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William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in Cumbria, an area which contains the Lake
District National Park, in the north-west of England. His mother died when he was seven and
he lost his father at 13. He studied at Hawkshead Grammar School then at Cambridge
University, where he graduated in 1791.
Full of enthusiasm for the republican ideals of the revolution,Wordsworth visited France in
1790 during the French Revolution and supported the new government' republican ideals.
In 1795 Wordsworth received an inheritance which enabled him to live with his younger
sister, Dorothy, who was a writer herself,producing journals and poems.
That same year, Wordsworth met Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The two became friends and this
friendship would prove to be crucial for the development of English Romantic Poetry.
The two men, leading exponents of the First Generation of Romantic poets, worked together
on the Lyrical Ballads, a collection of poems mostly by Wordsworth with just a tour by
Coleridge, first published anonymously in 1798. A second edition followed in 1800 including
Preface, in which Wordsworth clarified the two poets' conception of the principles of poetry.
This Preface is considered to be the Manifesto of English Romantic Poetry. In this period
Wordsworth wrote some of his most famous poems, such as / Wandered Lonely as a Cloud
and Ode: Intimations of Immortality. These pieces were published in Poems, in Two Volumes
(1807), another collection of Wordsworth's.
Wordsworth wrote an impressive number of poems, including short works based on nature,
narrative poetry and longer, meditative works written in blank verse. The vast Prelude, 13
books in its 1808 edition, is an autobiographical work, describing the development of his
ideas and of his poetry as well as his changing political attitudes. The Excursion is another
long work of
philosophical reflection on man, nature and society during a tour of the mountains.
Lyrical Ballads is a collection of poems published jointly and anonymously by Wordsworth
and Coleridge in 1798. In his Preface to the second edition (1800) Wordsworth expressed a
new concept of poetry as spontaneous reelings expressed in common language. This was to
become one of the most famous documents of literary criticism in English literature.
My heart skips a beat whenever I see a rainbow in the sky. This has happened to me for as
long as I can remember—it happened when I was a child and it still happens to me now as
an adult. If I no longer feel the same joy upon seeing a rainbow when I am an old man, I'd
rather not live anymore. Childhood teaches people the simple lessons they should carry with
them for the rest of their lives. I want to feel a childlike sense of wonder upon seeing the
natural world every day of my life.
This poem is a perfect example of Wordsworth's theory
that poetry is a recollection in tranquillity, and that his
task as a poet is to transform the commonplace into
the extraordinary. The speaker is, in fact, recollecting
a past experience: he was walking 'as lonely as a
cloud' when suddenly he saw a group of daffodils
beside a lake and under the trees. At the time, the
poet was overjoyed with the scene but didn't realise
the profound implication of the experience.
It is only the present recollection of that joy that enables him to transform the experience into
poetry, and to use
the power of imagination to change a seemingly
a commonplace event into an extraordinary one.
Therefore, the simple daffodils are personified, and
dance more than the waves do, and are so numerous
and bright as to resemble the Milky Way.
George Gordon Byron was born on 22 January 1788. On the death of his father, he became
lord Byron, the sixth Baron Byron of Rochdale.
A handsome, aristocratic young mar, he was, however, born with a handicap, a club foot,
which ed to unhappiness and isolation, but was seen by his contemporaries as a symbol of
his Romantic spirit.
In 1805 he went to Trinity College in Cambridge. He studied little and lived a debauched life.
His first published collection of poems, Hours of Idleness, appeared in 1807. it was bitterly
attacked in the
Edinburgh Review and Byron avenged himself two years later with his satire English Bards
and Scotch Reviewers.
In 1809 he took his seat in the House of Lords, but soon after left on a tour of the
Mediterranean, travelling with a friend to Portugal, Spain, Albania, Turkey and finally Athens.
Byron settled in Greece for a
time, studying the language and working on a poem, Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, loosely
based on his adventures.
Byron returned to England in 1811 having completed the opening cantos of Childe Harold's
Pilgrimage, a poem which tells the story of a world-weary young man looking for meaning in
the world. When
the first two cantos were published in 1812, the first edition sold out in three days. Byron
reportedly said, 'I awoke one morning and found
myself famous.!
Byron was politically engaged and used his popularity for public good, campaigning for
rights and social reform. He also continued to publish Romantic tales in verse. His personal
life, on the other hand, created no few problems. He had an incestuous relationship with his
halfsister with whom he had a daughter. In 1815 he married Anne Isabella Milbanke, who
gave him a daughter in the same year but then left him, accusing him of incest and
Now ostracised by English society, Byron was forced to flee England and never to return.
With the poet Shelley he travelled to Switzerland where he wrote the third canto of Childe
Harold and then went to Italy, pursuing various love affairs, including a long relationship
with Teresa Guiccioli in Venice and in Ravenna. He was a sympathiser with the revolutionary
Carbonari movement. During his time in Italy he wrote Manfred (1817), the fourth canto of
Childe Harold (1818) and began writing his masterpiece, Don Juan, an epic-satire novel in
verse loosely based on a legendary hero. Byron also gave his support to the cause of Greek
from Turkish oppression. He organised an expedition but died of fever in 1824 in
Missolonghi, at the age of 36. Don Juan was left unfinished, though 17 cantos had been
written. His heart was buried in Greece where he is considered as a national hero.
Byronic heroism refers to a radical and revolutionary brand of heroics explored throughout a
number of later English Romantic and Victorian works of literature, particularly in the epic
narrative poems of the English Romantic.
The figure of the Byronic hero was among the most potent and popular character archetypes
developed during the late English Romantic period. While traditional literary heroes are
usually marked by their valor, intrinsic goodness, commitment to righteous political and
social causes, honesty, courage, propriety, and utter selflessness, Byronic heroes are
defined by rather different character traits, many of which are partially or even entirely
opposed to standard definitions of heroism. Unlike most traditional heroic figures, Byronic
heroes are often deeply psychologically tortured and reluctant to identify themselves, in any
sense, as heroic. Byronic heroes tend to exhibit many of the following personality traits:
cynicism, arrogance, absolute disrespect for authority, psychological depth, emotional
moodiness, past trauma, intelligence, nihilism, dark humor,etc
Byronic heroes tend, especially in Byron’s poetic work, to be consumed and finally destroyed
by their passions and egos despite their intrinsic heroic and intellectual abilities. Byronic
heroes are often capable of incredible acts of heroism and boldness, but are also drawn to
violence, self-doubt, impulsive action, and ultimate self-annihilation or defeat.
She Walks in Beauty is the description of a beautiful woman. The poet compares her beauty
to the starry night
and contrasts it with the light of day. In the second stanza
The poet thinks about the woman's beauty in terms of perfection and describes it as the
of the good thoughts that reside in her. The third stanza focuses on the woman's face, Which
reflects the correspondence between inner and outer beauty.
Much of the content of the poem, describing the travels of a disillusioned young man seeking
distraction in foreign lands, is based on Byron's own experience. The initial inspiration came
from his travels in southern Europe. The poem's themes of disillusionment, longing and exile
appealed to the British public of the time, tired of the endless Napoleonic Wars, and the
publication of the first two cantos brought Byron overnight fame. Throughout his life Byron
studied history and in the last
in two cantos he examined the impact of the titanic forces of history on the common man.
The poem introduced the figure of the Byronic hero, seen in the character of Childe Harold,
who regrets his wasted youth and seeks a more meaningful existence in his years of
pilgrimage, and of course in the author himself. The handsome, intelligent, cynical rejecter of
conventions, both famous and infamous as he wrote the last two cantos in exile from Britain,
recreating himself as
a legendary figure who would finally lose his life fighting in the cause of Greek
Constable often painted the familiar rural scenes
of his boyhood in the area of the River Stour
(Suffolk), which, he said, made a painter of him.
Constable refused the contemporary idea of landscape as a background for historical or
mythological scenes. He was one of the first to view landscapes for their own beauty.
This painting dépicis à detail of agricultural life: corn grown here was taken by horse-drawn
barges along the River Stour and then sent to London by ship. In the scene a boy is
disconnecting the ropes that link the barge to the horse.
Unlike Constable, Turner was fascinated by outstanding natural and atmospheric elements:
mountain scenery, avalanches and storms. He substituted the familiar, pleasant images of
the British landscape with the most violent aspects of nature, depicting the great forces
beyond the control of man. He also inserted historical
scenes in his landscapes, but in a totally new
manner. In his later works, he anticipated the
impressionist style of painting, where forms are
dissolved in coloured atmospheres.
This painting depicts a snowstorm in the Alps,
and evokes the difficulties encountered by Hannibal's army when crossing the Maritime Alps
to attack Rome. Turner associated the figure of Hannibal with Napoleon, who also led his
armies to Italy across the Alps.
One of Burke's earliest publications, this pamphlet analysed the distinctions between the
Sublime, associated with infinity, darkness, solitude and terror,
and the Beautiful, which he found in smallness, smoothness and brightness of colour. He
made interesting observations on the pleasure gained from distress (as in tragedy) and his
description of a
'sort of delightful horror, a sort of tranquillity tinged with terror' had a strong influence on the
aesthetics of the late 18th century.
His ideas helped to clarify the passage from the lucidity of poets like Alexander Pope to the
(pre-Romantic) sublimity of writers like Thomas Gray.
The Gothic novel. The prose counterpart to pre-Romantic poetry was the Gothic novel.
Gothic novels were not an 18th-century invention, though it was in this period that the genre
was codified and became stable.
The term gothic refers to the architectural style of the Middle Ages, which was greatly
admired in the 18t century as a reaction against the rationalism of Neoclassicism. By
reviving the medieval Gothic style, 18th-century architects and artists tried to re-evaluate the
importance of the irrational part of the human mind, the fantastic and the supernatural as
opposed to reason. In literature the 'gothic revival' came to be associated with tales, short
stories and novels revolving around intrigues, treasons, murderous acts and supernatural
The first novel classified as gothic was Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764),
which was an immediate success. Walpole's novel - whose subtitle was A Gothic Story contained all the ingredients of a real Gothic novel. Walpole contributed to the spread of
Gothic imagery thanks to Strawberry Hill, the house he built for himself and one of the most
original examples of Neo-Gothic architecture.
Walpole's example was followed by another famous Gothic novelist, Ann Radcliffe
(1764-1823), whose The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794) is a bloodcurdling tale still read today
thanks to its vivid descriptions of mysterious and exotic settings and the dense atmosphere
of horror that pervades it.
With their insistence on producing strong and contrasting emotions in readers, gothic novels
were linked to the aesthetic of the sublime and were the forerunners of modern horror fiction
and films.
One of the authors who was most influenced by the tradition of the Gothic novel was the
American writer Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49) a p. 412, an eclectic intellectual whose short
stories explored the dark sides of the human mind and focused on different themes such as
horror, mystery and the supernatural. His stories were full of macabre apparitions,
nightmares and hallucinations and were characterised by a subtle narrative technique that
ensnared the reader and heightened horror.
Gothic Novels
The adjective "gothic" has three connotation
1) medieval linked to the architectural 12-13-14 century 2) irregular, barbarous opposed to
3) wild, supernatural in the sense of mysterious
The gothic setting
Great importance given to terror, characterised by obscurity and uncertainty, horror, caused
by evil and atrocity.
Darkness, a necessary ingredient for the mysterious, bloody atmosphere.
Ancient settings is a .... monasteries, mansions, mysterious hubbies, underground cellas,
secret rooms, foreign countries (Italy, Puglia), Catholic country has the most ...... due to
Protestant prejudice against Catholicism (corrupted).
Simple or flat characters, divided in good or evil are dominated by my exaggerated reactions
in front of mysterious situations or events. There are supernatural beings (vampires,
monsters, ghosts).
Sensitive Heroes: they save women or girls,
Heroines: are persecuted by the villains,
Satanic, terrifying main characters: are victims of their negative impulses.
Characters are always driven by their emotions. They show symptoms of ..... . They are
hunted by ......
Gothic writers chose vocabulary that referred to emotions and feelings capable of evoking
anxiety, fear and horror. There are complicated plots.
Themes: are all connected with the dark irrational side of human mind. Poe is one of the first
writers to attend an exploration of the subconscious.