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|Title:||ORITIOAL THEORIES IN EIGHTEENTH - CENTURY ENGLAND.|
|Authors:||Tyler, David Christopher|
|Advisor:||B., W. J.|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis began life as an attempt to relate the main critical theories of the eighteenth century to those of the first Romantic poets, and possibly to find reason in this for the rise of criticism as a significant part of literature. This plan, through the shortness of time, has been artificially truncated. The period 1781-1798, from the publication of Johnson's Lives of the Poets to the first edition of the Lyrical Ballads, which is probably most crucial, has had to be ignored. Of course, the progress of critical ideas in toto is not regular, so that many relatively advanced works have been omitted too, though being early in a chronological sense. Most significant of these are Kames' Elements of Oriticism(1762), Dugald Stewart's Elements of the Philosophy of the Human Mind (1792), and Alexander Gerard's An Essay on Taste (1759). It is by such people as these, particularly the first two, that the process of defining subjectivity, and fixing its terminology was perfected. It would seem that from the precision of their findings, Wordsworth and Coleridge were able to formulate theories specifically of poetry and its place in life.</p> <p>It remains, therefore, to justify the value of the thesis as it stands, as having, nevertheless, an internal coherence. This has been done by the choice of Johnson as a pivotal figure. From an understanding of his opinions it is easy to see all the signs of Romantioism, together with muoh that is neo-classical, and very much that is derived from striotly English eighteenth oentury souroes.</p> <p>Further to this, ooncurrent with the growing refinement of neo-classicism which undoubtedly marked the age,<sup>1</sup> ran a reaction to the early neo-classicism of Pope. This reaction took, in the main, two forms: through the theoretical development of the omagination, and of the passions. The distinction between the "fancy" and the "imagination" became apparent before it was rationalised as such by Coleridge, and there were good reasons, first for the predominance of the "fancy'" and then for its evident insuffioiency, and its ultimate defeat by its suppressed counterpart, the imagination.</p> <p>The passions, too, became a popular source of poetry, and the Romantic poets' insistence on this in their work besides the faculty of imagination, provides a link between the period I am dealing with in most detail, and the theories of Wordsworth and Coleridge.</p> <p>This thesis is partly constructed on the simple premise that because many critics mentioned several criteria in almost the same sentence, it is important to investigate the nature of these criteria. On this head, the movement of the critical theories around the quality of the Sublime has been included, as it is, possibly, neo-classicism apart, the single most characteristic interest of the time. It passes out of currency, however, with the Romantics, as a question central to critical theory. Its importance to this study is that it reflects broadly the movements of the times, and depends ultimately on the theory of the passions, and is not itself depended upon.</p> <p>The logical connection of the occasionally disparate ideas dealt with in this work is partly a result of the fact that the ideas themselves were combined most succesfully by. the Romantics, and neither fully defined nor combined by the critics with whom I have dealt in most detail. It is part of my whole point to stress that pre-Romantic theorists were not often able to make a theory which logically cohered, but usually resorted to a single-minded interest in one artifically separated ingredient.</p> <p>Though I did not set out to do so, I have found myself trespassing into philosophical grounds, and it has been necessary to simplify these points. In connection with this, I have also found myself referring to twentieth century problems on the nature of reality, and in a sense, the investigation of the terms of the origin of these problems is the most important theme "discover'd not devis'd" in the whole work.</p> <p>_______________________</p> <p><sup>1</sup>See for example B.H. Bronson, "When was Neo-classicism?" in Studies in Oriticism and Aesthetics 1660-1800, ed. Anderson and Shea, (Minneapolis, 1967). pp. 13-36.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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