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  V. Percy Bysshe Shelley

  1. 一般识记 His Life

  Shelley (1792-1822) was born into a wealthy family at Sussex. Though gentle by nature, his rebellious qualities were cultivated in his early years. At 18, Shelley entered Oxford University, where he had written & circulated a pamphlet, The Necessity of Atheism (1811), repudiating the existence of God. This event resulted in his expulsion from the university & being disinherited by his headstrong father. Early in 1818, Shelley & his wife Mary left England for Italy. During the Remaining four years of his life, Shelley traveled & lived in various Italian cities. Shelley was drowned in 1822 in storm near La Spezia, at the age of 30.

  2. 识记 His Literary Outlook

  Shelley grew up with violent revolutionary ideas under the influence of the free thinkers like Hume & Godwin, so he held a life-long aversion to cruelty, injustice, authority, institutional religion & the formal shams of respectable society, condemning war, tyranny & exploitation, However, under the influence of Christian humanism, Shelley took interest in social reforms. He realized that the evil was also in man's mind. So he predicted that only trough gradual & suitable reforms of the existing institutions could benevolence be universally established & none of the evils would survive in this "genuine society", where people could live together happily, freely & peacefully.

  3. 识记 His major works

  1) Lyrics: "To a Skylark" & "Ode to the West Wind"

  In "To a Skylark," the bird, suspended between reality & poetic image, pours forth an exultant song which suggests to the poet both celestial rapture & human limitation. Best of all the well-known lyric pieces is Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind " (1819); here Shelley's rhapsodic & declamatory tendencies find a subject perfectly suited to them. The autumn wind, burying the dead year, preparing for a new Spring, becomes an image of Shelley himself, as he would want to be, in its freedom, its destructive-constructive potential, its universality. "I fall upon the thorns of Life! I bleed!" calls the Shelley that could not bear being fettered to the humdrum realities of everyday! The whole poem has a logic of feeling, a not easily analyzable progression that leads to the triumphant, hopeful & convincing conclusion: "If winter comes, can Spring before behind?" The poem is written in the terza rima form Shelley derived from his reading of Dante. The nervous thrill of Shelley's response to nature however is here transformed through the power of art & imagination into a longing to be united with a force at once physical & prophetic. Here is no conservative reassurance, no comfortable mysticism, but the primal amorality of nature itself, with its mad fury & its pagan ruthlessness. Shelley's ode is an invocation to a primitive deity, a plea to exalt him in its fury & to trumpet the radical prophecy of hope & rebirth.

  2) Poetic drama: Prometheus Unbound (1820)

  Shelley's greatest achievement is his four-act poetic drama, Prometheus Unbound. According to the Greek mythology, Prometheus, the champion of humanity, who has stolen the fire from Heaven, is punished by Zeus to be chained on Mount Caucasus & suffers the vulture's feeding on his liver. Shelley based his drama on Prometheus Bound by Aeschylus, in which Prometheus reconciles with the tyrant Zeus. Radical & revolutionary as Shelley, he wrote in the preface: "In truth, I was averse from a catastrophe so feeble as that reconciling the Champion with the oppressor of Mankind." So he gave a totally different interpretation, transforming the compromise into a liberation. With the strong support of Earth, his mother; Asia, his bride & the help from Demogorgon & Hercules, Zeus is driven from the throne; Prometheus is unbound. The play is an exultant work in praise of humankind's potential, & Shelley himself recognized it as " the most perfect of my products."

  3) Prose: Defence of Poetry

  4. 领会 Characteristics of Shelley's Poetry

  Shelley is one of the lending Romantic poets, an intense & original lyrical poet in the English language. Like Blake, he has a reputation as a difficult poet: erudite, imagistically complex, full of classical & mythological allusions. His style abounds in personification & metaphor & other figures of speech which describe vividly what we see & feel, or express what passionately moves us.

  5. 应用 Selected Readings

  1) A Song: Men of England (1)

  This poem was written in 1819, the year of the Peterloo Massacre. It is unquestionably one of Shelley's greatest political lyrics. It is not only a war cry calling upon all working people of England to rise up against their political oppressors, but also an address to point out to them the intolerable injustice of economic exploitation. In the poem Shelley pictured the capitalist society as divided into two hostile classes: the parasitic class ("drones") & the working class ("bees")。

  The song contains eight quatrains; generally each line contains 4 accented syllables. The rhyme scheme for each stanza is uniformly aabb. The last two stanzas of the poem are ironically addressed to those workers who submit passively to capitalist exploitation. They serve as a warning to the working people, that if the latter should give up their struggle they would be digging graves for themselves with their own hands compared to the preceding stanzas, these lines appear weak & ineffectual.

  2) Ode to the West Wind

  The poem Ode to the West Wind was the best known of Shelley's shorter poems. In the poem the poet describes vividly the activities of the West Wind on the earth, in the sky & on the sea, & then expresses his envy for the boundless freedom of the West Wind & his wish to be free like the wind & scatter his words among mankind. He gathered in this poem a wealth of symbolism, employed a structural art & his powers of metrical orchestration at their mightiest. The autumn wind, burying the dead year, preparing for a new Spring, becomes an image of Shelley himself, as he would want to be, in its freedom, its destructive-constructive power, its universality, "I fall upon the thorns of life! I bleed!" calls the Shelley that could not bear being fettered to the humdrum realities of everyday! The whole poem has a logic of feeling, a progression that leads to the triumphant, hopeful & convincing conclusion: "If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?" Here is no reassurance, no mysticism, but the primal amorality of nature itself, with its mad fury & its pagan ruthlessness. Shelley's ode is an invocation to a primitive deity, a plea to exalt him in its fury & to trumpet the radical prophecy of hope & rebirth.

  VI. John Keats

  1. 一般识记 His Life & Literary Career

  John Keats (1795-1821) was born in London & educated at the Clarke's School. At 15, he left school & was apprenticed to a surgeon, Thomas Hammond. Subsequently from 1815 to 1816, Keats studied medicine at Guy's Hospital in London. But he left this profession very soon. He read much of Spenser, Milton & Homer. It was Spenser who awakened in Keats his dormant poetic gift, & the first verses which he wrote were in imitation of the Elizabethan Poetry. Besides the classical elements, Hunt, the radical journalist & minor poet, was a vital influence on the early Keats, cultivating him with a taste for liberal politics as well as for the fine arts.

  Keats's first important poem "On first Looking into Chapman's Homer" was published in 1816 in the paper, Examiner, run by Hunt. In 1817, he published his first volume of poems. In 1818, a poem based on the Greek myth of Endymion & the moon goddess, Endymion, was published. From 1818 to 1820, Keats reached the summit of his poetic creation. In July 1820, the third & best of his volumes of poetry, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, & Other Poems, was published. Keats died in Rome on February 23,1821.

  2. 识记 His Major Poetic Works

  The odes are generally regarded as Keats's most important & mature works. Their subject matter, however, is the poet's abiding preoccupation with the imagination as it reaches out to union with the beautiful. In the greatest of these works, he also suggests the undercurrent of disillusion that accompanies such ecstasy, the human suffering which forever questions the visionary transcendence achieved by art.

  1)"Ode to a Nightingale"

  It expresses the contrast between the happy world of natural loveliness & human world of agony. Here the aching ecstasy roused by the bird's song is felt like a form of spiritual homesickness, a longing to be at one with beauty. The poem first introduces joy & sorrow, song & music. Death & rapture which free him into the world of dream. By combining a tingling anticipation with a lapsing towards dissolution, Keats manages to keep a precarious balance between mirth & despair, rapture & grief. Inspired by the nightingale's song, his thoughts now ascend from the transfigured physical world, through the imagined ecstasy of death, to the timeless present of the nightingale's song. The ultimate imaginative view of "faery lands forlorn" evaporates in its extremity as the full associations of the word "toll" the poet back from his near-loss of self-hood to the real & human world of sorrow & death.

  2) "Ode on an Grecian Urn"

  It shows the contrast between the permanence of art & the transience of human passion. The poet has absorbed himself into the timeless beautiful scenery on the antique Grecian Urn: the lovers, musicians & worshippers on the Urn exist simultaneously & for ever in their intensity of joy. They are unaffected by time, stilled in expectation. This is at once the glory & the limitation of the world conjured up by an object of art. The urn celebrates but simplifies intuitions of ecstasy by seeming to deny our painful knowledge of transience & suffering.

  3) Endymion

  Endymion was a poem based on the Greek myth of Endymion & the moon goddess. In this poem, Keats described his imagination in an enchanted atmosphere-a lovely moon-lit world where human love & ideal beauty were merged into one. Endymion marked a transitional phase in Keats's poetry, though he himself was not satisfied with it.

  4) Isabella

  In July 1820, the third & best of his volumes of poetry, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Ages, &Other Poems, was published, The three title poems all deal with mythical & legendary themes of ancient, medieval, & Renaissance times. At the heart of these poems lies Keats's concern with how the ideal can be joined with the real, the imagined with the actual & man with woman.

  3.领会Characteristics of Keats's Poetry

  Keats's poetry is always sensuous, colorful & rich in imagery, which expresses the acuteness of his senses. Sight, sound, scent, taste & feeling are all used to give an entire understanding of an experience. He has the power of entering the feelings of others-either human or animal. With vivid & rich images, he paints poetic pictures full of wonderful color. Keats's poetry, characterized by exact & closely-knit construction, sensual descriptions, & by force in imagination, gives transcendental values to the physical beauty of the world.

  4.应用 Selected Reading:

  "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

  The Grecian Urn that the poem depicts is a piece of ancient Greek pottery with a pastoral scene overwrought upon it. The urn represents a piece of artifact, & it has endured a long history, yet remains untarnished, & the pastoral scene on it can still be seen clearly.

  On the surface, this ode is about the Grecian Urn, but we can fairly say it is a commentary on nature & art, for art has the power to preserve intense human experiences, so that they may go on being enjoyed by men from generation to generation. Pleasure in life cannot be protected from change, while artifact can remain intact.

  The Ode consists of 5 stanzas, the first four stanzas describing a pastoral scene on the urn, & the last epitomizing the relation of the timeless ideal world in art to the woeful actual world.

  VII Jane Austen

  1. 一般识记Her life & Literary Career

  Jane Austen (1775-1817) was born in a country clergyman's family on 16 December 1775, in the parish of Steventon. She was educated at home with her sister. Through a wide reading of books available in her father's library, Jane acquired a thorough knowledge of 18th -century of Dr. Johnson, the poetry of W. Cowper, as well as the novels by Richardson & Fielding. She lived a quiet, retired &, in public terms, uneventful life, though she did move to several places like Bath, Southampton & Chawton. And her closest companion was her elder sister Cassandra, who like her, never married. Austen began as a child to write novels for her family entertainment. Her works were later published anonymously due to the prejudice against women writers then. She died in Winchester.

  In her lifelong career, Jane Austen wrote altogether six complete novels, which can be divided into two distinct periods. Her first novel, Sense & Sensibility (1811), tells a story about two sisters & their love affairs; Pride & Prejudice (1813), the most popular of he novels, deals with the five Bennet sisters & their search for suitable husbands; & Northanger Abbey (1818) satirizes those popular Gothic romances of the late 18th century, Mansfield Park (1814) presents the antithesis of worldliness & unworldliness; Emma (1815) gives the thought over self-deceptive vanity; & Persuasion (1818) contrasts the true love with the prudential calculations. Several incomplete works were published long after Austen's death. These include The Watsons (1923), Fragment of a Novel (1925), & Plan of a Novel (1926)。

  2.识记 Her Major Works

  Pride & Prejudice, originally drafted as "First Impressions" in 1796, is the most delightful of Jane Austen's works. The title tells of a major concern of the novel pride & prejudice. If to form good relationships is our main task in life, we must first have good judgment. Our first impressions, according to Jane Austen, are usually wrong, as is shown here by those of Elizabeth. In the process of judging others, Elizabeth finds out something about herself: her blindness, partiality, prejudice & absurdity. In time she discovered her own shortcomings. On the other hand, Darcy too learns about other people & himself. In the end false pride is humbled & prejudice dissolved.

  3. 领会 Her Literary creation & literary achievements

  In her lifelong career, Jane Austen wrote altogether 6 complete novels. They are Sense & Sensibility; Pride & Prejudice; Northanger Abbey; Mansfield Park; Emma & Persuasion. Austen's main literary concern is about human beings in their personal relationships. Because of this, her novels have a universal significance. She is particularly preoccupied with the relationship between men & women in love. Stories of love & marriage provide the major themes in all her novels.

  The works of Jane Austen, delightful &profound are part of the supreme achievements of English literature. With trenchant observation & in meticulous detail, she presents the quiet, day-to-day life of the upper-middle-class English. Her characteristic theme is that maturity is achieved through the loss of illusions. Faults of character displayed by the people of her novels are corrected when, through tribulation, lessons are learned. Even the most minor characters are vividly particularized in Austen's lucid style. All these show a mind of the shrewdest intelligence adapting the available traditions & deepening the resources of art with consummate craftsmanship. Because of her sensitivity to universal patterns of human behavior, Jane Austen has brought the English novels, as an art form, to its maturity, & she has been regarded by many critics as one of the greatest of all novelists.

  4. 应用Selected Reading

  An Excerpt From Chapter I of Pride & Prejudice

  1) Structure, characterization & language style

  The structure of the novel is exquisitely deft, the characterization in the highest degree memorable, while the irony has a radiant shrewdness unmatched elsewhere. At the heart of the novelist's exploration of the marriage, property & intrigue lies the exhilarating suspense of the relationship between Elizabeth Bennet & Darcy, & Jane Austen's delicate probing of the values of the gentry. The moments of high comedy in the novel are always related to deeper issues. Elizabeth's rejection of the odious Mr. Collins suggests her independence & self-esteem, but when Collins is accepted by her friend Charlotte Lucas, we see the reality of marriage as a necessary step if a woman is to a void the wretchedness of aging spinsterhood. Conversely, in the elopement of Lydia & Wickham, we are shown the dangers of feckless relationships unsupported by money. The comic characters in Pride & Prejudice are: Mr. & Mrs. Bennet, Mr. Collins & that monstrous snob Lady Catherine de Burgh, who make us laugh even as they parody erroneous views of marriage & class.

  5. 应用 Characteristics of Jane Austen's novels

  1) Austen's novels describe a narrow range of society & events: a quiet, prosperous, middle class circle in provincial surroundings, which she knew well from her own experience

  2) Her subject matter is also limited, for most of her novels deal with the subject of getting married, which was in fact the central problem for the young leisure-class lady of that age, who had no other choice in her life but to find a good husband.

  3) Austen's interest was in human nature; in her depiction of human nature, instead of being fascinated by great waves of elevated emotion, by passion or heroic experience, she focused on the trivial & petty details of everyday living, which became very interesting through her truthful & lively description.

  4) Austen's novels are brightened by their witty conversation & omnipresent humor. Her language shines with an exquisite touch of lively gracefulness, elegant & refined, but never showy.


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