English Literature

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2019-20: Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern Time
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Unit IV: The Age of Reason

Week 16

Please read:

Historical background (pp. 315-319).

John Dryden:

The last item here is linked at the Poetry Archives site.

“Mac Flecknoe”, as you will discover, is a scathing personal attack on one of Dryden’s contemporaries and rivals, Thomas Shadwell. If you’re interested, you can read more of “Mac Flecknoe” here at the Poetry Archives site.

Those who come to this course by way of Western Literature to Dante might also be interested to know that John Dryden was also highly regarded as a translator. His translation of Vergil’s Aeneid was the standard English version for many generations, and his translation of Plutarch’s Parallel Lives, available here at the MIT Classics Archive, is still commonly in use.

Samuel Pepys, Diary, sel., pp. 325-331.

Jonathan Swift:

For those who would like to read all or more of this remarkable book, a complete (and illustrated) text of Gulliver’s Travels  is available at Project Gutenberg.

Daniel Defoe:

Defoe’s books have not invariably won a lot of critical acclaim, but they have been extremely popular with readers since they were first published. Here you may read:

Richard Steele, from The Spectator, p. 358-361.

Joseph Addison, from The Spectator, p. 365-370.

Addison and Steele produced The Spectator from 1711 to 1712. Think of it as a kind of ancestor of the blog. Both were extraordinary writers and superb stylists, though personally I like Addison a bit better. They produced it for a relatively short time before it faded into oblivion, but it was a delightful collection of miscellaneous essays and stories. Here is the whole of The Spectator, with original formatting and capitalization, footnotes, and translation helps. Number 10 is one of my favorites, published after about two weeks of daily issues: you need to read carefully to catch the irony Addison is using, but it’s worthwhile.

Macaulay, “The London Coffeehouses”, pp. 361-364.

“Themes in English Literature: London”, p. 371.

Consider for discussion this week:

Please take the background quiz for Unit IV.