Thomas Gray was born in London in 1716 into a lower middle-class family. His major work is Elegy written in a country Churchyard. He made a grand tour of Italy and France between 1739 and 1741; he died in 1771.
Gray's poetry is the result of the combination of classic and innovative features.
ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD
The poem is divided into four line stanzas in iambic pentameter. The form of the elegy is from the classical tradition in witch it was usually used to celebrate someone's death. The language is the conventional and refined poetic tone of the 18th century, the poem celebrates the short and simple life of the poor, while creating the picture of a real country village. The initial stanzas of the poem descript a rural landscape at th 252i87c e end of the day (twilight), the idea of darkness, silence is trasmitted by the use of particular words that can also remind the theme of death. The scene is trasmitted trough Gray's eyes. The description is very realistic and puts the reder in the scene. After the beginning the poet introduces the "protagonist" of the elegy: "the rude forfathers".
The tone is sympathetic to the life of the poor, Gray also celebrates the way of life of the forefathers that is simple and far from any type of corruption. The composition is surely original, the rural setting deals with ROMANTICISM.
Romantic fetures: melancholy, personal poetry, interest in the past, rural setting, time of the day (mistery), theme of death, senses, nature as something concrete, relationship man-nature.
Neoclassic fetures: (sottolineati presenti nella poesia) urban setting, formal language (use of personification, sophisticated poetic diction), illustrious characters, acculturated people, reason.
Ann Radcliffe was born in London in 1764 from a middle-class family. She married the manager of a very important journal of the city. She travelled a lot; her novels are mainly set in Italy or France and they are based on stories of horror and fear. Mrs Radcliffe's novels are typical of Gothic fiction. They are based on very comlicated and improbable plots in wich enter horror and fearful situations. The characters are usually divided into bad and good; the atmosphere is always full of apparently supernatural events that the poet explains rationally.
THE MYSTERIES OF UDOLPHO
The plot is highly improbable and the events create lots of fearful situations, the setting (according to the plot) consists mainly of castles in wild and lonely landscapes, all these features create in the reader an impending sense of horror, danger and fear; the use of figurative language (personifications), and the use of repetition enfatizes these aspects. Also the time of the day contributes to create a sense of darkness and gloom. These novel is considered the first thriller in British literature.
William Blake was born in London in 1757 into a lower class family, so he didn't receive any formal education. In 1789 he published Songs of Innocence and in 1794 Songs of Innocence and of Experience in one volume. During his life he was certanly part of revolutionary movements till his death in 1827.
SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE represents only a part of his total production but it well illustrate his major themes and style. The two parts of the collection seems to be in contrast, but at the end they are complementaty.
Blake used to add to his poems also a picture that shows the poetic theme in visual terms.
DUAL VISION OF LIFE: the state of innocence shows the condition of man before the Fall, this state is represented by the poet in a world of images such as the LAMB and the CHILD. The poems dealing with these aspect are dominated by feelings of love, purity and generosity. Experience is the world of normal adult life when a man knows the corruption in the world and he is scared of it. It is a state of life whose external symbols are sounds and sights of destress and ancety or it is represented by a creature like the TIGER. The two states are both present in human being.
THE DUAL NOTION OF GOD. Blake has also a dual vision of God. In Songs of Innocence the LAMB is the symbol of God's innocence and a demostration of his love for his creatures. In Songs of Experience the TIGER is a symbol of God's illimitated power and energy. The visual representation Elohim Creating Adam God doesn't look to be pleased with his creation.
IMAGINATION. Blake's intensely visionary poetry marked the beginning of a new age. For him imagination is the ability to see more deeply into the essence (life) of things, this quality is more accentuated in poets.
In THE LAMB a little lamb is the symbol of what innocent creature God can create. In LONDON the poet semms to be able to see more deeply into the life in the town: 'mind-forg'd menacles' 'blood down palace walls' and other sights and sounds are the axamples of poet's visions and dreams. Blake's vision of the poet is that of a visionary man who has in common with God the art of creation (LAMB) The tone is that of a prophet: emotional, grave with features taked from the Bible. Blake wrote for a wide reding public not for only the high classes, he rebelled against the poetic conventions of 18th century.
CRITICSM OF SOCIETY he supported the Amarican and French revolution, he also had a particular affinty with the poor and the oppressed that he wants to help.
CHILD these theme can be found in both collections. In Songs of innocence the child is the symbol of Innocence. In Songs of Experience the child put away by the parents and by society is the figure of oppression. STYLE in both the collections Blake uses simple lexis and syntax, large use of reoetitions, regular sterss pattern. His poems are rich of images wich mix literal and metaphorical meaning.
BLAKE'S ROMANTIC FEATURES: -immagination, individual experience -artist as an original creator -distinctive style, large use of imagery,symbolism and myth.
Romanticism was deeply affected by the social and histarical changements of the 18th century.
IMAGINATION Romantic imagination is the 'ability to see more deeply in life of things' or it can also be the capacity of the poet to see a "second world" that is not evident to common peole.
SUBLIME the idea of sublime formulated by BURKE affected a lot Romantic poetry and art. Burke divided beauty into the beautiful (for things: harmony,delicate..) and the sublime (for things wich were gigantic,violent and aroused terrror) the sublime deals with the idea of astonishment and terror.
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