Assignments For Study (Page 2)
For the third day, finish the reading and write your discussion. 6. Excellence in general dramatic qualities, especially Movement, Suspense, Variety. Is the act-division organic? 7. State the theme. 8. Locate the points in the line of action, especially the central climax. 9. Specific points of influence from Greek and Senecan tragedy. Begin your discussion with a summary of the story (but do not merely copy from Jonson's own preliminary 'argument').
18. Francis Bacon and his Essays. One day. Above, pp. 151-156. Read half a dozen of the Essays, including those on Studies and Friendship. The numerous illustrations from classical history and literature were of course natural to Bacon and his readers. The main matters for consideration are suggested above. It would be interesting to state definitely, with illustrations, those characteristics of Bacon's mind which make it impossible that he should have written Shakspere's plays. Or you might compare and contrast his essays with others that you know, such as those of Emerson, Addison, Macaulay, or Lamb.
19. The King James Bible. If circumstances permit any number of hours may be devoted to the style of the Bible or its contents--literary form, narrative qualities or a hundred other topics. Comparison with the Wiclifite or other earlier versions is interesting. Above, pp. 156-157.
20. The Seventeenth Century Minor Lyric Poets. Two days. Above, pages
157-164. Read as many as possible of the poems of the authors named. Consider the differences in subjects and tone between them and the Elizabethan poets on the one hand and the nineteenth century poets on the other. Form a judgment of their absolute poetic value.
21. Milton. Above, pp. 164-170. Every one should be familiar with all the poems of Milton mentioned in the text. Suggested assignments:
One day. The shorter poems. In the 'Nativity Hymn,' 'L'Allegro,' and 'Il Penseroso' note appeals to sight (especially light and color), sound, and general physical sensation, and cases of onomatopoeia or especial adaptation of metrical movement to the sense. Of Lycidas write a summary outline, indicating thought-divisions by line numbers; state the theme; and consider Unity. Does the conventional pastoralism render the poem artificial or insincere? Respective elements of Classicism and Romanticism in the shorter poems?
Questions on 'Paradise Lost' are included in the present author's
'Principles of Composition and Literature,' Part II, pages 204 ff. Perhaps the most important Books are I, II, IV, and VI.
One of the most suggestive essays on Milton is that of Walter Bagehot.
22. Bunyan and 'Pilgrim's Progress.' Above, pages 171-174. Many students will have read 'Pilgrim's Progress' as children, but most will gain by critical study of it. Perhaps two days may be devoted to Part I. Subjects for discussion, in addition to those above suggested: 1. The allegory. Compare with that of 'The Faerie Queene.' 2. The style. Compare with the Bible and note words or expressions not derived from it. 3. Bunyan's religion--how far spiritual, how far materialistic? 4. His personal qualities--sympathy, humor, etc. 5. His descriptions. Does he care for external Nature? Any influence from the Bible?
23. THE RESTORATION PERIOD AND DRYDEN, Above, Chapter VIII. One day.
24. DRYDEN'S 'ALEXANDER'S FEAST' AND ABSALOM AND ACHITOPHEL,' Part I. How does the lyric quality of 'Alexander's Feast' compare with that of the best lyrics of more Romantic periods? Compare 'Absalom and Achitophel' with the source in II Samuel, Chapter XIII, verse 23, to Chapter XVIII. 1. How cleverly is the ancient story applied to the modern facts? (The comparison of Charles II to David was not original with Dryden, but was a commonplace of the Court party. Of the minor characters: Ishbosheth, line 58, is Richard Cromwell; Zimri, 544 ff., the Duke of Buckingham; Corah, 632 ff., Titus Dates; Bathsheba, 710, the Duchess of Portsmouth; Barzillai, 817, the Duke of Ormond; Zadoc, 864, Archbishop Bancroft. The 'progress' of 729 ff. is that which Monmouth made in 1680 through the West of England. Who or what are the Jebusites, Egypt, Pharoah, and Saul?) 2. Power as a satire? 3. Qualities and effectiveness of the verse, as you see it. How regularly are the couplets end-stopped? 4. Is it real poetry?
25. THE PSEUDO-CLASSIC PERIOD AND DANIEL DEFOE, with study of Part I of
'Robinson Crusoe.' Three days. Above, pages 189-195, and in 'Robinson Crusoe' as much as time allows. Better begin with Robinson's fourth voyage
(in the 'Everyman' edition, page 27). Consider such matters as: 1. The sources of interest. Does the book make as strong appeal to grown persons as to children, and to all classes of persons? 2. The use of details. Are there too many? Is there skilful choice? Try to discover some of the numerous inconsistencies which resulted from Defoe's haste and general manner of composition, and cases in which he attempts to correct them by supplementary statements. 3. The motivation. Is it always satisfactory? 4. Characterize Robinson. The nature of his religion? How far is his character like that of Defoe himself? 5. Success of the characterization of the other persons, especially Friday? Does Defoe understand savages? 6. Narrative qualities. How far has the book a plot? Value of the first-personal method of narration? 7. The Setting. Has Defoe any feeling for Nature, or does he describe merely for expository purposes? 8. The style. 9. Defoe's nature as the book shows it. His sense of humor, pathos, etc. 10. Has the book a definite theme?
26. JONATHAN SWIFT. Two days. Above, pages 195-202. In the reading, a little of Swift's poetry should be included, especially a part of 'On the Death of Dr. Swift'; and of the prose 'A Modest Proposal,' perhaps the
'Journal to Stella' (in brief selections), 'A Tale of a Tub,' and
'Gulliver's Travels.' Of course each student should center attention on the works with which he has no adequate previous acquaintance. In 'The Tale of a Tub' better omit the digressions; read the Author's Preface (not the Apology), which explains the name, and sections 2, 4, 6, and 11. Subjects for discussion should readily suggest themselves.
27. STEELE AND ADDISON AND THE 'SPECTATOR' PAPERS. Two days. Above, pages
202-208. Read a dozen or more of the 'Spectator' papers, from the De Coverly papers if you are not already familiar with them, otherwise others. Subjects: 1. The style. What gives it its smoothness-balance of clauses, the choice of words for their sound, or etc.? The relation of long and short sentences. 2. The moral instruction. How pervasive is it? How agreeable? Things chiefly attacked? 3. Customs and manners as indicated in the essays-entertainments, modes of traveling, social conventions, etc. 4. Social and moral standards of the time, especially their defects, as attacked in the papers. 5. The use of humor. 6. Characterization in the De Coverly papers. Is the method general or detailed? Is there much description of personal appearance? Is characterization mostly by exposition, action or conversation? How clear are the characters? 7. Is Sir Roger real or 'idealized'? 8. General narrative skill (not merely in the De Coverly papers). 9. How near do the De Coverly papers come to making a modern story? Consider the relative proportions of characterization, action, and setting. 10. Compare the 'Spectator' essays with any others with which you are familiar.
28. ALEXANDER POPE. The number of exercises may depend on circumstances. Above, pages 190-191 and 208-215. As many as possible of the poems named in the text (except 'The Dunciad') should be read, in whole or in part. 'An Essay on Criticism': (By 'Nature' Pope means actual reality in anything, not merely external Nature.) Note with examples the pseudo-classical qualities in: 1. Subject-matter. 2. The relation of intellectual and emotional elements. 3. The vocabulary and expression. 4. How deep is Pope's feeling for external Nature? 5. State his ideas on the relation of
'Nature,' the ancients, and modern poets; also on authority and originality. 6. In relation to his capacity for clear thought note in how many different senses he uses the word 'wit.' 'The Rape of the Lock': Note the attitude toward women. Your opinion of its success? How far is it like, how far unlike, the 'Essay on Criticism'? Was the introduction of the sylphs fortunate? Pope took them from current notions--books had been written which asserted that there was a fantastic sect, the Rosicrucians, who believed that the air was full of them. 'Eloisa to Abelard': (Abelard was a very famous unorthodox philosopher of the twelfth century who loved Heloise and was barbarously parted from her. Becoming Abbot of a monastery, he had her made Abbess of a convent. From one of the passionate letters which later passed between them and which it is interesting to read in comparison Pope takes the idea and something of the substance of the poem.) In your opinion does it show that Pope had real poetic emotion? Does the rimed pentameter couplet prove itself a possible poetic vehicle for such emotion? The translation of 'The Iliad': Compare with corresponding passages in the original or in the translation of Lang, Leaf, and Myers
(Macmillan). Just how does Pope's version differ from the original? How does it compare with it in excellence? The 'Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot': Note Pope's personal traits as they appear here. How do the satirical portraits and the poem in general compare with Dryden's 'Absalom and Achitophel'? In general summary consider: Pope's spirit, his artistry, his comparative rank as a poet, and the merits and defects of the couplet as he employs it.
29. SAMUEL JOHNSON. Two days. Above, pages 216-223. 'The Vanity of Human Wishes': How far does it illustrate the pseudo-classical characteristics
(above, pages 190 and 215) and Johnson's own traits? How does it compare with Pope's poems in artistry and power? The prose reading should consist of or include the letter to Lord Chesterfield, a few essays from 'The Rambler,' one or more of the 'Lives of the Poets' and perhaps a part of
'Rasselas.' 1. The style, both absolutely and in comparison with previous writers. Is it always the same? You might make a definite study of (a) the relative number of long and short words, (b) long and short and (c) loose and balanced sentences. 2. How far do Johnson's moralizing, his pessimism, and other things in his point of view and personality deprive his work of permanent interest and significance? 3. His skill as a narrator? 4. His merits and defects as a literary critic? 5. His qualifications and success as a biographer?
30. BOSWELL AND HIS 'LIFE OF JOHNSON.' One day. Above, pages 223-225. Read anywhere in the 'Life' as much as time allows, either consecutively or at intervals. Your impression of it, absolutely and in comparison with other biographies? Boswell's personality. Note an interesting incident or two for citation in class.
31. GIBBON AND 'THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE.' One day. Above, pages 225-229. Read a chapter or two in the history. Among the best chapters are numbers 1, 2, 3, 11, 14, 17, 24, 26, 29, 30, 35, 39, 40, 44,
50, 52, 58, 59, 68. Questions for consideration are suggested above, such as: his power in exposition and narration; how his history compares with later ones; his style.
32. EDMUND BURKE. Two days. Above, pages 229-236. Every one should be familiar with the speech 'On Conciliation with America.' The speeches at Bristol are among the briefest of Burke's masterpieces. Beyond these, in rapid study he may best be read in extracts. Especially notable are:
'Thoughts on the Present Discontents'; 'An Address to the King'; the latter half of the speech 'On the Nabob of Areot's Debts'; 'Reflections on the Revolution in France'; 'A Letter to a Noble Lord.' Subjects for consideration are suggested by the text. It would be especially interesting to compare Burke's style carefully with Gibbon's and Johnson's. His technique in exposition and argument is another topic; consider among other points how far his order is strictly logical, how far modified for practical effectiveness.
33. THE ROMANTIC MOVEMENT, THOMSON, AND COLLINS. One day. Above, pages
236-240. The reading may include extracts from Thomson and should include most of Collins' 'Odes.' The student should note specifically in Collins respective elements of classic, pseudo-classic; and romantic spirit, in general and in details.
34. GRAY, GOLDSMITH, PERCY, MACPHERSON, AND CHATTERTON. One day. Above, pages 240-247. The reading should include most of Gray's poems and 'The Deserted Village.' Questions for consideration are suggested in the text, but students should be able to state definitely just what are the things that make Gray's 'Elegy' a great poem and should form definite opinions as to the rank of 'The Bard' and 'The Progress of Poesy' among lyrics. These two poems are the best examples in English of, the true Pindaric Ode as devised by the ancient Greeks. By them it was intended for chanting by dancing choruses. It always consists of three stanzas or some multiple of three. In each set of three the first stanza is called the strophe (turn), being intended, probably, for chanting as the chorus moved in one direction; the second stanza is called the antistrophe, chanted as the chorus executed a second, contrasting, movement; and the third stanza the epode, chanted as the chorus stood still. The metrical structure of each stanza is elaborate (differing in different poems), but metrically all the strophes and antistrophes in any given poem must be exactly identical with each other and different from the epodes. The form is of course artificial in English, but the imaginative splendor and restrained power of expression to which it lends itself in skilful and patient hands, give it especial distinction. Lowell declares that 'The Progress of Poesy' 'overflies all other English lyrics like an eagle,' and Mr. Gosse observes of both poems that the qualities to be regarded are 'originality of structure, the varied music of their balanced strophes, as of majestic antiphonal choruses, answering one another in some antique temple, and the extraordinary skill with which the evolution of the theme is observed and restrained.' 'The Progress of Poesy' allegorically states the origin of Poetry in Greece; expresses its power over all men for all emotions; and briefly traces its passage from Greece to Rome and then to England, with Shakspere, Milton, Dryden, and finally some poet yet to be. 'The Bard' is the imagined denunciatory utterance of a Welsh bard, the sole survivor from the slaughter of the bards made by Edward I of England on his conquest of Wales. The speaker foretells in detail the tragic history of Edward's descendants until the curse is removed at the accession of Queen Elizabeth, who as a Tudor was partly of Welsh descent.
35. COWPER, BLAKE AND BUMS. One day. Above, pages 247-253. The reading should include a few of the poems of each poet, and students should note definitely the main characteristics of each, romantic and general.
36. THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY NOVEL AND GOLDSMITH'S 'VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.' Above, pages 253-264. Most students will already have some acquaintance with 'The Vicar of Wakefield.' Read again as much as time allows, supplementing and correcting your earlier impressions. Consider: 1. The relation of idealism, romance, and reality. 2. Probability, motivation, and the use of accident. 3. The characterization. Characterize the main persons. 4. Narrative qualities, such as unity, suspense, movement. 5. Is moralizing too prominent! 6. The style.
37. COLERIDGE. One day. Above, pages 265-270. Read at least 'Kubla Khan,'
'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,' and Part I of 'Christabel.' In 'Kubla Kahn' 'Xanadu' is Coleridge's form for 'Xamdu,' the capital of Kublai Khan in Purchas's Pilgrimage, which Coleridge was reading when he fell into the sleep in which he wrote the poem. Coleridge said (though he is not to be trusted explicitly) that he composed the poem, to a length of over 200 lines, without conscious effort; that on awaking he wrote down what has been preserved; that he was then called out on an errand; and returning after an hour he could recollect only this much. How far do you agree with Swinburne's judgment: 'It is perhaps the most wonderful of all poems. We seem rapt into that paradise revealed to Swedenborg, where music and color and perfume were one, where you could hear the hues and see the harmonies of heaven. For absolute melody and splendor it were hardly rash to call it the first poem in the language. An exquisite instinct married to a subtle science of verse has made it the supreme model of music in our language, unapproachable except by Shelley.' In all the poems consider: 1. Is his romantic world too remote from reality to be interesting, or has it poetic imagination that makes it true in the deepest sense? 2. Which is more important, the romantic atmosphere, or the story? 3. How important a part do description or pictures play? Are the descriptions minute or impressionistic? 4. Note some of the most effective onomatopoeic passages. What is the main meaning or idea of 'The Ancient Mariner'? With reference to this, where is the central climax of the story? Try to interpret
38. WORDSWORTH. Two days. Above, pages 270-277. Read as many as time allows of his most important shorter poems. Your impressions about: 1. His Nature poems. 2. His ideas of the relation of God, Nature, and Man. 3. The application of his theory of simple subjects and simple style in his poems--its consistency and success. 4. His emotion and sentiment. 5. His poems in the classical style. 6. His political and patriotic sonnets. 7. His power as philosopher and moralizer. 8. His rank as a poet. For the last day write a clear but brief outline in declarative statements, with references to stanza numbers, of the 'Ode on Intimations of Immortality.' What is its theme?
39. SOUTHEY, SCOTT, AND BYRON. Two days, with discussion of Byron. Above, pages 277-288. No reading is here assigned in Southey or Scott, because Southey is of secondary importance and several of Scott's works, both poems and novels, are probably familiar to most students. Of Byron should be read part of the third and fourth cantos of 'Childe Harold' and some of the lyric poems. Subjects for discussion are suggested in the text. Especially may be considered his feeling for Nature, his power of description, and the question how far his faults as a poet nullify his merits.
40. SHELLEY. Two days. Above, pages 288-294. The reading should include the more important lyric poems. 1. Does his romantic world attract you, or does it seem too unreal? 2. Note specific cases of pictures, appeals to various senses, and melody. 3. Compare or contrast his feeling for Nature and his treatment of Nature in his poetry with that of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, or Byron. Read 'Adonais' last and include in your report an outline of it in a dozen or two sentences, with references to stanza numbers. The outline should indicate the divisions of the poems and should make the thought-development clear. (The poem imitates the Greek elegies, of which the earliest now preserved was the Lament by Bion for Adonis, the mythological youth beloved by Venus.) Shelley seems to have invented the name 'Adonais' (standing for 'Keats') on analogy with 'Adonis.' Stanzas 17,
27-29, and 36-38 refer to the reviewer of Keats' poems in 'The Quarterly Review.' In stanza 30 'The Pilgrim of Eternity' is Byron and the poet of Ierne (Ireland) is Thomas Moore. 231 ff: the 'frail Form' is Shelley himself.
41. KEATS. One day. Above, pages 294-298. Read 'The Eve of St. Agnes,' the
'Ode to a Nightingale,' 'Ode to a Grecian Urn,' and others of the shorter poems. 1. Note definitely for citation in class passages of strong appeal to the various senses and of beautiful melody and cadence. 2. Just what are the excellences of 'The Eve of St. Agnes'? Is it a narrative poem? 3. Consider classical and romantic elements in the poems.
42. THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THE VICTORIAN PERIOD, AND MACAULAY. Two days, with written discussion, of Macaulay. Above, pages 299-309. read either (1) one of the essays, for example that on Olive or Bacon or Pitt or Chatham or Warren Hastings, or (2) a chapter in the History. Good chapters for the purpose are: 3, 5, 8, 15, 16, 20, 25. The following topics may be used for written discussions, or may be assigned to individual students for oral reports in class. Oral reports should be either written out in full and read or given from notes; they should occupy five or ten minutes each and may include illustrative quotations. 1. The effect of Macaulay's self-confidence and dogmatism on the power of his writing and on the reader's feeling toward it. 2. His power in exposition; e.g., the number and concreteness of details, the power of selection, emphasis, and bringing out the essentials. 3. Structure, including Unity, Proportion, Movement. 4. Traits of style; e.g., use of antithesis and figures of speech; sentence length and balance. 5. How far does his lack of Idealism injure his work? Has he the power of appealing to the grand romantic imagination? 6. His power in description. 7. Power as a historian. Compare him with other historians.
43. CARLYLE. Two days. Above, pages 309-314. Unless you are already familiar with 'Sartor Resartus' read in it Book II, chapters 6-9, and also if by any means possible Book III, chapters 5 and 8. Otherwise read in
'Heroes and Hero-Worship' or 'The French Revolution.' (The first and third books of 'Sartor Resartus' purport to consist of extracts from a printed book of Teufelsdrockh, with comments by Carlyle; the second book outlines Teufelsdrockh's (Carlyle's) spiritual autobiography.) In 'Sartor Resartus':
1. Make sure that you can tell definitely the precise meaning of The Everlasting No, The Center of Indifference, and The Everlasting Yea. Look up, e. g. in 'The Century Dictionary,' all terms that you do not understand, such as 'Baphometic Fire-Baptism.' 2. Your general opinion of his style? 3. Note definitely its main peculiarities in (a) spirit; (b) vocabulary and word forms; (c) grammar and rhetoric.
44. RUSKIN. Two days. Above, pages 314-319. Most convenient for the purposes of this study is Tinker's 'Selections from Ruskin' (Riverside Literature Series). Everything there is worth while; but among the best passages are 'The Throne,' page 138, and 'St. Mark's,' page 150; while pages 20-57 are rather more technical than the rest. Among Ruskin's complete works 'Sesame and Lilies,' 'The Crown of Wild Olives,' and
'Praterita' are as available and characteristic as any. Subjects for written or oral reports: 1. His temperament and his fitness as a critic and teacher. 2. His style--eloquence, rhythm, etc. 3. His power of observation.
4. His power in description. Consider both his sensitiveness to sense-impressions and his imagination. 5. His expository power. 6. His ideas on Art. How far are they sound? (In the 'Selections' there are relevant passages on pages 164, 200, and 233.) 7. His religious ideas. How far do they change with time? 8. His ideas on modern political economy and modern life. How far are they reasonable? (Perhaps 'Munera Pulveris' or
'Unto This Last' states his views as well as any other one of his works.)
9. Compare with Carlyle in temperament, ideas, and usefulness.
45. MATTHEW ARNOLD. Three days. Above, pages 319-325. The poems read should include 'Sohrab and Rustum' and a number of the shorter ones. The discussion of the poems may treat: The combination in Arnold of classic and romantic qualities; distinguishing traits of emotion and expression; and, in 'Sohrab and Rustum,' narrative qualities. If you are familiar with Homer, consider precisely the ways in which Arnold imitates Homer's style. Of the prose works best read 'Culture and Anarchy,' at least the introduction (not the Preface), chapters 1, 3, 4 and 5, and the Conclusion. Otherwise read from the essays named in the text or from Professor L. E. Gates' volume of Selections from Arnold. Consider more fully any of the points treated above. If you read the 'Essays on Translating Homer' note the four main qualities which Arnold finds in Homer's style.
46. TENNYSON. Two days. Above, pages 325-329. Special attention may be given to any one, or more, of the statements or suggestions in the text, considering its application in the poems read, with citation of illustrative lines. Or consider some of the less simple poems carefully. E. g., is 'The Lady of Shalott' pure romance or allegory? If allegory, what is the meaning? Outline in detail the thought-development of 'The Two Voices.' Meaning of such poems as 'Ulysses' and 'Merlin and the Gleam'?
47. ELIZABETH BARRETT BROWNING AND ROBERT BROWNING. Two days. Above, pages
329-335. In general consider the application of the statements in the text; and in the case of Robert Browning consider emotional, dramatic, descriptive, and narrative power, poetic beauty, and adaptation of the verse-form to the substance. Interpret the poems as carefully as possible; discussions may consist, at least in part, of such interpretations.
48. ROSSETTI, MORRIS AND SWINBURNE. Above, pages 335-341. Students might compare and contrast the poetry of these three men, either on the basis of points suggested in the text or otherwise.
From this point on, the time and methods available for the study are likely to vary so greatly in different classes that it seems not worth while to continue these suggestions.