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Sterne. Sterne's two fictions, Tristram Shandy and 4 Sentimental Journey, are marred by an excess of sentimentality. He was notoriously and purposely careless of form. What he contributed to the English novel was some admirable character-drawing, including one figure - Tristram's Uncle Toby universally admitted to be unsurpassed in eighteenth-century fiction. "As the author of Tristram Shandy, he remains," says Sidney Lee, "a delineator of the comedy of human life before whom only three or four humorous writers can justly claim precedence." Admitting the truth of even this encomium, we cannot place a writer so regardless of form as was Sterne on a plane with his great contemporaries, Richardson and Fielding.
Other Novelists before 1800. The popularity of the new literary type produced a host of novelists between 1750 and 1800. New sub-types arose. In the so-called "Gothic romance," of which Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto and Mrs. Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho are the best representatives, emphasis is laid on the supernatural and the terrible. There was the "novel of purpose," of which Johnson's Rasselas and Thomas Day's Sandford and Merton are excellent examples. Then there was Goldsmith's Vicar, a charming volume, in which, probably for the first time in English literature, an author used experiences of his own as material for fiction. None of these added anything of value in the defining of the type, which, as has been said, was due to Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, and Sterne.
FROM THE PUBLICATION OF THE LYRICAL BALLADS TO THE DEATH OF RUSKIN (1798-1900)
Two Divisions of the Century. - English literature of the nineteenth century, like that of the eighteenth, falls into two plainly marked divisions. In the first, usually regarded as ending about the time of Scott's death (1832), the tendencies already mentioned as present to some extent in the verse of Thomson, Gray, and a few others, found their full expression. In the second, though this initiative was not lost, the growth of the modern scientific spirit affected every form of expression, gave a new direction to the forces of the preceding period, and brought many new ones into exist
No one person dominates either portion of nineteenthcentury literature; no figure stands out with sufficient prominence to give his name to the period. The time from 1798 to 1832 is known as the Age of Romanticism; that from 1832 to the end of the century, since it nearly coincides with the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), is called the Victorian Age.
THE AGE OF ROMANTICISM
Difficulty of Definition.
Now that, after several hints
of the "Romantic " movement, we have arrived at the necessity of a definition, we face a great difficulty. To charac
terize in a few paragraphs a group of writers of whom nearly every one was a law unto himself, is not an easy task. A careful reading of many volumes is necessary to get a satisfactory definition of Romanticism. While, therefore, we cannot hope to define the term here, we can at least set down some of the features marking the period, enough, perhaps, to show the student what he may expect in the writers of the time.
Two Characteristics. From the diverse tendencies and productions of the early nineteenth century, two characteristics stand out as applicable to all: individualism, and a revolt against tradition and authority. The heroic couplet, for example, ceased to be the universal metre, not because it was in itself bad, but because for many kinds of expression it was unsuitable. The dignified but heavy style of Johnson ceased to be the standard prose style, not because it had no merit, but because writers refused longer to be influenced by the weight of Johnson's name.
Extent of Romantic Movement.
In addition to mention
of these characteristics, one general observation should be made: Romanticism is not an exclusively English movement. The spirit that produced it was abroad throughout Europe and America; and it was shown in other fields than literature. The American Revolution of 1776-1783, the French Revolution of 1789-1795, the bloodless English Revolution culminating in the Reform Bill of 1832, all were due to the widespread spirit of revolt. In the literature of France, Germany, and (under the designation of Transcendentalism) America, the same note was struck as in England, though somewhat later. Hugo, Dumas, Sainte-Beuve in France; Goethe, Fichte, Richter in Germany; Emerson and Thoreau in America, are as truly described by the term
"Romantic " as are Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, or any writer treated in the fifty pages following this. In Italy and Spain also the movement was felt; but these countries not exhibit it in such decisive form as did Great Britain, France, and Germany."
If individualism and revolt
are the keynotes of the movement, we can doubtless best
see its real significance by studying the individual writers. It will, however, be of some value to cite some aspects of Romanticism which appear with more or less frequency and with varying emphasis in several writers.
(1) Perhaps the most striking mark of the Romanticist is what we call subjective treatment of material; that is, the handling of it so as to show the author's own observation, feelings, sensations, interpretation. (2) Another mark is a love of natural scenery - ranging from mountains and