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19th century Literature

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    Posted: 11 Jan 2012 at 13:13
I am addicted to 19th century literature. I recently finished Alphonse Daudet's Lettres de mon Moulin, and I greatly enjoyed it. I have also been hosting this poetry evening where me and my friends sit around and read poems from the 19th century. At some point I hope to move into the 20th century with them. I thought I would start a discussion about 19th century literature for other interested parties.

What do you enjoy about nineteenth century literature?

What social aspects do you see in the novels, poetry and plays of the nineteenth century?

How did the literature change throughout the century?


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gcle2003 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Jan 2012 at 23:55
Oh boy! Can we narrow it down a bit? Ermm
 
On the last question there may be a case that the changes were greatest on the stage, rather than in novels or poetry, but that's just a tentative thought.
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Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 13 Jan 2012 at 13:03
I think the changes were substantial in all areas. It is important to know the country, however, because they all have differences in technical and thematic aspects. Those were just some suggestions.
What I enjoy about 19th century literature is ... well, there are many things. But one thing I really enjoy is reading Realist novels. I know I am supposed to dislike Realism but I truly enjoy it. I enjoy the pace and I enjoy all of the contemporary aspects of life which come from those descriptions.

In Romeo un Juliet auf dem Dorfe, by Keller, the Realist setting is used to enclose the reader inside the world of the novel. There is the usual contrast between city and country, but what that setting did for me was focus very closely on the lives and emotions of the characters.
But Romanticism has to be my latest pet genre.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Parnell Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 14 Jan 2012 at 09:53
Crime and Punishment is one of my favourite novels. Utterly beautiful and a comprehensive study of the human conscience. I also seem to remember enjoying Les Miserables when I was a younger man. Of the French novelists that I have read, I found Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 days, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - read both of these when I was like 14) to be alright and Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo) to be exceptional - until around the half way point, where the novel loses its sense of what its trying to accomplish... Or maybe I didn't enjoy the actual revenge element as much as I did the prison/escape part, which was an examination of the human psyche in revolt against its own despair. I really really enjoyed Rob Roy by Walter Scott as well, such evocative language and some really interesting characterisation - in fact, the protagonist is probably the best depiction of the familiar story - young man, rebelling against middle class expectation, falls in love, has an adventure, reverts to inevitability at the end... It may be predictable but its done well.

I'm not sure if Wilde technically qualifies as 19th century as he is right at the tail end. The Picture of Dorian Gray has to be up near the top of my 'list' as well.

Ashamed to say I've never hit the big ones - Dickens, Bronte (plural) Melville...

19th century literature is way too broad to make any sense. Walter Scott and Henry James (Ah yes... Turn of the Screw - Cheers Dolphin) are two 19th century novelists, and they're completely different in every way. This was a period of great change in the novels format and it varied from region to region (English fiction differed to French fiction, as did American fiction, as again did Russian fiction... Where do we begin and end?)

I'm reading Middlemarch by Eliot at the moment. I like the lazy pace and the cultural, class and gender references (If that is indeed the correct term) The only problem is that its really trying my patience! Each page takes all of my concentration and after two months I'm only halfway through. I'm in a real dilemma, as although I'm actively enjoying it, I'm also simultaneously wearied by its sheer... scale? Or something.

In the medium term I want to read more Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Crime and Punishment blew me away. I think it even made me think differently as well. Which is what great literature is supposed to do. Russian literature doesn't aim small. It goes right to the heart of it all.





Edited by Parnell - 14 Jan 2012 at 09:54
http://xkcd.com/15/



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I enjoy 19th century science fiction. That's my hobby. I enjoy it better than general literature, because that genre captures the dreams and fears of a given time.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Jan 2012 at 01:33
Originally posted by Parnell Parnell wrote:

Crime and Punishment is one of my favourite novels. Utterly beautiful and a comprehensive study of the human conscience.
 
It was a set book I had to read on the Army's Russian language course. Scarred me for life Hard Work
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Never believe anything until it has been officially denied - Sir Humphrey Appleby, 1984.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Jan 2012 at 11:13
I enjoy Dostoyevsky a great deal. Crime and Punishment is also one of my favourite novels.

I had the exact same experience with Middlemarch. Unfortunately it tried my patience so much that I have forgotten most of it - that is, I can't quote it like I can other authors.

Jules Verne I enjoyed very much as a kid. I never thought of him as a nineteenth century author until I grew older and realized his dates.

It is a broad topic, that's why I wanted to post it. At first I was thinking of dividing it by nationality - then it could really be like the nineteenth century, when dividing things by "nation" was the main thing. I really enjoyed the thoroughness (I suppose that is what I would call it) of most nineteenth century novels, the author's willingness to follow a character throughout the whole of their lives or most of it and to really place them in their society. A professor of mine made an interesting comment once, that Realism was more judgmental as a literature than Naturalism or later movements.
Russian literature I found to be some of the most intense psychological writing I have ever come across, and that's saying something since my reading knowledge is primarily German. I loved Die Leiden des jungen Werthers.
I really enjoy the direct link posed between the individual and exactly what was going on in their society, politically and socially.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Guests Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29 Jan 2012 at 05:29
The idea of Transcendence in Romanticism

I was thinking of the Romantic anti-hero and the failed hero as part of a standing tradition the other day. I referenced Goethe's Faust as a source. I said I found the issue of transcendence, or the desire for transcendence, having both a social/political element as well as a literary one. I was thinking of how Faust desires to transcend the established boundaries of knowledge, and I was wondering if anyone agrees that they see this in the social novels of the century and how they changed throughout the century.
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