CHAPTER X: TWENTIETH-CENTURY LITERATURE
Interest in the Present.—One result of the growing scientific spirit has been an increasing interest in contemporary problems and literature. At the beginning of the Victorian age, the chief part of the literature studied in college was nearly two thousand years old. When English courses were finally added, they frequently ended with Milton. To-day, however, many colleges have courses in strictly contemporary literature. The scientific attitude toward life has caused a recognition of the fact that he who disregards current literature remains ignorant of a part of the life and thought of to-day and that he resembles the mathematician who neglects one factor in the solution of a problem.
It is true that the future may take a different view of all contemporary things, including literature; but this possibility does not justify neglect of the present. We should also remember that different stages in the growth of nations and individuals constantly necessitate changes in estimating the relative importance of the thought of former centuries.
The Trend of Contemporary Literature.—The diversity of taste in the wide circle of twentieth-century readers has encouraged authors of both the realistic and the romantic schools. The main tendency of scientific influence and of the new interest in racial welfare is toward realism. In his stories of the “Five Towns,” Arnold Bennett shows how the dull industrial life affects the character of the individual. Much of the fiction of H.G. Wells presents matter of scientific or sociological interest. Poets like John Masefield and Wilfrid Gibson sing with an almost prosaic sincerity of the life of workmen and of the squalid city streets. The drama is frequently a study of the conditions affecting contemporary life.
Twentieth-century writers are not, however, neglecting the other great function of literature,—to charm life with romantic visions and to bring to it deliverance from care. The poetry of Noyes takes us back to the days of Drake and to the Mermaid Inn, where we listen to Shakespeare, Marlowe, and Jonson. The Irish poets and dramatists disclose a world of the “Ever-Young,” where there is:—
“A laughter in the diamond air, a music in the trembling grass.”
The influence of the great German skeptic, Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), appears in some of Shaw's dramas, as well as in the novels of Wells; but the poets of this age seem to have more faith than Swinburne or Matthew Arnold or some of the minor versifiers of the last quarter of the nineteenth century.
Two prominent essayists, Arthur Christopher Benson (1862-) and Gilbert K. Chesterton (1874-) are sincere optimists. Such volumes of Benson's essays as From a College Window (1906), Beside Still Waters (1907), and Thy Rod and Thy Staff (1912) have strengthened faith and proved a tonic to many. Chesterton is a suggestive and stimulating essayist in spite of the fact that he often bombards his readers with too much paradox. Early in life he was an agnostic and a follower of Herbert Spencer, but he later became a champion of Christian faith. Sometimes Chesterton seems to be merely clever, but he is usually too thought-provoking to be read passively. His Robert Browning (1903), Varied Types (1903), Heretics (1905), George Bernard Shaw (1909), and The Victorian Age in Literature (1913) keep most readers actively thinking.
Joseph Conrad.—This son of distinguished Polish exiles from Russia, Joseph Conrad Korzeniowski, as he was originally named, was born in the Ukraine, in 1857. Until his nineteenth year he was unfamiliar with the English language. Instead of following the literary or military traditions of his family, he joined the English merchant marine. Sailing the seas of the world, touching at strange tropical ports and uncharted islands, elbowing all the races of the globe, hearing all the languages spoken by man,—such were Conrad's activities between his twentieth and thirty-seventh years.
At thirty-seven, needing a little rest, he settled in England and began to write. Short stories, novels, and an interesting autobiographical volume, A Personal Record (1912), represent Conrad's production. Among his ablest books are Tales of Unrest (1898), a volume of sea stories, and Lord Jim (1900), a novel full of the fascination of strange seas and shores, but still more remarkable for its searching analysis of a man's recovery of self-respect after a long period of remorse for failure to meet a momentary crisis. Youth, A Narrative, and Two Other Tales (1902), contains one of Conrad's strongest stories, The End of the Tether. This is a tender story of an old sea captain, who for the sake of a cherished daughter holds his post against terrific odds, including blindness and disgrace. Typhoon (1903) is an almost unrivaled account of a ship's fight against mad hurricanes and raging seas.
One of Conrad's prime distinctions is his power to visualize scenes. The terror, beauty, caprice, and mercilessness of the sea; the silence and strangeness of the impenetrable tropical forest; atmospheres tense with storm or brilliant with sunshine,—these he records with strong effect. But though he has gained his fame largely as a chronicler of remote seas and shores, his handling of the human element is but little less impressive.
Conrad's method is unusual. Though his sentences are sufficiently direct and terse, his general order of narration is not straightforward. He often seems to progress slowly at the start, but after the characters have been made familiar, the story proceeds to its powerful and logical conclusion.
Arnold Bennett.—Bennett was born in Hanley, North Staffordshire, in 1867. He studied law, but abandoned it to become for seven years an editor of Woman, a London periodical. In 1900 he resigned this position to devote himself entirely to literature. He went to France to live, and began to write novels under the influence of the French and Russian realistic novelists.
Bennett is the author of many works of uneven merit. Some of these were written merely to strike the popular taste and to sell. His serious, careful work is seen at its best in his stories of the Five Towns, so called from the small towns of his native Staffordshire. One of the best of these novels, The Old Wives' Tale (1908), is a painstaking record of the different temperaments and experiences of two sisters, from their happy childhood to a pathetic, disillusioned old age. The intimate, homely revelations and the literal fidelity to life in The Old Wives' Tale give it a high rank among twentieth-century English novels.
Clayhanger (1910) is another strong story of life in the “Five Towns” pottery district of Staffordshire. Although the hero, Edwin Clayhanger, is not a strong personality, Bennett's art makes us keenly interested in Edwin's simple, impressionable nature, in his eagerness for life, and in his experiences as a young dreamer, lover, son, and brother. Hilda Lessways (1911), a companion volume to Clayhanger, but a story of less power, continues the history of the same characters. Bennett reveals in these novels one of his prime gifts,—the skill to paint domestic pictures vividly and to invest them with a distinct local atmosphere. His art has won a signal triumph in arousing interest in simple scenes and average characters. He can present the romance of the commonplace,—of gray, dull monotonous, almost negative existence.
He has enlivened the contemporary stage with a few brisk comedies. Milestones was written in collaboration with Edward Knoblauch, an American author. Its characters, representing three generations, illustrate humorously the truth that what is to-day's innovation becomes to-morrow's August convention. The Honeymoon (1911) is a farce of misunderstandings adroitly handled.
Although Bennett has shown great versatility, yet his individual, strong, and vital work is found in the one field where he brings us face to face with the circumscribed, but appealing life of the “Five Towns” district of his youth.
John Galsworthy.—John Galsworthy was born in Coombe, Surrey, in 1867. He was graduated from Oxford with an honor degree in law in 1889 and was called to the bar in 1890. He traveled for a large part of two years, visiting, among other places, Russia, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and the Fiji Islands. On one of these trips he met Joseph Conrad, then a sailor, and they became warm friends. Galsworthy was twenty-eight when he began to write.
Four of his novels deal with the upper classes of English society. The Man of Property (1906) treats of the wealthy class, The Country House (1907) presents the conservative country squire, Fraternity(1909) portrays the intellectual class, and The Patrician (1911) pictures the aristocrat. Galsworthy is the relentless analyist of well-to-do, conventional English society. As Frederic Taber Cooper well says, “British stolidity, British conservatism, the unvarying fixity of the social system, the sacrifice of individual needs and cravings to caste and precedent and public opinion,—these are the themes which Mr. Galsworthy never wearies of satirizing with a mordant irony.”
Since his object is to present problems of life, many of his characters are but types. On the other hand, Soames Forsyte in The Man of Property, Lord Miltoun, Mrs. Noel, and Lady Casterley in The Patrician, are among the most brilliant and real characters in modern fiction. Galsworthy's style is clear, his plot construction is excellent, and his humor in caricaturing social types has many of the qualities of Dickens's.
Herbert George Wells.—Wells was born in Bromley, Kent, in 1866. He expected to be a shopkeeper and was apprenticed in his fourteenth year to a chemist; but this did not satisfy his ambition. Later, however, he won scholarships that enabled him to take a degree in science. While preparing himself to graduate from the University of London, he worked in Huxley's laboratory. The experiments there inspired him to write stories based on scientific facts and hypotheses, such as The Time Machine (1895) and In the Days of the Comet (1906). Wells is also vitally interested in problems of sociology. TheDiscovery of the Future (1902) and The Future in America (1906) present possibilities of scientifically planning man's further development. Kipps: The Story of a Simple Soul (1905) and Marriage(1912) are his best works, considered as actual novels of character. Kipps is a bitter but strong portrayal of the pretense and hypocrisy of society and of its inertia in responding to human needs, and Marriageis a subtle, psychological analysis of a conjugal misunderstanding and an attempted readjustment. Wells's study of man as a biological development and his preference of actual facts to sentimental conclusions are in accord with the trend of modern social science.
The work of Wells covers a wide range of subjects. He has written scientific romances, blood-curdling tales, strange phantasies, prophetic Utopias, and sociological novels. He shows an increasing tendency to depict the human struggle with environment, heredity, and the manifold forces that affect the earning of a livelihood. His characters are more often remembered as specimens exhibiting some phase of life than as attractive or repellent personalities. Increasing power of portraying character, however, is evident in his later work. He has a daring imagination, a sense of humor, satiric power, and a capacity for expressing himself in vivid and picturesque English.
Eden Phillpotts was born in India in 1862. His novels, however, are as definitely associated with Devonshire as Hardy's are with Wessex, and Bennett's with North Staffordshire. Phillpotts is noted for his power to paint “landscapes with figures.” The “figures” are the farmers, villagers, and shepherds of that part of Devon, known as Dartmoor; and the landscapes are the granite crags, the moors; and farmlands of “good red earth.” Widecombe Fair (1913) is the twentieth volume that he has published as a result of twenty years' work among these children of Devon. Sometimes the roughness and untutored emotions of the Dartmoor characters repel the readers; but these characters form strong, picturesque groups of human beings, and their dialect adds a pleasant flavor to the novels. Phillpotts's frequent use of coincidences weakens the effect and mars the naturalness of the plot, since their recurrence comes to be anticipated. Children of the Mist (1898) and Demeter's Daughter (1911) are among his ablest novels.
Maurice Hewlett was born in Kent in 1861, of an old Somerset family. He began writing in his boyhood, giving proof even then of his skill in catching the manner of other writers. His style to-day reechoes his reading of many authors in Latin, French, Italian, and English.
The Life and Death of Richard Yea-and-Nay (1900) shows Hewlett's romantic fancy and love for historical characters and pageants. While this novel is full of life, color, and movement, it displays his proneness to allow the romantic vein to run to the fantastic in both episode and style. The Stooping Lady (1907) deals with the love of a lady of high degree for a humble youth whom her devotion ennobles.
Hewlett's style is finished and richly poetical, but often too ornate and too encrusted with archaic terms and other artificial forms.
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch, born in Cornwall in 1863, is a fiction writer, critic, poet, and anthologist. Having much of Stevenson's love for romantic adventure, he was chosen to finish St. Ives, left incomplete by Stevenson. The Splendid Spur (1889), a spirited tale of romance and war in the perturbed time of Charles I., is one of his best stories of adventure.
Among his books on simple Cornish life may be mentioned The Delectable Duchy (1893). It is a collection of short stories and sketches. Quiller-Couch sees life without a touch of morbid somberness and he commands a vivacious, highly-trained style.
William Frend De Morgan was born in London, in 1839. He published his first novel, Joseph Vance (1906), at the age of sixty-seven. This plain, straightforward story of a little boy befriended by a generous-hearted London doctor won for De Morgan wide and hearty applause. While some contemporary writers fashion their style and select their material on the models of French or Russian realists, De Morgan goes to the great English masters, Thackeray and Dickens. Like them, De Morgan writes copiously and leisurely.
Alice-for-Short (1907) and Somehow Good (1908) are strong novels, but Joseph Vance, with its carelessly constructed plot and power to awaken tears and smiles, remains De Morgan's best piece of fiction.
William John Locke was born in the Barbados in 1863. He gained much of his reputation from his tenth book, The Beloved Vagabond (1906). The book takes its charm from the whimsical and quixotic temperament of the hero. He is typical of Locke's other leading characters, who, like Hamlet's friend, Horatio, take “fortune's buffets and rewards with equal thanks.” Like other novels by the same author, this story is pervaded by a distinctly Bohemian atmosphere, wherein the ordinary conventions of society are disregarded.
Locke's humor, his deft characterization, his toleration of human failings, largely compensate for his lack of significant plots. He is sometimes whimsical to the point of eccentricity, and his high spirits often verge on extravagance; but at his best he has the power of refreshing the reader with gentle irony, genial laughter, and love for human kind.
Israel Zangwill, the Jewish writer, was born in London in 1864. He first won fame by interpreting the Jewish temperament as he saw it manifested in London's dingy, pitiful Ghetto quarter. “This Ghetto London of ours,” he says, “is a region where, amid uncleanness and squalor, the rose of romance blows yet a little longer in the raw air of English reality, a world of dreams as fantastic and poetic as the mirage of the Orient where they were woven.”
In his volume, The Children of the Ghetto (1892), Zangwill admirably chronicles the lives of these people and the sharp contrasts between their quaint traditions and a great modern commercial city's customs.
The Celtic Renaissance.—Some of the best recent English verse has been written by poets of Irish birth or sympathies. Because of the distinctive quality of both the poetry and prose of these Celtic writers, the term “Celtic Renaissance” has been applied to their work, which glows with spiritual emotion and discloses a world of dreams, fairies, and romantic aspiration. As Richard Wagner received from the Scandinavian folk-lore the inspiration for his great music, as Tennyson found the incentive for The Idylls of the Kings in Malory's Morte d'Arthur, so the modern Celtic poets turned back to the primitive legends of their country for tales of Cuchulain who fought the sea, Caolte who besieged the castle of the gods, Oisin, who wandered three hundred years in the land of the immortals, and Deirdre who stands in the same relation to Celtic literature as Helen to Greek and Brunnhilde to German literature. Some of the fascination that the past and its fairy kingdom exerted over these poets may be found in this stanza from Russell's The Gates of Dreamland:—
“Oh, the gates of the mountain have opened once again
And the sound of song and dancing falls upon the ears of men,
And the Land of Youth lies gleaming, flushed with rainbow light and
And the old enchantment lingers in the honey-heart of earth.”
William Butler Yeats.—One of the most talented and active workers in this Celtic Renaissance is William Butler Yeats, born in 1865 in Dublin, Ireland. He came from an artistic family, his father, brother, and sisters being either artists or identified with the arts and crafts movement. Yeats himself studied art in Dublin, but poetry was more attractive to him than painting.
He was greatly influenced by spending his youthful days with his grandparents in County Sligo, where he heard the old Irish legends told by the peasants, who still believed them. He translated these stories from Irish into English and wrote poems and essays relating to them. After reaching the age of thirty-four, he became engaged in writing dramas and in assisting to establish the Irish National Theater in Dublin. In thus reviving Ireland's heroic history, Yeats has served his country and his art.
The Wanderings of Oisin (1889) is his best narrative poem. Oisin, one of the ancient Celtic heroes, returns, after three hundred years of adventure, to find Ireland Christianized. St. Patrick hears him relate that he had been carried by his immortal wife, Niamh, to the land of the Ever-Young,—
“Where broken faith has never been known,
And the blushes of first love never have flown,”
that he had battled for a hundred years with an undying foe, and that his strength had not waned during his stay on those immortal shores, although he had felt the effect of age when his foot again touched his native land. The days of “gods and fighting” men are brought back in this romantic poem. The battles, however, are not such gory conflicts as Scott and Kipling can paint. Yeats's contemplative genius presents bloodless battles, symbolic of life's continued fight, and accentuates the eternal hope and peace in the land of immortal youth.
Among his shorter narrative poems, which show some of the power of The Wanderings of Oisin, are The Death of Cuchulain, The Old Age of Queen Maeve, and Baile and Aillinn. Baille and Aillinn are the Irish Romeo and Juliet, each of whom hears from the baleful Aengus the false report that the other is dead. Each lover unhesitatingly seeks death in order to meet the other at once beyond these mortal shores. Yeats has also told simple stories in simple verse, as may be seen in The Ballad of Father Gilligan or The Fiddler of Dooney.
The most striking characteristic of Yeats's work is the pensive yearning for a spiritual love, for an unchecked joy, and an unchanging peace beyond what mortal life can give. These qualities are strikingly illustrated by such poems as Into the Twilight, The Everlasting Voices, The Hosting of the Sidhe (Fairies), The Stolen Child. The very spirit of Celtic poetry is seen in these lines from The Lake Isle of Innisfree:—
“And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.”
Yeats's verse has been called “dream-drenched poems.” The term is admirably descriptive of his romantic, lyrical verse.
George W. Russell.—Among the most prominent of these Celtic imaginative writers is George W. Russell (1867-), “the Irish Emerson,” popularly known as “A.E.” He is a poet, a painter, a mystic, and a dramatist. With Lady Gregory and Yeats, he has been one of the most active workers for the Irish National Theater. He is an efficient member of those cooeperative societies which are trying to improve Ireland's industrial and agricultural conditions.
Russell's poetry is highly spiritual. Sometimes it is so mystical that like Prospero's messenger, Ariel, it vanishes into thin air. His shadowy pictures of nature and his lyrical beauty and tenderness are evident in two little volumes of his verse, Homeward Songs by the Way (1894) and The Divine Vision (1904). This Stanza from Beauty, in The Divine Vision, shows his spiritual longing for quiet, peace, and beauty, in which to worship his Creator:—
“Oh, twilight, fill in pearl dew, each healing drop may bring
Some image of the song the Quiet seems to sing.
My spirit would have beauty to offer at the shrine,
And turn dull earth to gold and water into wine,
And burn in fiery dreams each thought till thence refined
It may have power to mirror the mighty Master's mind.”
Fiona Macleod.—All the work of William Sharp that he published under the pseudonym of “Fiona Macleod” belongs to this Celtic Renaissance. Born in 1856 at Paisley, Scotland, he settled in London in 1878, and became widely known as William Sharp, the critic. When he turned to his boyhood's home, the West Highlands of Scotland, for inspiration, he wrote, under the pen-name of Fiona Macleod, poetic prose stories and many poems about these Scotch Celts. He kept the secret of his identity so well that not until his death in 1905 was it known that Fiona Macleod, the mystic, was William Sharp, the critic.
Mountain Lovers (1895), a romantic novel of primitive people who live with nature in her loneliness, mystery, and terror, and who possess an instinctive, speechless, and poetic knowledge of her moods, is one of the earliest and most interesting of his long novels. He excels in the short story. Some of his finest work in this field is in The Sin Eater (1895), which contains uncanny tales of quaint, strongly-marked highland characters with their weird traditions.
From the Hills of Dream (1901) and The Hour of Beauty (1907) are two small volumes of short poems full of the witchery of dreams, of death, of youth, and of lonely scenes. These poems come from a land far off from our common world. Delicacy of fancy, a freedom from any touch of impurity, a beauty as of “dew-sweet moon-flowers glimmering white through the mirk of a dust laden with sea-mist,” are the qualities of Fiona Macleod's best verse.
John Masefield.—Instead of looking to the land of dreams and the misty past, like the Celtic writers, Masefield and Gibson, two younger English poets, have found in the everyday life of the present time the themes for their verse. Masefield was born in 1875 in Shropshire. He was a seafarer in his youth, and later, a traveler by land and sea. These varied experiences contributed color and vividness to his narrative verse.
He has written several long narrative poems on unromantic subjects. Dauber (1912) contains some of his best lines and its story is the most poetic. This poem follows the fortunes of a poor youth who, wishing to be a painter of ships, went to sea to study his mode at first hand. Masefield describes, with much power, the young artist's ambition, his rough handling by the uncouth sailors, and his perilous experiences while rounding Cape Horn. Dauber exhibits the poet's power of vividly picturing human figures and landscapes. This poem, like most of Masefield's long narrative poems, is a story of human failure,—a dull prosaic failure, such as prose fiction presents in its pessimistic moods.
A strong and cheerful note is struck in some of Masefield's short lyrics, notably in Laugh and be Merry, Roadways, The Seekers, and Being Her Friend. In Laugh and be Merry, the song is almost triumphant:—
“Laugh and be proud to belong to the old proud pageant of man.
* * * * *
Laugh and battle, and work, and drink of the wine outpoured
In the dear green earth, the sign of the joy of the Lord.”
Masefield's fancy does not busy itself with dreams and impossible visions. He paints life in its grayness and sordidness and dull mediocrity. Sometimes his verse is merely plain rimed prose, but again it becomes vigorous, picturesque, and vivid in description, as in the following lines from Dauber:—
”...then the snow
Whirled all about, dense, multitudinous cold,
Mixed with the wind's one devilish thrust and shriek
Which whiffled out men's tears, deafened, took hold,
Flattening the flying drift against the cheek.”
Wilfred W. Gibson.—Gibson, who was born in Hexham in 1878, sings of the struggling oppressed work-a-day people:—
“Crouched in the dripping dark
With steaming shoulders stark
The man who hews the coal to feed the fires.”
His poem, The Machine, awakens sympathy for the printer of Christmas story books and reveals Gibson as the twentieth-century Thomas Hood of The Song of the Shirt. One of the most richly human of his poems is The Crane, the story of the seamstress mother and her lame boy. His realistic volume of verse bearing the significant title, Daily Bread (1910), contains a number of narrative poems, which endeavor to set to music the “one measure” to which all life moves,—the earning of daily bread.
Gibson owes much of his popularity to his spirit of democracy and to the story form of his verse. Like Masefield, he sacrifices beauty to dull realism. Gibson manifests less range, less dramatic feeling, than Masefield, but avoids Masefield's uncouthness and repellent dramatic episodes.
These two poets illustrate a tendency to introduce a new realistic poetry. Wordsworth wrote of Michael and the Westmoreland peasantry, but Masefield and Gibson have taken as subjects of verse the toilers of factory, foundry, and forecastle. Closeness to life and simplicity of narration characterize these authors. They approximate the subject matter and technique of realistic fiction.
Alfred Noyes.—Alfred Noyes was born in 1880 in Wolverhampton Staffordshire. He wrote verse while an Oxford undergraduate and he has since become one of the leading poets of the twentieth century. He has traveled in England and in America, reading his poems and lecturing on literary subjects.
The Flower of Old Japan (1903) is a fairy tale of children who dream of the pictures on blue china plates and Japanese fans. The poem is symbolic. The children are ourselves; and Japan is but the “kingdom of those dreams which ...are the sole reality worth living and dying for.”
The poet says of this kingdom:—
“Deep in every heart it lies
With its untranscended skies;
For what heaven should bend above
Hearts that own the heaven of love?”
The Forest of Wild Thyme (1905) affords another
“Hour to hunt the fairy gleam
That flutters through this childish dream.”
There is also a deeper meaning to be read into this poem. The mystery of life, small as well as great, is found simply told in these lines:—
“What does it take to make a rose,
The God that died to make it knows
It takes the world's eternal wars,
It takes the moon and all the stars,
It takes the might of heaven and hell
And the everlasting Love as well,
Noyes has published several volumes of lyrical verse. Some of it possesses the lightness of these elfish tales. The Barrel Organ, The Song of Re-Birth, and Forty Singing Seamen are among his finest lyrics. They display much rhythmic beauty and variety. He strikes a deeply sorrowful and passionate note in The Haunted Palace and De Profundis. A line like this in The Haunted Palace —
”...I saw the tears
Bleed through her eyes with the slow pain of years,”
indicates the strong emotional metaphor that occasionally deepens the passion of his verse.
England's sea power, immortalized in song from Beowulf to Swinburne, often inspires Noyes. His finest long poem is Drake: An English Epic (1908), which relates the adventures of this Elizabethan sea-captain and his victory over the Armada. The spirit of a daring romantic age of discovery is shown in these lines that tell how Drake and his men—
To danger as to a sweetheart far away,
Who even now was drawing the western clouds
Like a cymar of silk and snow-white furs
Close to her, till her body's beauty seemed
Clad in a mist of kisses.”
Another volume of poems, Tales of the Mermaid Tavern (1913), brings us into the company of Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spencer, Jonson, Raleigh, and others of the great Elizabethan group that made the Mermaid Tavern their chosen resort. Greene's farewell to Shakespeare,—
“You took my clay and made it live,”
shows that Noyes has caught something of the spirit that animated Elizabethan England.
Noyes is one of the most spontaneous and fluent writers of modern English poetry. Whether he is mystical, dramatic, playful, or marching along the course of a long narrative poem, he handles his verse with ease and facility. His language, his rhythm, and his thought are most happily blended in his graceful singing lyrics. The work of Noyes is inspired by the desire to show that all things and all souls are—
“One with the dream that triumphs beyond the light of the spheres,
We come from the Loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of
THE MODERN DRAMA
The revival of the drama is a characteristic feature of the latter part of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. The plays of the Norwegian, Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), affected England profoundly in the last decade of the nineteenth century and proved an impetus to a new dramatic movement, seen in the work of men like Shaw.
The great literary school of dramatists passed away soon after the death of Shakespeare. While it is true that the writing of plays has been practically continuous since the time of the Restoration, yet for more than two hundred years after that event, the history of the drama has had little memorable work to record. There were two brief interesting comic periods: (1) the period of Congreve at the close of the seventeenth century, and (2) of Goldsmith and Sheridan nearly a hundred years later. The literary plays of the Victorians,—Browning, Tennyson, and Swinburne,—were lacking in dramatic essentials.
The modern drama has accomplished certain definite results. Pinero's work is typical of vast improvement in technique. Shaw is noted for his power of “investing modern conversation with vivacity and point.” J.M. Synge has won distinction for presenting the great elemental forces that underlie the actions of primitive human beings. The playwrights are making the drama perform some of the functions that have been filled by the novel. The modern drama is also wrestling with the problem of combining literary form, poetic spirit, and good dramatic action. Some of the modern plays deal with unpleasant subjects, and some of the least worthy are immoral in their tendencies. Such plays will be forgotten, for the Anglo-Saxon race has never yet immortalized an unwholesome drama. Fortunately, however, the influence of a large proportion of the plays is pure and wholesome. In this class may be included the dramas of the Irish school and of Barrie, the majority by Galsworthy, and a number by Phillips and Shaw.
Jones and Pinero.—The work of Henry Arthur Jones and Sir Arthur Wing Pinero marks the advance of the English drama from artificiality and narrowness of scope toward a wider, closer relation to life. Henry Arthur Jones, both a playwright and a critic, was born in Grandborough, Buckinghamshire, in 1851. Contemporary English life is the subject of his numerous plays. The Manoeuvers of Jane (1898) and Mrs. Dane's Defence (1900), are among his best works.
Sir Arthur Wing Pinero, born in 1855 in London, began his career as an actor.
His real ambition, however, was to write for the stage. More than forty works, including farces, comedies of sentiment, and serious dramas of English life, attest his zeal as a dramatist. Among his most successful farces are The Magistrate (1885), The School Mistress (1886), and The Amazons (1893). Clever invention of absurd situations and success in starting infectious laughter are the prime qualities of these plays.
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray (1893) is by most critics considered Pinero's masterpiece. The failure of a character to regain respectability once forfeited supplies the nucleus for the dramatic situations. Excellent in craftsmanship as it is disagreeable in theme, this play contains no superfluous word to retard the action or mar the technical economy. Adolphus William Ward says: “With The Second Mrs. Tanqueray the English acted drama ceased to be a merely insular product, and took rank in the literature of Europe. Here was a play which, whatever its faults, was ...an epoch-marking play.”
One great service of Pinero and Jones to the twentieth-century drama has been excellent craftsmanship. Their technical skill may be specifically noted in the naturalness of the dialogues, in the movement of the characters about the stage, in the performance of some acts apparently trivial but really significant, and in the substitution of devices to take the place of the old soliloquies and “asides.” Of the two, Pinero is the better craftsman, since Jones, in his endeavor to paint a moral, sometimes weakens his dramatic effect.
George Bernard Shaw.—Shaw was born in Dublin, Ireland, in 1856. He was willful and took “refuge in idleness” at school. His education consisted mainly in studying music with his talented mother, in haunting picture galleries, and in wide reading. At the age of twenty, he went to London and began his literary career. He was at various times a journalist, a critic of art, music, and the drama, a lecturer, a novelist, and a playwright. Shaw describes himself as a man “up to the chin in the life of his times.” He is a vegetarian, an anti-vivisectionist, an advocate for woman's suffrage, and a socialist.
Arms and the Man, Candida, You Never Can Tell, and The Man of Destiny, published (1898) in the second volume of Plays, Pleasant and Unpleasant; and The Devil's Disciple, published (1900) inThree Plays for Puritans, are among his best dramas. With their stage directions and descriptions, they are as delightful to read as novels. Of these plays, Candida is first in character drawing and human interest. The dramatic action is wholly within the mental states of the three chief actors, but the situations are made intense through a succession of unique, absorbing, entertaining, and well-developed conversations.
Shaw is more destructive than constructive in his philosophy as expressed in his plays; and he criticizes so many of the institutions held sacred by society that people have refused to accept him seriously, even when he has written expository prefaces to his dramas. In Arms and the Man, he satirizes the romantic admiration for the soldier's calling; in The Doctor's Dilemma (1906), he attacks the professional man; in Widowers' Houses (1898), he assails the rich property holder with his high rents on poor people's houses: and in Man and Superman (1903), he dissects love and home until the sentiment is entirely taken out of them.
Shaw's chief object is to place before his audience facts, reasons, and logical conclusions. He will not tolerate romantic emotions or sentimentalism, which he ridicules with a reckless audacity, a literal incisiveness, and a satiric wit that none of his contemporaries can excel. His chief claim to his present important position among playwrights is based on his originality and fearlessness of thought, the unfailing sprightliness of his conversation, the infectious spirit of raillery in his comedies, and his mastery of the requirements of the modern stage.
J.M. Barrie.—With the successful stage production of The Little Minister (1897), Barrie passed from novelist to playwright. The qualities of humor, fancy, and quaint characterization, which were such a charm in his novels, reappear in his plays.
The Admirable Crichton, produced in 1903, is one of Barrie's most successful comedies. He displays skill and humor in handling the absurd situation of a peer's family wrecked on a desert island, where the butler, as the most resourceful member of the party, takes command. In Peter Pan (1904), the dramatization of the novel, The Little White Bird, care-free, prankish Peter Pan visits three children in their sleep and teaches them to fly away with him. He carries them to the little people of the fairy world, to the pirate ship, to other scenes dear to children's hearts, and finally to his home in the tree tops. The play is a mixture of fancy, symbolism, and realism. These are woven into a bright phantasy by an imagination that is near to childhood and has not lost its morning's brightness.
What Every Woman Knows (produced in 1908) shows Barrie's dramatic art at its height. He knows how to introduce variety and to give his characters an opportunity to reveal themselves. Every word, every movement of the heroine, Maggie Shand, adds to the unfolding of a fascinating personality. A period of intensely dramatic action may be followed by a comparative pause, such as occurs when the audience sees Maggie's husband slowly realize her cleverness and helpfulness, —qualities that had been long apparent to every one else.
Barrie shows the ability to present dramatically situations that are emotionally appealing or delightfully humorous. His plays exhibit admirably the deep feelings, the momentary moods, the resourcefulness, or the peculiar whimsicalities of men and women.
John Galsworthy.—As a means of presenting social problems, Galsworthy utilizes the drama even more than the novel. Faulty prison systems, discords between labor and capital, discrepancies between law and justice, are some of the themes he chooses to dramatize. The Silver Box (1906) ironically interprets Justice as blind rather than impartial. The poor man is often punished while the more fortunate man goes free. Strife (1909), in some respects the most powerful of his plays, illustrates the clash between capital and labor. In The Eldest Son (1912), the conflict is between two social orders. Justice (1910), which secured reforms in the English prison system, shows how a young man is affected by an inflexible but legal punishment; and how such a method fails to assist him humanely to a better manhood, but drives him to lower and lower depths.
In Joy (1907), a delightful play, Galsworthy momentarily relinquishes social problems for a drama of more personal emotion. In the mystical, poetical composition, The Little Dream (1911), he presents an allegory of the maiden in the Alps, dreaming first of the simple mountain life and then of the life in cities. With its spiritual note and delicate fancy, The Little Dream turns a golden key on the ideal world beyond the strife and gloom dramatized in the sociological plays.
Galsworthy has good stagecraft. His characterization is distinct and consistent. His plays are simple in construction and direct in movement. He strictly avoids rhetorical and theatrical effects, but his dramatic economies often sacrifice all charm and aesthetic appeal. His gray world leaves no hope save the desperate one that conditions so grim may shame and spur society to reform.
Stephen Phillips.—This dramatist and poet was born at Somerton, near Oxford, in 1864. The boy was sent to Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon, to attend school. He entered Cambridge, but at the end of his first term he left the university to join a company of Shakespearean players. His six years with them initiated him into the technique of stagecraft, which he later applied in the writing of his poetic dramas.
Before producing the plays for which he is known, he wrote some narrative and lyric verse. Marpessa (1890), a blank verse poem, is a beautiful treatment of the old Greek myth, in which Apollo, the god, and Idas, the mortal, woo Marpessa. Marlowe might have written the lines in which Apollo promises to take her to a home above the world, where movement is ecstasy and repose is thrilling. In some of his non-dramatic poems, Christ in Hades (1896), Cities of Hell (1907), and The New Inferno (1896), Phillips shows how the subject of life and punishment after death attracts him.
With the appearance of his Paolo and Francesca in 1899, the poetic drama seemed phoenix-like to arise from its ashes. Tennyson and Browning had failed to write successful plays. In fact, since the death of Dryden, poetry and drama had seemed to be afraid to approach each other. Phillips effected at least a temporary union. His several plays have distinctly dramatic qualities and many passages of poetic beauty. From both a dramatic and a poetic point of view, Paolo and Francesca is Phillips's best play. Its dramatic values lie chiefly in its power to create and sustain a sense of something definitely progressing toward a certain point. The poetic elements of the play consist in the beauty of atmosphere and the charm of the lines. Giovanni Malatesta, the ugly tyrant of Rimini, being at war when his marriage draws near, sends his young brother Paolo to escort Francesca to Rimini. On the journey Paolo and Francesca fall in love with each other. When Giovanni discovers this, his jealous hand slays them. To such a tragic climax, Phillips drives steadily onward from the first scene, thus focusing the interest on a concrete dramatic situation.
Herod (1900) is a drama of ambition versus love. Herod, the great historic king of the Jews, though passionately in love with his wife Mariamne, sacrifices her brother Aristobulus to his suspicions, fearing that this young prince, the last of the Maccabees, may supplant him on the throne. This sacrifice, prompted by evil counselors, results in a train of tragic episodes, including Mariamne's death and Herod's madness. The lines in which Herod speaks of thinking in gold and dreaming in silver call to mind the hyperbole and music of Marlowe's mighty line.
Ulysses (1902), more of a panorama than a play, is founded on the Homeric story. Its scenes are laid in Olympus, in Hades, on Calypso's isle, and finally in Ithaca. Calypso tries to retain Ulysses upon her isle, beautiful—
“With sward of parsley and of violet
And poplars shimmering in a silvery dream.”
He struggles against her enchantment, returns home, finds his wife surrounded by her suitors, joins in their bow-drawing contest, and, in a most exciting and dramatic scene, surpasses all rivals and claims his faithful, beautiful Penelope.
The plays of Phillips not infrequently lack that clinching power that stretches the interest taut. Many scenes are admirably spectacular, suggestive of richly decorated tapestries, which hang separately in spacious rooms; but the plays need more forceful dramatic action, moving through changes to a climax. Phillips's diction, though sometimes rhetorical, is also often ornately beautiful and highly poetical. We feel that even in his plays, he is greater as a poet than as a dramatist.
Strong national feeling, interest in the folklore and peasant life of Ireland, and ambition to establish a national theater, have led to a distinct and original Irish drama. In 1899, with a fund of two hundred and fifty dollars, Lady Gregory, William Butler Yeats, G.W. Russell, and other playwrights and patrons succeeded in establishing in Dublin the Irish Literary Theater now known as the Irish National Theater.
The object of this theater is twofold. In the first place, it aims to produce “literary” plays, not the vapid, panoramic kind that merely pass away the time. In the second place, the Irish plays present fabled and historical Irish heroes and the humble Irish peasant.
Patriotism inspired many writers to assist in this national movement. Some gathered stories from the lips of living Irish-speaking peasants; others collected and translated into English the old legends of heroes. Dr. Douglas Hyde's translations of The Five Songs of Connacht (1894) and The Religious Songs of Connacht (1906) are valuable works and have greatly influenced the Irish writers.
Lady Augusta Gregory.—Lady Gregory, born in 1852, in Roxborough, County Galway, has made some of the best of these translations in her works, Cuchulain of Muirthemma, and Gods and Fighting Men. “These two books have come to many as a first revelation of the treasures buried in Gaelic literature, and they are destined to do much for the floating of old Irish story upon the world. They aim to do for the great cycles of Irish romance what Malory did for the Arthurian stories.”
Lady Gregory wrote also for the Irish Theater plays that have been acted successfully not only in Ireland but in England and in America. Among her best serious plays are The Gaol Gate (1906), a present-day play, the hero of which dies to save a neighbor, The Rising of the Moon (1907), and Grania (1912). McDonough's Wife (1913) is an excellent brief piece with an almost heroic note at the close. The great vagabond piper, McDonough, master of wonderful music, returns from wandering, to find his wife dead, and, because of his thriftlessness, about to be denied honorable burial. McDonough steps to the door, pipes his marvelous tunes, and immediately the village flocks to do homage to his wife.
Lady Gregory's farces have primarily made her fame. Spreading the News (1904), Hyacinth Halvey (1906), The Image (1910), and The Bogie Men (1913) are representative of her vigorous and well-constructed farces. They are varied in subject, the incidents are well developed, the characters are genuine Irish peasants and villagers, and the humor is infectious. It is interesting to note that Lady Gregory has continued to write farces because of the demand for them in the Irish National Theater, in order to offset the large number of tragedies by other authors.
William Butler Yeats.—In addition to delightful poetic fancy, Yeats possesses considerable dramatic ability and stagecraft. In The Countess Cathleen (rewritten in 1912), the poor peasants are driven by a famine to the verge of starvation. Many die; but some are fed by the Countess Cathleen, while others sell their souls for the price of food to demons disguised as merchants. When these demons steal Countess Cathleen's stores in order to stop her charities, with instant Irish quickness and generosity, she sells her soul for a great price to the demons, in order to save her people here and hereafter. Such a tremendous sacrifice, however, is not permitted. Because of the purity of her motive, armed angels save her soul in the last impressive act. Supernatural powers, both pagan and Christian, participate in the play. Spirits haunt the woods, enter the peasants' cottages, and cast spells on the inhabitants. The play is Irish in story, in symbolism, and in the fancifulness of the conception.
The Land of Heart's Desire is another drama that has sprung from the soil and folklore of Ireland. This play was one of the first Celtic dramas to be produced, and in its present revised form (1912) it is one of the most engaging of the Irish plays. Partly in prose and partly in verse, it is the story of a young bride who tires of her monotonous life and calls upon the fairies to release her. The old parents tell her that duty comes before love of the fairies.
The good priest begs her not to forsake her faithful young husband; but the fairy wins, and, leaving a dead bride in the cottage, bears away the living bride to a land where—
“The fairies dance in a place apart,
Shaking their milk-white feet in a ring,
Tossing their milk-white arms in the air;
For they have heard the wind laugh and murmur and sing
Of a land where even the old are fair,
And even the wise are merry of tongue.”
Patriotic love for Ireland is the very breath of Cathleen ni Hoolihan (1902), a one-act prose play in which Cathleen symbolizes Ireland. The Shadowy Waters (1900) and Deirdre (1907) are more poetic than dramatic. The first of these with the mysterious harper, the far-sailing into unknown seas, the parting with everything but the loved one, shows Yeats in his deeply mystical mood. In Deirdre is dramatized part of a popular legend of the great queen by that name, who was too beautiful for happiness. She has seven long years of joy and then accepts her fate in the calm, triumphant way of the old heroic times.
Yeats's plays reflect the childlike superstitions and lively imagination of his country. He loves the fairies, the dreams of eternal youth, the symbolizing of things of the spirit by lovely things of earth. His plays are poetical, fanciful, and romantic.
John Millington Synge.—One of the most notable of the Irish writers, J.M. Synge, was born near Dublin in 1871 and died in that city in 1909. His brief span of life has yielded only scanty biographical data. He came of an old Wicklow family; he was graduated from Trinity College, Dublin; afterwards he wandered through much of Europe, finally settling in France.
In 1899, William Butler Yeats discovered him in Paris, a “man all folded up in brooding intellect,” writing essays on French authors,—on Moliere, for example, from whom he learned the trick of characterization; on Racine, who taught him concentration; on Rabelais, who infected him with love of deep laughter. Yeats, suspecting that Synge could be an original writer as well as an interpreter of others, persuaded him to go back to Ireland, to the Aran Islands, off Galway. Synge discovered there a lost kingdom of the imagination, a place where spontaneous feeling and primitive imagination had not been repressed by the outside world's customs and discipline, and where the constant voice of the ocean, the touch of the mysterious, all-embracing mist, and the gleam of the star through a rift in the clouds banished all sense of difference between the natural and the supernatural.
When Synge died in his thirty-eighth year, he had written only six short plays, all between 1903 and 1909. Two of these, In the Shadow of the Glen and Riders to the Sea, contain only one act. The Tinker's Wedding has two acts, and the rest are three-act plays.
In the Shadow of the Glen, Riders to the Sea, and The Well of the Saints, produced respectively in 1903, 1904, and 1905, show that Synge came at once into full possession of his dramatic power. Even in his earliest written play, The Well of The Saints, we find a style stripped of superfluous verbiage and vibrant with emotion. In the Shadow of the Glen, his first staged play, consumes only a half hour. The scene is laid in a cabin far off in a lonely glen, and the four actors,—a woman oppressed by loneliness, an unfeeling husband who feigns death, and two visitors,—make a singularly well-knit impressive drama.
Riders to the Sea has been pronounced the greatest drama of the modern Celtic school. Some critics consider this the most significant tragedy produced in English since Shakespeare. Simple and impressive as a Greek tragedy, it has for its central figure an old mother whose husband and five sons have been lost at sea. The simple but poignant feeling of the drama focuses on the death of Maurya's sixth and last son, Bartley. This tragic episode, simply presented, touches the depths of human sympathy. In old Maurya, Synge created an impressive figure of what Macbeth calls “rooted sorrow.”
The Playboy of the Western World, produced first in 1907, is a three-act play. It is as fantastically humorous as the Riders to the Sea is tragical. Dread of his father ties this peasant to his stupid toil. A fearful deed frees the youth and throws him into the company of the lovely maiden, Pegeen, and admiring friends. The latent poetry and wild joy of living awake in him, and, under the spur of praise, he performs great feats. He who had never before dared to face girls, makes such love to Pegeen that poesy itself seems to be talking. The Playboy is one of the wildest conceptions of character in modern drama. His very extravagance compels interest. Pegeen is a fitting sweetheart for him. Her father is a stalwart figure, possessing a shrewd philosophy and rare strength of speech, as “fully flavored as nut or apple.” Some critics object to such a boisterous play, but they should remember that it is intended to be an extravagant peasant fantasia.
Deirdre of the Sorrows, another three-act play, produced first in 1910, tells the story of the beautiful princess Deirdre, of her isolated young life, and her seven years of perfect union with her lover Naisi. When her lover is slain, this true and tender queen of the North loosens the knot of life to accompany him.
Synge belongs in the first rank of modern dramatists. The forty Irish characters that he has created reveal the basal elements of universal human nature. His purpose is like Shakespeare's,—to reveal throbbing life, not to talk in his own person, nor to discuss problems. Synge has dramatized the primal hope, fear, sorrow, and loneliness of life. Although his plays are written in prose and have the distinctive flavor of his lowly characters, yet a recent critic justly says that Synge “for the first time sets English dramatic prose to a rhythm as noble as the rhythms of blank verse.”
The twentieth century shows two main lines of development,—the realistic and the romantic. The two leading essayists of the period, A.C. Benson and G.K. Chesterton, are both idealists and champions of religious faith.
Among the novelists, Conrad tells impressive stories of distant seas and shores; Bennett's strongest fiction gives realistic pictures of life in English industrial towns; Galsworthy's novels present the problems that affect the upper class of Englishmen; Wells writes scientific romances and sociological novels.
Some of the best poetry, full of the fascination of a dreamy far-off world, has been written by the Celtic poets, Yeats, Russell, and Fiona Macleod. Masefield and Gibson have produced much realistic verse about the life of the common toiler. Noyes has written Drake, a romantic epic, and a large amount of graceful lyrical verse, in some of which there is much poetic beauty.
The most distinctive work of recent times has been in the field of the drama. Pinero has improved its technique; Shaw has given it remarkable conversational brilliancy; Barrie has brought to it fancy and humor and sweetness; Galsworthy has used it to present social problems; Phillips has tried to restore to it the Elizabethan poetic spirit. The Celtic dramatists form a separate school. Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Synge have all written plays based on Irish life, folklore, or mythology. The plays of Synge, the greatest member of the group, reveal the universal primitive emotions of human beings.
Three distinctive moral influences in English literature specially impress us,—the call to strenuous manhood:—
”...this thing is God,
To be man with thy might,”
the increasing sympathy with all earth's children:—
“Ye blessed creatures, I have heard the call,
Ye to each other make,”
and the persistent expression of Anglo-Saxon faith. As we pause in our study, we may hear in the twentieth-century song of Alfred Noyes, the echo of the music from the loom of the Infinite Weaver:—
“Under the breath of laughter, deep in the tide of tears,
I hear the loom of the Weaver that weaves the Web of Years.”
REFERENCE FOR FURTHER STUDY
Kennedy's English Literature, 1880-1895 (Shaw, Wells, Fiona Macleod, Yeats).
Kelman's Mr. Chesterton's Point of View (in Among Famous Books).
Cooper's Some English Story Tellers.
Conrad's A Personal Record.
Phelps's Essays on Modern Novelists (De Morgan).
Yeats's Celtic Twilight.
Figgis's Studies and Appreciations (Mr. W.B. Yeats's Poetry. The Art of J.M. Synge.)
More's Drift of Romanticism (Fiona Macleod).
Borsa's The English Stage of To-day.
Jones's (Henry Arthur) The Foundation of a National Drama: A Collection of Essays, Lectures, and Speeches, Delivered and Written in the Years 1896-1912.
Hamilton's The Theory of the Theater.
Hunt's The Play of To-day.
Hale's Dramatists of To-day.
Henderson's George Bernard Shaw: His Life and Works, 2 vols.
Chesterton's George Bernard Shaw.
Weygandt's Irish Plays and Playwrights (excellent).
Krans's William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival.
Howe's J.M. Synge: A Critical Study.
Yeats's J.M. Synge and the Ireland of His Time (in The Cutting of an Agate, 1912).
Bickley's J.M. Synge and the Irish Dramatic Movement.
Elton's Living Irish Literature (in Modern Studies).
SUGGESTED READINGS WITH QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS
Essays.—From A.C. Benson, read one of these collections of essays: The Altar Fire, Beside Still Waters, Thy Rod and Thy Staff, and one or more of these biographies: Tennyson, John Ruskin, Rossetti(E.M.L.), Walter Pater (E.M.L.); from Chesterton, one of these collections of essays: Varied Types, Heretics, Orthodoxy, and one or more of these biographies: George Bernard Shaw, Charles Dickens, Robert Browning (E.M.L.). For other twentieth-century essays, see the preceding bibliography and the paragraph following this.
The Novel.—From Conrad, read Youth, Typhoon, Lord Jim; from Bennett, The Old Wives' Tale, Clayhanger; from Galsworthy, The Man of Property, The Patrician; from Wells, The Time Machine, Kipps, The Future in America (essay); from Phillpotts, Children of the Mist, Demeter's Daughter; from Hewlett, Life and Death of Richard Yea and Nay, The Stooping Lady; from Quiller-Couch, The Splendid Spur, The Delectable Duchy; from De Morgan, Joseph Vance, Somehow Good; from Locke, The Beloved Vagabond, The Adventures of Aristide Pujol; from Zangwill, The Children of the Ghetto, The Melting Pot (play).
Poetry.—From The Poetical Works of William B. Yeats (Macmillan), read The Wanderings of Oisin, The Lake Isle of Innisfree, The Hosting of the Sidhe, The Voice of the Waters; from Fiona Macleod's Poems and Dramas (Duffield), The Vision, The Lonely Hunter, The Rose of Flame; from Masefield, the part of Dauber describing the rounding of Cape Horn, beginning p. 119, in The Story of a Round-House (Macmillan); from Gibson's Fires (Macmillan), The Crane, The Machine; from Noyes's Poems (Macmillan, 1906), The Song of Re-Birth, The Barrel Organ, Forty Singing Seamen, The Highwayman; Book II from his Drake: An English Epic (Stokes).
The Drama.—From Jones, read The Manoeuvers of Jane, Mrs. Dane's Defence (Samuel French); from Pinero, The Amazons, The School Mistress, or Sweet Lavender (W.H. Baker); from Shaw's Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant (Brentano), Candida, You Never Can Tell, Arms and the Man from Barrie, Peter Pan, What Every Woman Knows; from Galsworthy, Strife, Joy, The Little Dream; from Phillips, Marpessa (poem), Ulysses (Macmillan), Herod ; from Lady Gregory's, Seven Short Plays (Putnam), The Gaol Gate, Spreading the News; from her New Comedies (Putnam, 1913),McDonough's Wife, The Bogie Men; from Yeats's Poetical Works, Vol. II. (Macmillan), The Land of Heart's Desire, Countess Cathleen; from Synge, Riders to the Sea, The Playboy of the Western World, Deirdre of the Sorrows (John W. Luce).
Questions and Suggestions.—Stevenson's The Home Book of Verse and The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse contain selections from a number of the poets. McCarthy's Irish Literature, 10 vols., gives selections from work written prior to 1904. The majority of the indicated readings can be found only in the original works of the authors.
Give an outline of the most important thoughts from one essay and one biography, by both Benson and Chesterton.
What distinctive subject matter do you find in each of the novelists? How do same reflect the spirit of the age?
What are the chief characteristics of each of the poets? What does the phrase “Celtic Renaissance” signify?
In brief, what had the drama accomplished from the time of the closing of the theaters in 1642 to 1890? What distinctive contributions to the modern drama have Pinero, Shaw, and Barrie made? Describe the work of Lady Gregory, Yeats, and Synge. In what does Synge's special power consist?
FOOTNOTES TO CHAPTER X:
[Footnotes 1-11: Printed by permission of The Macmillan Company.]
[Footnotes 12-13: Printed by permission of Frederick A. Stokes Company.]
[Footnotes 14-15: Printed by permission of the Macmillan Company.]
[Footnote 16: Krans's William Butler Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival.]
[Footnotes 17-18: Printed by permission of The Macmillan Company.]