The Scarlet Letter
by Nathaniel Hawthorne
The Scarlet Letter: A Romance is an 1850 work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is considered to be his "masterwork". Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston, Massachusetts, during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an affair and struggles to create a new life of repentance and dignity. Throughout the book, Hawthorne explores themes of legalism, sin, and guilt.
Elmer Kennedy-Andrews remarks that Hawthorne in "The Custom-house" sets the context for his story and "tells us about 'romance', which is his preferred generic term to describe The Scarlet Letter, as his subtitle for the book – 'A Romance' – would indicate." In this introduction, Hawthorne describes a space between materialism and "dreaminess" that he calls "a neutral territory, somewhere between the real world and fairy-land, where the Actual and the Imaginary may meet, and each imbues itself with nature of the other". This combination of "dreaminess" and realism gave the author space to explore major themes.
Friday, March 25, 2016
Sunday, March 20, 2016
by Jonathan Swift
Gulliver's Travels (1726, amended 1735), is a prose satire by Irish writer and clergyman Jonathan Swift, that is both a satire on human nature and a parody of the "travellers' tales" literary subgenre. It is Swift's best known full-length work, and a classic of English literature.
The book became popular as soon as it was published. John Gay wrote in a 1726 letter to Swift that "It is universally read, from the cabinet council to the nursery." Since then, it has never been out of print.
Part I: A Voyage to Lilliput
Part II: A Voyage to Brobdingnag
Part III: A Voyage to Laputa, Balnibarbi, Luggnagg, Glubbdubdrib, and Japan
Part IV: A Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms
Tuesday, March 15, 2016
by John Bunyan
The Pilgrim's Progress from This World to That Which Is to Come; Delivered under the Similitude of a Dream is a 1678 Christian allegory written by John Bunyan. It is regarded as one of the most significant works of religious English literature, has been translated into more than 200 languages, and has never been out of print.
Bunyan began his work while in the Bedfordshire county prison for violations of the Conventicle Act, which prohibited the holding of religious services outside the auspices of the established Church of England. Early Bunyan scholars such as John Brown believed The Pilgrim's Progress was begun in Bunyan's second, shorter imprisonment for six months in 1675, but more recent scholars such as Roger Sharrock believe that it was begun during Bunyan's initial, more lengthy imprisonment from 1660 to 1672 right after he had written his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners.
Christian, an everyman character, is the protagonist of the allegory, which centres itself in his journey from his hometown, the "City of Destruction" ("this world"), to the "Celestial City" ("that which is to come": Heaven) atop Mount Zion. Christian is weighed down by a great burden—the knowledge of his sin—which he believed came from his reading "the book in his hand" (the Bible). This burden, which would cause him to sink into Hell, is so unbearable that Christian must seek deliverance.
by John Bunyan
The Second Part of The Pilgrim's Progress presents the pilgrimage of Christian's wife, Christiana; their sons; and the maiden, Mercy. They visit the same stopping places that Christian visited, with the addition of Gaius' Inn between the Valley of the Shadow of Death and Vanity Fair, but they take a longer time in order to accommodate marriage and childbirth for the four sons and their wives. The hero of the story is Great-Heart, a servant of the Interpreter, who is the pilgrims' guide to the Celestial City. He kills four giants called Giant Grim, Giant Maul, Giant Slay-Good, and Giant Despair and participates in the slaying of a monster called Legion that terrorizes the city of Vanity Fair.
The passage of years in this second pilgrimage better allegorizes the journey of the Christian life. By using heroines, Bunyan, in the Second Part, illustrates the idea that women as well as men can be brave pilgrims.
Alexander M. Witherspoon, professor of English at Yale University, writes in a prefatory essay:
Part II, which appeared in 1684, is much more than a mere sequel to or repetition of the earlier volume. It clarifies and reinforces and justifies the story of Part I. The beam of Bunyan's spotlight is broadened to include Christian's family and other men, women, and children; the incidents and accidents of everyday life are more numerous, the joys of the pilgrimage tend to outweigh the hardships; and to the faith and hope of Part I is added in abundant measure that greatest of virtues, charity. The two parts of The Pilgrim's Progress in reality constitute a whole, and the whole is, without doubt, the most influential religious book ever written in the English language.
Wednesday, March 9, 2016
by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre (originally published as Jane Eyre: An Autobiography) is a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. It was published on 16 October 1847, by Smith, Elder & Co. of London, England, under the pen name "Currer Bell." The first American edition was published the following year by Harper & Brothers of New York.
Primarily of the bildungsroman genre, Jane Eyre follows the emotions and experiences of its title character, including her growth to adulthood and her love for Mr. Rochester, the Byronic master of fictitious Thornfield Hall. In its internalisation of the action—the focus is on the gradual unfolding of Jane's moral and spiritual sensibility, and all the events are coloured by a heightened intensity that was previously the domain of poetry—Jane Eyre revolutionised the art of fiction. Charlotte Brontë has been called the 'first historian of the private consciousness' and the literary ancestor of writers like Joyce and Proust. The novel contains elements of social criticism, with a strong sense of morality at its core, but is nonetheless a novel many consider ahead of its time given the individualistic character of Jane and the novel's exploration of classism, sexuality, religion, and proto-feminism.