was eventually to achieve an international fame, in spite of its authro's lack of confidence in it and its hasty and patched-on ending; but not the kind of immediate pre-eeminence and financial security that Goldsmith required.

The other route to such quick returns was through the theatre. Goldsmith's careeras a playwrigth began with the first performance of The Good Natured Man early in 1768. The death of Newbery the previous December had made the need for wealth more pressing, but this rather feeble and ungainly comedy was a disappointingly moderate success.

In the last six years of his life he produced three important works of literature. The first was the nostalgic and rather sentimental pastoral The Deserted Village (1770); it is his most famous poem, but its value has slackened as the romanticism that brought it forth has ebbed and been replaced. The last was his Retaliation, written about two months before his death and posthumously published in 1774. To my mind it is his best poem: a satire on the set of literary friends to which he belonged, remarkable, like all of his best work, for its amalgam of kindness and telling, perceptive irony. And, thirdly, a year before he died, his best work and his only other play: the unique comedy, She Stoops to Conquer.

Goldsmith wrote the play in the summer of 1771, again under the pressure of debt, again attempting to catch at the golden and instantaneous rewards of a successful play. He had great difficulty in getting it staged, largely owing to the resistance of Colam and Garrick, the managers of London's two principal theatres. They thought that the play'0s overt attack on prevailing theatrical fashions made it too much of a risk. Garrick 'bought himslef off by a poor prologue' (1) and Colman, eventually, reluctantly, put it on, at Covent Garden. The first night was at the tag-end of the season (15 March); leading actors had refused parts in it; the props and costumes were second-rate; and Colman had made no secret of his expectation that it would be damned. It was not. The first night audience was ecstatic, and audiences ever since have continued to laugh. The play has appeared in some three hundred different editions since 1773 and, since then, has been revived in the West End approximately once every three years, and alomost constantly in provincial theatres (2). It must be the most popular play outside Shakespeare.

Goldsmith, though temporarily exhilarated by its success, and the five hundred pounds that came with it, had no idea what he had created. He was soon submerged again in debt and depression, which did not leave him until his death in April 1774, This was tinged, like his life, with farce: his last act as a 'Doctor' was to poison himself, inadvertently, by persistent use of the wrong medicine. He left debts of £2,000.


Goldsmith's sources for She Stoops to Conquer were absurdly numerous. He was throughout his life an unscrupulous 'borrower' of other people's writings, and it is clear that his imagination needeed the stimulus of raw material for re-working. For instance Marivaux's Le Jeu du Amour et du Hasard (1730), besides several explicit verbal parallels, has the heroine change places with her maid in order to assess her intended husband without him knowing it. Farquhar's The Beaux' Stratagem (1707) also has a number of textual similarities, and (among other, larger, parallels) , the wooing of the barmaid Cherry by the gentleman-in-disguise Archer is strikingly similar. Ginger (3), Goldmith's latest and best biographer, thinks (wrongly, I believe) that the play was based so closely on Bickerstaffe's recent and successful opera Love in a Village (1762) as to amount to evident and obvious plagiarism. And so on; Hamlyn (She Stoops to Conquer: The Making of a Popular Success, pp. 1-54) lists (selectively) over forty sources that have been suggested for lines, scenes, incidents, characters, or the entire structure. The proliferation of sources devalues the enterprise of discovering them. None of these candidates comes very near suggesting Goldsmith's unique play.

She Stoops to Conquer was, however, and in a rather different way, dependent on other plays. It was written as an attack on an important eighteenth-century theatrical movement: that known as Sentimental Comedy. This aspect of the play is important, and has never been treated in sufficient detail.

The play

She Stoops to Conquer is outstandingly a play that has survived and cast off its context. It is extraordinarily accessible, and has been popular for this (and other) reasons for 200 years. But the prologue, dedication, and epilogues proclaim that it was written as an attack on a specific and allegedly predominant theatrical genre; and its contermporary reception gives ample support for this view. Moreover, the text of the play contains specific parodies of this genre, and while these parodies remain marvellously and independently absurd for the vast majority of readers and audiences who have never read the minor comedy of the eightteenth century that is under attack, it is worth re-locating this play in this context, if only because such a comparison leads in to a more general consideration of the play's structure and chief concerns.

The genre under attack is that of Sentimental Comedy. What does this mean? From the play and its prologues and epilogues we can gather what Goldsmith and Garrick thougth it meant, at least:

1. It is moral comedy: it tends to rejoice in moral statements or 'sentiments' (Prologue, lines 25-30).

2. It is non-naturalistic ('Faces are blocvks, in sentimental scenes') Prologue, line 24.

3. It relies upon 'high-life scenes' and titled characters (Second Rejected Epilogue, ll. 33-6).

4. It is genteel comedy, without recourse to depicting 'low' characters or situations (I.ii, 35-45).

Goldsmith's short 'Essay on the Theatre; or, a Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy' (4), which was published two monthes before She Stoops to Conquer and was clearly intended to prepare the way for that play, adds the following:

5. insipid dialogue

6. 'pathetic' scenes, in which we are invited to weep, rather than laugh.

7. 'good, and exceedingly generous' characters (p. 212).

Finally, we can add two more general characteristics that this list doesn't specify:

8. Sentimental Comedy is benevolent; its laughter is sympathetic rather than satiric, it depends on the notion that human nature is fundamentally good, or at least easily corrigible. Its villains are few, and the end of the play brings them (sometimes with alarming suddenness) to reform.

9. Finally, it is the comedy of sensibility; it rejoices in exhibiting in its characters a noble delicacy of sentiment, an emotional refinement often close to the modern pejorative use of 'sentimentality'.

This, then, is how people viewed the genre in 1773. It is easy to see these categories as a reaction against Restoration Comedy, conceived of as licentious, satiric, amoral, witty, often cruel, explicitly sexual, and, primarily, very funny. The problem, however, is that these categories do not hold as a simple binary opposition to characterize the plays of the 1760s and 1770s; on the one hand, Sentimental Comedy, on the other, Laughing Comedy, as exemplified by Goldsmith's play (5). She Stoops to Conquer, for instance, simply does not embody solely a set of oppositions to these categories. Marlow, when he is reduced to inarticulacy by talking to Kate, produces a parody of moral 'sentiments' (no. 1): for instance, 'The folly of most people is rather an object of mirth than uneasiness' (II.i, 418-19). But he is also capable of saying, as Kate is making the transition from barmaid to her own natural character,

I can never harbour a thought of seducing simplicity that trusted in my honour, or bringing ruin upon one, whose only fault was being too lovely . . .  I owe too much to the opinion of the world, too much to the authority of a father, so that—I can scarcely speak it—it affects me (IV.i, 226-9, 242-4)

—thus giving voice to 'sentiments' (no. 1), the pathetic (no. 6), a rather mawkish goodness and generosity (no. 7), a certain insipidity (no. 5) and artificiality (no. 2), 'benevolent' corrigibility (no. 8), and, above all, sensibility (no. 9). A number of the scenes with Hastings and Miss Neville, particularly their reform, apparently exhibit most of these characteristics. If we add to this the fact that Marlow's father is titled (no. 3) and that most of the characters are genteel, and belong to the leisured gentre (no. 4), we have (by a process of ruthlessly partial selection) found all of the 'Sentimental' characteristics in this 'Laughing' comedy.

What sense, then, can we make of the distinction? Firstly, there was inded a looser genre called Sentimental Comedy, that gave birth to a number of plays throughout the eighteenth century, though not a predominant number, and which was characterised by some or most of the eight characteristics (exceopt, curiously, the reliance on titled characters [no. 6], which Goldsmith seems to have been deceived about). Its leading exponents were Cibber, Woodfall, and Kelly; no one but specialists now reads these plays. Goldsmith was reacting against something. Secondly, while the play evinces these characteristics to some extent, it also contains reactions against them; it operates, not only by parody, but by self-parody. It is as if Goldsmith sets up an opposition within the play between sentimentalism (as defined above) and its opposites: Restoration comedy, satire, and farce. From the clash between the two he effects a synthesis, that we can identify as a comedy that both contains and transcends the limitations of these genres.

The farcical element has always hindered the appreciation and understanding of She Stoops to Conquer. Is its continued popularity solely because it is a very funny play, or is there more to it than that? Literary criticism, which is not designed to cope with humoiur, has largely ignored it (6), thus assenting to the former view. This, too, was the reaction of the play's contemporary audience. 'The audience are kept in a continual roar' said the Morning Chronicle (7); and Samuel Johnson said that he knew any 'comedy for many years, that has answered so much the great end of comedy—making an audience merry' (8). But comedy is not solely defined by laughter; if this is all, then Horace Walpole's savage comments have some force: 'Whay play makes you laugh very much, and yet is a very wretched comedy?  . . . the drift tends to no moral, no edification of any kind' (9). In other words, as the March issue of the London Magazine remarked, since 'consistency is repeatedly violated for the sake of humour . . . in lieu of comedy he has sometimes presented us with farce'. And this, in general, is the view that has prevailed ever since: enshrined in the critics' silence and the audience's laughter, the suspicion that the play is nothing but a highly successful farce.

I believe, and hope to show, that this is not so. It is easy to see why it came about. Goldsmith—and his audience—were reacting against self-consciously moral comedy, and the opposite of that is farce, which we can define as a mixture of ludicrous improbabilities and (as far as possible) a lack of moral concerns. The audience, and critics since, reacted too far, and identified the play with farce (10), but Goldsmith did not (11). The play does borrow from this genre, and continually flirts with it; its prime achievement as theatre is its energy, its pace; the action, and the laughter, never let up, and the play's timing in this respect is superb. It is the timing of good farce. But consider, for instance, the most nearly farcical moment in it, when Tony Lumpkin has persuaded his mother (soeaked up to her waist in mud) to hide at the bottom of her own garden from her own husband as a highwayman. This, we may note, is the classical stratagem of farce, much of whose comic tension iss in the tricks to get people out of the way so that the subterfuges are not brought to light. The urgent absurdity of the action hurries the audience past this in a gale of laughter, and thus it is easy to miss one crucial and rather poignant point: Mrs Hardcastle is the only unsympathetic character in the play—resolutely so, and irredeemably; she will not reform at the end. This is appropriately unsentimental; but nonetheless this absurd 'humours' character is given depth. She is prepared, with some heroism, to give up her life for her son. 'Take my money, my life, but spare that young gentleman; , spare my child' (V.ii, 113-14), she screams, and the audience laughs at the farcical release of tension as the subterfuge is discovered; thus we miss her moment of grace. The most apparently farcical moment in the play also reveals a disturbing moral ambiguity: this overpoweringly selfish and vain woman has a completely selfless love for her 'graceless varlet' of a son. Goldsmith's joke is at the expense of those who cannot perceive it.

Another way in which the play contains Sentimentalism but expands beyond it is in its attitude to 'sentiments', the sententious sayings identified with Sentimental Comedy. As we have seen, Marlow has a rather tedious tendency towards them; Hardcastle, too, is prone to such attitudes: 'I could never teach the fools of this day, that the indigent world could be clothed out of the trimmings of the vain' (I.i, 92-4) and again 'modesty seldom resides in a breast that is not enriches with nobler virtues' (I.i, 134-5). But, as we have already seen with Mrs. Hardcastle, it is important to the play's method to induce a double attitude towards its characters: neither the simplicities of farce nor the banalities of moralizing, but the reflexive subtleties of comedy. Hardcastle is a sympathetic character, as we see in the loving mutual mockery and mutual respect of his conversations with his daughter (e.g. I.i, 90-146), and his resigned affection for his appalling wife. But he is also absurdly pompous and complacent. He is punished for it by being roundly put down by Marlow, but the seeds of this comic retribution are already present in these two tendentious 'sentiments'. After all, it is his peculiar insistence on Kate waring a plain dress that furthers the illusion that his house is an inn—to his discomfort (and, by another twist, to the play's happy resolution); and his remarking that modesty necessarily involves nobler virtues becomes a resounding dramatic irony at his expense when we consider what terrible things the undeniably modest Marlow is about to say and do to him.

Even Hastings and Miss Neville are, finally, subject to this ironic double perception. They are the weakest part of the play; they only seem to come alive as foils, Hastings to Marlow, Neville to Kate, and both (their main purpose) as pawns to be shoved enthusiastically around by Tony Lumpkin; Hastings's (sentimenal) remark 'Perish the baubles! Your person is all I desire' (II.i, 345) is one of the very few unspeakable lines in the entire play. Theri sub-plot is the essence of sentimental fiction, and so is their language. Miss Neville refuses to elope, for two reasons; one is realistic: 'My spirits are so sunk with the agitations I have suffered, that I am unable to face any new danger' (V.ii, 145-7). Considering that she has undergone precisely the same torments which Lumpkin has put his mother through—which Hastings, incidentally, seems to find rather funny (V.ii, 28)—this is understandable. However, the second reason is what the audience should be paying attention to: 'No, Mr Hastings; no. Prudence once more comes to my relief, and I will obey its dictates. In the moment of passion, fortune may be despised, but it ever produces a lasting repentance' (V.ii, 154-7). This curious mixture of moralizing and prudentiality is precisely the material of Sentimental Comedy, and the unpleasantly tatctical humility is continued in their repentance speeches to the assembled elders. It is clear that Goldsmith is being (not uncharacteristically) careless about the peripheral details of his plot; one recalls his remark in his 'Comparison between Laughing and Sentimental Comedy', that the latter is 'of all others, the most easily written' (12). However, the play, almost at the last minute, redeems itself, with an extraordinary wrench. Mrs Hardcastle's comment on this is 'Pshaw, pshaw, this is all but the whining end of a modern novel' (V.iii, 129-30). The play is avowedly against the sentimentality that Hastings and Neville represent but the criticism, which specifically refers their behaviour to the literary genre, is put into the mouth of the play's only villain. Again, and this time with startling abruptness, the paly turns on itself, its apparent simplicities becoming duplicity. it is, after all, a play about disguises; every important character in it at some point tells lies. The play also disguises itself, retreating behind these masks, leading us, as Marlow is led, by lies towards a recognition of our own complacencies.

The clearest instance of this mockery of the (London, sophisticated) audience is in the scene at the Three Jolly Pigeons. The audience, like the two gentlemen down from London, is introduced to the world of pastoral, in its role as mocking mirror of the securities of the metropolis, and both find it to be a world turned upside down. The play has begun with an opposition between town and country, between Hardcastle's attack on the vanity of the town and his wife's longing for its sophistication. But underneath this conventionality there is a dissonance. Marlow is unable to recognize that Tony Lumpkin is the Squire and thus of his own class, and from this his misfortunes (and salvation) arise. But the audience too is presented with an image of itself. Fashionable comedy was genteel; its audience was predominantly middle-class; it damned that which did not correspond to its polite conception of itself with the penetrating shouted monosyllable 'low'. By this means it had caused a scene from Goldsmith's first play to be removed from the stage. On the play's first night the London audience was presented wi ththe sight of 'a low, paltry set of fellows' (I.i, 72) listening to the Squire's song, who suddenly, with marvellous inconsequentiality, start to pretend that they are a fashionable London audience: 'Oh damn anything that's low, I cannot bear it . . . the genteel thing is the genteel thing any time' (I.ii, 38-9). This in its own right was very funny, and the audience of the time, like the modern audience that has lost the specific context, is once more swept past it by laughter. But it is not farce; it is very sharp satire. No wonder George Colman, the theatre's manager, felt during the first performance that he had been sitting on a powder-barrel.

This particular opposition between 'genteel' and 'low', is a local and specific joke, another attack on what is now a dead genre, a dead audience, and their vanished complacencies; but (once more) it expands—this time through the entire play—into a perennial theme. The play is deeply concerned with the concept of social class, and examines it by a whole series of just such reversals. In this distorted pastoral world no one seems to know which class they belong to. The yokels claim with comic pomposity to be gentlemen: 'What though I am obligated to dance a bear, a man may be a gentleman for all that' (I.ii, 41-3) and Tony Lumpkin, with curious seriousness, asks them to go when Marlow and Hastings arrive: 'Gentlemen . . . they mayn't be good enough company for you' (I.ii, 70-1). Tony himself is a kind of yokel, 'a poor contemptible booby' (IV.i, 390), but his is also a member of 'one of the best families in the county' (IV.i, 193-4) and Hardcastle seems to have more in common with his clumsy servants than with his genteel guests. The joke against him is rather sharp, as he later recognizes ('And yet he might have seen something in me above a common inn-keeper' [V.i, 15-16])—for the point is that without foreknowledge his guests cannot recognize him as intrinsically a gentleman; as Hastings remarks, with cruel superciliousness, he 'forgets that he's an inn-keeper, before he has learned to be a gentleman' (II.i, 200-2). And this redounds with equal sharpness on the town 'gentlemen'; is their rudeness to Hardcastle appropriate—'gentlemanly' behaviour towards anyone, whether landlord or landowner? Are they then intrinsically getlemen? Hardcastle's mansion is indeed Liberty-Hall (13), and the results are rather unnerving.

What Goldsmith wanted from comedy was that it should 'perfectly satirical yet perfectly goodnatured' (14) at the same time. This apparently awkward blend of 'Sentimental' benevolence with 'Restoration' satire is precisely what he achieved in She Stoops to Conquer. The satire beneath the kindliness is felt but not perceived; the audience is too busy laughing.

The main way in which this is managed, apart from the kind of implicit undercutting I have tried to elucidate above, is in the curiously triadic structure of the play. There are three central characters, Lumpkin, Marlow, and Kate, and their relationship in the structure is triangular. Marlow is the manipulated focus of two plots, that of Lumpkin, which is satiric, and that of Kate, which is good-natured. Lumpkin's ruse brings out in him the Restoration rake, and Kate's the Sentimental lover. The final synthesis, the comic resolution, lies with Kate.

Let us start as the play does, with Tony Lumpkin, and with two critical comments. Kenrick, Goldsmith's enemy, was testily uncomprehending: 'The squire whom we are told to be a fool, proves the most sensible being of the piece' (15). Not quite—there is Kate Hardcastle; but the paradox is well stated. A more modern is equally bemused, in fact awestruck:

he has persistently reminded readers of such ideal creations of the comic imagination as Shakespeare's Puck. However exquisitely entertaining and flawlessly consistent, Goldsmith's booby is, one feels, not of earth. One wonders at him, as Shelley at the Skylark. (16)

Rather over-stated, but one knows what he means. The reference to Puck is apt. Tony Lumpkin, at once (like the play) laughed at and laughing at us, is, to begin with, the play's author. The plot is his creation; not only the subterfuge, but the liveliness and the timing are what he makes them, and the verbal energy is his language. Whenever the complicated twists of the plot (his plot) are about to founder, Lumpkin, like Puck, arrives, and whips and spurs it into action again, usually by heaping mistake upon mistake. His plot, his satire, the ambiguous Liberty-Hall, is suggested to him by the fact that the two Londoners cannot identify him as well-born, and so tell him exactly what they think of him; his revenge is that this honesty should be forced on them, to their discomfiture. Marlow tells Hardcastle just what he thinks of him. Thus Lumpkin embodies or creates all of the reversals (except Kate's) of 'genteel' and 'low' that the play contains, and his purpose is both farcical (he is a 'mere composition of tricks and mischief' [I.i, 39-40], a practical joker) and moral, an attribute in him that both Hardcastle (V.ii, 140) and Hastings (V.ii, 50) acknowledge. His paradox is therefore the play's: the moral farce. His energy is then deflected into the sub-plot (he is kept quite apart from his half-sister Kate, and never exchanges a word with her, as ife even her integrity might be vulnerable to his wit), and into wickedly inventive tormenting of his mother. His character is completely untouched by the action of the play; benevolist notions of corrigibility cannot contain him. When he gains his birthright, like Caliban, at the end, we feel obscurely that he has earned it; but unlike Caliban (whom he strongly resembles) he is unrepentant.

If Lumpkin is the play, Marlow suffers its action, and learns from it. The paradox of his character, the rake who is paralysed with shyness, can be seen quite easily in terms of literary genres (though of course it transcends these: he is curiiously archetypel). He is at the beginning incapacitated from marriage, which is the golden resolution of comedy, by the fact that he is both too bold and too shy. He cannot love because he cannot talk of love; only either the false language of seduction, of besieging the ladies, of onquest, which is that of Restoration Comedy, or else the false platitudes of Sentimental Comedy. Symbolically, the latter make him dumb. His view of sex is that it can be bought: with noticeable explicitness for the 1770s it is made clear that he visits prostitutes and (ironically) will pay for the favours of the supposed barmaid. He relies on the securities of class-distinction, power, and money; he is, as Hardcastle points out, a bully (IV.i, 176) and thus his cowardice is a natural complement.

Described in this way he seems very unpleasant; of course, and by a remarkable legerdemain, he is not He is saved by his extreme vulnerability, by his comprehensive come-uppance, and by Kate. But it is worth noting that his redemption is not complete; he never quite gets his language right. He cannot stop being literary. His serious wooing is still, as we noticed, tinged with Sentiment, and though Kate rather likes it, she has its number beautifully: He 'said some civil things of my face, talked much of his want of merit, and the greatness of mine; mentioned his heart, gave a short tragedy speech, and ended with pretended ratpure' (V., 106-9). And his last words as he stiffly unbends under her 'tormenting' are not fully redeemed: Kate is his possession, 'my little tyrant' (V.iii, 154). Nice, we may feel, that he is making an effort, but not quite right. The play's attack on the sentimentality of redemptions extends even here.

Finding a counterbalance to Tony Lumpkin for the sencon part of the play must have been difficult. It is remarkable that it didn't prove impossible. But Kate Hardcastle is equally Shakespearian in her origins; if Lumpkin is Puck, she reminds everyone of Rosalind in As You Like It. Like Lumpkin she is 'malicious' (III.i, 279), and (rather like Marlow) she has a frank appreciation of the financial aspects of what she is: 'a girl who brings her face to market' (III.i, 242) (17). Of course, she transcends this as well: her wit, resourcefulness, and commonsense are constantly attractive. She is the only character actually and successfully in control of the Mistakes of the Night. She takes over Tony Lumpkin's satirical plot and makes it her won: an ameliorative, educational one. His comedy is destructive, mocking; hers heals, but is saved from sententiousness by her own mocking wit. She in fact appropriates all of the play's themes. She undergoes voluntarily (as no one else does) the reversal of class-roles, and does this in order to create a space for lovers to talk in that is independent of class and of the constrictions that reduce marlow to lies or silence. She tells lies, but in order to force a truth; she turns near-farce into comedy; and she unites town and country in marriage. She is the prime agent of Goldsmith's synthesis of opposed genres. The play's happy ending is hers.


(1). Horace Walpole, Letters, ed. Peter Cunningham, V (Edinburgh, 1906), 453.

(2). Information from Susan Katherine Hamlyn, She Stoops to Conquer: the Making of a Popular Success, MA (unpublished), University of Birmingham, 1975. This thesis contains the best critical work on the play that I have yet seen.

(3) John Ginger, The Notable Man  (London, 1977).

(4) Collected Works of Oliver Goldsmith, ed. Arthur Friedman, III (Oxford, 1966), 209-13.

(5) This is the traditional view, as given in such standard works as Allardyce Nicoll's History of English Drama, 1660-1900, III (Cambridge, 1952), 124-54. But recent scholars, particularly Robert D. Hume in his 'Goldsmith and Sheridan and the Supposed Revolution of "Laughing" against "Sentimental" Comedy' (in Studies in Change and Revolution, ed. Paul J. Korshin [Menston, 1972]), have severely criticized the view, even going so far as to suggest that there was no such genre as Sentimental Comedy.

(6) There are, of course, exceptions; for instance, Ginger and Hamlyn (op. cit.) have both written interestingly on the play, and there is an essay by B. Eugene McCarthy which is well worth reading (see Further Reading, p. xxix).

(7) 16 March 1773.

(8) James Boswell, Life of Johnson, ed. G. B. Hill, revised L. F. Powell, II (Oxford, 1934), 233.

(9) op. cit., pp. 453, 467.

(10) For instance, Nicoll, op. cit., p. 159.

(11) That he believed that his play had a moral (but not moralizing) function can be seen in the second rejected epilogue, lines 14-30.

(12) Friedman, op. cit., p. 213.

(13) It is worth pointing out another specifically contemporary reference behind this theme. Goldsmith (a firm Tory) was writing this play while the movement for 'Wilkes and Liberty' was approaching its final flowering, and in a letter of 7 September 1771 that describes the composition of She Stoops to Conquer, he mentions, in passing, that 'the cry of Liberty is still as loud as ever' (quoted in Arthur Lytton Sells, Oliver Goldsmith, 1974, p. 146). Marlow's servant is a Wilkesian ('Though I'm but a servant, I'm as good as another man' [IV.i, 123]). The violently populist and libertarian Wilkes riots, which repeatedly convulsed London, add a curious resonance to the play's genial but ambiguous coinage, 'Liberty-Hall'.

(14) Goldsmith, Monthly Review, May 1773.

(15) London Packet, 24 March 1773.

(16) John Harrington Smith, 'Tony Lumpkin and the Country Booby Type in Antecedent English Comedy', PMLA 58 (1943): 1049.

(17) She was actually felt at the time to be rather shocking: 'the heroine has no more modesty than Lady Bridget', commented the sentimentally inclined Horace Walpole (op. cit., p. 453).

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Jueves, 20 de Diciembre de 2012 16:23. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Poe's Big Bang

domingo, 25 de noviembre de 2012

Poe's Big Bang

Edgar Allan Poe también fue cosmólogo y filósofo evolucionista—en su "poema en prosa" Eureka, que expone una teoría unificada del universo combinando principios físico-matemáticos, observaciones astronómicas, y especulaciones filosóficas. Para la sección científica se basó en escritores anteriores como Laplace, los Herschel, y el Humboldt de Kosmos, a quien dedica la obra. Supongo que también conocería los escritos de Erasmus Darwin. La obra también pretende ser una teodicea, o explicación de la existencia del mal y el sufrimiento en el mundo—un desarrollo de la explicación clásica de la cuestión, a saber, que la divinidad actúa mediante causas secundarias. Aquí para Poe las causas secundarias son toda la evolución del universo, pues causas primarias sólo se hallan en la fuerza original indiferenciada que da lugar al universo en una especie de Big Bang decimonónico. Por supuesto, las ideas Poe no fueron tomadas en absoluto en serio en su propio momento; ni su sintaxis, ni su uso de las fuentes, ni su trayectoria literaria invitaban a ello; suena el autor demasiado como uno de los frenéticos unreliable narrators o sabios locos de sus relatos.  El mismo Poe intuyó que no se le tomaría en serio como pensador hasta que su obra ya no pudiese ser considerada científica sino meramente poética, y de ahí el prefacio:

To the few who love me and whom I love—to those who feel rather than to those who think—to the dreamers and those who put faith in dreams as in the only realities—I offer this Book of Truths, not in its character of Truth-Teller, but for the Beauty that abounds in its Truth; constituting it true. To these I present the composition as an Art-Product alone:—let us say as a Romance; or, if I be not urging too lofty a claim, as a Poem.
    What I here propound is true:—therefore it cannot die:—or if by any means it be now trodden down so that it die, it will “rise again to the Life Everlasting.”
   Nevertheless it is as a Poem only that I wish this work to be judged after I am dead.

Sin embargo, algunas de sus ideas anticipan notablemente las de Herbert Spencer, y aún más, las de la física del siglo XX, intentando extraer de la noción misma de la fuerza gravitatoria y de su acción presente los principios de la finitud, el origen, y la evolución del universo.

It will now be readily understood that no axiomatic idea—no idea founded in the fluctuating principle, obviousness of relation—can possibly be so secure—so reliable a basis for any structure erected by the Reason, as that idea—(whatever it is, wherever we can find it, or if it be practicable to find it anywhere)—which is irrelative altogether—which not only presents to the understanding no obviousness of relation, either greater or less, to be considered, but subjects the intellect, not in the slighest degree, to the necessity of even looking at any relation at all. If such an idea be not what we too heedlessly term “an axiom,” it is at least preferable, as a Logical basis, to any axiom ever propounded, or to all imaginable axioms combined:—and such, precisely, is the idea with which my deductive process, so thoroughly corroborated by induction, commences. My particle proper is but absolute Irrelation. To sum up what has been here advanced:—As a starting point I have taken it for granted, simply, that the Beginning had nothing behind it or before it—that it was a Beginning in fact—that it was a beginning and nothing different from a beginning—in short that this Beginning was——that which it was. If this be a “mere assumption” then a “mere assumption” let it be.
To conclude this branch of the subject:—I am fully warranted in announcing that the Law which we have been in the habit of calling Gravity exists on account of Matter’s having been irradiated, at its origin, atomically, into a limited[4] sphere of Space, from one, individual, unconditional, irrelative, and absolute Particle Proper, by the sole process in which it was possible to satisfy, at the same time, the two conditions, irradiation, and generally-equable distribution throughout the sphere—that is to say, by a force varying in direct proportion with the squares of the distances between the irradiated atoms, respectively, and the Particular centre of Irradiation.
I have already given my reasons for presuming Matter to have been diffused by a determinate rather than by a continuous or infinitely continued force. Supposing a continuous force, we should be unable, in the first place, to comprehend a rëaction at all; and we should be required, in the second place, to entertain the impossible conception of an infinite extension of Matter. Not to dwell upon the impossibility of the conception, the infinite extension of Matter is an idea which, if not positively disproved, is at least not in any respect warranted by telescopic observation of the stars—a point to be explained more fully hereafter; and this empirical reason for believing in the original finity of Matter is unempirically confirmed. For example:—Admitting, for the moment, the possibility of understanding Space filled with the irradiated atoms—that is to say, admitting, as well as we can, for argument’s sake, that the succession of the irradiated atoms had absolutely no end—then it is abundantly clear that, even when the Volition of God had been withdrawn from them, and thus the tendency to return into Unity permitted (abstractly) to be satisfied, this permission would have been nugatory and invalid—practically valueless and of no effect whatever. No Rëaction could have taken place; no movement toward Unity could have been made; no Law of Gravity could have obtained.via lactea 2

To explain:—Grant the abstract tendency of any one atom to any one other as the inevitable result of diffusion from the normal Unity:—or, what is the same thing, admit any given atom as proposing to move in any given direction—it is clear that, since there is an infinity of atoms on all sides of the atom proposing to move, it never can actually move toward the satisfaction of its tendency in the direction given, on account of a precisely equal and counterbalancing tendency in the direction diametrically opposite. In other words, exactly as many tendencies to Unity are behind the hesitating atom as before it; for it is a mere sotticism to say that one infinite line is longer or shorter than another infinite line, or that one infinite number is greater or less than another number that is infinite. Thus the atom in question must remain stationary forever. Under the impossible circumstances which we have been merely endeavoring to conceive for argument’s sake, there could have been no aggregation of Matter—no stars—no worlds—nothing but a perpetually atomic and inconsequential Universe. In fact, view it as we will, the whole idea of unlimited Matter is not only untenable, but impossible and preposterous.

With the understanding of a sphere of atoms, however, we perceive, at once, a satisfiable tendency to union. The general result of the tendency each to each, being a tendency of all to the centre, the general process of condensation, or approximation, commences immediately, by a common and simultaneous movement, on withdrawal of the Divine Volition; the individual approximations, or coalescences—not cöalitions—of atom with atom, being subject to almost infinite variations of time, degree, and condition, on account of the excessive multiplicity of relation, arising from the differences of form assumed as characterizing the atoms at the moment of their quitting the Particle Proper; as well as from the subsequent particular inequidistance, each from each.

What I wish to impress upon the reader is the certainty of there arising, at once, (on withdrawal of the diffusive force, or Divine Volition,) out of the condition of the atoms as described, at innumerable points throughout the Universal sphere, innumerable agglomerations, characterized by innumerable specific differences of form, size, essential nature, and distance each from each. The development of Repulsion (Electricity) must have commenced, of course, with the very earliest particular efforts at Unity, and must have proceeded constantly in the ratio of Coalescence—that is to say, in that of Condensation, or, again, of Heterogeneity.

Thus the two Principles Proper, Attraction and Repulsion—the Material and the Spiritual—accompany each other, in the strictest fellowship, forever. Thus The Body and The Soul walk hand in hand.

También anticipa Poe cuestiones sobre la estructura del universo que sólo en el siglo XX recibirían confirmación experimental, como la existencia de otras galaxias o la no centralidad de la Vía Láctea:

And here, at length, it seems proper to inquire whether the ascertained facts of Astronomy confirm the general arrangement which I have thus, deductively, assigned to the Heavens. Thoroughly, they do. Telescopic observation, guided by the laws of perspective, enables us to understand that the perceptible Universe exists as a cluster of clusters, irregularly disposed.

The “clusters” of which this Universal “cluster of clusters” consists, are merely what we have been in the practice of designating “nebulæ”—and, of these “nebulæ,” one is of paramount interest to mankind. I allude to the Galaxy, or Milky Way. This interests us, first and most obviously, on account of its great superiority in apparent size, not only to any one other cluster in the firmament, but to all the other clusters taken together. The largest of these latter occupies a mere point, comparatively, and is distinctly seen only with the aid of a telescope. The Galaxy sweeps throughout the Heaven and is brilliantly visible to the naked eye. But it interests man chiefly, although less immediately, on account of its being his home; the home of the Earth on which he exists; the home of the Sun about which this Earth revolves; the home of that “system” of orbs of which the Sun is the centre and primary—the Earth one of sixteen secondaries, or planets—the Moon one of seventeen tertiaries, or satellites. The Galaxy, let me repeat, is but one of the clusters which I have been describing—but one of the mis-called “nebulæ” revealed to us—by the telescope alone, sometimes—as faint hazy spots in various quarters of the sky. We have no reason to suppose the Milky Way really more extensive than the least of these “nebulæ.” Its vast superiority in size is but an apparent superiority arising from our position in regard to it—that is to say, from our position in its midst. However strange the assertion may at first appear to those unversed in Astronomy, still the astronomer himself has no hesitation in asserting that we are in the midst of that inconceivable host of stars—of suns—of systems—which constitute the Galaxy. Moreover, not only have we—not only has our Sun a right to claim the Galaxy as its own especial cluster, but, with slight reservation, it may be said that all the distinctly visible stars of the firmament—all the stars Visible to the naked eye—have equally a right to claim it as their own.

Y presenta algunos razonamientos para demostrar la finitud del universo que por su formulación paradójica y clara a la vez no vuelven a encontrarse antes de Stephen Hawking:

No astronomical fallacy is more untenable, and none has been more pertinaciously adhered to, than that of the absolute illimitation of the Universe of Stars. The reasons for limitation, as I have already assigned them, à priori, seem to me unanswerable; but, not to speak of these, observation assures us that there is, in numerous directions around us, certainly, if not in all, a positive limit—or, at the very least, affords us no basis whatever for thinking otherwise. Were the succession of stars endless, then the background of the sky would present us an uniform luminosity, like that displayed by the Galaxy—since there could be absolutely no point, in all that background, at which would not exist a star. The only mode, therefore, in which, under such a state of affairs, we could comprehend the voids which our telescopes find in innumerable directions, would be by supposing the distance of the invisible background so immense that no ray from it has yet been able to reach us at all. That this may be so, who shall venture to deny? I maintain, simply, that we have not even the shadow of a reason for believing that it is so.

De las mediciones de la velocidad de la luz y del tamaño del Universo disponibles en su época también hace Poe buen uso:

In attempting to appreciate this interval by the aid of any considerations of velocity, as we did in endeavoring to estimate the distance of the moon, we must leave out of sight, altogether, such nothings as the speed of a cannon-ball, or of sound. Light, however, according to the latest calculations of Struve, proceeds at the rate of 167,000 miles in a second. Thought itself cannot pass through this interval more speedily—if, indeed, thought can traverse it at all. Yet, in coming from 61 Cygni to us, even at this inconceivable rate, light occupies more than ten years; and, consequently, were the star this moment blotted out from the Universe, still, for ten years, would it continue to sparkle on, undimmed in its paradoxical glory.

Aquí apunta una intuición del concepto de espacio-tiempo y de la relatividad:

I have already said that light proceeds at the rate of 167,000 miles in a second—that is, about 10 millions of miles in a minute, or about 600 millions of miles in an hour:—yet so far removed from us are some of the “nebulæ” that even light, speeding with this velocity, could not and does not reach us, from those mysterious regions, in less than 3 millions of years. This calculation, moreover, is made by the elder Herschell, and in reference merely to those comparatively proximate clusters within the scope of his own telescope. There are “nebulæ,” however, which, through the magical tube of Lord Rosse, are this instant whispering in our ears the secrets of a million of ages by-gone. In a word, the events which we behold now—at this moment—in those worlds—are the identical events which interested their inhabitants ten hundred thousand centuries ago. In intervals—in distances such as this suggestion forces upon the soul—rather than upon the mind—we find, at length, a fitting climax to all hitherto frivolous considerations of quantity.

Our fancies thus occupied with the cosmical distances, let us take the opportunity of referring to the difficulty which we have so often experienced, while pursuing the beaten path of astronomical reflection, in accounting for the immeasurable voids alluded to—in comprehending why chasms so totally unoccupied and therefore apparently so needless, have been made to intervene between star and star—between cluster and cluster—in understanding, to be brief, a sufficient reason for the Titanic scale, in respect of mere Space, on which the Universe is seen to be constructed. A rational cause for the phænomenon, I maintain that Astronomy has palpably failed to assign:—but the considerations through which, in this Essay, we have proceeded step by step, enable us clearly and immediately to perceive that Space and Duration are one. That the Universe might endure throughout an æra at all commensurate with the grandeur of its component material portions and with the high majesty of its spiritual purposes, it was necessary that the original atomic diffusion be made to so inconceivable an extent as to be only not infinite. It was required, in a word, that the stars should be gathered into visibility from invisible nebulosity—proceed from nebulosity to consolidation—and so grow grey in giving birth and death to unspeakably numerous and complex variations of vitalic development:—it was required that the stars should do all this—should have time thoroughly to accomplish all these Divine purposes—during the period in which all things were effecting their return into Unity with a velocity accumulating in the inverse proportion of the squares of the distances at which lay the inevitable End.

Y no se le escapa a Poe que esta nueva percepción del universo tiene consecuencias para la percepción narrativa del mismo: que una narratividad general se manifiesta en este proceso evolutivo:

The pleasure which we derive from any display of human ingenuity is in the ratio of the approach to this species of reciprocity. In the construction of plot, for example, in fictitious literature, we should aim at so arranging the incidents that we shall not be able to determine, of any one of them, whether it depends from any one other or upholds it. In this sense, of course, perfection of plot is really, or practically, unattainable—but only because it is a finite intelligence that constructs. The plots of God are perfect. The Universe is a plot of God.

E incluso algunas de sus intuiciones se aproximan a la noción del espacio curvo—por ejemplo cuando especula sobre la esfericidad del universo:

"It would scarcely be paradoxical to say that a flash of lightning itself, travelling forever upon the circumference of this unutterable circle, would still, forever, be travelling in a straight line."

A Humboldt, que no ve indicios de centro alguno en el universo—en el universo espacial—lo corrige Poe sin embargo arguyendo que el centro ha de concebirse en el espacio-tiempo: que la estructura del universo es su historia:

The phænomenon here alluded to—that of “many groups moving in opposite directions”—is quite inexplicable by Mädler’s idea; but arises, as a necessary consequence, from that which forms the basis of this Discourse. While the merely general direction of each atom—of each moon, planet, star, or cluster—would, on my hypothesis, be, of course, absolutely rectilinear; while the general path of all bodies would be a right line leading to the centre of all; it is clear, nevertheless, that this general rectilinearity would be compounded of what, with scarcely any exaggeration, we may term an infinity of particular curves—an infinity of local deviations from rectilinearity—the result of continuous differences of relative position among the multitudinous masses, as each proceeded on its own proper journey to the End.

E intuye que incluso la gravedad es una manifestación accidental, relacionada con un estado físico dado, de una fuerza más básica:

Going boldly behind the vulgar thought, we have to conceive, metaphysically, that the gravitating principle appertains to Matter temporarily—only while diffused—only while existing as Many instead of as One—appertains to it by virtue of its state of irradiation alone—appertains, in a word, altogether to its condition, and not in the slighest degree to itself.

Poe es original al intentar conciliar el mito creacionista cristiano y la ciencia física, explicando cómo a partir de la naturaleza misma de las partículas elementales y de las fuerzas físicas, es posible una creación a partir de la nada—una noción que tardaría en abrirse paso hasta los libros de física. Y prevé el circuito completo del universo como un paso de la unidad original o divinidad propiamente dicha, pasando por el despliegue de una diversidad de formas, cuerpos y fuerzas, para terminar en un retorno a la unidad, una especie de Poe's Big Crunch:

When, on fulfilment of its purposes, then, Matter shall have returned into its original condition of One—a condition which presupposes the expulsion of the separative ether, whose province and whose capacity are limited to keeping the atoms apart until that great day when, this ether being no longer needed, the overwhelming pressure of the finally collective Attraction shall at length just sufficiently predominate and expel it:—when, I say, Matter, finally, expelling the Ether, shall have returned into absolute Unity,—it will then (to speak paradoxically for the moment) be Matter without Attraction and without Repulsion—in other words, Matter without Matter—in other words, again, Matter no more. In sinking into Unity, it will sink at once into that Nothingness which, to all Finite Perception, Unity must be—into that Material Nihility from which alone we can conceive it to have been evoked—to have been created by the Volition of God.

La proyección del lenguaje volitivo a la escala cósmica es ciertamente poco evolucionista, y muy de época. Desafortunada, podríamos decir incluso. Pero no se espanten demasiado los ateístas, porque el dios de Poe es otra manera de nombrar la totalidad del universo, su espíritu no es un espíritu humano, y sus "voliciones" y "deleites" no tienen lugar a escala humana.

—¿Que Poe no es científicamente correcto en todas sus especulaciones? Oigan, que estamos hablando de un borracho extravagante de la primera mitad del siglo XIX, guardemos un poco las perspectivas. A cada genio lo suyo. Se ve obligado Poe para justificar sus explicaciones a acudir a un supuesto manuscrito del futuro que consulta, una carta encontrada dentro una botella en el Mar de las Tinieblas, procedente del año 2848—señales del futuro que llegan distorsionadas. Habla el manuscrito por ejemplo de "Kant, a Dutchman, the originator of that species of Transcendentalism which, with the change merely of a C for a K, now bears his peculiar name." Supongo que tampoco estos artificios retóricos ayudaron mucho a que se lo tomase en serio en su momento, ni luego.  "These ancient ideas", dice el manuscrito,

"confined investigation to crawling; and I need not suggest to you that crawling, among varieties of locomotion, is a very capital thing of its kind;—but because the tortoise is sure of foot, for this reason must we clip the wings of the eagles?"


Un Poe-ma

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Jueves, 20 de Diciembre de 2012 21:46. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Evolución

H. G. Wells, en guerra con el mundo



Un biopic de la BBC:

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Sábado, 22 de Diciembre de 2012 22:26. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Kiteboarder frente al sol


Kiteboarder frente al sol

Kiteboarder frente al sol

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Sábado, 22 de Diciembre de 2012 22:28. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Edgar Allan Poe


A photo on Flickr

Edgar Allan Poe

From Hart and Leininger's Oxford Companion to American Literature:
EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849), son of itinerant actors, was born in Boston. His father died the following year, and may have deserted his wife before that time, for she continued to support herself, taking the child with her from place to place until her death at Richmond, VA. (1811), when she left penniless Edgar and two other children: William Henry Leonard Poe (1808-31), who became a poet and may have collaborated with his brother; and Rosalie Poe (1810-74). Edgar was taken into the home of a Richmond merchant, John Allan. Although never legally adopted, for a long while he used his foster father's name, employing it as a middle name after 1824. He went to England (1815-20) with the Allans, and there attended school, as described in the semi-autobiographical story "William Wilson." After their return to Richmond, Mr. Allan, who had inherited a great fortune, was neither faithful to his wife nor sympathetic to this stepson, whose favoring of Mrs. Allan caused him to counter with remarks besmirching the character of Edgar and hinting at the possible illegitimacy of Rosalie. The relationship was further strained during Poe's attendance at the University of Virginia (1826), when Allan would give him no money, and he resorted unsuccessfully to gambling.

Allan insisted on Poe's preparation for a legal career, and after a violent quarrel the youth went to Boston, where he published Tamerlane (1827), issued anonymously at his own expense, which found no public. Under an assumed name and an incorrect age, he entered the U.S. army (1827) and was sent to Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, the setting for his later stories "The Gold-Bug" and "The Balloon Hoax." Mrs. Allan's deathbed plea caused a cool reconciliation with Allan, who aided Poe in obtaining an appointment to West Point and sent him a small sum to live on meanwhile in Baltimore, where he stayed with his brother and his aunt, Mrs. Maria Clemm, while arranging for the publication of Al Aaraaf (1829), which contained the sonnet "To Science" and "Tamerlane." Admitted to West Point (1830), he soon set about by gross neglect of duty to get himself dismissed  (1831), since the reason for attendance, the desire to reinstate himself with Allan, had already been lost.

During a short stay in New York, he published Poems by Edgar A. Poe (1831), containing early versions of "Israfel," "To Helen," and "The City in the Sea," and then went on to live with Mrs. Clemm in Baltimore (1831-35), where he began to publish stories in magazines. He first attracted attention with "MS Found in a Bottle," which won a contest and brought him to the attention of J. P. Kennedy, who got him an editorial position on the Southern Literary Messenger, although he was discharged because of his drinking. At Baltimore he obtained a license (1835) to marry his cousin, Mrs. Clemm's daughter, Virginia, aged 13, and mah have married her before the public ceremony (1836). Reemployed by the Messenger, he moved with Mrs. Clemm and Virginia to Richmond, where, before he was finally discharged, he had published the unfinished tragedy Politian, 83 reviews, 6 poems, 4 essays, and 3 short stories, and greatly increased the magazine's circulation.

He moved his family to New York (1837-38), where he did hackwork and published The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, then going to Philadelphia, where as co-editor of Burton's Gentleman's Magazine (1839-40) he contributed "The Fall of the House of Usher," containing the previously published "Haunted Palace""William Wilson""The Journal of Julius Rodman""Morella"; and other works; and published Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque(1840), his first collection, which included "Berenice""Ligeia," containing "The Conqueror Worm""The Assignation""The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaaal"; and other stories. Leaving Burton, he made plans for his own magazine, which led to an acquaintance with T. H. Chivers, whose similar poetry caused attacks and counterattacks of plagiarism after Poe's death. Poe was literary editor of Graham's Magazine (1841-42), to which he contributed"The Murders in the Rue Morgue," "A Descent into the Maelström," "The Masque of the Red Death," and other works, including some acute criticism which heightened his  reputation. To the same magazine he later contributed "The Imp of the Perverse" (1845) and "The Philosophy of Composition" (1846). He came to know R. W. Griswold, who followed him as an editor and bitterly attacked him after his death. 

In 1842-43 he published "The Mystery of Marie Rogêt" in a New York magazine, and won a prize in a Philadelphia newspaper for "The Gold-Bug," but even this did not help him, since he had wasted opportunities for further publication in Philadelphia. In New York (1844), he wrote "The Raven," became associated with the New-York Mirror, and as literary critic (1844-45) conducted his war there with Longfellow, whom he accused of plagiarism. These attacks he continued after becoming proprietor of the Broadway Journal (1845), where he also printed"The Pit and the Pendulum," "Eleonora," and "The Premature Burial," and reprinted "The Tell-Tale Heart," and other works. His eighth book, Tales (1845), reprinted previous works selected by E. A. Duyckinck, and included "The Black Cat" and "The Purloined Letter." 
The Raven and Other Poems appeared the same year. Next associated with Godey's Lady's Book, Poe published "The Cask of Amontillado" and his articles on "The Literati of New York City," whose harsh criticism of T.D. English prompted an answer, to which Poe replied with a successful libel suit.

Lacking regular employment, he with his wife and Mrs. Clemm nearly starved in their Fordham home, and Virginia died of tuberculosis during the winter. Although he published"Ulalume" and "The Domain of Arnheim," and was at work on "The Bells" and Eureka, he was now more than ever in a thoroughly abnormal condition of body and mind, for which he attempted to find solace in the company of a Mrs. Shew, the poet Sarah Whitman, and the Mrs. Richmond addressed in "To Annie." Torn betwen the love of the latter two, he attempted suicide. His erratic mind, depressed in personal affairs, nevertheless showed extreme exaltation in the lecture Eureka, in which he attempted to establish an all-embracing theory of cosmogony. Upon his return to Richmond (1849), where he wrote "Annabel Lee," he made a vigorous attempt to end his addiction to liquor and became engaged to Mrs. Shelton, a former neighbor of the Allans, with whom he had had an early affair. On his way north to bring Mrs. Clemm to the wedding, he stopped in Baltimore, where five days afterward he was discovered in a delirious condition near a saloon that had been used for a voting place. It has been supposed that he was captured in a drunken condition by a political gang, which used him for the then common practice of repeating votes. Four days later he died, and was buried in Baltimore beside his wife.

There have been strongly divergent evaluations of Poe's literary significance, from Emerson's dismissal of him as "the jingle man" and Lowell's "three-fifths genius and two-fifths sheer fudge" to Yeats's declaration, "always and for all lands a great lyric poet." The difference of opinion is at heart directed at his criticism, for the poetry consistently exemplifies the theories set forth in "The Philosophy of Composition," "The Rationale of Verse," and "The Poetic Principle," in which he indicated his conception of poetic unity to be one of mood or emotion, and especially emphasized the beauty of melancholy. This romantic attitude has led to the criticism that his poetry is no more than a sustained tone, entirely dominated by its atmosphere. His reputation is also grounded on his use of the short story, which he preferred to the novel on the same basis that he preferred the short poem to the long. The stories may be said to fall into two categories, those of horror, set in a crepuscular world, and those of raciocination, which set the standard for the modern detective story and conform to the critical theories expounded in Eureka. Although Poe was strongly influenced by many authors—e.g. Tennyson in his poetry, Coleridge in his criticism, and C. B. Brown in his fiction—he himself proved a source of influence on such Americans as Bierce and Hart Crane, and such Englishmen as Rossetti, Swinburne, Dowson, and Stevenson, besides having a profound effect on the French symbolists.



Tamerlane and Other Poems,
 first collection by Poe, anonymously published in Boston (1827). The title piece is a narrative poem, revised in later editions, which shows the strong influence of Byron and purports to be the dying confession of the Asiatic conqueror to a strange friar, mainly concerned with memories of passionate love.

To Science, sonnet by Poe, published as a prologue to Al Aaraaf in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems (1829). The poet apostrophizes Science as one whose peering eyes alter all things, as a destroyer of beauty, preying upon the heart of its lover, and as a "Vulture, whose wings are dull realities." Poe developed the theme of the conflict of scientific thought and poetic feeling in his prose, but later, in Eureka, considered that the beauty of poetry depended on its representing a scientific concept of an ordered universe.

Al Aaraaf, allegorical poem by Poe, published in Al Aaraaf, Tamerlane, and Minor Poems(1829) and revised in later printings. With the sonnet "To Science" as "prologue," the poem is arranged in two parts, composed of octosyllabic groups, heroic couplets, and songs of two- and three-stress lines.

Al-Aaraaf in Mohammedan mythology is a sort of limbo, but in the present allegory it is the brilliant star, briefly observed by Tycho Brahe, which the poet imagines to be the birthplace of the "Idea of Beauty." To this haven of ideal loveliness is carried the earth-born youth Angelo, but his worship is removed from the realm of the ideal by his passion for the maiden Ianthe. Because of their passion they do not hear the summons sent them by the presiding spirit Nesace, through her agent Ligeia, and they fall to perdition: 

. . . for Heaven to them no hope imparts
Who hear not for the beating of their hearts.

Israfel, poem by Poe, 
dark angelpublished inPoems (1831) and several times revised in later editions. It is prefaced by an altered quotation from the Koran: "And the angel Israfel, whose heart-strings are a lute, and who has the sweetest voice of all God's creatures." In eight stanzas of great metrical variety, ranging from four- to two-stress lines, the poem contrasts the ideal dwelling place of the angel with the poet's own "world of sweets and sours," and concludes that if they were to change places
He might not sing so wildly well
    A mortal melody,
While a bolder note than this might swell 
    From my lyre within the sky.


The Assignation,
 a story by Poe, published as "The Visionary" in Godey's Lady's Book (1834) and under its present title in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840). It contains the poem "To One in Paradise."

 tale by Poe, published in the Southern Literary Messenger (1835) and reprinted inTales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).

Egaeus, glomy and unhealthy, grows up with his cousin Berenice, who is "agile . . . overflowing with energy" until she contracts a form of epilepsy that causes frequent trances. The youth's mind becomes diseased, and although he never loved Berenice while she was normal, he now madly proposes marriage. As the wedding approaches, he sees her as she is, pale and shrunken, but her white teeth fascinate him, and he feels insanely certain that to possess them would cure his own malady. When she is stricken with epilepsy and entombed as dead, Egaeus, unconscious of what he does, draws her teeth.He returns to the library, and there a servants makes him aware of what he has done, telling him that Berenice has not been dead but in a trance.

 story by Poe, published in 1835 and reprinted in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840).

Morella, a student of the German mystics, is a woman of extraordinary learning and mental power. Her husband is devoted to her, and acknowledges her intelelctual superiority, but she realizes that he does not love her. When she declines in health, he is repelled by her melancholy beauty. She seems resigned, but at last tells him that she is dying and yet shall live, that "her whom in life thou didst abhor, in death thou shalt adore." She dies in childbirth, leaving a daughter who is loved by the lonely father, even though he recognizes her increadsing resemblance to his dead wife. He neglects to name the child, but when she is 14 decides to have her baptized. At the font, a perverse impulse causes him to utter the name Morella, at which she falls dead, saying "I am here!" Distracted, the father bears her corpse to the tomb, where he finds no trace of the first Morella.

 a Tragedy,  
unfinished blank-verse drama by Poe, of which selected scenes were published in the Southern Literary Messenger (1835-36). The work remained in manuscript until 1923, when it appeared in its entirety in a scholarly edition arranged by T. O. Mabbott. "The Coliseum" (1833) was incorporated in the text by Poe. Politian is based on the Kentucky Tragedy, but the scene is 16th-century Rome. 

Castiglione, son of the Duke Di Brolio, seduces his father's orphan ward Lalage. When he becomes engaged to his cousin Alessandra, Lalage swears that she will be avenged. Politian, earl of Leicester, comes to Rome from England, falls in love with Lalage, and accepts her demand that he kill Castiglione. Irresolute, he postpones the act and goes to the Coliseum to meditate. There he is joined by Lalage, who reminds him that Castiglione's marriage is about to take place, and Politian departs to fulfill his promise. 

The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall,
 story by Poe, published in the Southern Literary Messenger (June 1835) and collected in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque(1840). 

Five years after the disappearance of Hans Pfaall from Rotterdam a balloon of odd shape and structure came over the city and from it a strange little person dropped a letter describing in pseudoscientific detail Pfaall's own ballon ascension to the moon on a 19-day voyage that began on April 1 of an unnamed year. In a concluding Note the author declares the "sketchy trifle" is a hoax and links it to the Moon Hoax of Richard A. Locke. 

Moon Hoax, result of an article contributed to the New York Sun (Aug. 1835) by a reporter, Richard Adams Locke (1800-1871), who pretended to reveal a discovery by Sir John Herschel that men and animals existed on the moon. The revelations, supposedly reprinted from the actually defunct Edinburgh Journal of Science,were so clever as greatly to increast the Sun's circulation cause a delegation from Yale to ask to see the original article, and produce pamphlet reprintes in England and on the Continent. Poe, who was a friend of Locke and described him in The Literari, said that the hoax anticipated most of this "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall" and caused him to leave that tale unfinished, although he published it and later published his "Balloon Hoax" in the Sun itself in 1844.

The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym, of Nantucket,
 novelette by Poe, published in 1838. Like "The Journal of Julius Rodman," it is an account of exploration and adventure, heightened by fictional additions, but based on fact. It is extensively paraphrased from Benjamin Morrell's Narrative of Four Voyages to the South Seas and Pacific (1832) and a manual of seamanship, and owes its origin to a "Report of the Committee on Naval Affairs" (1836), concerning the expedition proposed by J.N. Reynolds, with whom Poe was acquainted. In the novelette, the fictitious Pym recounts his experiences as a passenger on the Grampus, which sailed from Nantucket for the South Seas in June 1827. Mutiny, shipwreck, and "horrible sufferings" are followed by a rescue and further sensational adventures in the Antarctic Ocean and on Pacific islands.

 tale by Poe published in 1838 and reprinted in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque(1840). The poem "The Conqueror Worm" was not included in the tale until 1845. 
door to hell
An aristocratic young man marries Ligeia, a woman of strange, dark beauty, and great learning. They are deeply in love, and share an interest in the occult, until a wasting illness triumphs over Ligeia's passionate will to live, and she dies. In melancholy grief, her husband leaves his lonely home on the Rhine to purchase an English abbey, where he grows mentally deranged under the influence of opium. He marries fair-haired Lady Rowena Trevanion, although they are not in love, and Rowena soon dies in a strange manner. Her husband watches by the bier and sees signs of returning life in the body, but considers these to be hallucinations. At las she rises to her feet and loosens the cerements from her head so that masses of long black hair stream forth. When she opens her eyes, he realizes that the lost Ligeia's will to live has triumphed, for she has assumed what was formerly the body of Rowena.

The Conqueror Worm, poem by Poe, published in The Raven and Other Poems (1845), and later included in "Ligeia." It consists of five eight-line stanzas, rhymed ababcbcb, the meter being free through most frequently iambic and anapaestic. The final lines convey the subject: 

... the play is the tragedy, "Man,"
And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.

The Fall of the House of Usher,
 story by Poe, published in 1839, and reprinted in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840). It contains the poem "The Haunted Palace." 

A childhood companion of Roderick Usher, who has not seen him for many years, is summoned to the gloomy House of Usher to comfort his sick friend. The decayed mansion stands on the edge of a tarn, and is fungus-grown and dreary. Roderick and his twin Madeline are the only surviving members of the family, and both suffer serious physical and nervous maladies. Roderick entertains his friend with curious musical and poetic improvisations, indicating his morbid tastes by his choice of reading. Madeline, in a cataleptic trance, is thought to be dead, and her body is placed in the family vault. During a strom, Roderick is overcome by a severe nervous agitation, and his friend reads aloud from a medieval romance, whose horrifying episodes coincide with strange sounds from outside the room. Finally Madeline appears, enshrouded, and she and her brother fall dead together. The friend rushes from the house, and, as he looks back in the moonlight, sees the whole House of Usher split asunder and sink into the tarn.

The Haunted Palace,  poem by Poe, published in the Baltimore Museum (1839) and as one of the hero's "rhymed verbal improvisations" in "The Fall of the House of Usher." The six stanzas (rhymed ababcdcd) depict in allegory the progress of insanity within the phantom-haunted "palace" of a decaying mind.

William Wilson,
 a story by Poe, published in 1839 and collected in Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque (1840). The description of school life in England is partly autobiographical.

The central figure is a willful, passionate youth, who at Dr. Bransby's boarding school leads all his companions except one, a boy of his own age and appearence who bears the same name of William Wilson. This double maintains an easy superiority, which frightens Wilson, and haunts him by constant patronage and protection, noticed only by Wilson himself, whose sense of persecution increases until he flees from the school. He goes to Eton and Oxford, and then travels about Europe, following a career of extravagant indulgence, and becoming degenerate and vicious.At critical times his double invariably appears to warn him or destroy his power over others. Finally at Rome, when the double appears to prevent his planned seduciton of the Duchess Di Broglio, Wilson is infuriated, engages the other in a sword fight, and murders him. As the double lies dying, he tells Wilson, "You have conquered . . . Yet henceforward art thou also dead . . . In me didst thou exist—and, in my death, see by this image, which is thine own, how utterly thou hast murdered thyself."

Tales of the Grotesque and Arabesque, first collection of stories by Poe, published in two volumes in December 1839, dated 1840. The title was suggested by an essay by Sir Walter Scott, and the collection included 25 stories, among them "MS. Found in a Bottle," "The Assignation," "Berenice," "Morella," "Ligeia," "The Fall of the House of Usher," "William Wilson," and "The Unparalleled Adventure of One Hans Pfaall."

The Journal of Julius Rodman, fictional travel narrative by Poe, published anonymously inBurton Gentleman's Magazine (1840). It purports to be an account of "the first passage across the Rocky Mountains of North America ever achieved by civilized man," as accomplished in 1792 by an English emigrant, Julius Rodman, with several companions, and described in a diary discovered by his heirs. The character of Rodman and the dates are fictitious, but the adventures and descriptions are based on fact, being largely paraphrased from Irving'sAstoria and the accounts of Lewis and Clark and Sir Alexander Mackenzie.

A Descent into the Maelström, story by Poe, published in Graham's Magazine (1841) and reprinted in Prose Tales (1843).

A Norwegian sailor and his brother are trapped in their fishing boat when a hurricane draws it into the fearful Moskoe-ström, a whirlpool that periodically forms and subsides. Whirled about the inner verge of the gulf, they face death, and the elder brother becomes insane. The other sees that of the many objects in the grasp of the whirlpool, small cylindrical ones are least likely to be destroyed, and, lashing himself to a cask, he jumps into the sea. When the Moskoe-ström subsides, he floats to safety and is rescued by fellow fishermen. They do not recognize him or believe his story, for his hair has turned white and his expression is completely altered.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue, story by Poe, published in 1841 and collected in the Prose Tales of Edgar A. Poe (1843). It is his first tale of ratiocination and in it he is considered to have created the genre of the detective story.

The narrator lives in Paris with his friend C. Auguste Dupin, an eccentric genius of extraordinary analytic powers. They read an account of the murders of a Mme L'Espanaye and her daughter Camille in their fourth-story apartment in the Rue Morgue. The police are puzzled by the crime, for its brutal manner indicates that the murder possessed superhuman strength and agility; his voice, overheard by neighbours, was grotesque and unintelligible, and they can discover no motive. Dupin undertakes to solve the mystery as an exercise in ratiocination. After examining the evidence and visiting the scene of the murders to find new clues, he deduces the fact that the criminal is an ape. An advertisement bring to Dupin's apartment a sailor who confesses that an orangutan, which he brought to Paris to sell, escaped and committed the murders. The police release a former suspect, and the ape is recaptured and sold to the Jardin des Plantes.

Eleonora, story by Poe, in The Gift (1842). This brief romance tells of a youth reared with his cousin Eleonora in the beautiful Valley of the Many-Colored Grass. They fall in love, but she dies after he pledges never to wed "any daughter of Earth." Grieving, he goes to a strange city to serve at the gay court of the king, where he falls in love with and weds "the seraph Ermengarde." One night he hears a "familiar and sweet voice" absolve him of his vow "for reasons which shall be made known to thee in Heaven."

The Masque of the Red Death,  story by Poe, published in Graham's Magazine (1842). 

In a land devastated by a horrible plague, the "Red Death," Prince Prospero determines to preserve himself and his friends, and removes to a secluded castle, where, with 1000 knights and ladies, he spends several months in extravagantly gay pursuits. At a masquerade in the imperial suite, when the courtiers appear in masks and fantastic costumes, a terrifying corpse-like figure joins them, garbed as the Red Death. Attempting to stab him, the Prince dies; when others seize the apparition, it is discovered to have no tangible body. They realize that this is the Red Death itself, and, as midnight strikes, they die: "and Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all."

The Mystery of Marie Rogêt, detective story by Poe, published in 1842-43 as a sequel to "The Murders in the Rue Morgue" and reprinted in Tales (1845). The principal details are based on the actual New York murder case of Mary Cecilia Rogers.

Marie Rogêt, a Parisian beauty of uncertain reputation, leaves her mother's home, saying she intends to spend the day with an aunt, but is not seen again. Four days later, her corpse is recovered from the Seine. The Prefect of Police offers a reward to C. Auguste Dupin, scholarly amateur detective, for a solution to the puzzle. One of the girl's admirers, St. Eustache, is proved innocent after his suicide, and by a process of ratiocination Dupin shows that another, Beauvais, cannot be guilty. The newspapers have hinted that the corpse may not be that of Marie, but Dupin refutes this possibility. He sets aside other suggestions, also by logical proof, and decides that the murder must have been committed by a secret lover, who would have thrown the body into the river from a boat, and then cast the boat adrift after reaching shore. Dupin's proposal that the boeat be found and examined for clues is followed by the successful solution of the mystery.

The Pit and the Pendulum,  tale by Poe, published in The Gift (1843). 

A prisoner of the Spanish Inquisition at Toledo descirbes his horrible tortures. Sick from long suffering, he faints when the death sentence is pronounced; upon recovering consciousness, he finds himself on the stone floor of a dark dungeon. Exploring the cell, he is saved from plunging into a deep pit when he accidentally trips and falls. He sleeps, and awakes to discover that he is now strapped to a wooden framework, while a great pendulum swings slowly back and forth  overhead, its end being a steel crescent sharpened to razor edge. The menacing blade gradually descends, and rats swarm about his highly seasoned food and over his body. As the pendulum reaches him, the rats gnaw his bonds, from which he frees himself to find the cell's metal walls are heated and are slowly closing in. Just as he gives way to an agony of terror, the city is captured by French soldiers, and the hand of General Lasalle stays him from tumbling into the pit.

The Rationale of Verse, essay by Poe, published as "Notes on English Verse" in The Pioneer (1843), and in its final form under the present title in the Southern Literary Messenger(1848). It is the most complete expression of Poe's theories of poetic technique, although critics, indicating its inconsistencies, asssert that he did not follow his own dicta.

Refuting the notion that prosody is concerned with the regular "alternation of long and short syllables," Poe establishes a distinction between "natural" and "unnatural" metrical units. "The natural long syllables are those encumbered . . . with [difficult] consonants . . . Accentedsyllables are of course always long, but, where unencumbered with consonants, must be classed among the unnaturally long." He upholds a "principle of equality," according to which each verse foot must be pronounced in the same time as every other foot in the line, regardless of the number of its syllables. This applies only to single lines, although to be effective a stanza should contain lines arranged in strict pattern; and rhyme, alliteration, and the use of refrains should be governed by the same rule. Since duration is the standard by which this "equality" is to be judged, there should be no "blending" or substitution of one metrical foot for another. Contractions or elisions should be avoided, although additional unstressed syllables may be used if they can be pronounced rapidly. The "caesura" (in this usage, a "variable foot," occurring at the end or middle of a line, and consisting of one long syllable) is discussed as being one of the most important of metrical feet. The essay concludes with a passage, especially referring to Longfellow's poems, which denies the possibility of the successful use of Greek hexameters in English, because of the "natural" pronunciation peculiar to English words.

The Gold-Bug, tale by Poe, published as a prize story in the Philadelphia Dollar Magazine(1843) and reprinted in Tales (1845). The cryptograph on which the story depends is a development of the interest that prompted Poe's essay "Cryptography" (Graham's Magazine,1841).

William Legrand, an impoverished Southern gentleman, lives in seclusion on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina, his only companion being the black servant Jupiter. One day, when they capture a rare golden scarb beetle, markes with a sort of death's -head, they come upon a curious piece of parchment, which when heated proves to contain a certain cipher and a drawing of a death's head. Legrand ingenously decodes the cipher, which directs them to the buried treasure of Captain Kidd. With the aid of a friend and the superstitious Jupiter, both of whom he deliberately mystifies, Legrand locates an indicated tree, in which a skull is nailed, and, by dropping the beetle through an eye of the skull, they are able to establish a line on the position of the cache. Besides several skeletons, they exhume a fortune in old coins and jewels with which Legrand reestablishes himself in society.

The Tell-Tale Heart,
story by Poe, published in The Pioneer (1843). It has been considered the most influential of Poe's stories in the later development of stream-of-consciousness fiction.

A victim of a nervous disease is overcome by homicidal mania and murders an innocent old man in whose house he lives. He confuses the ticking of the old man's watch with an excited heartbeat, and although he dismembers the body he neglects to remove the watch when he buries the pieces beneath the floor. The old man's dying shriek has been overheard, and tree police officers come to investigate. They discover nothing, and the murderer claims that the old man is absent in the country, but when they remain to question him he hears a loud rhythmic sound that he believes to be the beating of the buried heart. This so distracts his diseased mind that he suspects the officers know the truth and are merely trying is patience, and in an insane fit he confesses his crime. 

The Balloon-Hoax,
 story by Poe, published in the New York Sun (April 13, 1844) in the guise of an actual article of news. According to the author, the "jeu d'esprit . . .  subserved the prupose of creating indigestible aliment for the quidnuncs during the few hours intervening between a couple of the Charleston mails." It is an account of a fictitious crossing of the Atlantic (April 6-9) by eight men in "Mr. Monck Mason's Flying Machine . . . the Steering Balloon 'Victoria'." The balloon, inflated with coal gas, is supposed to have started from a place in north Wales, headed out over the ocean, and then been caught in a powerful gale that lasted two days, driving the craft at great speed until it was landed on Sullivan's Island, S.C.

The Imp of the Perverse, story by Poe, published in Graham's Magazine (1845). A condemned murderer explains his confession, which followed years of safe concealment, in terms of a perverse impulse, and states that perversity is an unrecognized major motive for men's actions.

The Purloined Letter, detective story by Poe, published in his Tales (1845). 

The prefect of the Paris police visits C. Auguste Dupin, scholarly amateur detective, for advice on a baffling case concerning a cabinet minister who has gaoined power over, and consequently practiced blackmail upon, a royal lady from whom he has stolen a letter that she cannot have made public. After serveral months of elaborate search, the prefect concludes that the letter is not on the minister's person or premises. Dupin soon finds the letter, explaining later that the police seek only obscure hiding places such as would be avoided by the acute minister. Dupin, therefore, visited him openly, looked in the most obvious places, and found the letter, turned inside out and disguised in an exposed card rack. Diverting the minister the next day by means of an arranged street disturbance, he substituted a facsimile and took the purloined letter with him.

The Black Cat, story, by Poe, published in 1843, collected in Tales  (1845). 

A condemned murderer tells of his crime and its discovery. For hears he cherished a pet black cat, Pluto, until intemperate drinking led him to destroy one of its eyes during a fit of malevolence. The cat recovered, but its master's perverse mood continued, and he tied it by the neck to a tree. The same night, his home was destroyed by fire, except for a newly plastered wall that bore the image of a cat with a noose about its neck. Now poverty-stricken and degenerate, them man was haunted by this image, but nevertheless brought home a stray one-eyed cat, which had a single white mark on its black breast, resembling a gallows. He came to hate the animal, and one day attempted to kill it with an axe; murdering his wife when she interfered, he placed her body in a cellar recess that he concealed with plaster. When police came to make a search, they found nothing until a ghastly scream from the walled recess caused them to open it and discover the cat seated upon the head of the corpse. 

The Raven, poem by Poe, the title piece of a volume (1845), was several times revised in later publications. To Poe's account of writing it, in "The Philosophy of Composition," must be added the influence upon the meter of Mrs. Browning's "Lady Geraldine's Courtship" and Chivers's "Isadore." The poem consists of 18 six-line stanzas, the first five lines of each being in trochaic octameter, and the sixth line trochaic tetrameter. The rhythm is varied by frequent syncopation, caused by effects of double rhyme and alliteration. The rhyme pattern is abcbbb, in which the b rhymes are based on the constant refrain "Nevermore," a word that merged Poe's favorite theme of grief occasioned by the death of a beautiful woman (in this case "Lenore"), the distinctive theme of despair at the denial of personal immortality, and the sonorous sound of the and v in the refrain itself. 

A weary student is visited in his room, one stormy midnight, by a raven who can speak the single word, "Nevermore." Tortured by grief over the loss of his beloved, the student questions the bird concerning the possibility of meeting her in another world. He is driven to wilder demands by the repetition of the fatal word, until the raven becomes an irremovable symbol of his dark doubts and frustrated longing.

The Cask of Amontillado, tale by Poe, published in Godey's Lady's Book (1846). 

During the excitement of the carnival in an Italian city, Montresor determines to avenge "the thousand injuries" of Fortunato, a connoisseur of wines who has offended him. He finds Fortunato drunk, but eager to taste the choice Amontillado that Montresor claims to have stored in his underground vaults. Although he has a cough, made worse by the damp air and clining nitre of the tunnels through which they go, he refuses to turn back when he hears that his rival, Luchresi, may be allowed to try the wine. At last they reach a crypt at the end of a passage, where Montresor shackles the stupefied Fortunato and proceeds to wall him up with stone and mortar. Fortunato cries for help, but there is no one to hear, and Montresor completes his work, the last sound from his victim being a faint jingling of bells on his carnival motley.

The Philosophy of Composition, critical essay by Poe, published in Graham's Magazine(1846). It purports to describe the author's usual procedure in composing poetry and is mainly devoted to an analysis of "The Raven" as an example of this procedure. Among the famous dicta announced in the essay are: "If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression . . . What we term a long poem is, in fact, merely a succession of brief ones"; "Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem"; "Beauty . . . in its supreme development, invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all poetical tones"; "The death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world." Poe further discusses his principles of versification, use of a refrain, diction, and imagery, and the primary importance of the climax ("The Raven," stanza 16), which was written first so that every effect in the poem should lead in its direction.

The Literati of New York City, critical review by Poe of the Knickerbocker Group and other New York authors, published in Godey's Lady's Book (1846). Among the 38 authors are Halleck (the third principal contemporary poet, "a somewhat better position than that to which on absolute grounds he is entitled"); C. P. Cranch ("unusual vivacity of fancy and dexterity of expression . . . one of the least intolerable of the school of Boston transcendentalists"); Caroline Stansbury Kirkland ("has a province of her own, and in that province has few equals"); Epes Sargent ("One of the most prominent members of a very extensive American family—the men of industry, talent and tact"); E.A. Duyckinck ("the excessively tasteful"); Anna Mowatt ("She evinces more feeling than ideality"); Lewis G. Clark ("He is noticeable for nothing in the world except for the markedness by which he is noticeable for nothing"); C.F. Hoffman ("a true idealist . . . one sensitively alive to beauty in every development"); Margaret Fuller ("tainted with the affectation of the transcendentalists, but brimful of the poetic sentiment"); and N.P. Willis ("As a poet he is not entitled to as high a rank as he may justly claim for his prose"). Poe's unfavourable comments on T.D. English, whom he satirizes as "Thomas Dunn Brown," provoked a scurrilous reply by English, to which Poe retaliated with a successful libel suit.

poem by Poe, published in the American Whig Review (Dec. 1847). This lyrical poem, called by Poe a ballad, expresses the writer's grief over the death of his beloved "Ulalume," and in its first magazine publication had ten stanzas ranging from the nine lines of the first stanza to the 13 of the penultimate, which in later publications became the final stanza. The Meter is anapestic trimeter. It tells of the lover's unwitting return to the tomb where he had buried his Ulalume: 

It was hard by the dim lake of Auber
In the misty mid region of Weir—
It wass down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

The Domain of Arnheim,
 descriptive tale by Poe, published in 1847. It incorporates "The Landscape Garden" (1842), and "Landor's Cottage" is a "pendant."

A fabulously beautiful estate is created by Ellison, a millionaire enthusiast of landscape gardening. After spending years in searching for the perfect site, he chooses Arnheim, and carries out a huge plan for disposing the waterways, landscape, and vegetation so as to make it the ideal setting for the "semi-Gothic, semi-Saracenic" architecture of his elaborate home.

Landor's Cottage, descriptive story by Poe, published in 1849 as a "pendant" to "The Domain of Arnheim." It is a detailed description of the New York country estate of a Mr. Landor, a simple but exquisite creation of architecture and landscape gardening, and a less elaborate counterpart of the rich domain described in the earlier story.

The Poetic Principle, 
lecture by Poe, delivered in various cities (1848-49) and posthumously published in The Union Magazine (1850). Partly an elocutionary vehicle, it contains short poems by Willis, Longfellow, Bryant, Shelely, Thomas Moore, Hood, Byron, and Tennyson. 

Developing the theories already stated in "The Philosophy of Composition" and other places, Poe declares that "a long poem does not exist . .  . . A poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul. . . . That degree of excietement  . . . cannot be sustained throughout a composition of any great length." This is true because of "that vital requisite in all works of Art, Unity," and the "absolute effect of even the best epic under the sun is a nullity." He proceeds to "the heresy of the Didactic": "there neither exists nor can exist any work more thoroughly dignified, more supremely noble than [the] poem which is a poem and nothing more—[the] poem written solely for the poem's sake." The proper mood for teaching a truth is completely opposed to the poetic mood. Poetry arises in the passionate reaching out "to apprehend the supernal Loveliness," to attain a vision, however brief, of the ideal beauty which is usually beyond our ken. "I would define, in brief, the Poetry of words as The Rhythmical Creation of Beauty. Its sole arbiter is Taste." Love, "the purest and truest of all poetical themes," is the highest variety of beauty, and beauty is "The province of the poem. . . .  The incitements of Passion, or the precepts of Duty, or even the lessons of Truth, may . . . be introduced . . . but the true artist will always contribute to tone them down in proper subjection to . . . Beauty." 

Eureka: A Prose Poem, metaphysical work by Poe, published in 1848. 

Based on the author's reading in Newton, Laplace, and others, the work accepts intuition, as well as induction and deduction, among legitimate paths to knowledge. Unity and diffusion are truths, because they are felt to be so, and "irradiation, by which alone these two truths are reconciled, is a consequent truth—I perceive it." The universe, composed of atoms radiated outward from a primary divine unity to an almost infinite variety, is conceived to be governed by the complementary laws of attraction and repulsion, in terms of which all phenomena are explicable. This is shown by mathematical proof, and by reference to the principles of heat, light, and electricity. This view of a harmoniously ordered, perfect universe is then extended in a discussion of literary criticism, especially applied to fiction. "In the construction of plot . . . we should aim at so arranging the incidents that we shall not be able to determine, of any of them, whether it depends from any oone other or upholds it." The view has also an ethical application: "God—the material and spiritual God—now exists solely in the diffused Matter and Spirit of the Universe," and the regathering of these elements will reconstitute "The purelySpiritual and individual God," so that the operations of "Divine Injustice" or "Inexorable Fate" may at last be understood. We "no longer rebel at a Sorrow which we ourselves have imposed upon ourselves," and "in this view alone the existence of Evil becomes intelligible . . . it becomes endurable."

The Bells,  poem by Poe, published in 1849. The four irregular stanzas, of varied meter, depict onomatopoetically, by means of reiterated alliteration, assonance, and phonetic imitation, four ways in which the sounds of bells influence moods: the merry tinkle of sleigh bells; the mellow, golden notes of wedding bells; the terrible shriek of alarm bells; and the solemn, melancholy roll of funeral bells. Poe's first version of this tour de force of "tintinnabulation" consisted of only 18 lines, suggested by his friend Mrs. M.L. Shew, but in  its complete form the poem contains 113 lines. Its origin has been traced to a passage in Chateaubriand's Le Génie du christianisme.

Annabel Lee,
 lyrical ballad by Poe, posthumously published in the New York Tribune (Oct. 9, 1849). In six stanzas of alternate four- and three-stress lines, the poem has been called "The culmination of Poe's lyric style" in his recurrent theme of the loss of a beautiful and loved woman.

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Sábado, 22 de Diciembre de 2012 22:30. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Literatura y crítica

Woman at Sea


Woman at Sea

Woman at Sea 

Woman at Sea, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Sábado, 22 de Diciembre de 2012 22:32. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Incrustando Closing Time


Closing Time from Jose Angel García Landa on Vimeo.

—que era la canción de Leonard Cohen. En versión preliminar: aún me falta beber mucho Johnnie Walker para entonarla como es debido. In The Future.

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Lunes, 24 de Diciembre de 2012 18:53. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Músicas mías

Woman at Sea 2

Woman at Sea 2
Woman at Sea 2, a photo by JoseAngelGarciaLanda on Flickr.

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Lunes, 24 de Diciembre de 2012 18:54. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

El presente de Cataluña


El presente de Cataluña

Un soneto de Fray Josepho en Libertad Digital


La cultura, al servicio de la casta. 
La opinión, embridada y contenida. 
La prensa, siempre bien retribuida. 
El idealismo, todo por la pasta. 

La educación, dogmática y nefasta. 
El fútbol, sustituto de la vida. 
La patria, elefantiásica y fingida. 
La discrepancia, calla o se la aplasta.

La lengua, una liturgia obligatoria. 
Un delirio fantástico, la Historia. 
La expansión imperial, una quimera. 

Pasado y porvenir, un puro cuento. 
Y el presente, un grandísimo excremento 
que conservan envuelto en la bandera. 

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Lunes, 24 de Diciembre de 2012 18:58. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Política

En el Aesthetics and Theory of Art eJournal


En el Aesthetics and Theory of Art eJournal

Mi artículo "Atención a la Atención" ha sido distribuido en una de las revistas del SSRN, Aesthetics and Theory of Art eJournal (vol. 4, no. 38: 26 Nov. 2012), publicado por la sección "Philosophy Research Network."
A photo on Flickr

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Lunes, 24 de Diciembre de 2012 23:40. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Trabajos

Walk in the Morning 3


Walk in the Morning 3

 Walk in the Morning 3

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Martes, 25 de Diciembre de 2012 09:42. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Imágenes

Somos teatreros, en varios eJournals


Somos teatreros, en varios eJournals

 "Somos teatreros: El sujeto, la interacción dialéctica y la estrategia de la representación según Goffman"
 Un artículo mío que en el Social Science Research Network ha aparecido en las siguientes publicaciones de diferentes áreas de conocimiento:

- Cognitive Linguistics: Cognition, Language, Gesture eJournal 4.15 (8 June 2012):

- Ethics eJournal 
5.59 (11 June 2012).

- Philosophy of Mind eJournal 
5.18 (8 June 2012):

- Social and Political Philosophy eJournal
 5.85 (12 June 2012).

- Rhetorical Theory eJournal 1
.3 (8 August 2012).

Cada uno de estos eJournals del Social Science Resarch Network tiene sus propios editores diferentes. Por tanto, este artículo ha pasado varios filtros distintos. En otros casos no ha sido aceptado como relevante apra el área, por ejemplo en el Literary Theory and Criticism eJournal, cosa que me parece discutible, pero en fin.  Otros artículos míos también veo que son distribuidos por varias revistas temáticas del SSRN. Está al parecer en versión beta, y poco accesible todavía, el visionado de los volúmenes y fascículos (electrónicos, claro) de estas revistas; de momento sólo hay acceso al conjunto de las publicaciones de la revista en orden secuenciado.

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Martes, 25 de Diciembre de 2012 09:44. José Ángel García Landa Enlace permanente. Semiótica