Joseph Addison (1672-1719) and Laurence Stern (1713-1768)

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    Jan 27, 2013
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Addison was the son of a clergyman; he studied both in England and abroad, and had a successful diplomatic and political career. He wrote a tragedy and some poetry, but his chief work consisted of essays which appeared in periodicals (The Spectator and The Tatler). Addison himself was chiefly responsible for these papers, which gently satirized the life of the period. Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver`s Travels, was a much severer critic of society. Daniel Defoe, whose best-known work is Robinson Crusoe, also lived at this time. It was a period of great prose; the language had become smoother and style more elegant since the time of Bacon. This was to some extent due to French influence, which was very marked after the Restoration of 1660. Addison, in particular, had a very easy and graceful style.

Sterne was a country clergyman and it was only in the last eight years of his life that he became famous as a writer with his novel Tristram Shandy and his Sentimental Journey, which describes incidents from his travels in France and Italy. His work was loose in construction, but sensitive and witty (though sometimes indecent), and he created a number of very living characters.

The English novel developed very considerably in the eighteenth century. The Elizabethan Age and the early seventeenth century had produced prose romances, a few picaresque novels, and collections of character-sketches; the later seventeenth century gave Bunyan`s great allegorical novel, The Pilgrim`s Progress, and the early seventeenth century, Defoe`s graphic tales of strange adventure by land and sea, as in Robinson Crusoe, or in the underworld of London, as in Moll Flanders; but the modern realistic novel of middle-class life, with its careful analysis of emotion and portrayal of character, rose in the middle of the seventeenth century, with Richardson`s Pamela (1740) and Charles Harlowe (1748) – both in the form of letters – Fielding`s Tom Jones (1749), Sterne`s Tristram Shandy (1760 – 7), and Goldsmith`s Vicar of Wakefield (1766).



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