Katherine Mansfield

The genre of the realistic short story in the early twenties is best represented by Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923). She was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and went to England to finish her education. Her first writings were published in "The New Age" to which she became a regular contributor. Her first book "In a German Pension" was published in 1911. It was a collection of short stories that had appeared in "The New Age".
In 1912 Katherine Mansfield began collaboration with the well-known critic and editor, John Middleton Murry, who was then running a literary review called "Rhythm". Murry, whom she married in 1918, encouraged and cultivated her obvious talent, which expressed itself best in deeply psychological stories. In 1918 she wrote «Prelude", a rather long story in which her originality was first fully apparent, and which soon became famous. “Bliss and Other Stories", her second book, was not published until 1921. It was a success, and her third collection, "The Garden Party and Other Stories" appeared a year later. It was the last of her writings to be published in her lifetime.
Katherine Mansfield had suffered from tuberculosis since 1917 and died in France in January, 1923, at the age of thirty- four. Two more collections of stories were published after her death, also her “Letters" and her “Journal.”
The stories by Katherine Mansfield are not tales of violent action, nor have they complicated plots. She reveals human conduct in quite ordinary situations. The men, women and children, whom Katherine Mansfield portrays in delicate colours, do not take part in sensational events, yet they are vivid and true to life. Katherine Mansfield's style was often compared to the style of Chekhov. Like Chekhov she has an eye for the subtleties of human conduct and the dramatic effect of her stories is based on significant little details, which play an important role in the lives of her personages.
Katherine Mansfield declares that life must be taken as it is. Yet in spite of the objectivity she proclaims, the reader can easily feel her sympathies and antipathies. She is very sensitive to class distinctions, and her sympathy is always on the side of the have-nots. Besides that, any kind of egoism and pretence on the part of her bourgeois characters is treated with ironic objectivity. "A Cup of Tea" is representative in this respect.
The principal character, Rosemary Fell, is stopped in the street by a girl who asks her for the price of a cup of tea. And imagining how she would boast of her gesture "out of a novel by Dostoyevsky", Rosemary brings the poor girl home to let her have a cup of tea there. But after a remark made by her husband that the girl was pretty, Rosemary's patronizing eagerness to help her disappears as suddenly as it came. The secret unhappiness of Rosemary's own life, which produced such a jealous feeling at her husband's remark, makes her fear that the young woman might become her rival. In her stories Katherine Mansfield wishes to show the complexity of life.
She regarded Chekhov as her literary teacher. Some of her stories even repeat the plots of stories by Chekhov She translated Chekhov's diaries and letters. She once called herself "the English Chekhov" But the general tendency, widely spread in her time, of depicting only the "private world" of people makes her social horizon narrow and makes her a writer on a smaller scale than Chekhov.

W.S. Maugham

William Somerset Maugham was born in Paris in 1874. His parents died when he was very little and the boy was brought up by his uncle, a clergyman. The boy must have taken after his father, who had been fond of travelling. It was William's cherished dream to see different continents. As soon as he got the opportunity he set out to realize his dream.
After his parents’ death the boy was taken away from the French school which he had attended, and went daily for his lessons to the apartment of the English clergyman attached to the Embassy.
At the age often the boy was sent to England to attend school. In 1890 he went abroad and studied at the University of Heidelberg, from which he returned in 1892. As his parents had destined him for the medical profession, he became a medical student at St. Thomas's hospital in London, it was a valuable experience to him, because he was sure that there was no better training for a writer than to spend some years in the medical profession.
His experience in treating the sick in the slums of the working class areas gave Maugham material for his first work, "Liza of Lambeth" (1897), a realistic novel characterized by a powerful photographic portraiture of life, which shocked the conventional tastes of philistine bourgeois readers After that, though he had taken his degree in medicine and had become a fully qualified doctor, he decided to devote himself to literature.
Soon after the publication of his first novel Maugham went to Spain and then travelled to all pans of the world. He visited Russia, America, Africa, Asia and the Polynesian Islands, and wherever he was, he always sought material for his books. He was a keen observer of life and individuals.
Somerset Maugham has written twenty-four plays, nineteen novels and a large number of short stories, in addition to travel works and an autobiography.
Few of his plays have stood the test of time. He is primarily a short -story writer and a novelist. The most mature period of Maugham's literary career began in 1915, when he published one of his most popular novels, "Of Human Bondage".
The revolt of the individual against the accepted conventions of society is a theme which has always fascinated Somerset Maugham. It inspired his next novel "The Moon and Sixpence" (1919), which makes use of some outstanding episodes in the life of the artist Paul Gauguin (though it cannot be regarded as his biography). The hero of the novel, Charles Strickland, is a prosperous stockbroker. At the beginning of the book the reader sees him with the eyes of a young writer, the narrator of the novel:
"He looked commonplace... he was just a good, dull honest, plain man. One would admire his excellent qualities, but avoid his company. He was null. He was probably a worthy member of society, a good husband and father, an honest broker; but there was no reason to waste one's time over him."
"The Stricklands were an average family in the middle class. A pleasant, hospitable woman, with a harmless craze for the small lions of literary society; a rather dull man, doing his duty in that state of life in which a merciful Providence had placed him; two nice-looking, healthy children. Nothing could be more ordinary, I do not know that there was anything about them to excite the attention of the curious." All those who came in touch with the Stricklands were taken by surprise and puzzled when they learned that Charles Strickland, at the age of forty, had given up his wife and children and gone to Paris to study art. Strickland was aware of the hardships in store for him, but his desire to paint was so strong that no arguments were convincing enough to make him alter his decision to devote his life to art: "I tell you I've got to paint I can't help myself."
Strickland's life in Paris was "a bitter struggle against every sort of difficulty, but the hardships did not affect him. He was indifferent to comfort. Canvas and paints were the only things he needed. Strickland did not care for fame. Nor did he care for wealth. He never sold his pictures. He lived in a dream, and reality meant nothing to him.
His only aim in life was to create beauty. Finally he left France for Tahiti, where he lived up to his death from leprosy. Not long before his terrible death he realized his lifelong dream.
The pictures on the walls of his house were his masterpiece. "He had achieved what he wanted. His life was complete. He had made a world and saw that it was good. Then in pride and contempt, he destroyed it."
Maugham is impartial to his characters. They are neither all good nor ail bad. People, in Maugham's opinion, "are all a hotchpotch of greatness and littleness, of virtue and vice, of nobility and baseness... Selfishness and kindness, idealism and sensuality, vanity, shyness, disinterestedness, courage, laziness, nervousness, obstinacy and diffidence; they can all exist in a single person and form a plausible harmony."
The reader dislikes Strickland as a human being: he is selfish, cruel, pitiless and cynical. He loves no one. He does not care for his wife and children, and brings misfortune to all the people he conies in touch with. But, on the other hand, the reader appreciates him as a talented artist, a creator of beauty. His passionate devotion to art arouses our admiration.
Other most prominent works by Somerset Maugham are the novels: "Cakes and Ale" (1930), "Theatre" (1937) and "The Razor's Edge" (1944). Somerset Maugham was a success not only as a novelist but as a short-story writer as well. He produced some of the finest stories in modern English literature. They are usually very sincere, interesting, well-constructed and logically developed ("Rain and Other Stories").
Many of Maugham's stones are set in foreign lands where the author was as easily at home as he was in his native England. They were inspired by his travels in China, Malaya, Borneo, Siam and many other countries.
His rich experience in life and deep insight into human nature gave Maugham an analytical and critical quality which found its expression in the vivid depictions of characters and situations. Maugham believes that the charm of the story lies in its interesting plot and exciting situation. His own stones convey deep thought, keen observation and sharpness of characterization. Maugham was strongly influenced by De Maupassant and Chekhov in his story- writing. Like his great predecessors, he shows us people of various occupations and belonging to different social groups.
His sympathy invariably lies with common people.
Though Somerset Maugham does not give a broad panorama of contemporary society and does not go deep into social problems, he shows many different aspects of life.
Every story and novel by Maugham is a piece of vivid realism, original and exciting.

The 20th century

The Twenties
The years between 1917 and 1930 form the first period. This was the time when the crisis of the bourgeois world reached its highest point and revolutions took place in several countries in Russia, in Germany and in Hungary. The general strike of 1926 revealed the seriousness of the class battles in Britain.
A symbolic method of writing had already started early in the 20th century. It was in the twenties, along with work of Critical Realism produced by Shaw, Wells and Galsworthy, that there appeared writers who refused to acknowledge reality as such. They would not believe that the mind of man reflected reality- nature and society. They would not believe that social relations between people influenced not only the formation of character in individuals, but also historical events. They thought reality to be superficial,- it was only a world of appearances. These writers called the inner psychological process "the stream of consciousness" and based a new literary technique upon it.
The most important author to use this new literary technique was James Joyce (1882-1941).
He influenced many writers on both sides of the Atlantic. James Joyce, a native of Ireland, spent nearly all his life in voluntary exile. He could not live in his own country for it was enslaved by England. This fact may partly explain his pessimistic view on life, which is reflected in his work.
The portrayal of the stream of consciousness as a literary technique is particularly evident in his major novel "Ulysses" (1922). The task he set before himself was to present a day in ordinary life as a miniature picture of the whole of human history; his characters being not only individuals but also universal representations of mankind in general. Therefore the text of "Ulysses" is a combination of different manners of writing and different styles. The actual characters of the book are often associated with people existing on the memories of the character, or with literary, historical and mythological figures. All this is intended by the author as a demonstration of the thesis that all manifestations of life are "programmed" in the subconscious mind.
Among the writers of short stories who used the realistic method were Katherine Mansfield and Somerset Maugham. Though the works of these writers differ very much in their artistic approach, their authors had one feature in common: to them the stability of the existing social and political order seemed unquestionable.
The Thirties
The second period in the development of English literature was the decade between 1930 and
World War II. The world economic crisis spread over the whole capitalist world in the beginning of the thirties. The Hunger March of the unemployed in 1933 was a memorable event in Britain. The unemployed marched from Glasgow to London holding meetings in every town they passed.
In Germany Hitler came to power in 1933. In 1936 the fascist mutiny of General Franco led to Civil War in Spain. The struggle of the Spanish people was supported by the democratic and anti-fascist forces all over the world. An International Brigade was formed, which fought side by side with the Spanish People's Army against the common enemy – fascism.
The Second World War broke out in 1939. When the Germans began massive bombing air raids 1940, England was on the verge of defeat. However, later developments brought a change.
A new generation of realist writers, among them Richard Aldington, J.B. Priestley and A.J. Cronin appeared on the literary scene. The feeling of important change and the heroic spirit of the anti-fascist struggle found its outlet in the first place in the development of poetry. The trio of poets (Auden, Spender and Day Lewis) inaugurated the new movement which sought to fuse poetry and politics. They stood out as representative figures, and on the whole they held this position till the year 1938. Then the crisis of the movement began. This group, usually known as the Oxford Poets was very popular in its time. But the movement did not last long as these poets could not see the new forms and contents of an art which would replace bourgeois art Richard Aldington (1892-1962) was born in the family of a lawyer. He studied at London University, but had to leave it because of strained circumstances. He worked as a sporting reporter of a newspaper, then he turned to writing poetry (1910-1915). His poems were published in the collection "Images Old and New." He took part in World War I. He returned shell-shocked and penniless.
Soon he began to work as a critic in the literary supplement to "The Times". He also published poems and literary research work. The years 1929-1939 were the most fruitful ones in Aldington's literary career. During these years he wrote and published seven novels. The best of them are: "Death of a Hero"(1929), "The Colonel's Daughter" (1931),"All Men Are Enemies"(1933), "Women Must Work"(1934), "Very Heaven" (1937). At that time he also published short stories and poems.
Before World War II Aldington moved to the USA where he published a lot of novels, poems, biographies.
His most famous novel is "Death of a Hero". In this novel the author tries to reproduce the tragedy of the "lost generation". He shows different sides of the life of English society during the war as well as in the post-war period. This book was one of the strongest anti-war novels of the time and it brought the author world fame. The novel tells about the life of a young English intellectual who suffers a great disappointment in everything around him. He commits suicide in the last battle of the war. War and its consequences, the problems of the post-war life, the menace of a new war- are the main themes of Aldington's works. Aldington believes in man, in the solidarity of the people, he protests against social evil, criticizes contemporary England.
John Boynon Priestley (1894-1984) was born in Bradford and was educated at Cambridge University. He was famous as a novelist, a critic and a dramatist. In total Priestley produced over 60 books and more than 40 plays. His wide-ranging interest in England and the English character and his appeal to "the man in the street" made him one of the most popular "middlebrow" authors of the 20th century. However, it was with his first novel "The Good Companions" (1929) that he achieved his first popular success. During the twenties Priestley wrote several volumes of criticism and several novels In 1931 Priestley turned to writing plays. The most well - known among them are:" Dangerous Corner" (1932), "I Have Been There Before" (1937), "Time and the Conways" (1937).
In 1937 Priestley became president of the London Pen club, and during World War II he was a successful broadcaster.
Post-War publications include novels "Festival at Fabridge" (1951), "Saturn Over the Water"(1961), "It's an Old Country"(1967) and numerous volumes of criticism, "The Art of the Dramatist" (1957), "Literature and Western Man" (1960). He also wrote his autobiography ("Martin Released" (1962), "Instead of the Trees" (1977).
Archibald Joseph Cronin (1896-1981) was born in Scotland In 1914 he began to study medicine at Glasgow University However, his studies were interrupted by World War I, when he served in the Navy as a surgeon. In 1919 he graduated from the University and went to India as ship’s surgeon on a liner. After that he worked in hospitals in different towns of Scotland. After his marriage in 1921 he started his practice in South Wales, where he got acquainted with the life of miners and came to sympathize with them. He studied hard to receive higher medical degrees. In 1924 he was appointed Medical Inspector of Mines and a year later he got his MD (Doctor of Medicine) degree. Then he started practice in the West End of London. In 1930 Cronin’s health broke down, and he was unable to practice medicine any longer. He decided to try his hand in literature. After the publication of his 1st novel “The Hatters Castle", which was a great success, Cronin became a writer. His most prominent works are: “The Stars Look Down" (1935), "The Citadel'" (1937). In "The Citadel" as in many novels of the later period, Cronin deals with the life and work of an intellectual (usually a medical man). He shows that the profession of a doctor, honourable and important as it is often regarded only as a means of making money. Andrew Manson, the main character of the novel, has to face the alternative: either to prosper at the expense of others or to do his best to help poor suffering people and so be doomed to poverty "The Citadel" is a social novel It is considered to be Cronin's masterpiece. The book describes different aspects of life in the first half of the 20th century, which the author knew well from his own experience.
The Forties
After World War II there appeared young writers like James Aldridge, who were full of optimism, and mature writers, who had passed through a certain crisis, but who worked to discover humanism with a positive set of values. Such a writer is Graham Greene. James Aldridge was born in 1918 in Australia in the family of an English writer and journalist. He spent his childhood in Australia and on the Isle of Man (near Scotland) in his mother's ancient house. He started to work at the age of 14 as a messenger boy in Melbourne, combining his work with studies. Moving over to England in 1939 he entered Oxford University. At the age of 21 he was sent to Finland as a war correspondent. In the years of World War II he was a war correspondent. He visited Norway, Greece, Egypt, Libya, lran, the Soviet Union. Aldridge's first novel "Signed with their Honour" appeared in 1942. It gives a vivid picture of a national liberation movement in Greece.
In his next novel "The Sea Eagle" (1944) he continues the tragic story of Greece in the days of World War II. Aldridge's best novel "The Diplomat" (1949) was awarded the Gold Medal of Peace in 1953 It was one of the most significant phenomena in English post-war literature. Aldridge is also the author of a number of talented stories. The best among them is "The Last Inch" (1957).
Henry Graham Greene (1904-1991) was born in Hertfordshire, he was educated at Oxford. He was a newspaper correspondent, an editor, a critic, a novelist, a dramatist, a short story writer.
During World War II he worked for the Foreign Office, mainly in Sierra Leone (1941-1943). A key event in Greene's life was his conversion to Roman Catholicism (1926). Graham Greene created a large number of novels of different genres, including thrillers ("The Man Within" (1929), "Stamboul Train" (1932), entertaining novels (" The Confidential Agent"(1939), "Loser Takes All" (1955), "Our Man in Havana" (1958),etc), Catholic novels (" The Power and the Glory" (1940), "The Heart of the Matter" (1948), "The Quiet American" (1955), "The Comedians"(1966), etc.)
Graham Greene also published several volumes of short stories: "The Basement Room and other Stories" (1935), "Nineteen Stories"(1947), "Twenty-One Stones"(1954), etc.
The Fifties
In the fifties there appeared a very interesting trend in literature, the followers of which were called "The Angry Young Men". The post-war changes had given a chance to a large number of young people from the more democratic layers of society to receive higher education at universities. But on graduating, these students found they had no prospects in life. Unemployment had increased after the war and besides that, English society continued to follow the old conservative rules of life and apparently did not need them No one was interested to learn what their ideas on life and society were. They felt deceived and became angry with everything and everybody. Outstanding writers of this trend were John Wain, Kingsley Amis, and the dramatist John Osborne.
John Osborue (b.1929) was the leader of the Angry Young Men. He is famous for his plays "Look Back in Anger"(1956), 'The Entertainer"(1957), “A Patriot For Me" (1966), “The Hotel In Amsterdam” (1968), "Watch Come Down" (19760 and others, and he also wrote his autobiography "A Better Class of Person" (1981).
The Sixties
Modern literature that began in the sixties saw a new type of criticism in the cultural life of Britain. This criticism was revealed in the "working-class" novel", as it was called. These novels deal with character coming from the working class, but they have a petty-bourgeois psychology. The best known writer of this trend is Alan Silitoe (b. 1928). He distinguished himself as a novelist and as a poet. His first novel was "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning'(1958). It brought the author success. It was followed by "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner"(I959),"The General"(1960), the trilogy "The Death of William Posters"(1965),"A Tree on Fire" (1967), and "The Flame of Life" (1974). His most recent novels are "The Lost Flying Boat"(1983), "Down from the Hill" (1984), "Life Goes On"(1985).

John Galsworthy and "The Forsyte Saga"

John Galsworthy was one of the last representatives of Critical Realism in English literature. He was a novelist, dramatist, short story writer and essayist taken together. His works give the most complete and critical picture of English bourgeois society at the beginning of the 20th century.
The author deals with contemporary social problems. He is critical of injustice, tyranny and all the evils of life, but his criticism is not destructive: he himself was too much a member of the privileged classes to wish to rebuild the world he lived in. His characters are mostly of the upper middle class and the aristocracy with which he was wholly familiar Galsworthy tried to revive the realistic traditions of his predecessors -"the brilliant school of English novelists".
His mastery as a writer lies in his keen criticism of national prejudices, his exciting pints and a realistic observation of life and characters.
The writer was born at Coombe, Surrey, on August 14, 1867. He came from a well-to-do bourgeois family. His father was a rich lawyer, and he wanted his son to follow the career John studied law at Oxford, but he was more interested in literature than in law. Probably due to this fact he gave up his practice a year after graduation and went travelling all over the world.
In 1891 Galsworthy came to the Crimea. His stay in Russia, short as it was, produced a deep impression upon the future writer and awakened his interest in the country, its people and literature.
Though the profession of a lawyer was considered to be more honourable and more profitable than that of a writer, Galsworthy gave up law for literature. His cherished desire was to expose all the evils of society and to reveal the truth of life, and he hoped that the profession of a writer would help him to realize his lifelong dream.
Galsworthy enjoyed popularity in his lifetime. Much of his energy was devoted to the Pen-club, an association of writers of which he was president until his death in 1933

His Literary Work
Galsworthy was no longer young when he started writing. His first notable work was "The Island Pharisees" (1904) in which he attacked the stagnation of thought in the English privileged classes, with their avoidance of any emotion, and their preference for a dull settled way of living. The five works that followed ( "The Country House" (1907), "Fraternity" (1909),"The Patrician (1911), "The Dark Flower"(1913) and "The Freelands"(1915) reveal a similar philosophy. The author criticizes country squires, the aristocracy and artists, and shows his deep sympathy for strong passions, sincerity, true love Galsworthy's masterpiece is, however, the trilogy entitled "The Forsyte Saga". It consists of three novels and two interludes, as the author calls them:
"The Man of Property" (1906)
"In Chancery"(1920)
"To Let"(1921)
"Awakening "(interlude)
"Indian Summer of a Forsyte" (interlude)
"The Forsyte Saga" is followed by "A Modern Comedy", also a trilogy, consisting of
three novels and two interludes:
"The White Monkey" (1924)
"The Silver Spoon"(1926)
"The Swan Song" (1928)
"A Silent Wooing" (interlude)
"Passers-By"( interlude).
The trilogy called "End of the Chapter" was written at a later period. It consists of the
following novels:
"Maid in Waiting"
"Flowering Wilderness"
"Over the River".
In the first trilogy, which was written in the most mature period of his literary activity, Galsworthy mercilessly attacks the commercial world of the Forsytes, and in particular, the main character, Soames Forsyte, "the man of property".
In his later works, "A Modern Comedy" and The End of the Chapter", written after World War I Galsworthy's criticism becomes less sharp. The old generation of the Forsytes does not seem so bad to the author as compared to the new one. During his progress through six novels and four interludes Soames becomes almost a positive character, in spite of the author's critical attitude towards him at the beginning of the Saga.
Galsworthy is also known as a playwright. His plays deal with burning problems of contemporary life. The author describes the hard life of workers ("Strife"), attacks cruel regime in English prisons ("Justice"), expresses his indignation towards wars ("The Mob"), rejects the colonial policy of British imperialism ("The Forest"), and presents some other aspects of capitalist evils and injustice. Galsworthy's plays were very popular, but it is thanks to "The Forsyte Saga" he became one of the greatest figures in the world literature.

"The Forsyte Saga"
"The Forsyte Saga" is a history of three generations of the the Forsyte family from the eighties of the 19th century up to the twenties of the 20th century. "The Man of Property" shows two successive generations of a rich upper middle class family at the end of the 19th century. It is a social novel: the author shows the Forsyte family as a small unit of English upper middle class society of his own time. The Forsytes possess all the features typical of their class as a whole, and they have to obey the laws which govern it. He who dares to disobey these laws is ostracized by society.
Characteristic features of the Forsytes are: extreme individualism, egoism, an ability never to give themselves away, contempt for everything foreign, a strong sense of property, money worship, tenacity, snobbery, practicality.
The collision between the sense of property and money worship on the one hand, and true love and a keen sense of beauty on the other hand, motivates the plot of the novel Soames Forsyte- the man of property- is the main character of the novel. He is an embodiment of the spirit of society where the cult of property rules the world. He is sure that everything in the world can be bought with money. He regards not only his pictures, houses and investments as his property but even his wife.
Soames is unable to comprehend that all his property, large as it is, cannot make Irene love him. The other members of the family are unable to understand it either. In their opinion the very fact that Irene has no fortune of her own is enough to make it her duty to love and obey her rich husband. That is the Forsytes' conception of love and marriage.
Only when Irene left him and he realized that she was penniless, that she had taken nothing that he or his people had given her, he came to understand how deeply she hated him In Galsworthy's opinion property is "an empty shell". Soames' fate confirms this idea: rich as he was, he was not happy.

Herbert Wells

Herbert George Wells is often called the great English writer who looked into the future. Indeed, he was the first to warn the bourgeois world of a great danger. He watched with anxiety the chaotic use of scientific achievements and said that if the countries of the world went on living without state planning, and people did not develop a feeling of responsibility for the fate of others, then future generations would meet with great suffering and destruction Surely, there is no greater destruction than a scientific destruction Wells guessed what might happen In imagination he saw our planet circling round the sun, ruined and lifeless Herbert George Wells was born in the small town of Bromley, now a section of Greater London. He was the second son in the family of three boys He was born on the 21st of. September, 1866. His mother had been a lady’s maid, and his father had been a gardener. Later the father became a shopkeeper. At the same time he was a professional player of the national English game of cricket.
Herbert was eight years old when one day, while on the cricket field with his father, he met with an accident and broke his leg. While his leg was healing, he took to reading books and got acquainted with natural history. From that time on, the world that had seemed to Herbert limited by Bromley, expanded; and it never ceased expanding as long as he lived. Herbert's mother wished him to become a shopman. He was sent to the Town of South Sea to be trained in a drapery shop. But he longed for a higher education He could not stand his life and ran away before his training was up His life at that time was a constant struggle for learning and for an opportunity to make a living.
There was a grammar school near London where Wells took his chance as a schoolmaster in natural sciences He lived in the school and getting up at five in the morning worked hard at books on science The result was that his pupils entered universities with excellent marks Wells meant to go on teaching, but suddenly he was offered a year's biological course in teacher training He would study under professor Julian Huxley at the Normal School of Science in London University With this professor. Wells was able to satisfy his thirst for knowledge. All his life biology remained the science that interested him most. It influenced most of his works.
Wells had a restless mind. He was always energetic, he talked about everything, he had ideas about everything. His generous nature combined science with social problems He and his fellow students went to the meetings of the Fabian Society. They were inspired by the speeches of Bernard Shaw.
Students of the Normal School were the first in England to get a stipend, but the sum was so small that Wells could not afford dinner more than three times a week and gradually his health tailed Day by day he got weaker and weaker.
On leaving the University he had to resume his teaching career in another town at a little school. Soon an accident in the playing ground forced him to give up his work. During the long illness which followed, Wells took to writing articles for the papers in order to live. Then writing took hold of Wells and he could not give it up. He started with short critical articles and then began to write on science Wells had a universal mind. He became a famous writer. In 1893 Wells married Catherine Robbins. Having also been a student of biology, she understood Wells and became his lifelong friend. She was a severe critic of his writings and at the same time his assistant, his efficient secretary and typist.
The First World War brought about a crisis in the outlook of the great writer. At the beginning he believed that the war would teach all nations to live in peace and that the peoples of the world would want to build up a new society. He expressed his ideas on the imperialist war in a series of articles. They were later collected in one book called "The War That Will End War" (1914).

The Great October Social Revolution of 1917 shook wells to the core. In the autumn of 1920 he made a trip to Russia, with a view to organizing help for her. He had a conversation with Lenin which he described in his book “Russia in the Shadows.” The title meant that Russia was as yet unknown to the western world, but it would soon develop its resources and culture and come out into the sunlight.
Fourteen years later Wells visited the Soviet Union again and he was surprised at the enormous improvements achieved to such a short time.
During the Second World War Wells wrote against fascism. When the war was over, he saw with great disappointment that the human mind was unable to triumph over the power or technological destruction that threatened the existence of mankind. It was only to be hoped that a better human race would one day inhabit this planet.
Wells lived nearly 80 years. He died on the 13th of August, 1940.

Herbert Wells devoted more than fifty years of his life to literary work. He was the author of more than forty novels and many short stones, articles and social tracts. His novels are of three types science fiction, realistic novels on contemporary problems and social tracts in the form of novels.
Wells belonged to the world of science. It played an important role in his best works, but the principal theme, even in these works is not science but the social problems of the day. His creative work is divided into two periods:
The first period begins in 1895 and lasts up to the outbreak of the great imperialist war. World War I His famous works are:
The Time Machine (1895)
The Invisible Man (1897)
The War of the Worlds (1897)
The First Men in the Moon (1901) and other works.
The second period comprises works written from 1914 up to the end of World War II. His most important works are:
The War That Will End War (1914)
Russia in the Shadows (1920)
The World of William Clissold (1926)
Mr Blettsworthy on Rampole Island (1928)
Experiment in Autobiography (1934) and many other works.
Wells' best works are his science fiction. They give the reader a forward-looking habit, and this is exactly the aim of the writer. He believed in the great liberation that science could bring to man, but he blamed the bourgeois system because it used scientific achievements for evil ends.
In the novels of the 2nd period Wells combines the criticism of society as a whole with the life of an individual. Thus Wells keeps up the tradition of Critical Realism in the English novel. The works of Herbert Wells are rather satirical than utopian. They are pessimistic on the whole and can be characterized as anti-utopia.

George Bernard Show and "Pygmalion"

One of the greatest realistic writers in world literature was George Bernard Shaw A great publicist and dramatist, he was always in the midst of political life in Britain. He took an active part in solving human problems, and he was deeply moved by questions of war and peace.
Bernard Shaw was born in 1856 in Dunlin, the capital of Ireland .As a boy he seldom saw his parents His father was occupied in a business which was almost bankrupt, and his mother devoted all her time to musical interests.
Bernard Shaw had a well-educated uncle, a clergyman with whom he read the classics So when he entered school at the age often, he was much advanced and did better than all other pupils in English composition But the school course of studies was so dull for him that he soon got tired of it and took refuge in idleness His parents made him change schools, but everywhere the old-fashioned dull books were the same, and they did not arouse the boy's interest. He educated himself by reading and by studying foreign language. His mother, who had a very good voice, taught her son singing. At the age of fifteen Shaw went to work as a clerk. He came in contact with the common people and saw all the stages of poverty into which the Irish peasants had fallen. Shaw took a great interest in social movements and politics. He called himself an Irish proletarian. When the first socialist organizations appeared, he joined the Socialists.
In 1876 Bernard Shaw moved to London, where his mother had been making a living by giving music lessons. While in Dublin, Shaw had wanted to go in for art and study music, but in London he gave up this idea and decided to try his hand at writing. He realized that the object of literature was to form people's minds, to solve human problems, to lead people in social struggles.
When the Fabian Society was being organized, Shaw took an active part in it. He wrote the manifesto for the Society and many pamphlets and articles on Socialism.
Along with political articles Shaw also wrote novels. By the end of the century he had written five novels.
In 1885 Shaw was invited to review books, new plays and exhibitions for the "Pall Mall Gazette". His knowledge of music made him an independent critic of the opera as well. His artistic taste was excellent.
Early in the nineties Bernard Shaw staged his first play "Widowers' Houses", which dealt with the slums of London. The play had the effect of a sharp political pamphlet. After that other plays followed.
When the Boer War broke out, Shaw like many other Fabians, did not protest against it. But when World War I broke out, Shaw wrote a strongly-worded pamphlet against militarism- "Common Sense About the War".
Bernard Shaw sympathized with Russia at the time of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. Early in the twenties Bernard Shaw wrote many political pamphlets and became more interested in world affairs and in the question of peace than in England's home affairs. All his articles showed him to be a friend of the Soviet Union. He visited our country in 1931 and enjoyed a hearty welcome. His 75th birthday was celebrated in Moscow Bernard Shaw died at his country home in Hertfordshire, on November 2, 1950, at the age of ninety-four.
The creative work of Bernard Shaw is divided into two periods. The first period begins in 1879 and lasts till World War I. His literary work of the period comprises five novels and a number of pamphlets, critical articles on art, and plays.
The most important plays are:
- Plays Unpleasant (3 plays): Widower's Houses, The Philanderer, Mrs. Warren's Profession
- Plays Pleasant (4 plays)
- Three Plays for Puritans
- Man and Superman
- John Bull's Other Island
- Major Barbara
All together 22 plays were written between 1879 and 1918.
The works of the first period expose the vices of capitalist society. They also reveal human psychology as a product of this society. There are no heroes in the plays. The principal character is society itself. When dealing with the social problems, Shaw exposes the social institutions, such as the Government, the Church and marriage. He makes a point of the fact that often there is no democracy behind the Government, no religious feeling for the Church, and no love behind marriage.
The second period of Shaw's creative work began with the end of the war and with the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia, and ended in the middle of the 20th century.
In the works of this period Bernard Shaw goes deeper into politics. Mere criticism of capitalist society is replaced by an attempt to find a way out of social conflicts.
The twenty plays representing the second period include:
- Pygmalion
- Heartbreak House
- Saint Joan
- The Apple Cart
- Too True to Be Good
- On the Rocks

"Pygmalion" is one of Shaw's best comedies. The title of the play comes from a Greek myth.
Pygmalion, a sculptor, was said to have carved a statue out of ivory. It was the statue of a beautiful young girl whom he called Galatea. He fell in love with his own handiwork, so the goddess Aphrodite breathed life into the statue and transformed it into a woman.
The principal characters of the play are Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins. Eliza, a girl of eighteen, comes from the lowest social level and speaks with a strong Cockney accent, which is considered to be the most uncultured English possible.
Eliza's father is a dustman. Eliza will not stay with her father and stepmother She makes her own living by selling flowers in the streets of London.
The play shows us how Eliza struggles to rise to a higher cultural level.
Henry Higgins is a professor of phonetics. He studies the sounds of the language. When in the street one day, he points out the flower-girl, Eliza, to his friend Colonel Pickering, who is a phonetician studying Indian dialects.
He says that her English will keep her in the gutter to the end of her days. He is sure that in three months he would be able to pass that girl off as a duchess at the ambassador's garden party. Or he could even get her a place as lady's maid or shop assistant, which requires better English. Eliza hears this conversation and is impressed. She sees a chance of being pulled out of the gutter. The next day she goes straight to the professor's house and insists on being taught. She offers all the money she has Higgins is touched. He makes an agreement with Pickering. He bets Pickering that he will pass her off as a duchess in six months.
Some time later Higgins takes Eliza to one of his mother's at-homes to meet some of her friends. The professor wants to see how Eliza will manage to behave and speak in society. She can as yet speak only on two topics: the weather and health. Some visitors arrive and they begin to talk. Mrs. Higgins asks some questions about the weather, which Eliza answers beautifully, but as soon as she gets interested in the conversation, she forgets her role and falls into her habitual accent.
Higgins continues to work hard at the girl's manners and pronunciation. Finally, before six months are over, she is well prepared to be introduced into society. Higgins and Pickering take her to a garden party, a dinner-party, and the opera. Everything goes well. Higgins wins his bet. But what is to become of Eliza now when the game is over?
She cannot go back to selling flowers in the street. She has acquired some culture, and she wants to do some useful work. She wants independence and her share of human kindness. She bursts into tears.
Higgins understands the way she fells, but he cannot arrange an independent career for her He even feels guilty about the work he has done and says that the girl is like a millstone on his neck. At the same time he doesn't want to part with her. Higgins and Eliza remain friends, but the play is without an ending.
If Higgins had married Eliza, the play would have become an ordinary bourgeois fairy-tale story: a rich man picks up a girl from the gutter and, having dressed her up, marries her. This would have been too common Higgins is old enough to be Eliza's father. He loves her only as his pupil. But he loves his profession as an artist. He has created a new Eliza: she is the work of a Pygmalion.

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling was born in India, in Bombay, on December 30, 1865. His parents were English. His father was professor of architectural sculpture, curator of the Lahore museum, a painter, and an illustrator.
Rudyard spent his early childhood in Lahore. The Indian servants adored him. From them he learned the picturesque tales and songs of Indian folklore. Hindi was the first language he spoke. Kipling loved India and its inhabitants. His respect for the country and for the peoples of Asia remained with him throughout his life and coloured much of his writing. But still he never forgot that he was a white man and an Englishman.
At the age of six Kipling was taken to England and educated at an English College in North Devon. As far as his studies were concerned, he was not brilliant in mathematics but in history he ranked well. When he went back to India in 1883, he took with him the gold medal of the college for a prize essay on history. All his life Kipling was admired by the people he came in touch with. He was respected for his generosity, his sense of humour and his pleasant ways. He was said to be extremely modest. Having returned to India, Kipling turned to journalism. At seventeen he became sub-editor of the Lahore "Civil and Military Gazette". At the age of twenty-one he published his first book of verse. A year later he attracted public attention by his "Plain Tales from the Hills". Before he was twenty-four he had brought out six small collections of stories which showed his mastery in the form. These stories were remarkable for their vigour, brilliant colour, accurate observation and inventiveness.
Kipling's talent was quickly recognized in India, but it was in England that his talent was really appreciated. Between 1887 and 1899 Kipling travelled around the world. He visited China, Japan and lived for a few years in America, where he married an American, Caroline Starr Balestier. During this period Kipling wrote several of his most popular works, which took the reading public by storm. These were his stories for children, which became classics, "The Jungle Books" (1894 - 1895), "Captains Courageous"(1897) and "Just So Stories" (1902). He appealed equally to youth and age with "Kim" (1901), "Puck of Pook's Hill"(1906) and "Rewards and Fairies"(1910). These works are fine examples of the modern treatment of history, and his history was always human of the common people. In the meantime Kipling's genius had become prominent in verse. He wrote a series of poems which he called "Barrack Room Ballads" (1898), "The Ballad of East and West" and others poems. During the South African war (1899-1902) Kipling supported the policy of British expansion. Kipling's work as a whole is that of a man who was aware of the real world he lived in. At the end of life Kipling came to hate war, and it is evident in such works as "Mary Postgate" (1915) and "The Gardener" (1926).
Kipling returned from America and began to live in a little Sussex village He had lost a daughter, the death of his son during World War I embittered and almost silenced him. One of his best poems - "If” - was dedicated to his son.
Kipling died on January 17, 1936. A year after his death a collection of his autobiographical notes "Something of Myself” was published.
Rudyard Kipling achieved great popularity both among children and grown-ups, among ordinary
readers and prominent writers. He was a talented story-teller deeply concerned with the burning problems of his time. In 1907 he received the Nobel Prize for literature, he was the first writer and the first English man to whom this prize was awarded The charm of his stories lies in the exciting plots, the variety of characters the vigour of narration.

Oscar Wilde and "The Picture of Dorian Gray"

The second half of the 19th century in England was characterized by the development of two trends in literature the representatives of the first trend continued the traditions of their predecessors - "the brilliant school of novelists in England" It was represented by such writers as George Eliot (the penname of Marian Evans); George Meredith, Samuel Butler, Thomas Hardy. These novelists gave a truthful picture of contemporary society.
The writers of the other trend by way of protest against severe reality tried to lead the reader away from life into the world of dreams and fantasy, into the world of beauty At the end of the this theory found its expression in decadent literature and art.
Oscar Wilde was one of the representatives of this trend. He was regarded as the leader of the aesthetic movement, but many of his works do not follow his decadent theory of "art for art's sake." In fact, the best of them are closer to Romanticism and Realism than to decadent literature.
Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854. His father was a famous Irish surgeon. His mother was well-known in Dublin as a graceful writer of verse and prose.
At school, and later at Oxford, Oscar displayed a considerable gift for art and the humanities. The young man received a number of classical prizes, and graduated with first-class honours. While at the University Wilde became one of the most prominent personalities of the day, he wore his hair long, decorated his rooms with peacock's feathers, lilies, sunflowers, blue china and other beautiful things His paradoxes and witty sayings were quoted everywhere. Under the influence of his teacher, the writer John Ruskin, O. Wilde joined the Aesthetic Movement and became a most sincere supporter of it.
After graduating from the University, O. Wilde turned his attention to writing, travelling and lecturing. The Aesthetic Movement became popular, and Oscar Wilde earned the reputation of being the leader of the movement. In 1882 he went to America to lecture on the Aesthetic Movement in England. His lecture tours were a great success.
During the next ten years his major works appeared: "The Happy Prince and Other Tales" (1888), his novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1891), his comedies "Lady Windermere’s Fan" (1892), "A Woman of No Importance" (1893), "An Ideal Husband" (1895), “The Importance of Being Earnest" (1895). The wit and brilliance of these plays help to keep them on the stage. They are still popular nowadays.
Wilde also wrote poems, essays, reviews, political tracts, letters on history, drama etc.
At home and abroad the writer attracted the attention of his audiences by the brilliance of his conversation, the scope of his knowledge, and the force of his personality.
At the height of his success and popularity tragedy struck He was accused of immorality and sentenced to two years imprisonment. When released from prison in 1897 he lived mainly on the Continent and later in Paris. In 1898 he published his powerful poem, "Ballad of Reading Goal." He died in Paris in 1900.

Literary work
Oscar Wilde's 'works reflect the emotional protest of an artist against social conditions in England at the end of the 19th century. He came to the conclusion that art was only thing that really existed and was worth living for. He declared that life only mirrored art. Beauty is the measure of all things, that's why his desire was to escape from all the horrors of reality into the realm of beauty.
Oscar Wilde wrote, "There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well-written, or badly-written. That is all."
Like most writers and poets, Oscar Wilde glorifies natural beauty, but at the same time he is an admirer of artificial colours. In his works he compares blood to a ruby, the blue sky to a sapphire, man's beauty to that of silver, gold, ivory and precious stones.
Though O. Wilde proclaims the theory of extreme individualism, he often contradicts himself. In his works, in his tales in particular, he glorifies not only the beauty of nature and artificial beauty, but also the beauty of devoted love. He admires unselfishness kindness and generosity ("The Happy Prince", "the Nightingale and the Rose"), he shows deep, sympathy for the poor (The Devoted Friend"), he despises selfishness and greed ("The Selfish Giant"). In his plays O. Wilde gives realistic pictures of contemporary society and exposes the vices of the world.
His only novel "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is considered to be his masterpiece. "The Picture of Dorian Gray" describes the life of a young man, Dorian Gray, or to be more exact, his spiritual life. The author touches upon many important problems of contemporary life: morality, art and beauty in particular.
At the beginning of the novel Dorian Gray is an inexperienced youth, a kind and innocent young man. He is influenced by two men with sharply contrasted characters: Basil Hallward and Lord Henry Wotton. The attitude of these two towards the young man shows their different approach to life, art and beauty.
Basil is an artist to the core. He paints Dorian Gray and puts his whole soul into the work. He is kind, generous, honest and humane. To his mind, art without beauty is shallow. He worships Dorian's beauty. The young man's appearance is a kind of inspiration to the artist, an embodiment of beauty which is in full harmony with the inner world of Dorian Gray.
On the other hand, Lord Henry influences Dorian Gray. Basil does not idealize Lord Henry. He does not conceal the fact that he is afraid of Lord Henry's influence over the young man. Lord Henry is handsome, pleasant to listen to. His speech is full of paradoxes But at the same time Lord Henry is heartless, cynical and immoral. He loves no one, he believes neither in real friendship, nor in love. His life is shallow. His eloquent and cynical speeches work like poison in Dorian's blood: "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it. ...Live! Live the wonderful life that is in you. Let nothing be lost upon you. Be always searching for new sensations. Be afraid of nothing…"
The thought that he can deprive Basil of Dorian's company pleases Lord Henry. He knows that lie has ruined Dorian's life, but he does not care. The fact that Dorian is fascinated by his personality gives him pleasure and that is the only thing his selfish nature wants.
The author shows the gradual degradation of Dorian Gray. At first he is tortured by his conscience, but soon after Sybil Vane's tragic death he becomes even more cynical and immoral than Lord Henry himself. Basil Hallward is aware of Lord Henry's corrupting influence ever the young man. He suffers terribly, but his attempts to show Dorian, how cruel and heartless he is, prove a failure. Dorian brings misfortune to everyone he comes in touch with, and finally he becomes a real murderer. He kills Basil Hallward, the only man who knows the secret of his soul. All his crimes are immediately reflected on his portrait. In the end his picture is disgusting and ugly, and so is his soul.
The end of the novel shows a certain change in Dorian's character. Life has suddenly become too hard for him to bear. He wishes to do away with his former life. The only evidence of it is his portrait. He stabs it with a knife. As soon as he does it, he dies "withered, wrinkled and loathsome of visage" with a knife in his heart while the picture acquires its former beauty, a unity of form and content.
Oscar Wilde conveys the idea that real beauty cannot accompany an immortal life.

W.M. Thackeray and "Vanity Fair"

William Makepeace Thackeray (1811 - 1863) was born to a prosperous middle-class family in India His father was an English official in Calcutta. After his father's death, when the boy was 3 years old, he was brought to England to be educated at school and later at Cambridge University. Being a student, William devoted much time to drawing cartoons and writing verses, chiefly parodies. He couldn't bear the scholastic atmosphere of the University, and as his ambition was to become an artist, he left the University without graduating and went to Germany, Italy and France to study art. On returning to London he began a law course in 1833 to complete his education. Soon the Indian bank where his father's money was invested, went bankrupt, and William was left penniless. That's why he was obliged to drop his studies to earn his living. He took up journalism as a profession and as he himself illustrated his humorous articles, essays, reviews and short stories, they were in great demand In 1836 he married Isabella Shawe and after that their three daughters were born Thackeray's married life wasn't happy as his wife fell ill and the illness affected her mind Thackeray gave up his business and for a long time tried his best to relieve his wife's sufferings and make her life comfortable, but she never regained her health. In the end an old lady began to take care of her. Isabella outlived her husband by many years.
William Makepeace Thackeray is a representative of Critical, Realism in the English literature of the 19th century. In his novels Thackeray gives a vivid description of both middle class and aristocratic society, their mode of life, manners, and tastes. He exposes their pride and tyranny, their hypocrisy and snobbishness, their selfishness and wickedness. His keen insight into human nature gives Thackeray an analytical and satirical quality which found its expression in the portrayal of his characters. Thackeray's criticism is powerful, his satire is acute and bitter. He is a genius in portrayal negative characters realistically. His realism is exact and objective. Thackeray develops the realistic traditions of his predecessors, the enlighteners, Jonathan Swift and Henry Fielding and becomes one of the most prominent realists and satirists of his age. His characters are not static, they develop as the story progresses. They are shown as natural results of their environment and the society that bred them. He depicts his characters as if he were viewing them from afar. This new feature in literature was later called objective realism. Thackeray doesn't believe in the possibility of reforming man, and his pessimism marks the beginning of the crisis of bourgeois humanism which is characteristic of the literature of the second half of the 19th century.
The world to Thackeray is “Vanity Fair” where men and women "are greedy, pompous, mean, perfectly satisfied and at ease about their superior virtue. They despise poverty and kindness of heart. They are snobs." The word "snob" was invented by Thackeray in his "Book of Snobs" A snob is a person "who fawns upon his social superior and looks down with contempt on his inferiors." The gallery of snobs in the book convinces the reader that "snobbishness" was one of the most characteristic features of the ruling class of England at that time Thackeray wrote, "The society that sets up to be polite and ignores Art and Letters, I hold to be a Snobbish society. You, who despise your neighbour, are a Snob; you, who forget your own friends, meanly to follow after those of a higher degree, are a Snob; you, who are ashamed of your poverty and blush for your calling, are a Snob, as are you to boast of your pedigree, or are proud of your wealth."

“Vanity Fair”
"Vanity Fair" is one of the greatest examples of the 19th century Critical Realism. Thackeray succeeded not only in portraying his epoch but also in showing people's life, their human nature and time movement.
The subtitle "A Novel Without a Hero" emphasizes that the author doesn't describe separate individuals, but English bourgeois - aristocratic society as a whole. Thackeray presents various people, their thoughts and actions in different situations. In the author's opinion, there can be no hero in a society where the cult of money rules the world. "Vanity Fair" is a social novel which depicts the laws that govern the bourgeois- aristocratic society. Everything is bought and sold in that society. The author compares his characters to puppets, and society to a puppet show. He attacks the vanity, pretensions, prejudices and corruption of the aristocracy (the Crawleys Lord, Steyne), narrow-mindedness and greed of the bourgeoisie (The Osbornes, the Sedleys). On the whole the author presents a broad satirical picture of contemporary England.
The novel tells of the destiny of two girls with sharply contrasting characters- Rebecca (Becky) Sharp and Amelia Sedley. Rebecca Sharp, an adventuress, a daughter of a poor artist, represents wit without virtue. Amelia Sedley, a daughter of a rich city merchant, represents virtue without wit. Becky's character is depicted with great skill. She is pleasant to look at, clever and gifted. She possesses a keen sense of humour and deep understanding of human nature Rebecca embodies the very spirit of Vanity Fair. Her aim in life is to worm her way into high society at all costs. She believes neither in love nor in friendship. She is ready to marry any man who can give her wealth and a title. Finally she marries Captain Rawdon Crawley, the son of Sir Pitt Crawley. She hoped that some day her husband would inherit a great deal of money from his rich aunt. But her hopes never came true. Flattery, hypocrisy, lies, betrayal help Becky to enter the upper ranks of society but no happiness is in store for her. In contrast to Rebecca Sharp Amelia Sedley is honest, generous and kind. But she can’t be regarded as the heroine of the novel as Thackeray writes that she is not intelligent enough to evaluate the real qualities of the people who surround her. She is naive and simple-hearted to realize the dirty machinations of her clever and sly friend, Rebecca.
The best years of her life are ruined by her unhappy love to George Osborne, her light-minded and selfish husband. Thackeray depicts Amelia's character with subtle irony. After her father went bankrupt, she was poor and miserable, but having got some legacy from one of her relatives, she finds her place in the world of bourgeois snobs.
Thackeray's satire reaches its climax when he describes Sir Pitt Crawley, a typical snob of Vanity Fair. He is a baronet, the owner of Queen's Crawley, he possesses money and a title. That is how Becky described Sir Pitt Crawly: "Sir Pitt, ... is an old , …vulgar, cruel and very dirty man in old shabby clothes, who smokes a horrid pipe. He speaks with a country accent and swears a great deal, ...he is an old screw as he never gives any money to anybody." Lord Steyne is among aristocratic snobs. He is cynical and clever, he is corrupted to the marrow He gained his title and wealth by having named a rich woman of high origin and is considered a pillar of the state.
Thackeray's style is distinguished by the fact that he often interrupts his narrative and talks to the reader about the characters. The author seldom tells the reader directly what he thinks about them His attitude is expressed either by different personages of the novel or by vivid descriptions which invite the reader to share the author's opinion.

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens was a representative of critical realism. He saw the evils of bourgeois society of his time and his immortal works became an accusation of the bourgeois system as a whole.
Charles Dickens was born in 1812 near Portsmouth He was the eldest son of a clerk at a large naval office, and the family lived on his father's small salary The father was often transferred from place to place and his parents were always talking about money, bills and debts. Charles and his elder sister went to school, and after classes he was in the habit of running to the docks and watching ships and people at work. Many pictures were stored away in his memory, which the writer used later in his novels. Charles grew fond of reading books. Besides, he took a fancy to singing, reciting poems and acting.
In 1822 the family moved to London. His father made no plans about the education of his children. He spent more money than he could afford, so soon he lost his job and was imprisoned for debts. The family property, including Charles's favourite books, was sold out and the boy was obliged to work at a blacking factory. He worked hard washing bottles for shoe-polish and putting labels on them while the rest of the family lived in the Marshal-sea debtor's prison. The boy could never forget the long working hours at the factory, the poor food, the rough boys who mocked at him. Later he described this unhappy time in the novel "David Copperfield". Charles visited his parents in prison on Sundays. The debtor's prison is described in "The Pickwick Papers" and in the novel "Little Dorrit". A year passed and a relative of the family died and left Mr. Dickens a legacy. His father's debts were paid off and Charles was sent to a private school, but he didn't stay there long as the class studied nothing but Latin. At the age of 12 he became a clerk at a lawyer's office and in his spare time studied shorthand. At the age of 19 he found a job as a newspaper reporter. He continued his general education by reading books in the British Museum. In 1832 Charles Dickens attended the House of Commons being a parliamentary reporter. The party struggle was described later in "The Pickwick Papers".
At the age of 24 Charles married Catherine Hogarth, the daughter of his editor. Dickens's first efforts at writing were funny street sketches about the ordinary Londoners. When he was 25 he wrote a sketch and signed it "Boz" (the nickname given to him by his younger brother. It was accepted by a magazine which printed' 9 sketches more). Readers were charmed with their humour. Thus the famous "Pickwick Papers" appeared (the full title is "The Posthumous papers of the Pickwick Club"). Having discovered his gift as a novelist he devoted himself completely to literary work. His next novel was "Oliver Twist", the first social novel about homeless people. At the age of 30 Ch. Dickens became the most popular writer in England. He made a journey to the USA. His experiences are reflected in "American Notes". From 1844 till 1848 Dickens travelled in Italy, France and Switzerland. His genius was at its height; his best novels were written at this time. Dickens was very emotional, he lived the lives of his characters, he suffered with them in their tragic moments, he laughed at the humorous side of their lives. With great energy he started giving dramatic readings from his own works in various towns all over Britain. That was the beginning of the theatre for one actor. In 1867-68 Dickens made a triumphant and very difficult reading tour in the United Slates, which was a great strain on him and he undermined his health. He died suddenly on June 9, 1870 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

Dickens's Creative Work
Dickens was the novelist of his age. He wrote a tremendous number of works. He created a new type of novel - the social novel.
Dickens considered that the great contrast between the rich und the poor was abnormal in a civilized society.
Dickens showed a broad panorama of the 19th century English life. He portrayed people of all types seen in the streets of great cities in his time. While reading, we meet commercial agents parliamentarians, political adventurers, scoundrels of all sorts, lawyers, clerks, newspaper reporters, schoolmasters, factory workers, homeless children, priggish aristocrats, pickpockets and convicts. Dickens developed in his readers a love for man; he never lost his warmth and sympathy for this man. This impresses readers and they follow the writer in his pilgrimage along the roads of England. He described offices, factories, prisons and the slums of London.
Dickens's creative work can be divided into 4 periods:
1. The works written in the 1830s:
"Sketches by Boz" (1833 -1836)
"The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club" (1837)
"Oliver Twist" ( 1838)
"Nickolas Nickleby" (1839)
"The Old Curiosity Shop" (1841)
Dickens's heroes in the novels of the 1st period are willing to live in poverty and work hard. There is no sarcasm in his criticism yet. Humour and optimism are characteristics of the 1st period of Dickens's literary activity.
2. The following books written in the 1840s belong to the 2nd period of Dickens's creative work. They are: "American Notes" (1842)
"The Christmas Books" (1843-48)
"Dombey and Son" (1846-48)
In the works of the second period Dickens begins to describe the crimes that were the product of the bourgeois system.
3. The following works written in the 1850s are distinguished by the strongest social criticism expressed in them. He wrote:
"David Copperfield"(1850)
"Bleak House" (1853)
"Hard Times" (1854)
"Little Dorrit" (1857)
Dickens protested by writing his most realistic novels. He became a great democrat in literature.
4. The fourth period of Dicken’s creative work was the 1860s. He wrote only two novels:
"Great Expectations (1861)
"Our Mutual Friend" (1864-65)
Those works are written in the spirit of disillusionment. The writer feels that a better future is too far off and he only dreams of that future. His heroes show the moral strength and patience of the common people.

Charlotte Bronte

Charlotte Bronte (1816-1855), an English novelist of the 19th century, was a contemporary of Dickens and Thackeray.
She was the daughter of a poor curate. Her mother died when Charlotte was four years old, leaving 5 daughters and a son. Four of the daughters were sent to a charity school of which Charlotte gave her recollections in the novel "Jane Eyre". It was an unfortunate step which hastened the death of Charlotte's two elder sisters. Then in 1831-32 Charlotte stayed at another board in school from which she returned with a teacher's license. She became later a governess and in 1842 went with her sister Emily to study the French language at a school in Brussels, where she was employed as a teacher of English. She came back home with a volume of verse, mostly lyrical and philosophical. It appeared under the title of "Poems by Currer, Allis and Acton Bell" (the pen-names of Charlotte, Emily and Ann Bronte). The poems are remarkable for the nobility of feeling and style. All the sisters lived in a world created by their own imagination. 'The Professor", Charlotte's first novel, was refused by several publishers and it appeared only in 1857 after her death. Her second novel "Jane Eyre" was published in 1847 and was a great success. But fresh sorrows descended on the writer. In 1848 her brother and two sisters died one after another and she alone of the six children survived. In spite of her grief she went on writing and produced two more novels. Her last work "Emma" was published after her death. Charlotte married in 1854 but a year later she died of tuberculosis at the age of 39. The novel "Jane Eyre" is a social novel. The writer exposes the vices of cruel, hypocritic bourgeois- aristocratic society, besides Charlotte Bronte raises the problems of education. The pictures of life at a charity school are among the best realistic descriptions in English literature. She also demands that women should possess equal rights with men in family life. The novel is partly autobiographical; the author describes the green years of her life.

The 19th century (Critical Realism)

The 19th century was characterized by sharp contradictions. In many ways it was an age of progress: railways and ships were built, great scientific discoveries were made, education became more widespread; but al the same time it was an age of profound social unrest, because there was too much poverty, too much injustice. The growth of scientific inventions mechanized industry and increased wealth, but this progress only enriched the few at the expense of the many. Dirty factories, long hours of work, child labour, exploitation, low wages, slums and frequent unemployment -these were the conditions of life for the workers in the growing industries of England, which became the richest country in the world towards the middle of the 19th century.
By the thirties of the 19th century English capitalism had entered a new stage of development. England had become a classical capitalist country, a country of industrial capitalism. The Industrial Revolution gathered force as the 19th century progressed, and profound changes in hand-looms gave way, within a hundred years, to factory towns, railroads, and steamships. The population of Manchester, Birmingham and other industrial centres was growing rapidly as the number of factory workers increased, while the number of poor farmers decreased and many rural districts were depopulated. The basic social classes in England were no longer the peasants and the landlords but the proletariat and the bourgeoisie.
Having won the victory over aristocracy, the bourgeoisie betrayed the interests of the working class. The workers fought for their rights. Their political demands were expressed in the People's Charier in 1833. The Chartis Movement was a revolutionary movement of the English workers, which lasted till 1848.
The Chartists introduced their own literature, which was the first attempt to create a literature of the working class. The Chartist writers tried their hand at different genres. They wrote articles, short stories, songs, epigrams, poems. Their leading genre was poetry.
The ideas of the Chartism attracted the attention of many progressive-minded people of that time. A lot of prominent writers became aware of the social injustices around them and tried to depict them in their works. Thus this period was mirrored in literature by the appearance of a new trend, the Critical Realism. The greatest novelists of the age are Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell.
These writers used the novel as a means to protest against the evils in contemporary social and economic life and to picture the world in a realistic way. Their greatness also lies in their profound humanism. Their sympathy lies with the ordinary people. They believed in the good qualities of the human heart.

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822) combines in his poetry the romantic elements typical of the period with a revolutionary protest against the growing power of capitalism.
The poet was born on August 4, 1792, in Sussex. Like Byron, he came from an aristocratic family, and broke away from his class. His father was a baronet, and, a, narrow-minded man. The boy felt ill at ease in the family and at the Eton College where he was sent to in 1804. He was a shy, gentle, kind and sensitive boy by nature, but he had his own notions of justice, independence and freedom. At Eton the teachers disliked him for independent thinking.
In 1810 Shelley entered Oxford. A year later he wrote an antireligious pamphlet called "The Necessity of Atheism" for which he was expelled from the University. The same year he was disinherited by his father.
In 1813 Shelley published his first poem "Queen Mab", containing sharp criticism of human society, past and present, and expressing his ideals as to the happy future of mankind, to be brought about by peaceful means. Almost the same idea of “bloodless revolution" is expressed in "The Revolt of Islam"(1818). For his poems Shelley received the reputation of being "a dangerous man" and was ostracized by society. Life in England became unbearable and the poet left his native country, which he was destined never to see again.
In 1818 Shelley went to Italy. After wandering over the country he finally settled in Pisa, admired by so many English poets. Here he found comfort in the friendship of Byron, who enjoyed his verses, and spoke of Shelley as the most gentle and amiable person he had ever met. The great works of art and the rich colouring of Italy gave new life to Shelley's poetic genius. Most of his best works were written under the southern sky (“The Cenci" (1819), "The Song to the Men of England" (1819), “The Mask of Anarchy" (1819), "England in 1819"(1819), "Ode to Liberty"(1826) and many others.) One of Shelley’s best works is his lyrical drama "Prometheus Unbound" (l820). According to Greek myths, Prometheus stole the gods' fire from Olympus, and brought it down to mankind. For this Jove, father of the gods, chained Prometheus to a rock, and subjected him to everlasting torture. In Shelley’s drama Prometheus symbolizes the human mind and will. His captivity means that both tie mind of man and man himself are enslaved. Shelley's hero does not seek a reconciliation with Jove. He suffers terribly tortures but does not submit. Prometheus is helped by innumerable forces of nature. Demogorgon - the symbol of revolution- and the other good spirits cast Jove out of Olympus into oblivion Prometheus is unbound, the human mind is free, the world of men passes from chaos to unlimited progress. The forces of nature symbolize the common people, who overthrow all forms of tyranny and become free and happy.
Shelley was also the author of many lyrical poems of rare beauty and emotional power. The poet was inspired by love extending to every living creature, to animals and flowers, to the whole of nature ("The Cloud”, "To a Skylark", "Ode to the West Wind").
Shelley’s rich imagination, his power of rhythmical expression, his passion for liberty makes his poetry unexcelled. To Shelley poetry was a device for making immortal all that is good and beautiful in the world. He had the key to the hidden mysteries of the heart of life itself.
On July 8, 1822, while Shelley and his friend were sailing in a small boat across the Bay of Spezia, near Genoa, a sudden and violent storm broke out. Ten days later their bodies were found washed ashore. They were cremated, and according to some accounts, the poet’s wife Mary, snatched her husband’s heart from out of the ashes. His heart was buries in the Protestant cemetery in Rome.

George Gordon Byron

George Gordon Byron (1788-1824) was a real fighter; he struggled against despotism with both pen and sword. Freedom was the cause that he served all his life.
Like all the romantic writers of his time, Byron, was disappointed with the results of the French Resolution, but unlike the Lake Poets who condemned their former beliefs and tried to escape from reality into the world of dreams and mysticism, he remained true to the ideas of liberty and equality.
George Gordon Byron was born in London , on January 22, 1788, in an impoverished Aristocratic family. His mother, Catherine Gordon, was a Scottish lady of honourable birth and respectable fortune. After having run through his own and most of his wife’s fortune, his father, an army officer, died when the future poet was only three years old. George was very lonely from early childhood. His mother was a woman of quick feelings and strong passions. Now she kissed him, now she scolded him. In one of her fits of passion she called him “a lame brat» and the boy could not forgive her this insult. He was lame from birth and was sensitive about it all his life, yet, thanks to his strong will and regular training; he became an excellent rider, a champion swimmer, a boxer and took part in athletic exercises.
Byron spent the first ten years of his life in Scotland. He attended grammar school in Aberdeen. The boy was fond of reading books about travels, especially those related to the East. These books greatly influenced his poetical development.
In 1798 George's grand-uncle died and the boy inherited the title of baron and the family estate of the Byrons, Newstead Abbey, in Nottinghamshire. Together with his mother and nurse, to whom he was deeply attached, the boy moved to Newstead, from where he was sent to Harrow School, at seventeen he entered Cambridge University.
George was sixteen when he fell in love with his distant relative Mary Chaworth, and in her his youthful imagination seemed to have found the ideal of womanly perfection. However, she did not return his affection. But he remembered his first love all his life and it coloured much of his writing. In the first canto of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" the poet sings that Harold "sighed to many, though he loved but one". Mary Chaworth was the one the poet loved.
While a student, Byron published his first collection of poems "Hours of Idleness" (1807), but was attacked by a well-known critic in the magazine "Edinburgh Review". In 1809 the poet published a satirical poem "English Bards and Scotch Reviewers"-a reply to that critical article. In the spring of 1808 Byron graduated from the University and received his Master of Arts degree, and next year took his hereditary seat in the House of Lords.
In 1809 he left England on a long journey, which took two years. He visited Portugal, Spain, Albania, Greece, and Turkey, and during his travels wrote the first two Santos of "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”.
In 1812 they were published. They were received with a burst of enthusiasm by his contemporaries, and Byron became one of the most popular men in London. Between 1813 and 1816 Byron composed his "Oriental Tales", "The Giaour", "The Corsair", "Lara", and others. These tales embody the poet’s romantic individualism. The hero of each poem is a rebel against society. He is a man of strong will and passion. Proud and independent, he rises against tyranny and injustice to gain his personal freedom and happiness. His revolt, however, is too individualistic, and therefore it is doomed to failure. These romantic poems were admired by
Byron's contemporaries and caused a new mode of thought and feeling called “Byronism".
"Hebrew Melodies” (1815) – a collection of lyrical verses, confirmed Byron's popularity.
In 1815 Byron married Miss Isabella Milbanke. She was a religious woman, cold and pedantic. It was an unlucky match. Though Byron was fond of their only child Augusta Ada, and did not want to break up the family, separation was inevitable. The scandal around tile divorce was enormous. On April 25, 1816 Byron left England forever. He went to Switzerland. Here he made the acquaintance of Shelley, and the two poets became close friends.
While in Switzerland, Byron wrote the third canto of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage" (1816), "The Prisoner of Chillon" (1816), the dramatic poem "Manfred" (1817), and many lyrical poems.
In 1817 Byron left for Italy. He visited Venice, Rayenna, Pisa, and Genoa. In Italy he joined the secret organization of the. Carbonari, engaged in the struggle against the Austrian oppressors.
The Italian period (1817 -1823) may be considered to be the summit of Byron's poetical career. He wrote "Beppo" (1818), "Don Jain” (1819-1824), the fourth canto of “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage" (1818), "The Prophecy of Dante"(1821), the dramas "Marino Faliero" (1820) and "Cain" (1821), his satirical masterpieces "The Vision of Judgment", (1822) and "The Age of Bronze"(1823)
The defeat of the Carbonari uprising (1822) was a heavy blow to Byron. The war of Greece against the Turks, which had been going on for two years, attracted his attention. Byron longed for action, and went to Greece to take pan in the struggle for national independence. Soon after his arrival he was seized with fever and died at Missolonghi on April 18, 1824, at the age of thirty-six.

The Romantic Movement and The Lake Poets

Historical Background
Romanticism, which was the leading literary movement in England for more than half a century, was caused by great social and economic changes.
The Industrial Revolution, which had begun in the middle of the 18th century, was no sudden change from home manufacturing to large-scale factory production. Enclosing common land had begun in the 16th century, but in the second half of the 18thcentury it became rapid and spread all over Britain. The peasants, deprived of their lands, were forced to go to work in factories. Mines and factories had changed the face of the country. Towns sprang up. But mechanization did not improve the life of the common people. Social evils were clearly seen by the people: the diseases of industrial towns, the misery of child labour, the crowds of underpaid workers... Human beings tad turned into parts of machines, they were desperate at the loss of personal freedom. The suffering of the new class, the proletariat, led to the first strikes, and workers took to destroying machines. Workers, who called themselves Luddites after Ned Ludd who in a fit of fury broke two textile frames, naively believed that machines were the chief cause of their sufferings.
Under the influence of the French Revolution the Irish peasants plotted a rebellion against English landlordism. It broke out in 1798 but was cruelly downed in blood. The British government took the lead in the counter-revolutionary wars against France.
The belief of progressive-minded people in the ideal nature of the bourgeois system was broken. As a result, a new humanist movement sprang up towards the close of the 18th century.

Romanticism, Its Passive and Revolutionary Treads
Romanticism was a movement against the progress of bourgeois civilization, which had driven thousands of people to poverty and enslaved their personal freedom. Writers longed to depict strong individuals, endowed with grand and even demonic passions. The romanticists made emotion, and not reason, the chief force of their works. This emotion found its expression chiefly in poetry.
Some poets were seized with panic and an irresistible desire to get away from the present. They wished to call back "the good old days", when people worked on "England's green and pleasant land". These poets are called the Passive Romanticists. They spoke for the English farmers and Scottish peasants who were ruined by the Industrial Revolution. They idealized the patriarchal way of life during the Middle Ages, a period that seemed to them harmonious and peaceful. Their motto was "Close to Nature and from Nature to God", because they believed that religion put man at peace with the world.

The Lake Poets
The poets William Wordsworth (1770-1850), Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Robert Southey (1774-1843) belonged to that group. They were also called the Lake Poets after the Lake District in the north-west of England where they lived.
The Lake District attracted the poets because industry had not yet invaded this part of the country. These poets had similar tastes in art and politics, they founded a literary circle. Its influence was felt on some other writers of the time.
In 1793 Wordsworth wrote a poem "Guilt and Sorrow". It is about a homeless sailor who was driven to crime, and a lonely woman who had lost her husband and three children in the war, all suffer from the cruelty of the law, but the only comfort Wordsworth offers is religion. The Lake poets urged a return to nature. That’s why so many of their poems praise nature. Wordsworth was a great master of description. His poem "Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey" arouses our admiration. We feel his love for nature and also his great alarm at nature being spoiled by the invasion of industrialism.
Coleridge and Southey and four other enthusiasts wished to found a domestic republic in America, where people could enjoy a free life. Want of money prevented this Utopian scheme.
In 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge published a volume of "Lyrical Ballads". In his ballad "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" Coleridge expressed the idea that man is a helpless creature living at the mercy of supernatural forces. The sea is depicted as something monstrous that cannot be overcome, something fatal that brings woe and death. It is a fantastic story of a voyage told by an old sailor to a passer-by who was going to a wedding.
Coleridge was the most talented of the Lake Poets, but he did not give his talent full development because of the lack of self-discipline. That's why his best and most beautiful poems "Christabel" and "Kubla Khan", were left unfinished. He believed poetry could be written only under a mystical inspiration and the poet should follow his intuition. Coleridge stopped writing poetry in his early thirties and devoted himself to criticism.
The Lake Poets introduced into poetry short forceful words and constructions of everyday speech. They brought sound and colour into verse. They appreciated folklore and national art and insisted that poetry should be linked with folk traditions of a nation. All of them were humanists.
Another group of poets distinguished themselves by the revolutionary spirit which they brought into poetry. They tried to look ahead and see the future. They kept an eye on all political events and sympathized with the national liberation movement in all oppressed countries. The outstanding Revolutionary Romanticists were George Gordon Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns (1759 - 1796) was the most democratic poet of the 18th century. His birthday is celebrated in Scotland as a national holiday.
Burns's poetry may be regarded as a treasury of all that is best in Scottish songs. Burns is very popular in Russia. The first translations of his works appeared in our country at the close of the 18th century and since then he has always been widely read. We admire the plain Scottish peasant who became one of the world's greatest poets.
His life. Robert Burns was born on January 25, 1759, in a small clay cottage at Alloway in Ayrshire, Scotland. His father, William Burns, was a poor farmer. Later, the poet wrote about him in his verses "My Father Was a Farmer."
Poor as he was, William Burns tried to give his son the best education he could afford. Robert was sent school at the age of six, but as his father could not pay for his two sons, Robert and his brother Gilbert attended school in turn. Thus William had to pay only for one pupil. When not at school, the boys helped the father with his work in the fields. Robert was at the plough working from morning till night He strained his heart, he suffered from severe attacks of rheumatic fever. The school was closed some months the boys had begun attending it, and William Burns persuaded two or three neighbours to invite a clever young man, Murdoch by name, to teach their children languages and grammar. Robert was a capable boy and, with the help of his new teacher, received a decent education. He learned the French and Latin languages and became fond of reading. He read whatever he could lay his hands on. His favourite writers were Shakespeare, Sterne, and Robert Fergusson, a talented Scottish poet (1750 - 1774), whose tragic fate deeply touched Burns. Burns started writing poems at the age of seventeen. He composed verses to the melodies of old folk­songs, which he had admired from his early childhood. He sang of the woods, fields and wonderful valleys of his native land.
The ploughing, which led to the composition of these songs, was profitless. In 1784, worn out, exhausted and burdened with debts, Burns's father, William Burns, died. After his death the family moved to Mossgiel where Robert and Gilbert managed to rent a small farm. The young men worked hard, but the land gave poor crops, and the affairs of the family went from bad to worse. The young poet keenly felt the injustice of the world, where the best land, pastures, and woods belonged to the landlords. His indignation was mirrored in his many verses, which became so dear to the hearts of the common people.
Though Burns despised those who worshipped money, "to be rich was not my wish" ("My Father Was a Farmer"), he now became well aware of the fact that poverty could ruin his whole life: he had fallen in love with Jean Armour and was going to marry her, but the girl's father did not want to have a poor peasant for his son- in law. The fact that the young people loved each other did not alter his intention to marry Jean to a rich man.
Seeing that there was no way for a poor peasant in Scotland, Burns decided to sail to Jamaica, in the hope of obtaining a job on some sugar plantation. To raise the passage money, Robert made up his mind to publish some of his poems. The little volume "Poems Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect", published in 1786, went off rapidly and brought in about twenty guineas. The book contained lyrical, humorous and satirical poems written in his earlier years.
When Burns was about to leave for Jamaica, he received a letter from several Edinburgh scholars, who praised his verses and invited him to come to the capital. The letter changed the current of his life and kept the poet in his native land. He accepted the invitation, went to Edinburgh and within a few days was welcomed as one of the "wonders of the world". A new and enlarged edition of his poems was the result He toured Scotland in triumph - as "Caledonia's Bard". He was received by the "pillars" of society, and the doors of the most fashionable drawing-rooms were open to him. But Robert felt ill at ease among those people who tried to use his talent for their own ends and never really helped or morally supported him. Burns was never offered an opportunity to devote all his energy to literature. After the new edition of his poems, Burns returned to his native village with money enough to buy a farm and marry Jean Armour, whose father was now glad to have the poet as his son-in law. Though Burns’s poems were really popular, he always remained poor; most of the money were spent on the monument to Robert Fergusson, the rest was hardly enough to support his wife and children. His work at the farm, hard as it was, did not make him rich either. Again there remained the problem of earning a living, again he was without sufficient capital to see him over the inevitable rainy day. In 1791 he went bankrupt and was obliged to sell the farm and take a position as customs officer in the town of Dumfries. The job was extremely hard: the poet had to cover long distances on horseback in any weather. However, neither weariness nor hardships could suppress the poet in him, and he continued his literary work.
Hard work destroyed the poet's health. He died in poverty at the age of thirty-seven, haunted by the shadow of the debtors' prison. Even on his death-bed, he got a letter in which he was threatened with imprisonment for a debt of seven pounds.
After his death, the widow and children of the great poet were left without a shilling. Burns was mourned by all the honest people of his country. His funeral was attended by a crowd often thousand. They were the common Scottish people whom he had loved and for whom he had written his poems and songs. And those common people raised enough money by subscription to provide his widow with sustenance for the rest of her life and give all his children an education.
Since the death of Robert Bums, all visitors to Dumfries pay homage to the poet by visiting his burial-place.
Robert Burns's literary work
Robert Bums was a true son of the Scottish peasantry. His poems embody their thoughts and aspirations, their human dignity, their love of freedom and hatred of all oppressors. In his poem "Is There for Honest Poverty" Bums says that it is not wealth and titles, but the excellent qualities of man's heart and mind that make him "king o' men for a' that". Independence of mind and honesty, sense and dignity - these are the qualities the poet appreciates: they are "higher rank than a' that". Many verses of the poet were inspired by the Great French Revolution, which he supported with all his heart. In his poem "The Tree of Liberty" Bums praises the French revolutionaries who planted "the Tree of Liberty" in their country. The poet regrets the fact that there is no "Tree of Liberty" in Britain, that is to say, the people do not struggle for freedom.
While the realism and humanism of Burns's poetry make him one of the most progressive writers of the Enlightenment, the democratic and revolutionary spirit brings him closer to the revolutionary romantic trend of the 19th century.
The poet was deeply interested in the glorious past of his country, which he called "the birthplace of valour, the country of worth" ("My Heart's in the Highlands"). In many of his poems he sings the beauty of his native land.
In spite of his poverty, hunger and never-ceasing toil, Burns was an optimist. He enjoyed his life as few of his contemporaries did. Burns believes in the happy future of mankind.
The poem "John Barleycorn", in which he tells of the way whisky is made, is symbolic in its meaning. John Barleycorn personifies the strength of the common people. This strength is immortal and cannot be done away with.
Burns was a remarkable lyric poet. Some of his lyrical pieces are tender and pathetic, some abound in humour and irony. His masterful touch upon the human heart-strings is the most characteristic feature of his talent. Such lyrics as "A Red, Red Rose", "Auld Lang Syne", "John Barleycorn", "My Heart's in the Highlands", and many others were composed to the old folk-melodies or later set to music, and are popular as songs all over the world.
In his lyrical poems and songs Bums glorifies true love and friendship, free from any motives of gain and hypocritical morality. In many of them he reveals the beauty of nature. In all his works he remains the bard of freedom.