Английская литература (представители).

Английская литература (представители)

Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) was a journalist, and that fact itself draws him to our own time. The development of the newspaper and the periodical is an interesting literary sideline of the seventeenth century. The Civil War undoubtedly stimulated a public appetite for up-to-the-minute news (such news then was vital) and the Restoration period, with its interest in men and affairs, its information services in the coffeehouses, was developing that wider interest in news - home and foreign - which is so alive today. Defoe is, in many ways, the father of the modern periodical, purveying opinion more than news, and The Review, which he founded in 1704, is the progenitor of a long line of 'well-informed' magazines. Defoe did not see himself primarily as a literary artist: he had things to say to the public, and he said them as clearly as he could, without troubling to polish and revise. There are no stylistic tricks in his writings, no airs and graces, but there is the flavour of colloquial speech, a 'no-nonsense', down-to-earth simplicity. He was - like Swift - capable of irony, however, and his Shortest Way with the Dissenters states gravely that those who do not belong to the Church of England should be hanged. (Defoe himself was a Dissenter, of course.) This pamphlet was taken seriously by many, but, when the authorities discovered they had been having their legs pulled, they put Defoe into prison.
The most interesting of Defoe's 'documentary' works is the journal of the Plague Year (one gets the impression that Defoe was actually present in London during that disastrous time, seriously taking notes, but a glance at his dates will show that this was impossible). But his memory is revered still primarily for his novels, written late in life: Robinson Crusoe,Moll Flanders, Roxana, and others. The intention of these works is that the reader should regard them as true, not as fictions, and so Defoe deliberately avoids all art, all fine writing, so that the reader should concentrate only on a series of plausible events, thinking: 'This isn't a storybook, this is autobiography.' Defoe keeps up the straight-faced pretence admirably. In Moll Flanders we seem to be reading the real life-story of a ' bad woman', written in the style appropriate to her. In Robinson Crusoe, whose appeal to the young can never die, the fascination lies in the bald statement of facts which are quite convincing-even though Defoe never had the experience of being cast away on a desert island and having to fend for himself. The magic of this novel never palls: frequently in England a musical comedy version of it holds the stage during the after-Christmas 'pantomime season'.
The greatest prose-writer of the first part-perhaps the whole-of the century is Jonathan Swift (1667-1745). A great humorist and a savage satirist, his meat is sometimes too powerful even for a healthy stomach. He is capable of pure fun-as in some of his poems-and even schoolboy jokes, but there is a core of bitterness in him which revealed itself finally as a mad hatred of mankind. On his own admission, he loved Tom, Dick,and Harry, but hated the animal, Man. Yet he strove to do good for his fellow-men, especially the poor of Dublin, where he was Dean of St. Patrick's. The Drapier's Letters were a series of attacks on abuses of the currency, and the Government heeded his sharp shafts. The monopoly of minting copper money, which had been given to a man called Wood, was withdrawn, and Swift became a hero. In his Modest Proposal he ironically suggested that famine in Ireland could be eased by cannibalism, and that the starving children should be used as food. Some fools took this seriously. His greatest books are A Tale of a Tub and Gulliver's Travels. The first of these is a satire on the two main non-conformist religions- Catholicism and Presbyterianism. Swift tells the story of three brothers-Jack (Calvin), Martin (Luther), and Peter (St.)-and what they do with their inheritance (the Christian religion). The story is farcical and at times wildly funny, but people of his day could perhaps be forgiven if they found blasphemy in it. It certainly shocked Queen Anne so much that she would not allow Swift to be made a bishop, and this contributed to Swift's inner frustration and bitterness. Gulliver's Travels hides much of its satire so cleverly that children still read it as a fairy story. It starts off by making fun of mankind (and especially England and English politics) in a quite gentle way: Gulliver sees in Lilliput a shrunken human race, and its concerns-so important to Lilliput-become shrunken accordingly. But in the second part, in the land of the giants, where tiny Gulliver sees human deformities magnified to a feverous pitch, we have something of this mad horror of the human body which obsesses Swift. (According to Dr. Johnson, Swift washed himself excessively-'with Oriental scrupulosity'-but his terror of dirt and shame at the body's functions never disappeared.) In the fourth part of the book, where the Houyhnhnms-horses with rational souls and the highest moral instincts-are contrasted with the filthy, depraved Yahoos, who are really human beings, Swift's hatred of man reaches its climax. Nothing is more powerful or horrible than the moment when Gulliver reaches home and cannot bear the touch of his wife-her smell is the smell of a Yahoo and makes him want to vomit.
Swift is a very great literary artist, and perhaps only in the present century is his full stature being revealed. He is skilful in verse, as well as in prose, and his influence continues: James Joyce-in his The Holy Office-has written Swiftian verse; Aldous Huxley (in Ape and Essence} and George Orwell (in Animal Farm) have produced satires which are really an act of homage to Swift's genius. Yet Gulliver's Travels stands supreme: a fairy story for children, a serious work for men, it has never lost either its allure or its topicality.
The first part of the century is also notable for a number of philosophical and religious works which reflect the new 'rational' spirit. The Deists (powerful in France as well as in England) try to strip Christianity of its mysteries and to establish an almost Islamic conception of God- a God in whom the Persons of the Christian Trinity shall have no part -and to maintain that this conception is the product of reason, not of faith. On the other hand, there were Christian writers like William Law (1686-1761) and Isaac Watts (1674-1748) who, the first in prose, the second in simple pious verse, tried successfully to stress the importance of pure faith, even of mysticism, in religion. The religious revival which was to be initiated by John Wesley (1703-91) owes a good deal to this spirit, which kept itself alive despite the temptations of 'rationalism'. Joseph Butler (16