Figures of Transition: A Study of British Literature at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Figures of Transition: A Study of British Literature at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Figures of Transition: A Study of British Literature at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Figures of Transition: A Study of British Literature at the End of the Nineteenth Century

Excerpt

This book grew out of a plan for a study of modern British literature, which, as I originally conceived it, would have surveyed the past forty years. Since, however, the literary movements in which I was interested all had their roots in the closing decades of the nineteenth century, I found myself paying more and more attention to an earlier generation of writers. These writers, who link Victorian and modern literature, proved interesting enough, and seemed important enough, to deserve a volume of their own. The book about the literature of the past forty years, if it is written, will rest upon this preliminary study.

My "figures of transition"--the phrase is William Butler Yeats's--are William Morris, Thomas Hardy, Samuel Butler, George Gissing, Oscar Wilde, and Rudyard Kipling. Concentration on six men permits detailed treatment of each, and at the same time it is possible, in writing about the six, to say most of the things that ought to be said about the literature of the period.

I have not, however, wanted to isolate these men from their contemporaries. Thus, in writing about Morris as a Socialist, I discuss briefly other Socialist men of letters, and, in talking about Gissing, I refer to the growth of naturalism and particularly to the early work of George Moore. Wilde cannot be separated from the writers for the Yellow Book and Savoy, and I have given almost as much space to them as to him. Stevenson was too influential in his own day to be ignored, and, moreover, his code of morals, his theory of . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.