2RiseNovel18cenDefSwift - THE RISE OF THE ENGLISH NOVEL IN...

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THE RISE OF THE ENGLISH NOVEL IN THE 18 TH CENTURY The rise of the English novel began somewhere around the second half of the 17 th century, when the novel as a genre was still non-existent. The rise of the novel was connected with certain changes in European society. According to Bakhtin, the writing of a novel presupposes a novelistic attitude towards reality - no such until the 18 th century. In the period before the 18 th century the attitude towards reality was epic . The dominating genre was respectively the heroic epic. The essence of the epic vision was based on mythology and the main hero was the collective image of the community that he represents . NB: The epic hero is a fully realized person and does not develop in the course of the epic, which is not the case with novels. There is a static quality of the hero – he is not an individual, but a symbolic figure that stands for the values of the community, a mythological hero who is artificial, oversized. NB: In the epic there is no time – a kind of vacuum surrounds such stories. The time is typically the past but we do not know exactly when. We cannot project our own experiences in that framework. The past is idealized. Time was considered a repetition, a cycle, and was viewed as non-linear. With the rise of science, rationalism and the novel, time became historical. NB: In the novel the focus of interest is the real individual, the average person and he is firmly rooted in his familiar surroundings and their present. The novel is an epic of private life . We are presented with the fate of the individual in society, his struggle for self-assertion and recognition. So in the novel there is no balance between individual and community as in the epic. NB: At the base of the novel lies individualism . The rise of individualism is a prerequisite for the rise of the novel. It is different from Renaissance individualism = man is the centre of the Universe. This new individualism is connected with social changes in the late 17 th and the early 18 th century: the rise of the bourgeoisie the new man emerged: self-confident, self-reliable, curious, positivistic, his background is of no importance (R. Crusoe). In the late 17 th century there was a tendency in literature towards familiarization as a result of new interest in a new mentality, in immediate reality. Emphasis was placed on personal experience, gossip, interest in the “now” and “here”. The Glorious Revolution pushed the common people to the front line. Writers of the late 17 th century contributed to the rise of the novel without knowing it. The genre they wrote in was the biography – unimaginative writing, diaries, and character sketch. These prose narratives played an important role for the development of the English novel – they focused the attention on the historical and not the epic theme; time was described from the prism of the ordinary individual. In the early 18
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course LITERATURE 105 taught by Professor Stevens during the Winter '11 term at Mitchell Community College.

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2RiseNovel18cenDefSwift - THE RISE OF THE ENGLISH NOVEL IN...

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