Lecture 21: The Augustan Age: The Novel

Lecture 21: The Augustan Age: The Novel
The Age of Reason (1713-1789)?

Politics & Society

The Monarchy was not popular anymore; there were two failed rebellions.
The power of the Parliament and the prime minister continued to grow
This was the time of the Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions.
New Inventions made manufacturing easier and quicker.
The growing British Empire was ready market for British products.
People moved from the country to the new cities.

Elsewhere
England remained relatively calm: “strong and stable”
However, American Declaration of Independence was in 1776.
The French Revolution took place in 1789.
It brought the spirit of “Liberty, Equality, & Fraternity”.
This was a great threat to the stability of the British society.

Literature: Rise of the Novel
The Literature focused on the rational mind and an ordered society. (Rules of Decorum!)
Drama became less important.
The Novel became more and more important.
More and more people could read and write.
Writing became a an important profession.
Journalism and magazines were very common.
The economic power of the middle classes gave England its strength and its political power.

Aphra behn: 1640-1689
Women have always written fiction. (Why?)
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries women were the greatest part of the readership.
Aphra Behn’s ”Love Letter between a Nobleman and his Sister” is an epistolary novel.
It’s a novel that depends mainly on exchanging letters.
This type of novels became popular 60 years later.
Remember: the literary critics of the time where MALE!

Behn’s “Oroonoko”
“Oroonoko” (1688) is sometimes called the first philosophical novel in English!
Oroonoko is originally an Africa prince who was enslaved and sent to the English colony Surinam in South America.
The novel is a strong protest against trade of slaves and colonialism.
Behn was not afraid to voice her disagreement and protest.
She was a speaker for women’s rights and freedoms.
But, like Donne, she was an outsider in the society. (Why?)

Mary de la Riviere Manley
Manley’s satire was like Dryden, sharp and personal.
But she was considered “scandalous”.
Manley was ignored by the critics. (why?)
“The Secret History of Queen Zarab” (1705)
“The New Atlantis” was political and handled many ’objectionable” themes such as rape.
When these themes were treated by men, they were not considered so objectionable!
Behn and Manley are the mothers of the English Novel.