The English Bourgeois Revolution took place in 1640-1660. So it happened much earlier than in all the other European countries. The 40-60ss of the 17th century were the years of civil wars. They ended in 1649 with the creation of the bourgeois republic in England. King Charles I was beheaded in 1649 and Oliver Cromwell became the leader of the new government. But the republic did not last long. In 1660, shortly after Cromwell's death, the dynasty of the Stuarts was restored.


In English literature the main representatives of this period are the following ones:

1) John Milton (Джон Мильтон) (1608-1674);

2) John Bunyan (Джон Беньян) (1628-1688);

3) John Dryden (Джон Драйден) (1631-1700).



JOHN MILTON (1608 -1674)


It is generally agreed that the English poet second after Shakespeare is John Milton. He was born in London and educated at Christ's College, Cambridge. After leaving the university, he studied at home in Horton, Buckinghamshire, and was grateful to his father for allowing him to do this instead of preparing for a profession. He lived a pure life, believing that he had a great purpose to complete. At college he was known as The Lady of Christ's.

It is convenient to consider his works in three divisions. At first he mote his shorter poems at Horton. Then he wrote mainly prose. His three greatest poems belong to his last group.

At the age of 23 he had still done little in life, and he admits this in one of his sonnets. In his another sonnet he wrote on his own blindness (Milton got blind when he worked at Cromwell's government as a consultant).

Milton's studies at Horton were deep and wide. One of his notebooks contains pieces taken from 80 writers — Greek, Latin, English, French and Italian. At the same time he was studying music.

Milton wrote different kinds of works. His prose works were mainly concerned with church affairs, divorce and freedom. His best prose work is probably the «Areopagitica, A Speech f or the Liberty of Unlicensed Printing» (1644). This is good writing, and it contains little of the violent language of his other pamphlets. The style of this book is quite simple. Milton's sincere belief in the importance of freedom of writing and speech fills the book with honest feeling. Here are some sayings taken from it:

He who destroys a good book kills reason itself.

A good book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit.

The English civil war between Charles I and Parliament (Cromwell) began in 1642 and lasted until 1646; and it was followed by the second civil war, 1648-1651. During these years Milton worked hard at his pamphlets, supported Cromwell, and became a minister of the government. His eyesight began to fail and by 1651 he was totally blind. He became unpopular when Charles II was made king (1660), but it was from this time onwards that he wrote his three greatest works.

He considered several subjects for this great poem, and at one time wanted to write on King Arthur; but he finally chose the fall of the angels, the story of Adam and Eve, and their failure to keep God's commands. This great epic poem, «Paradise Lost» («Потерянный рай») (first printed in 1667 and sold for 10 pounds), was planned in ten books, but written in twelve. The scene is the whole universe, including Heaven and Hell. The poem is written in a splendid blank verse and contains hundreds of remarkable thoughts put into musical verse. The following are some of these:

The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.

(Book I)


Better to reign in hell than serve in heaven.

(Book I)


Long is the way

And hard, that out of hell leads up to light.

(Book II)


So farewell hope, and with hope farewell fear.

(Book IV)


Like Marlowe Milton understood the beauty of proper names. There are many examples of this in «Paradise Lost».


Milton's other great poem, «Paradise Regained» («Возвращённый рай») (published in 1671), is more severe and less splendid than «Paradise Lost». Yet the poem also shows the same splendid use of proper names.


«Samson Agonistes» («Самсон-борец») (1671) is Milton's tragedy on the Greek model. The play describes the last days of Samson, when he was betrayed by his wife D a 1 i 1 a, was blind and a prisoner of the Philistine lords; but later a messenger arrives to say that Samson has pulled down the whole theatre on their heads and his own. Milton had now been blind for about 20 years, and about three years later he died (in poverty as he was not in favour after the Restoration of the monarchy. He was even almost put to death but escaped this.). So Samson's sorrows no doubt reminded him of his own, and some of the lines of «Samson» probably reflect Milton's personal feelings.



JOHN DRYDEN (1631 -1700)


The ideology of the bourgeois revolution in England was Puritanism. The puritans at that time were influenced by the trend of the so called «new church» — the ideas, inspired by the teaching of the famous Jean Calvin from France. So the «new church» trend was called Calvinism. The puritans influenced the life in England greatly. And even theatres were closed at that time. The closing of theatres in 1642 meant that no important drama was produced in the years before 1660. When Charles II became king in 1660, the change in English literature was almost as great as the change in government. For one thing, the theatres opened again, and new dramatists therefore appeared. But the new drama was in some ways different from the one of the previous periods. For example, the very theatres, performances, costumes became much more luxurious

The tragic drama of this period was mainly made up of heroic plays. In these plays the characters are splendidly brave, and the women are splendidly beautiful. There is a lot of shouting and a good deal of nonsense. The plays are written in heroic couplets,a form of meter which was perfected by John Dryden.

John Dryden wrote different plays: heroic traged ies, musical dramas, comedies. But in most Dryden's plays fine speeches and poor ones may follow each other in a very astonishing way.

Well most of all Dryden is famous as the first English literary critic, who created an immortal gallery of English writers, such as Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, John Milton,

Spenser, etc. Besides he is also considered to be the first writer who worked out the theory of classicism.



JOHN BUNYAN (1628 -1688)


John Bunyan's prose set an example of clear, simple expression, especially in «The Pilgrim's Progress» («Путь паломника») (1678) and «The Holy War» («Священная война») (1682). His style was influenced by his regular reading of t h e Authorised version of the Bible and it reflects its beauty and earnest simplicity of that translation. Besides from «The Pilgrim's Progress» came many allegorical names (for example, Vanity Fair, Doubting Castle, the Slough of Despond). «The Pilgrim's Progress» was written in the traditional style of vision. And this book greatly influenced the writers of other epochs (for example, Pushkin translated the beginning of the vision in his poem «Странник»).




The 18 century saw Great Britain's rapid growing into a strong capitalist country: industry was developing intensively; small towns were turning into large cities; new plants, factories and mills were appearing; new machinery was invented, etc. After the English Bourgeois Revolution the class of bourgeoisie obtained much more political power. And in the 18th century (when in France the class of bourgeoisie only started to struggle against feudalism) the English bourgeoisie became part of the ruling class.


The 18th century also saw the developing of culture and science: Isaac Newton was making his discoveries; Adam Smith produced his economic theories; Hobbes, Locke and other philosophers enriched the materialistic thought and sowed into people's minds the belief in man's intellectual powers.

In this period the English painting was developing too, and the English portrait painting reached its heights in the works of William Hogarth, Joshua Reynolds as well as Thomas Gainsborough (he was equally both at portraits and landscape).


The epoch of the 18th century is usually called the epoch of Enlightenment or the Augustus Age (at this time many writers tried to imitate the ancient writers, especially those from the time of Emperor Augustus, when the ancient literature was highly developed: there was much poetry at the time, the ideas of classicism were popular). The Enlighteners defended the interests of the common people — craftsmen, tradesmen and peasants. Their criticism was aimed against social inequality and religious hypocrisy as well as the immorality of the aristocracy. The central philosophical problem of the Enlightenment was the problem of m a n and his nature.

The Enlighteners believed in reason. And sometimes this epoch is even called the Age of Reason (Век Разума). The writers and philosophers of the time thought that there were vices in society, because people did not know what was good and what was bad. So the writers, philosophers, etc. wanted to enlighten people, so they did their best to educate them. The writers and philosophers showed the vices of society and gave the ideal to be followed. They believed in the educational power of art: if art shows the roots of evil, people would understand how they have to behave to remain virtuous and good.

Besides the Enlighteners (unlike the Christian moralists of the Middle Ages) believed in man's inborn goodness and rejected the original sin (первородный грех). So from their point of view everybody is born without any vices, sins or virtues — «tabula rasa» («blank sheet»). And vice, they thought, was due to the miserable conditions which could be changed by means of reason.

In England the Enlighteners were less revolutionary in comparison with those in France, as in England the Enlightenment came after the bourgeois revolution, while in France the French Enlighteners were preparing the French Bourgeois Revolution.


The English Enlighteners can be divided into the following groups, according to their political views:

1) moderates, who spoke in defense of the existing order and thought that a few reforms were enough to improve the situation in the country (Daniel Defoe, Joseph Addison, Richard Steel, Samuel Richardson);

2) radicals who wanted more democracy in the running of the country and defended the interests of the exploited masses (Jonathan Swift, Henry Fielding, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard B. Sheridan).


The Enlightenment was the time when the realistic didactic novel as a genre was born. Adventure, satirical, family novels became the most popular genre of the time. The most famous novelists of that time are the following ones: 1) Daniel Defoe (Даниель Дефо) (1660-1731);

2) Jonathan Swift (Джонатан Свифт) (1667-1745);

3) Samuel Richardson (Самюэль Ричардсон) (1689-1761);

4) Henry Fielding (Генри Филдинг) (1707-1754);

5) Tobias George Smollett (Тобайас Джордж Смоллет) (1721 — 1771);

6) Laurence Sterne (Лоренс Стерн) (1713-1768);

7) Oliver Goldsmith (Оливер Голдсмит) (1728- 1774);

8) Richard В. Sheridan (Ричард Шеридан) (1751-1816).


The Enlightenment epoch can be divided into three subperiods:

1) Early Enlightenment (Раннее Просвещение) (1688 — 1740);

2) Mature Enlightenment (Зрелое Просвещение) (1740- 1750);

3) Late Enlightenment or Sentimentalism (Позднее Просвещение или С e н т и м e нт а л из м ) (1750 — 1780).



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