The Last Blog…

So here it is, the last blog post of the semester. Over course of the last few months I’ve learned quite a bit about 18th century fiction. I found a lot of the books to be interesting, while some, I’ll admit, not so much. For some reason “The Journal of the Plague Year ” was the one that stuck with me the most. I think it is because I found his writing style to be so realistic, and I was intrigued by the happenings of the plague.

The texts that we studied seemed to work together on several levels, whether it be similar styles of writing, in terms of letter-writing or journaling, or the inclusion of poerty. Other texts seemed to be harmonious in terms of themes, as several of them worked together to reveal different stereotypes of women.

Overall, it’s been a great semester, and I look forward to seeing you all again! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everyone! Enjoy your holidays 🙂

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Evelina- Frances Burney

One of the things about Evelina that I wanted to talk about was the poem at the beginning that we discussed in class. I thought it was interesting that poetry once again made its way into a novel (like the one in Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling). Burney’s poem too is written in quatrains, although this one is significantly shorter with only 5 quatrains. It also has the same rhyme scheme as Mackenzie’s novel. Maybe this is coincidence, but I thought it was interesting that both authors used similar forms for their poem. I haven’t done the research on this, but maybe ABAB-rhymed quatrains were a popular format for poetry at the time.  The poem demonstrates Burney’s respect that she has for her father, however , in the poem she states “If e’er thy eyes these feeble lines survey,/Let not their folly their intent destroy;/Accept the tribute – but forget the lay” (Burney, 23-25), suggesting that she feels he will view her as inadequate because of her writing. I wondered if this might be a tactic simply to make herself likable and draw readers into her. She also does seem to possess a kind of false humility about her writing. She claims that her lines are “feeble”, when really she knows that she is a skilled writer, and plans to prove this with her novel.

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The Man of Feeling.. “a novel of sentiment”

According to the introduction of the book, Mackenzie’s The Man of Feeling is a “novel of sentiment” that uses a combination of “national pride and sympathy with his subject matter” (Slagle, in The Man of Feeling, V).  The novel is certainly as it claims to be and evokes sympathy from the reader, as Harley expresses emotion toward the other characters in the novel. One of the aspects of the novel that I felt added to its sentimentality was the poetry that he included in the novel (or perhaps I’m misinterpreting the meaning of exactly what a novel of sentimentality is). Anyway, I will say a couple of things about the poems, which I feel add to the emotion in the book.

The poem, which can be found on page 80-82, is written in the form of 25 quatrains with the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD etc. The title “Lavinia” refers to Greek myth, in which Latinus and Amata have a daughter named Lavinia (thanks to wikipedia.org for clearing that up for me!) It records the hopeless feelings associated with being in love, and the awe that the lover feels for the beloved. The poem reminded me of the poetry of Chaucer’s contemporaries in the way that love is presented.

The fact that Mackenzie includes different types of writing in The Man of Feeling, such as the poetry made me wonder if maybe his intention was to make his novel appeal to the more intellectual crowd that he wanted to reach, since poetry would appeal to them more than a silly novel may. Even without the poetry in the novel, I think Mackenzie made his point that the novel can be form that is useful for both the lesser educated as well as the ‘sophistocated’ crowd.

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Mackenzie’s “The Lounger”

 

MacKenzie’s article “The Lounger” expresses his interest in the novel form, describing how it once was a form read only by young, inexperienced people, but it should be considered sophisticated enough for higher classes and more educated or intellectual people to read. He describes the novel as a revealing and risky form, since readers will notice if the private lives of characters are flawed or unrealistic in some way, and the author has no one else to hide behind or on whom to lay the blame. I thought this was an interesting point for him, as an author of novels, to make. Perhaps his article was his way of letting readers know that he felt his endeavor in novel-writing was a risk, and perhaps he was hoping to reach an audience of more intellectual people, and attempt to erase the stigma attached to novels, that they are only read by the inexperienced reader and are of no use to others.     

I like that Mackenzie seems to appreciate the every-day situations that are often presented in novels and the idea that they should be relatable to readers. His focus is on the novel which have a more “immediate tendency to produce [genius and feeling]” (Mackenzie, 236, in Nixon’s  Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel ). The final sentence in the article says “of youth it is essential to preserve the imagination sound as well as pure, and not to allow them to forget, amidst the intimacies of Sentiment , or the dreams of Sensibility, the truths of Reason, or the laws of Principle” (Mackenzie, 238). This seems to be a kind of permission to continue to write novels which are sentimental, but also a warning to stick to a level of reality so that readers, especially easily influenced ones, are not carried away with the stories in the novels.

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A little bit about my research paper/ some sources for you!

While researching for my paper on Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, I found some information that I found to be quite interesting. In the paper, I researched the ways in which the journal is life-like, and Defoe’s purpose for writing such a realistic fiction text. I found out that the debate over whether or not the book is fiction or historical has been an ongoing one, since the publication of the book. He had fooled many readers into thinking that the text was an entirely true account, because the original was not published with his name attached as the author. Otherwise, it would have been obvious that it was not all true, since he only would have been approximately five years old at the time of the plague. During my research I learned a bit about Defoe’s family, in particular, his uncle Henry Foe (who coincidentally has the same initial as the proclaimed author). His uncle also shared other traits with H.F from Defoe’s book. Personally I was convinced  when reading it that the novel was truth, but after researching, I was more convinced that he simply collected facts from different stories that he had heard about the plague, and put them together creatively, adding information and details where he saw fit. I assumed that he wrote the book with his uncle in mind, using him as a model after which to create his character. To me, it is irrelevant whether or not the stories are true; that’s what history books are for. Defoe simply used his skills to convince people that his work was true, and although he may not be considered to be the greatest writer who ever was, he certainly stirred some debate among his peers, and the debate continues today. The following is a list of sources used, in case any of you wanted to check it out! :

 

Bastian, F. “Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year Reconsidered.” Review of English

Studies: a Quarterly Journal of English Literature and the English Language. 16.62

(1965): 151-73. Print.

 

Defoe, Daniel. A Journal of the Plague Year. N.p.: Project Gutenburg, 2006. Project

Gutenburg, 16 Jan. 2006. Web. 10 Nov. 2012<http://www.gutenberg.org/files/376/376-

h/376-h.htm>.

 

“Ideas + Reviews – Second Read – Nicholson Baker Tackles Questions of Fact and

Fiction in Daniel Defoe’s a Journal of the Plague Year.” Columbia Journalism Review. (2009): 50. Print.

 

McKinlay, Alan. “Foucault, Plague, Defoe.” Culture and Organization. 15.2 (2009): 167-184.

Print.

 

Miller, Benjamin Frank, and Claire Brackman Keane. Encyclopedia and Dictionary of

Medicine, Nursing, and Allied Health. 2nd ed. Philadelphia: Saunders, 1978. 780. Print.

 

Zimmerman, Everett. “H. F.’s Meditations: a Journal of the Plague Year.” Pmla: Publications

of the Modern Language Association of America. 87.3 (1972): 417-23. Print.

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No Shame in Shamela

Henry Fielding’s Shamela is a short epistolary novel that ridicules Pamela.  It is very aware of itself as a book, beginning with the letters to the editor. One comment in these letters, openly mocks Richardson and the fame that his book, Pamela received. The letter refers to it as a most “excellent book” and says that the author “is able to draw everything to Perfection, except Virtue” (Feilding, 234). Richardson is again mocked in the letter that says “Forgive me, O Author of Pamela” (Fielding, 237). This suggests a kind of contempt against Richardson, and perhaps that Richardson is idolized by many, although Fielding sees this as foolish.

Fielding certainly does not attempt to mask the fact that he pokes fun at Pamela. Among other things, it is especially evident through the names that Fielding uses, since he uses names similar to Richardson’s. Instead of Pamela, he uses the name Shamela, to imply the falsehoods that are associated with her. The name Pamela means “honey” or “sweetness” (http://www.thinkbabynames.com/meaning/0/Pamela ), which is appropriate for Richardson’s character. By using the name Shamela, Fielding suggests that this sweetness is a “sham” or façade. Another name that Fielding uses is, instead of Mr. B, Shire Booby. This name is intended to show the foolishness of Mr. B. He also uses the same name as Richardson in the case of Mrs. Jervis, suggesting that he in no way means to hide the cynicism toward Richardson’s Pamela. Perhaps Fielding’s purpose was strictly to ridicule Richardson , or perhaps he was attempting to gain the same recognition that Richardson did with his novel. Either way, Feilding shows no shame in his ridicule and usage of material, such as names and form, that are similar, if not the same, to Richardson’s.

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Anti-Pamela

Since I had the preconceived notion that Anti-Pamela or Feign’d Innocence detected, was going to be a satire on Pamela,  I found myself reading it as slightly comic, although I also felt that Haywood wrote with a sense of duty, attempting to teach her readers something about the typical roles and stereotypes placed on men and women in society.

Haywood uses some subtle and some not-so-subtle devices in order to enhance the satire of her book. One of the things that I noticed was, for example, Syrena’s name. In Pamela, the character Pamela constantly talks about her own beauty and seem to brag about how others praise her for her beauty. In Anti-Pamela, Haywood uses the last name “Tricksy” which, as the footnote states, is a term of endearment that normally means pretty. It gives the impression that she needs people to know that she is beautiful so much so that it may as well be her name. The name, more obviously, also tends to describe the way that Syrena tricks men before they are able to dupe her.

Perhaps Haywood intends to show gender stereotypes. In Pamela, Mr. B schemes against and harasses Pamela, but is still only viewed as a typical man who happens to have a beautiful servant that he takes advantage of. He is not reprimanded for his behavior, but is actually rewarded for his poor behavior, gaining the hand of Pamela. This made me wonder if in some way the title of Richardson’s work is a kind of sarcastic title in a sense, saying that Mr. B’s ‘virtue’ (or lack-thereof) is rewarded with marriage to a beautiful girl. Haywood seems to want to refute Richardson’s idea that all women are like Pamela, and dramatically exaggerate, and complain about every situation they are in, even when a handsome rich man expresses interest in them (not that I think Mr. B’s behavior was condonable). I’m not convinced that Pamela didn’t enjoy the attention that she received, but it seems that she was actually seeking even more attention by her letters to her mother and father.  Haywood reveals another side of women, suggesting that they are just as capable as men are in terms of fooling the opposite sex.

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Samuel Richardson’s Pamela: Virtue Rewarded?

While reading  Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, also known as Virtue Rewarded, I found myself wondering what exactly the reward was, or what was meant by the term ‘virtue’ for that matter. In a way, the title seems ironic, because the reward seems to be, in this case, marriage to Mr. B. It doesn’t seem like much of a reward to have the ‘privilege’ of marrying someone who you have claimed was sexually harassing you.  Mr. B, who has been the harasser for the duration of novel, however, is of a higher social class than Pamela, so perhaps her reward is financial security and social class. Still, no matter how rich he may be, marriage to someone whom you have been complaining about doesn’t seem like much of a reward.  I’m not entirely convinced of Pamela’s virtue, and she seemed to actually enjoy and seek out attention from others, especially Mr. B. For example, she takes an exceedingly long time on the garment that she is making for Mr. B. she uses it as an excuse to stick around, despite the fact that she probably could get away if she wanted to. Her letters also seemed attention-seeking to me. Perhaps virtue in this case, refers simply to purity, and does not take into account the intentions of the person in question.

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The Epistolary Form: Samuel Richardson’s Pamela

After doing some research on the postage system, I was impressed with the way that things were done when the postage system first started. Given the lack of modern technology, it is impressive to think of how quickly they were able to deliver messages back and forth. Although they could have been sent relatively quickly, the time between letters may have an effect on the story. Since the letters are written with some time between them, especially when Pamela is at the other home, there could be details left out and it limits the amount of information that readers are able to observe. The lack of a narrator who knows all suggests that there are missing pieces that readers may need to fill in on their own.

Since most of the letters are written from Pamela’s perspective, readers don’t really get a clear sense of who she is. Obviously, Mr. B must think she is something else, but her opinion of her self and of what others think of her is biased. This bias is part of why I am not convinced that she is completely innocent as she claims and at least pretends to be. The fact that Pamela it is written in epistolary form adds both a sense of reality, and a sense of uncertainty.

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Amatory Fiction

Amatory fiction is a 17th century genre of fiction that was aimed mainly at an audience of women.  Some of the characteristics that we have discussed about amatory fiction include a focus on love affairs and romance, with content that would have been viewed as scandalous. It seems that the genre plays to the stereotype of women who gossip, since the stories are an inside look at matters that may have been gossiped about. When I was reading “The Adventure of the Black Lady” by Aphra Behn, at first I didn’t really see how the story fit into the amatory fiction genre. As the story progressed, with the pregnancy of Bellamora, I could see how it would have been more scandalous at the time when the story was written. Amatory fiction seems like a kind of primitive soap opera.

In reference to the pregnancy, Behn writes: “This Discourse one may imagine, was very dreadful to a Person of her Youth, Beauty, Education, Family and Estate: However, she resolutely protested, that she had rather undergo all this, than be expos’d to the Scorn of her Friends and Relations in the Country”.  By saying this, it seems that Behn is attempting to bring attention to the high expectations that society has of women, as well as the judgment that is placed on them if they do not live up to these expectations. Perhaps Behn meant this story to be a kind of encouragement for women who have gone through similar things, so that they are aware that they are not the only ones who endure difficult situations.

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