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By R.V. Young

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Extra resources for A Student's Guide to Literature (ISI Guides to the Major Disciplines)

Sample text

Tirso de Molina is known for one extremely powerful and influential play, The Joker of Seville and the Dinner Guest of Stone, the earliest theatrical treatment of the Don Juan legend. Claims may be made for Congreve during the period 36 A Student’s Guide to Literature of the Restoration and for Sheridan, Beaumarchais, and Schiller during the eighteenth century, but the one indisputable dramatic masterpiece since the Renaissance is Goethe’s Faust. Perhaps more of a dramatic epic than a conventional stage play, Faust is probably the greatest single work of Romanticism and of German literature.

Most telling, the only epic battle in the entire poem—the War in Heaven in Book VI—is inconsequential and borders at times on the comic, since none of the angels are able to suffer serious injury, much less death, because of their ethereal substance. Whether Milton is shaping a new vision of the heroic military virtues in terms of inner, spiritual strength or simply rejecting them is a question that scholars continue to debate. In any case, no one in the Western world has been able to write a genuine or unqualified epic since.

Government sinecures) by nominally conforming to the established church, Pope remained true to his faith until his death. He suffered physical as well as religious disabilities: tuberculosis of the spine contracted as a child turned him into a hunchback who never grew much over four feet tall. His chronic ill health produced his famous phrase, “This long disease, my life” (Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot, 132). Pope compensated by becoming the first English author to earn a substantial living by publishing his work.

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