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自考《英美文学选读》(美)浪漫主义时期(2)

2006-12-31 11:29   【 】【我要纠错

  二。美国浪漫主义时期的主要作家

  Ⅰ。 Washington Irving(1783-l859)

  Irving''s position in American literature Washington Irving was one of the first American writers to earn an international reputation, and regarded as an early Romantic writer in the merican literary history and Father of the American short stories.

  一。一般识记

  His life and major works

  Washington Irving was born in New York City in a wealthy family. From a very early age he began to read widely and write juvenile poems, essays, and plays. In l798, he conc1uded his education at private schools and entered a law office, but he loved writing more.

  His first successful work is A History Of New York from the Beginning Of the World to the End of the Dutch Dynasty, which, written under the name of Diedrich Knickerbocker, won him wide popularity after it came out in 1809. With the publication of The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in serials between 1819 and 1820, Irving won a measure of international fame on both sides of the Atlantic. The book contains familiar essays on the Eng1ish life and Americanized versions of European folk tales like "Rip Van Winkle", and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Geoffrey Crayon is a carefully contrived persona and behind Crayon stands Irving, juxtaposing the Old World and the New, and manipulating his own antiquarian interest with artistic perspectives.

  The major work of his later years was The Life of George Washington.

  二。识记

  1.Irving''s great indebtedness to European literature

  Most of Irving''s subject matter are borrowed heavily from European sources, which are chiefly Germanic. Irving''s relationship with the Old World in terms of his literary imagination can hardly be ignored considering his success both abroad and at home.

  A History of New York is a patchwork of references, echoes, and burlesques. He parodies or imitates Homer, Cervantes, Fielding, Swift and many other favorites of his. He was also absorbed in German Literature and got ideas from German legends for two of his famous stories "Rip Van Winkle" and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." The Alhambra is usually regarded as Irving''s "Spanish Sketch Book" simply because it has a strong flavor of Spanish culture. Most of the thirty-three essays in The Sketch Book were written in England, filled with English scenes and quotations from English authors and faithful to British orthography. Washington Irving brought to the new nation what its peop1e desired most in a man of 1etters the respect of the Old World.

  2.Irving''s unique contribution to American literature

  Irving''s contribution to American literature is unique in more than one way. He was the first American writer of imaginative literature to gain international fame. Although greatly influenced by European literature, Irving gave his works distinctive American flavor. "Rip Van Winkle" or "The Legend of Sleepy Hol1ow", however exotic these stories are, are among the treasures of the American language and culture. These two stories easily trigger off American imagination with their focus on American subjects, American landscape, and, in Irving''s case, the legends of the Hudson River region of the fresh young 1and. It is not the sketches about the Old World but the tales about America that made Washington Irving a household word and his fame enduring. He was father of American short stories. And later in the hands of Hawthorne and Melville the short story attained a degree of perfection.

  三。领会

  1.Irving''s theme of conservatism as is revealed in "Rip Van Winkle"

  Irving''s taste was essentia1ly conservative and always exa1ted a disappearing past. This socia1 conservatism and literary preference for the past is revea1ed, to some extent, in his famous story "Rip Van Winkle." The story is a tale remembered mostly for Rip''s 20-year s1eep, set against the background of the inevitably changing America. Rip went to sleep before the War of Independence and woke up after it. The change that had occurred in the 20 years he slept was to him not always for the better. The revolution upset the natural order of things. In the story Irving ski1lfu1ly presents to us paralleled juxtapositions of two totally different worlds before and after Rip''s 20 years'' s1eep. By moving Rip back and forth from a noisy world with his wife on the farm to a wild but peaceful natural world in the mountains, and from a pre-Revolution village to a George Washington era, lrving describes Rip''s response and reaction in a dramatic way, so that we see clearly both the narrator and Irving agree on the preferabi1ity of the past to the present, and the preferability of a dream-like world to the real one. Irving never seemed to accept a modern democratic America.

  2.Irving''s literary craftsmanship

  Washington Irving has always been regarded as a writer who "perfected the best classic style that American Literature ever produced."

  (1) We get a strong sense impression as we read him along, since the language he used best reveals what a Romantic writer can do with words. We hear rather than read, for there is musicality in almost every line of his prose.

  (2) We seldom learn a mora1 lesson because he wants us amused and relaxed. So we often find ourselves lost in a world that is permeated with a dreaming quality.

  (3) The Gothic elements and the supernatural atmosphere are manipulated in such a way that we could become so engaged and involved in what is happening in a seemingly exotic place.

  (4) Yet Irving never forgets to associate a certain place with the inward movement of a person and to charge his sentences with emotion so as to create a true and vivid character. He is worth the honor of being "the American Goldsmith" for his literary craftsmanship.

  四。应用

  Selected Reading:

  An Excerpt from "Rip Van Winkle"

  The story of Rip Van Winkle

  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 dwarflike stranger dressed in the ancient Dutch fashion. He helps him to carry a keg, and with him joins a party silently playing a game of ninepins. After drinking of the liquor they provide, Rip falls into a sleep which lasts 20 years, during which the Revolutionary War takes place. He awakes as an old man and returns to his home village that has greatly altered. Upon entering the village, he is greeted by his old dog, which dies of the excitement and then learns that his wife has long been dead. Rip is almost forgotten but he goes to live with his daughter, now the mother of a family, and is soon befriended with his generosity and cheerfulness.

  This excerpt below is taken from the story, describing for us Rip''s difficulties at home, which he often escapes by going to the local inn to spend his time with his friends and sometimes by going hunting in the woods with his dog, and then focusing on Rip ''s return from his 20 years'' sleep to his greatly altered home village. Here, Irving''s pervasive theme of nostalgia for the unrecoverable past is at once made unforgettable.

  What are the theme and the artistic features of "Rip Van Winkle"?

  (1) The theme:

  Irving''s taste was essentia1ly conservative and always exa1ted a disappearing past. This socia1 conservatism and literary preference for the past is revea1ed, to some extent, in his famous story "Rip Van Winkle." The story is a tale remembered mostly for Rip''s 20-year s1eep, set against the background of the inevitably changing America. Rip went to sleep before the War of Independence and woke up after it. The change that had occurred in the 20 years he slept was to him not always for the better. The revolution upset the natural order of things. In the story Irving ski1lfu1ly presents to us paralleled juxtapositions of two totally different worlds before and after Rip''s 20 years'' s1eep. By moving Rip back and forth from a noisy world with his wife on the farm to a wild but peaceful natural world in the mountains, and from a pre-Revolution village to a George Washington era, lrving describes Rip''s response and reaction in a dramatic way, so that we see clearly both the narrator and Irving agree on the preferabi1ity of the past to the present, and the preferability of a dream-like world to the real one. Irving never seemed to accept a modern democratic America.

  (2) The artistic features:

  "Rip Van Winkle" is not only well-known for Rip''s 20-year sleep but also considered a model of perfect English in American Literature and in the English language as well. Washington Irving has always been regarded as a writer who "perfected the best classic style that American Literature ever produced." He has a clear, easy style.

  (a) We get a strong sense impression as we read him along, since the language he used best reveals what a Romantic writer can do with words. We hear rather than read, for there is musicality in almost every line of his prose.

  (b) We seldom learn a mora1 lesson because he wants us amused and relaxed. So we often find ourselves lost in a world that is permeated with a dreaming quality. He uses genial humor to exaggerate the seriousness of situation. He uses dignified words to produce a half-mocking effect.

  (c)The Gothic elements and the supernatural atmosphere are manipulated in such a way that we could become so engaged and involved in what is happening in a seemingly exotic place.( Rip Van Winkle was overwhelmed by the magic power of the drink and fell into sleep for 20 years.)

  (d)Yet Irving never forgets to associate a certain place with the inward movement of a person and to charge his sentences with emotion so as to create a true and vivid character. He is worth the honor of being "the American Goldsmith" for his literary craftsmanship.

  II. Ralph Waldo Emerson

  一。一般识记

  His life: Ralph Waldo Emerson is the chief spokesman of New England Transcendentalism, which is unanimously agreed to be the summit of the Romantic period in the history of American literature.

  Emerson was son of a Unitarian minister. Though born of an impoverished family, Emerson never failed to receive some formal education. Whi1e a student at Harvard he began keeping journals, a practice he continued throughout his 1if e. He later drew on the journal for materials for his essays and poetry. After Harvard, he taught as a schoolmaster, which he soon gave up for the study of theology. He began preaching in 1826 and three years later he became a pastor in a church in Boston. Emerson was ardent at first in his service in religion, but gradually grew skeptical of the beliefs of the church; feeling Unitarianism intolerable, he finally left the ministry in l832.

  Emerson was greatly influenced by European Romanticism. He Carlyle, and listened to some famous Romantic poets like Coleridge and Wordsworth. Through his acquaintance with these men he became closely involved with German idea1ism and Transcendentalism. After he was back from Europe, Emerson retreated to a quiet study at Concord, Massachusetts, where he began to pursue his new path of "self-reliance." Emerson formed a club there at Concord with peop1e like Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, which was later known as the Transcendenta1 Club. And the unofficial manifesto for the Club was Nature(l836), Emerson''s first little book, which established him ever since as the most eloquent spokesman of New England Transcendentalism. Nature was the fundamental document of his philosophy and expressed also his constant, deeply-felt love for nature. It was called "the Manifesto of American Transcendentalism". He also helped to found and edit for a time the Transcendental journal, The Dial. Emerson lived an intel1ectually active and significant life between the mid-1830s and the mid-1840s, 1ecturing all over the country, and occasionally, abroad. He preached his Transcendental pursuit and his reputation expanded dramatically with his lectures and his essays. Though the rest of Emerson''s life was a slow anticlimax to his midd1e years, people continued to honor the most influentia1 prophet and the intellectua1 liberator of their age, and his reputation as a family man of conventional life and a decent, solid citizen has remained always.

  二。识记内容:

  His major works:

  Emerson is generally known as an essayist. During all his life he worked steadily at a succession of essays, usually derived from his journals or lectures he had already given. Nature did not establish him as an important American writer. His lasting reputation began only with the publication of Essays (1841 )。 Many of his famous essays are included in Essay, which convey the best of his philosophical discussions and transcendental pursuits, such as The American Scholar, Self Reliance, The Over Soul. The second collection of Emerson''s essays, Essays: Second Series (1844) demonstrated even more thorough1y than the first that Emerson''s intellect had sharpened in the years since Nature. The Poet and Exprience are examples, the former a reflection upon the aesthetic problems in terms of the present state of literature in America and the latter a discussion about the conflict between idealism and ordinary 1ife.

  三。领会

  1. Emersonian Transcendentalism

  Emersonian Transcendentalism is actual1y a philosophical school which absorbed some ideological concerns of American Puritanism and European Romanticism, with its focus on the intuitive knowledge of human beings to grasp the absolute in the universe and the divinity of man. In his essays, Emerson put forward his philosophy of the over-sou1, the importance of the Individual, and Nature.

  (1) Emerson''s philosophy of the over-sou1

  Emerson rejected both the formal religion of the churches and the Deistic philosophy; instead he based his religion on an intuitive belief in an ultimate unity, which he called the "over-soul." Emerson and other Transcendentalists believed in the transcendence of "over-soul". It is an impersonal force that is eternal, moral, harmonious, and beneficient in tendency. They believed that there should be an emotional communication between an individual soul and the universal "oversoul", since the over-sou1 is an all-pervading power from which all things come from and of which a1l are a part. One of the tendencies of the "over-soul " is to express itself in form, hence the world of nature as an emanation of the world of spirit. Emerson''s remarkable image of "a transparent eyebal1" marks a paradoxical state of being, in which one is merged into nature, the over-soul, whi1e at the same time retaining a unique perception of the experience.

  (2) Emerson''s philosophy of the importance of the Individual

  Emerson is affirmative about man''s intuitive knowledge, with which a man can trust himself to decide what is right and to act accordingly. The ideal individual should be a self-reliant man. "Trust thyself," he wrote in Self Reliance, by which he means to convince people that the possibilities for man to develop and improve himself are infinite.

  (3) Emerson''s view on nature

  Emerson''s nature is emblematic of the spiritual world, alive with God''s overwhelming presence. It mediates between man and God, and its voice leads to higher truth; hence, it exercises a healthy and restorative inf1uence on human mind. "Go back to nature, sink yourse1f back into its inf1uence and you''1l become spiritually who1e again." By employing nature as a big symbol of the Spirit, or God, or the over-soul, Emerson has brought the Puritan 1egacy of symbolism to its perfection.

  Emersonian Transcendentalism inspired a whole generation of famous American authors like Thoreau, Whitman, and Dickinson.

  2.Thoreau''s Transcendentalism

  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) is most often mentioned as inspired by Emerson, the most representative of the phi1osophical and literary school which is American Transcendenta1ism. Thoreau embraced his master''s ideas as a disciple. In 1845 he built a cabin on some land belonging to Emerson by Walden Pond and moved in to live there in a very simple manner for a litt1e over two years, which gave birth to a great transcendentalist work Walden (1854)。 The book not only fully demonstrates Emersonian ideas of self-reliance but also develops and tests Thoreau''s own transcendental philosophy.

  (1)For Thoreau, nature is not merely symbolic, but divine in itself and human beings can receive precise communication from the natural world by way of pure senses. So he was often alone in the woods or by the pond, lost in spiritual communion with nature.

  (2)Thoreau strongly believed in se1f-culture and was eager to identify himself with the Transcendental image of the self-reliant man. To achieve personal spiritual perfection, he thinks, the most important thing for men to do with their lives is to be self- sufficient, so he sought to reduce his physical needs and material comforts to a minimum to get spiritual richness.

  (3)His positiveness about the importance of individual conscience was such that he even considered the society fetters of the freedom of individuals.

  Though Thoreau became more than Emerson''s disciple eventually, his indebtedness to Nature and its author has never been over1ooked.

  3. The style of Emerson''s essays

  Emerson''s essays often have a casual style, for most of them were derived from his journals or lectures. They are usually characterized by a series of short, declarative sentences, which are not quite logically connected but will flower out into illustrative statements of truth and thoughts. Emerson''s philosophical discussion is sometimes difficult to understand but he uses comparisons and metaphors to make the general idea of his work clearly expressed. Well-read in the classics of Western European literature, Emerson often employed these literary sources to make and enrich his own points but never let them take the full reins of his discussion. In general, Emerson was showing to the world a distinctive American style.

  四。应用

  Selected Reading:

  An Excerpt from Nature

  Question : What is Emerson''s view on nature?

  Emerson''s nature is emblematic of the spiritual world, alive with God''s overwhelming presence; hence, it exercises a healthy and restorative inf1uence on human mind. "Go back to nature, sink yourse1f back into its inf1uence and you''1l become spiritually who1e again." By employing nature as a big symbol of the Spirit, or God, or the over-soul, Emerson has brought the Puritan 1egacy of symbolism to its perfection.

  The essay Nature discusses the love of nature, the uses of nature, the idealist philosophy in relation to nature, evidences of spirit in the material universe, and the potential expansion of human souls and works that will result from a general return to direct, immediate contact with the natural environment. In the essay Emerson clearly expresses the main principles of his Transcendentalist pursuit and his love for nature. In expressing his belief in the mystical "unity of nature," Emerson develops his concept of the" Over- Soul" or" Universal Mind." In the selection Emerson''s famous metaphor of "a transparent eyeball" is employed to illustrate his philosophical discussion.

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