ENL 6236.002:  Restoration Literature Dr. Runge

Fall 2004    Office CPR 301J; 813-974-9496

Wed. 3:00-5:50 pm Office Hours:  M: 1-4p; W:1-2p and by apt.

CPR 351 runge@chuma1.cas.usf.edu

 

 

Sept. 1, 2004 – Class 2

 

Political Ends of Poetry

 

Reading:         Hammond, Intro and pp. 3-38 (Excerpts from Clarendon, Pepys, Evelyn on the Restoration); also Dryden’s Astrea Redux; excerpts from Marvell’s “Last Instructions” and Rochester’s “Satire on Charles II.”

 

Recommended:  General history of the seventeenth century:  see the Pelican History of England series on Stuart England (by Kenyon), sections from Greene’s Age of Exuberance, or other history of the period.  Also you can check web resource to clarify certain events and chronologies.

 

                        Review selections from The Age of Dryden <http://www.bartleby.com/218/index.html> by various authors.  In particular read the chapter on Dryden, “Dryden and his Age” and “Astrea Redux and other Panegyrics.”  Read “Political and Ecclesiastical Satire,” part one “Causes of the new development of Satirical Literature” for information on the political and religious climate of the era.  Finally read the entire chapter “The Prosody of the Seventeenth Century” by George Saintsbury, but especially the sections on the couplet and Dryden.

 

Due:                Post 1

 

 

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This will be our first class on the Restoration, and so appropriately we will be looking at literature that deals directly with Charles II and his return to England’s throne.  We have three prose selections, a major poem by Dryden, and two smaller poetical satires to review.  For the class, we will spend most of our time on Dryden’s panegyric.

 

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1.

Historical questions:

 

The readings are arranged chronologically in terms of the events covered, rather than years of publication. One may, however, still trace a chronology of writing, although these dates are less secure.

 

Review the events covered:  Clarendon’s version of the civil war, Charles I and his beheading, Cromwell’s reign.  Pepys and Evelyn record impressions of Charles II’s return to England.  Dryden’s poem celebrates Charles II’s restoration, but it covers the past, present and glimpses the future as well.  Marvell’s “Last Instructions” address De Ruyter’s capturing of the Charles, the very same boat that Pepys and Dryden identify as bringing Charles II back to England, and Rochester’s satire provides a much later and more cynical view of Charles as king.

 

Discuss how the authorship of the piece affects the representation of history.  Discuss how the form or genre affects the representation.  For example, compare Clarendon’s explanations for the civil war and interregnum with Dryden’s poetic description in Astraea Redux, particularly lines 159-214.  Also compare Pepys and Evelyn on England’s reception of the King with Dryden’s.

 

How do the satires of Marvell and Rochester qualify the former portraits?  What do they have in common with, for instance, Clarendon’s version of history?  How do Dryden’s final hopeful lines contrast with Marvell’s later historical impressions?

 

What historical reasons might account for the diversity of opinions about the Restoration and Charles II? 

 

How do these writers employ qualities of gender, class, nationalism or political allegiance or religious affiliation to construct their polemics?  Marvell’s portrait of Douglas and Rochester’s portrayal of Charles II’s penis offer good examples.  Also, consider the way commerce figures differently (or similarly!) in Marvell’s and Dryden’s verse.

 

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2.

Dryden and Astraea Redux

 

What is panegyric?  Why might it be a useful poetic form at this point in history?  On the one hand, we can say that modern culture does not have much tolerance for poetic panegyric, but I would argue that we employ the rhetoric of panegyric on a regular basis.  What examples can you think of?  What skills mark a good panegyric from a poor panegyric?  Are these substantially different from the skills that make a successful versus an ineffective panegyric? 

 

Reread Astraea Redux with a consideration of what panegryic is and purports to DO. What does Dryden accomplish for the reader in Astraea Redux?  (This differs, in part, from what he accomplishes for himself and for his subject, Charles II, although these are in themselves interesting questions.)

 

After you understand what Astraea Redux does – after you identify its purpose – spend some time considering how it achieves its ends.

 

In particular examine the structure of the poem.  How does Dryden construct his narrative of past, present and future?  What determines his order of events?

 

Examine the parallels and allusions he uses to achieve his ends.  What classical imagery does he employ and with what effect (see lines 37 – 70 on Charles II’ s banishment, for instance).    What biblical imagery does he employ (and will return to often) and to what effect?

 

How does Dryden characterize Charles II in lines 250-292, and how does this compare with historical accounts of the king?

 

To what extent is Dryden’s panegyric successful in political and/or poetic terms?  Be precise.

 

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3.

 

Prosody:  Astraea Redux  and Last Instructions

 

By way of appreciating the distinct capacities of two artists, albeit in examples which may not be the most illustrative, compare and contrast the use of the couplet form by Dryden and Marvell.  Keep in mind the following ideas from Saintsbury:

 

“But the way in which the course of events and the genius of Dryden “settled the succession of the state” of prosody for some century and a half to come in favour of that couplet itself is the point of importance for the rest of this chapter. And, in order to exhibit it to advantage, a short recapitulation of the actual state itself, at about the year 1660, should be given.

 

By this time—as the reader of these chapters will have perceived, if he has taken the trouble to read them consecutively—almost the whole province of English prosody had been consciously or unconsciously explored, though no ordnance map of it had been even attempted, and very large districts had not been brought under regular cultivation. Its life, to change the metaphor, had passed from the stage of infancy in the twelfth, thirteenth and fourteenth centuries to an almost premature state of accomplished growth at the close of the last named, but had gone through a serious fit of disease in the fifteenth. It had recovered magnificently during the later sixteenth and earlier seventeenth, and, within this time, had practically, though not theoretically, completed the pioneer exploration above referred to. But certain dangerous symptoms had recurred in the breakdown of blank verse, in the roughness of the satirists, in the flaccidity of the heroic enjambed couplet; while the great tonic work of Milton, unlike that of Chaucer, was not at once appreciated, though, perhaps for that very reason, it had a deeper and more lasting effect. The immense increase of range which had been given by the practice of the various stanzas, of lyric, of octosyllable and decasyllable, of one other curious development yet to be noticed and, above all, of blank verse, had seemed, sometimes, to overpower the explorers’ sense of rhythm and metrical proportion—to afflict them with a sort of prosodic vertigo. Either Milton or Shakespeare would have been a hazardous specific for this, inasmuch as neither—and, more especially, not Shakespeare—used a technically rigid versification. Nothing has ever been devised—probably nothing ever could be devised—so efficacious for medical purposes in this condition of things as the stopped heroic couplet.”  (George Saintsbury, chapter 9 “The Prosody of the Seventeenth Century” part 10, online in The Age of Dryden, vol viii of the Cambridge History of English and American Literature).

 

Both Marvell and Dryden use the end-stopped heroic couplet (iambic pentameter), but both use it to widely differing effects.  Examine how the language, tone and use of metaphor compare in the two poems.  Also, for purposes of this exercise, examine how the poet in each case uses variation – the caesura, the occasional enjambment, the variation of rhyme, the alexandrine, the triplet, different punctuation. 

 

Dryden’s prosody has often been styled “masculine,” and “strong,” “muscular,” and “musical.”  Marvell is considered the best opposition satirist of the age.  How do these assessments fit with your reading of their poems?