The Last of the Strong Ones Essay

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INTRODUCTION The 19th century marked the beginning of the Victorian era in England with Queen Victoria’s ascension to the throne. It was a period of significant change and development in science and technology which in turn provided the ideological leanings of the novel of this period. Exponent of this era include Charles Dickens, William Thackeray, Jane Austen, George Eliot, Charlotte and Emily Bronte. This paper, however, attempts to examine George Eliot as one of the foremost novelist of the era and her literary theory of realism in relevance to other theories. THE NOVEL The word ‘novel’ is derived from the Italian word ‘novella’ which takes its origin from the Latin ‘novella’ meaning ‘new’ or ‘news’. Between the 16th and the 17th centuries, there were narrative forms of epics, adventures, romances which could not pass for a novel. As at the eighteenth century, some narratives began to take the form of the novel in terms of length and volume. Suffice it to say that a narrative was considered a novel if it had more than 10,000 words. Writers of the period include Thomas Nash The Unfortunate Traveller (1594), John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders. These works are also regarded as the proto novels and were more of historical events than fiction. Thus, they were the first forms of the realistic novel. By the early 18th century, Samuel Richardson, a public letter writer used the letter writing technique to create a work titled Pamela or Virtue Rewarded (1740). This work led the way for the epistolary novel and is regarded as the first form of a novel. Literary intertextuality was introduced by Henry Fielding in his parody Joseph Andrew which was a reaction to Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. Lawrence Sterne showed the way to the psychological novel with Trisham Shandy (1759)

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