He was a great teller of tales, and unlike our common romancers, knew how to empty heaven, hell, and purgatory, faeryland and earth, to people his stories. He did not live in a shrunken world, but knew of no less ample circumstance than did Homer himself. Perhaps the Gaelic people shall by his like bring back again the ancient simplicity and amplitude of imagination
The Edwardians The 20th century opened with great hope but also with some apprehensionfor the new century marked the final approach to a new millennium. For many, humankind was entering upon an unprecedented era.
To achieve such transformation, outmoded institutions and ideals had to be replaced by ones more suited to the growth and liberation of the human spirit. The death of Queen Victoria in and the accession of Edward VII seemed to confirm that a franker, less inhibited era had begun.
Many writers of the Edwardian period, drawing widely upon the realistic and naturalistic conventions of the 19th century upon Ibsen in drama and Balzac, Turgenev, Flaubert, Zola, Eliot, and Dickens in fiction and in tune with the anti-Aestheticism unleashed by the trial of the archetypal Aesthete, Oscar Wildesaw their task in the new century to be an unashamedly didactic one.
In a series of wittily iconoclastic plays, of which Man and Superman performedpublished and Major Barbara performedpublished are the most substantial, George Bernard Shaw turned the Edwardian theatre into an arena for debate upon the principal concerns of pre-raphaelite writing an anthology of world day: Nor was he alone in this, even if he was alone in the brilliance of his comedy.
John Galsworthy made use of the theatre in Strife to explore the conflict between capital and labour, and in Justice he lent his support to reform of the penal system, while Harley Granville-Barkerwhose revolutionary approach to stage direction did much to change theatrical production in the period, dissected in The Voysey Inheritance performedpublished and Waste performedpublished the hypocrisies and deceit of upper-class and professional life.
Many Edwardian novelists were similarly eager to explore the shortcomings of English social life. Wells—in Love and Mr. Polly —captured the frustrations of lower- and middle-class existence, even though he relieved his accounts with many comic touches.
In Anna of the Five TownsArnold Bennett detailed the constrictions of provincial life among the self-made business classes in the area of England known as the Potteries; in The Man of Propertythe first volume of The Forsyte Saga, Galsworthy described the destructive possessiveness of the professional bourgeoisie; and, in Where Angels Fear to Tread and The Longest JourneyE.
Forster portrayed with irony the insensitivity, self-repression, and philistinism of the English middle classes. These novelists, however, wrote more memorably when they allowed themselves a larger perspective.
Nevertheless, even as they perceived the difficulties of the present, most Edwardian novelists, like their counterparts in the theatre, held firmly to the belief not only that constructive change was possible but also that this change could in some measure be advanced by their writing.
Other writers, including Thomas Hardy and Rudyard Kiplingwho had established their reputations during the previous century, and Hilaire BellocG. Chestertonand Edward Thomaswho established their reputations in the first decade of the new century, were less confident about the future and sought to revive the traditional forms—the balladthe narrative poem, the satirethe fantasythe topographical poem, and the essay—that in their view preserved traditional sentiments and perceptions.
The revival of traditional forms in the late 19th and early 20th century was not a unique event. There were many such revivals during the 20th century, and the traditional poetry of A.
Housman whose book A Shropshire Ladoriginally published inenjoyed huge popular success during World War IWalter de la MareJohn MasefieldRobert Gravesand Edmund Blunden represents an important and often neglected strand of English literature in the first half of the century.
The most significant writing of the period, traditionalist or modern, was inspired by neither hope nor apprehension but by bleaker feelings that the new century would witness the collapse of a whole civilization.
The new century had begun with Great Britain involved in the South African War the Boer War; —and it seemed to some that the British Empire was as doomed to destruction, both from within and from without, as had been the Roman Empire. In his poems on the South African War, Hardy whose achievement as a poet in the 20th century rivaled his achievement as a novelist in the 19th questioned simply and sardonically the human cost of empire building and established a tone and style that many British poets were to use in the course of the century, while Kipling, who had done much to engender pride in empire, began to speak in his verse and short stories of the burden of empire and the tribulations it would bring.
Boer troops lining up in battle against the British during the South African War — In The Portrait of a Ladyhe had briefly anatomized the fatal loss of energy of the English ruling class and, in The Princess Casamassimahad described more directly the various instabilities that threatened its paternalistic rule.William Butler Yeats (), Nobel Prize winning Irish dramatist, author and poet wrote The Celtic Twilight (); Paddy Flynn is dead;.He was a great teller of tales, and unlike our common romancers, knew how to empty heaven, hell, and purgatory, faeryland and earth, to people his stories.
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