Class notes (ENGL 2323)

De Quincey 1785-1859

Addicted to opium
Admired Wordsworth and Coleridge
One of the first to write about facts and then move into fantasy (555).
Writes on dark side of consciousness (556).
Depression and drugs.
Started doing drugs in 1817 at age 32??
Street life with prostitutes (558); starving–(rejecting solid food)
Dreams as material for literature, for writing.
New variety of writing, from nightmare to wit, versatile writer.
Orientalism–part of his nightmares?
Respectful of the prostitute.  Good friends.  Emotionally bonded to them.
Class background; aristocratic; difficulty with real world; dropping down in social class; broaden views to take in both high and low–views socialist views–egalitarian.
Discuss his social, political, artistic schizophrenia.

No liking for the English court system: “English justice, which was no respecter of persons” (557).  Innocent about the objectivity of the law.

Lord Byron: “Darkness”: Nihilism, despair, always a possible result of the failure of revolutionary or millenarian hopes.  “Napoleon”: faults of heroism or hero worship; destructiveness of such authority; problems of vanity, pride, arrogance, fame.  The Bryonic hero as compromised in greatness by hidden sin, thought sometimes to be a sexual sin (incest? some then legal version of statutory rape and the essential moral problems or wrongness of such liaisons?)

“Christabel” and “Literaria Biographia

Wordsworth’s ideas about poetry: Common language; memory.  Natural world.

Coleridge:  Wordsworth’s earlier poems and poetic theory (poetics); Coleridge’s own ideas about the imagination and the “fancy.”  Considered W. to be best poet of the time.  Disagreed over idea of common language–poetic language still that of the educated.  Tradesmen’s language too limited (484).  “Fancy is drapery and imagination is the soul of poetry” (483).  Surface and depth.  Milton and imagination vs. fancy and …  (476-77).  Latin and Greek.  Psyche and butterfly: (Greek) (475).

Genius and childhood: “carry on the feelings of childhood into the powers of man” (476).

M. H. Abrahms Natural SupernaturalismThe Mirror and The Lamp.

Coleridge: Opium.  Marriages–Utopian community in America.  Robert Southey.  Sarah Fricker and Sarah Hutchinson.  Dr. Gilman helped him regulate his drug use.

Intro Romantics: pp. 1-25.  1785-1830.  Five minutes to find and write down questions you have of this section.  Share with a partner.  Then share with class.  Any difficult passages?
What can be decided about this period?
After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo–England became repressive?
Why did “they” call “it” the Romantic period?  X3–lots of conflict, discrimination, wars?
Romanticism should be about love, peace, no war….?
The British slave trade: 1807 stops slave trade in UK.  Slavery was outlawed in 1833; women over age 30 could vote; 1928 women over 21 able to vote.
1928 – Women received the vote on equal terms as men (over the age of 21) as a result of the Representation of the People Act 1928
1918 – The Representation of the People Act of 1918 enfranchised all women over the age of 30. This was probably so that women would not outnumber men in the voting process[citation needed] and most women over 30 were married so it was hoped they would vote as their husbands told them to. Equally, the Liberal government hoped that women over 30 would be more responsible with their votes; as a result those who worked hardest for the vote in factories in the War were subsequently denied it.
1793-1815–war at homefront–p.5.
Religions in Engand.  A71-74. Write: what’s the most important thing you can say about the development of religions in England?  How did these developments impact the Romantic artists?  (See notes below.)
Rationalism in religion, emotionalism in art.
Reformation, challenge to tradition (Roman Catholicism) as not holding the truth.
Dissenting groups: Protestants; methodists; Presbyterian; atheist (Shelley); Unitarians.
What is the difference between unitarians and atheists?
Rationalism, Romantic, Revolutionary.
Industrial revolution.  Explain.
The Romantic period (illustrations in book–p. C1 (after page 448).  Bastille, Blake’s work, etc.  Write reflections on these paintings.  What do you see and feel?  What are these paintings trying say?
Barbault, “Mouse’s Petition” 27-28, and “Invisible Being” pp. 36-37. [Write down impressions]
Mouse as symbol or comparative figure.  Oppression of common people.  Egalitarian.
Barbauld, “Invisible Being” pp. 36-37.
Gould playing Bach, Goldberg Variations (1741):  Contrast with Beethoven’s 5th.
Miltonic inheritance: Ambition. Paradise Lost, book 1.  (1667-1674).  READ.
What themes do you find in this opening to the last great English epic?
E.g., Prometheus
Two questions about Blake.
“There is No Natural Religion” (pp. 80-81).  Explain difference between the two “religion” poems in your own words.
Songs of Innocence and Experience: pair a song of innocence with its likely partner from songs of experience, and discuss their relationship.
Low church (dissenting Protestants) minimized ritual and emphasized sermon
High church (C of E or Anglican) ritual and official state sponsored.
Broad church (Latitudinarians) liberal direction with C of E: ethics and rationalism, theological openness.
Methodists–evangelism and personal discipline
Romantics influenced by rationalism, mysticism, and pursued heterodoxy and atheism.
Extended franchise: 1828 to dissenters and 1829 Catholics.
“Only in 1871…were Oxford and Cambridge opened to non-Anglicans” (A74).
Key historical concepts


Laissez-faire–why did it fail?
Steam engine (1765)
Industrial Revolution

Blake, marriage of h&h: students produce study sheets–how to read.  split up the poem?  Students split the work.  Five teams producing study guides on the poem or sections of the poem:

Each student writes an essay on M of h&h for 30 min.  Then work in teams of three to write a group statement on the poem’s value.  Why is it kept and reproduced?  What is it about?

“Song of Liberty”–part of M of H&H.

letters–what can we say about Blake as a person based on his letters?  Read the letters aloud.

How was the French Revolution seen as both the downfall of Western Civilization and the dawn of a new age?

Bloodshed.  Huge massacre.  Comparing that destruction to the Bible, and a cleansing.  (148) : Enthusiasm for the Revolution as a religious awakening.

Downfall of aristocracy.  Throwing away the old ideas, the old social order.  (148)–last paragraph.

A new age b/c the social order and gov’t have to be restored: going from polital revolution to inner, moral revolution (literature).

Downfall of monarchy, hatred toward king and queen.  New age b/c (149) justification of hereditary rule, ownership of property, interp. of English constitution, rights of men and women.

Brutality of revolution.  Change from monarchy to democracy, including freedom of religion.

Downfall of hereditary power in the aristocracy.  Burke: Revolution leads to excess and misrule.  People not looking to the future if they aren’t looking to the past. Moneyed people should have more power; the poor should not have so much say (154).  Defends the king, who will only be a tyrant when the people are bad.

Fall of aristocracy, rise of democracy.  Religious awakening b/c of the revolution: b/c of apocalyptic prophecies. (148)

Arresting of king and queen.  Political prisoners freed at the Bastille.  Shelley–moral rule of poets.

Burke and Wollstonecraft.  Downfall and Dawn.  Statesman vs. a young woman writer off the farm who had a hard life.

Anarchy with fall of king and queen.  Page 148: Religion reinforced revolutionary fervor.  Change to social order.

Tradition vs. reform; individualism leading to people having ideas.  A humanistic ideal: people valuing individual human life more. Progressive versus regressive forces in history.

What traditional ideas, institutions, and social orders were seen to be likely overthrown by the French Revolution?

What new ideas, institutions, and social orders were seen as taking their place?


Three appeals to emotion

Three appeals to logic


Centralized power for investors (land, money, businesses) ; not mob rule.

Democracy is haphazard, victim of demagogues.

154: When man doesn’t trespass on others, he’s okay, and as long as workers are compensated.

Stay in your place. (class, family) Without that, we have anarchy.  Look at France!

Trade, manufacturers, economy, riches–revolution destroys wealth.

Barbarians without religion or honor have no stake in the future or in the past (custom).  Revolution can be bad.

Hereditary aristocracy–respect for those people.  His sons viewed based on his actions: he has to live up to his position.


160 and 161: She says that everyone is entitled to basic rights of man.

The demon of property fences in the rights of man.  People fight over property instead of respecting each other.

Everyone, men and women, should have equal rights.  Not fair for some people to have more rights based on birth.

161: if you just submit to authority forever, you’ll just resort to barbarism and stay in the same place, and not seeking to improve yourself.  As a country you would not progress.  If only the few are improved in education, then what is lost?

162: “Deadens industry.”  “cruel oppressor.”  When the rich deprive the poor, workers (labor) don’t work as well.

Liberty of reason and rights of man:


“Preface to Lyrical Ballads”

Common language;  his ideas about poetry–anyone can be a poet who allows him or herself to freely write what comes to mind.  Honesty.  “Spontaneous overflow of powerful feeling” (265).  Why Romantic?  Feeling comes out uninhibited.  Isolation (“Tintern Abbey”).

“Bring about common incidents and situations” (264).  More people can relate to these themes.  “Imagination…bringing ordinary things to mind in an unusual way” (264).  Elementary feelings of human nature coexist in a state of greater simplicity” (264) (“Michael,” basic emotions, and powerful ones).  These emotions are “more easily comprehended” and “more durable.”

“Tintern Abbey” 258-260;

“We Are Seven,” 248-250; an ordinary, pretty child.  “What should it know of death?”  The poet wondered what she could know about death.  She insisted that there were seven children, siblings. “Two at Conway dwell” (line 19).  The poet/adult doesn’t understand why she says they are seven even though they are dead.  The last two are in the churchyard.  They aren’t dead.  I have my lunch with them.  The child’s innocence–the power of innocence.  She’s not alone and not despairing.  Life affirming tenacity.  An appreciation of the bonds we share in life.

“Lines” (Tintern Abbey) 258-262; Defining spontaneous emotion after emotional tranquility.  Nature as a place of peace with self (lines 7 & 8).  An ordinary place that holds special meaning. He went there in the past (5 yrs.) when he was 23, and then came back at 28.  His sister (line 120) Nature will help us keep our joy and sanity.


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