English Literature

Bruce A. McMenomy, Ph.D. for Scholars Online
2018-19: Wednesdays, 11:00 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Eastern Time


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Unit IV: The Age of Reason

Week 16
Please read:

Historical background (pp. 315-319).

After you have finished reading the historical survey, please take the background quiz for the unit.

John Dryden:

Those who come to this course by way of Western Literature to Dante (formerly English I) might also be interested to know that John Dryden was also highly regarded as a translator. His translation of Vergil's Aeneid (available here in several formats through the University of Pennsylvania) was the standard English version for many generations, and his translation of Plutarch's Parallel Lives, available here at the MIT Classics Archive, is still commonly in use.

Samuel Pepys, Diary, sel., pp. 325-331.

Jonathan Swift:

Daniel Defoe:

Defoe's books have not invariably won a lot of critical acclaim, but they have been extremely popular with readers since they were first published. Here you may read:

Richard Steele, from The Spectator, p. 358-361.

Joseph Addison, from The Spectator, p. 365-370.

Addison and Steele produced The Spectator from 1711 to 1712. Think of it as a kind of ancestor of the blogs. Both were extraordinary writers and superb stylists, though personally I like Addison a bit better. Here is the whole of The Spectator, with original formatting and capitalization, footnotes, and translation helps. Number 10 is one of my favorites, published after about two weeks of daily issues: you need to read carefully to catch the irony Addison is using, but it's worthwhile.

Macaulay, "The London Coffeehouses", pp. 361-364.

"Themes in English Literature: London", p. 371.