The Continuity of Poetic Language: Studies in English Poetry from the 1540's to the 1940's

By Josephine Miles | Go to book overview

II. GROUNDS OF PROSE IN THE 1740's

THE PROSE of the decade was concerned with the same "poetical" subjects: the passions of man, the varieties of natural landscape, the eternal power of heaven. The main difference in the prose was that the conditioning force of the second, or natural, subject was not so strong; morals and eternal verities were less often scenicized. Even so, much of the prose of drama heightened its effects by atmosphere and insisted on the seriousness of its intent, as for example Garrick farcical Miss in Her Teens bespoke in its prologue "nature's laws," "more gen'rous views," real life and passions; and Mallet Alfred, very different in weight and kind, was different not only by the standard variation between farce and tragedy but by the new sublimity of its atmospheric reference. "All the world's a stage" became significant in a new sense: not in the conflict and confrontation of character so much as in the scenic properties, the formal focus and expansive backdrop, the draperies and fitting tonal resonances, the large scale of production, the renewed use of Shakespeare to these large, passionately reforested, ends. Histories of the English stage, like Betterton's and Chetwood's, commentaries like Hanmer's, Upton's, Johnson's, collections like Dodsley's, all contributed to the sense of long view, of temporal survey, and of local immediate participation in the truths of history, the visions and verities of the ancient and great.

The novel in its new solidity was an even stronger localizer of moral problems and spiritual forces in specific times of day, in specific houses, towns, and shires. The reader under the light could live in the panorama. This is not to say that Pamela, Shamela, Joseph Andrews, David Simple, Clarissa Harlowe, Roderick Random, Tom Jones, the novels of the 1740's, were full of "poetic" descriptive passages; rather, they seem to us bare of local fact and atmosphere. Pamela lives in a world of sensi

-223-

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The Continuity of Poetic Language: Studies in English Poetry from the 1540's to the 1940's
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1640''s *
  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • I. the Poetry of the 1540''s and the 1640''s 1
  • II- Twenty Poets of the 1640''s 46
  • Iii. Materials and Attitudes in Prose 103
  • Iv. Critical Attitudes and Descriptive Conclusions 125
  • Bibliography 155
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1740''s AND 1840''s *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT *
  • I. Poetry of the 1740''s 161
  • Ii. Grounds of Prose in the 1740''s 223
  • Iii. Poetry of the 1840''s 258
  • Iv. Grounds of Prose in the 1840''s 322
  • V. Classic and Romantic 348
  • Bibliography 373
  • THE PRIMARY LANGUAGE OF POETRY IN THE 1940''s *
  • Title Page *
  • ACKNOWLEDGMENT *
  • Contents *
  • I. Poetry of the 1940''s 383
  • Ii. Backgrounds in Prose- Practice and Theory 459
  • Iii. Comparisons and Conclusions 497
  • THE CONTINUITY OF ENGLISH POETIC LANGUAGE 517
  • Bibliography 537
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