THOMAS HARDY E OSCAR WILDE: VITA E OPERE
Later Victorian fiction.The term “Later Victorians” is usually applied to writers of the second half of the Victorian Age, when a spirit of rebellion was beginning to gain ground; this so-called Anti-Victorian Reaction was also provoked by the new scientific and philosophical theories. In literature all this resulted in a new form of “realism”, which made writers refuse any sentimental or romantic attitude and focus on the clash between man and his environment, between his dreams and their fulfilment or between illusion and reality. Instead of identifying with their age, the Later Victorians were critical of all its main assumptions and attacked its superficial optimism and illusory self-confidence. One of the dominant currents in European literature was Naturalism, which grew from an interest in the new scientific discoveries. Following the theories of Darwin, the Naturalists came to see man as a creature conditioned by heredity, by his own environment and by the circumstances of the moment. They tended to focus on the worst aspects of life and on external reality described with the detached precision of the scientist. Their absolute trust in science led them to apply scientific method to literature: the writer’s task was to “record” events, so he had to be as impersonal and objective as a scientist. As a result, the Naturalists avoided any personal intrusion into their works and limited themselves to “photographing” reality, without judging or commenting on it.
Some of these assumptions affected English writers like George Gissing, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy.
THOMAS HARDY: VITA E OPERE
THOMAS HARDY (1840 – 1928). His literary production includes poetry, drama and prose. His best known novels are Far From the Madding Crowd, Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure, which are all set in Wessex, the south western part of the country. Their major theme was the transformation of an old-age agricultural society under the impact of modern industrial life. The presence of nature is an essential element in his works, since it not only provides a background and a setting, but becomes an important part of the story. The total immersion in nature and the theme of love, which is the basis of all his novels, are two romantic themes. Unlike Romantics, Hardy regards both with pessimism: nature as a hostile power, love as a failure, destroyed by marriage, society or Fate. His pessimistic view of life is influenced by the scientific movements of the time and by his own studies, including authors like Darwin, Schopenhauer and Mill, who undermine his religious faith. Thus he rejects Christian doctrine and the Bible and works out a pessimistic theory of his own, according to which man is an insignificant insect in a universe quite indifferent to him. An inscrutable malicious force (the “Immanent Will”) blindly rules the universe and human destiny and delights in tormenting and killing. This fatalistic determinism seems to deprive man of all responsibility for his actions and results in the idea of predestination, quite often predestination to failure, according to which all men fulfil their destiny without finding help either in society or in love. Evolutionary theory increases Hardy’s compassion for suffering people and for all living creatures. Although failing in their attempts to improve themselves and in their search for love, his characters maintain a stoicism and a moral dignity of their own.
His technique may be defined as architectural and cinematic. An architect by profession, he knows how to give unity to his novels, although the plots are not always convincing because of some implausible and often excessively melodramatic episodes and coincidences. On the other hand, he is “cinematic” in his descriptions of objects and scenes. He produces a panoramic effect first and then focuses on the various elements of nature until he highlights a single detail. He also uses perspective and lighting devices and turns objects into symbols.
OSCAR WILDE VITA E OPERE
Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900). Life and works of Oscar Wilde:
Born in Dublin in 1854
Sent to Oxford after attending Trinity College
Disciple of Walter Pater – theory of Aestheticism and ‘Art for Art’s Sake’
After graduating, he settled in London where he became famous for his wit and his dandyism
1881: Poems + tour in the USA
1883: return to Europe; marriage with Constance Lloyd
late 1880s: a series of short stories – The Canterville Ghost, Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime, The Happy Prince and Other Tales
1891: The Picture of Dorian Gray
1890s: interest in drama, especially comedy of manners – Lady Windermere’s Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of Being Earnest (his masterpiece)
1891: meeting with Lord Alfred Douglas (Bosie)
1895: sentenced to two-years of hard labour after a public trial for homosexual practices
1897: released from prison, he went into exile in France, where he lived in poverty
1898: The Ballad of Reading Gaol, his last poem about his prison experience
1900: died in Paris.