Carl Holliday.

English fiction from the fifth to the twentieth century online

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Published, June, 1912









I. Social and literary conditions the scop feast songs
sources of .early fiction Anglo-Saxon charms. II.
Widsith the Exeter Book Widsith's story its national
traits. III. Beowulf its age its story its descrip-
tions its three episodes its historical basis older
stories in it its construction, plot, and characters its
national traits. IV. Dear's Complaint its story its
lyrical quality The Wanderer its pessimism its
"travel" story the lack of a love theme The Seafarer
its conversational form its plot its love of the sea
summary of earliest attempts in fiction.


I. The Anglo-Saxon hero Christian changes Caedmon
story of his inspiration his Biblical stories his Genesis
story its Miltonic sublimity its Anglo-Saxon tone its
visualization Vision of the Rood the warrior Christ
improvements in fiction. II. Cynewulf the discovery of
him his Elene its plot its descriptions and character-
izations Crist its rushing descriptions its use of con-
versation its plot its modern tone its personal note
Judith its violent story its "woman's honor" theme.
III. The^4Ji^<tJSLa#Ott Chronicle Brunanburh Maldon
the influence of fiction. IV. The Danes Norman influ-
ences Apollonius of Tyre.



I. The source and character of the Norman-French Nor-
man England social conditions the effect of the Inva-
sion. II. English, French, and Latin stories minstrels
and gleemen the varied use of stories folk tales Horn
and Rimenhild Horn Childe Ponthus et Sidoine Have-




lok its homely character Bevis of Hampton Guy of
Warwick Robin Hood Sir Cleges merry tales Land
of Cokaygne The Friar and the Boy Tale of the Basin
Dan Hugh Monk religious legends Saints' Lives
The Smith and His Dame beast fables bestiaries their
ethical value Reynard the Fox Physiologus. III.
Sources of greater literature medieval idealism Nor-
man plagiarism. IV. The Classical Matter British be-
lief in Trojan ancestry Benoit's Roman de Troie De
Bello Trojano Guido of Sicily Siege of Troy Chaucer's
use of the theme Lydgate's Caxton's, Story of Thebes
Boccaccio's, Chaucer's, Lydgate's, Caxton's, Shake-
speare's, and Dryden's use of it Alexander Cycle its
popularity modernization of Alexander immense plot
of Alexander story Gower's and Shakespeare's uses of
Apollonius of Tyre Blancheflour and Floris The Squire
of Low Degree William of Palerne the Nine Worthies
Aucassin and Nicolette. V. The Charlemagne Cycle,
or Matter of France its popularity among common folk
Song of Roland chansons de geste their degeneracy
into jest-books origin of Song of Roland Pilgrimage of
Charlemagne Roland and Vernagu Duke Huon Spen-
ser's, Shakespeare's, and Keats' uses of it. VI. The Mat-
ter of Britain, or the King Arthur Legend its advantages
four theories as to its origin historical mention of
Arthur Geoffrey of Monmouth contemporary opinions
of his work its fame Gaimar's translation of it Paris'
Chronica Major Walter Map Wace's Brut Layamon's
Brut Robert of Gloucester Thomas Bek Robert Man-
ning de Waurin's Recueil Caxton's Cronycles of Eng-
land Malory's Morte d' Arthur the crude beginnings
Geoffrey's improvements the plot Norman gratification
various additions its wide fame. VII. Making the
cycle Marie de France Crestien de Troyes Sir Laun-
val growth of the characters women in the stories
vulgar versions The Boy and the Mantle. VIII. The
Tristram Story its various versions its characters its
influence. IX. The Lancelot Story its plot demands
of "courtly love" its "blended life." X. The Gawain
Story Sir Gawain and the Green Knight its Celtic ele-
ment various versions Gawain's popularity. XI. The
Merlin Story its antiquity Merlin's precocity rapid
growth of the legend Merlin's lasting fame. XII. The
Holy Grail Story its unifying and idealistic influence
origins of the grail Walter Map's influence Malory's
work. XIII. The Morte d' Arthur Story cause of the
fall growth of the legend Malory's work "the Ocean
of the Rivers of Story."





I. National changes rise of the common folk pic-
turesque life of the day the general discontent. II. Lit-
erary conditions the old and the new elements in fiction
tales of wonder Friar Bacon Friar Rush Virgil
the priests' use of "examples" Handlyng Sinne Ghost
of Guy oriental narratives Seven Sages Gesta Ro-
manorum its elements its weird effects Cursor Mundi
its symbolism revisions of old romances their de-
fects influence of Italian writers. III. Chaucer the
scope of his literary work The Pardoner's Tale its
characterization The 'Nun's Priest's Tale its modern
tone its humor Tale of Sir Thopas its satire Troy-
lus and Criseyde its analysis of character and of emo-
tion its likeness to the novel Chaucer's influence on
fiction. IV. Langland his life and character Piers
Plowman the three versions the story Do Well, Do
Bet, Do Best its lack of plan its sincerity Langland
vs. Chaucer Langland's limitations his character por-
trayal. V. Gower his character his writings hia
story of Florent his popularity as a story-teller. VI.
The decadence Lydgate his Chaucer imitations his
stories his popularity worn condition of the old themes
influence of travel and commerce Mandeville's Trav-
els increasing desire for plausibility.


I. Foreign fiction British protest against it collections
of translations Lady Lucres Caxton's publication of
fiction folk tales. II. Sir Thomas More his character
and career the Utopia its theories and pictures its
realism and naturalness other stories of the Ideal State.

III. The increase of artificialty Lyly's Euphues fiction
for women Lyly's career the plot of Euphues Euphues
and His England use of similes and metaphors use of
zoology and botany Lyly's English traits approach to
novel of manners sentiment analysis rhetorical value.

IV. Shakespeare's, Jonson's, and Scott's use of Euphuism.
Lyly's imitators. V. Robert Greene his life and
character Mamillia Mirror of Modesty Arbasto Mo-
rando Pandosto Menaphon Repentance his Euphuism
his ethical purpose his plots his realism Emanuel
Ford Parismus Nicholas Breton Miseries of Mavillia




Two Excellent Princes Mad Letters The Good and
the Bad the germ of the society novel character
sketches gathering of fiction elements. VI. Lodge's
Rosalynde his career the plot the charm. VII. Sir
Philip Sidney his life Arcadia its daintiness its
characters and plot its descriptions the living charac-
ter of the queen imitations of Arcadia Lady Wreath's
Urania influence of Arcadia. VIII. Picaresque tales
Thomas Nash his characters his realistic stories Jack
Wilton use of details its lowly scenes Nash's imita-
tators. IX. Thomas Dekker's realistic stories Guls
Home Booke. X. Rise of English prose Puritan influ-
ences French fiction refined heroism Catherine Phil-
lips Duchess of Newcastle's Sociable Letters. XL
Roger Boyle's Parthenissa Mrs. Manley her indecency
The Power of Love Secret Memoirs Mrs. Behn her
vileness her Oroonoko its romance and realism its
plot the "child of nature." XII. John Bunyan his
knowledge of men his spiritual experiences Pilgrim's
Progress Holy War Mr. B adman the vivid character-
ization the analysis the two kinds of realism the
style Bunyan's influence on fiction.



I. Social and literary conditions. II. Sir Roger de Cov-
erley approach to the "novel" form the hero's human-
ness. III. Daniel Defoe Defoe vs. Swift Defoe's train-
ing his biographical work his impersonal tone his
timeliness Robinson Crusoe sources of its realism
Crusoe's personality Moll Flanders Colonel Jack Cap-
tain Singleton Defoe's pictures of immorality Robinson
Crusoe not a novel. IV. Jonathan Swift Tale of a Tub
Battle of the Books Defoe vs. Swift Gulliver's Trav-
els its merciless descriptions Swift's contributions to
fiction. V. Eliza Haywood her use of love Betsy
Thoughtless its defects and merits. VI. Samuel Rich-
ardson his character Pamela its analysis its moral-
ity Clarissa Harlowe its fame sources of its power
Sir Charles Grandison the hero's nature the ridiculous
side Richardson's contributions to fiction. VII. Henry
Fielding his career Joseph Andreivs its character de-
lineation Fielding's knowledge of life Parson Adams
Journey from this World to the Next Jonathan Wild
Tom Jones its plot its characters its vigor Amelia
Journal of the Voyage Fielding's influence on fiction.
VIII. Sara Fielding. IX. Tobias Smollett his train-



ing Roderick Random Peregrine Pickle Ferdinand
Count Fathom Sir Launcelot Greaves Adventures of
an Atom Humphrey Clinker savage analysis the plots

the roughness, coarseness, humor the sea characters
humor of Humphrey Clinker French and Spanish influ-
ence on Smollett his gifts to fiction. X. Laurence
Sterne's Tristram Shandy his strange nature his Sen-
timental Journey his plagiarism his topsy-turvy meth-
ods the characters his delicate art his sarcasm. XI.
Johnson's Rasselas its plot its defects and merits.
XII. Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield his nature the
impossible plot its spirit, purity, humor, characters
cause of its success. XIII. Hobby-riding Johnstone's
Adventures of a Guinea Leland's Longsword Walpole's
Castle of Otranto Reeve's Old English Baron Lee's Re-
cess Gothic and historical romances Beckford's Vathek

Radcliffe's Castles of Athlin and Duribayne, Romance
of the Forest and Mysteries of Udolpho. XIV. The novel
of purpose "back to nature" theme Brooke's Fool of
Quality Day's Sanford and Merton its "new woman"

Inchbald's Simple Story and Nature and Art demo-
cratic fiction Bage's novels Holcroft's Anna St. Ives
his anarchy Charlotte Smith's Desmond Godwin's Ca-
leb Williams. XV. The novel of manners Griffith's
Koran Mackenzie's Man of Feeling, Man of the World,
and Julia de Roubigne Graves' Spiritual Quixote Cum-
berland's Henry Fanny Burney her Evelina its social
pictures Cecilia Burney's view of men Camilla Ma-
rie Edgeworth her Irish pictures Rackrent Castle
Belinda Burney's ethical purpose her influence.


I. Social and literary conditions jmftBticists- vs. ralr

Jane Austen her calm realism her training

Northanger Abbey Sense and Sensibility the "inner
life" Austen's methods her characters Mansfield Park

Emma Persuasion her use of conversation her re-
serve her influence. III. Sir Walter Scott his defects

reasons for his success his virility his use of his-
tory his romanticism and realism his methods his
heroes his social pictures his gifts to fiction. IV.
Scott's disciples. V. Bulwer-Lytton his versatility his
various themes his qualification his formula Last
Days of Pompeii his use of history his teachers his
use of the Gothic his loss of popularity. VI. Gothic
revivals Colloquies on Society Mrs. Shelley's Franken-




stein Maturin's Melmoth Collins' Woman in White and
Moonstone Alice's Adventures in Wonderland the vast
array of themes Irish fiction war and sea fiction
"travel" stories Scotch realism Susan Ferrier John
Gait David Moir English realism Mary Mitford
Harriet Martineau E. S. Barrett Richard Barham
Dinah Mulock. VII. Benjamin Disraeli his egotism
the originals of his characters his rich imagination his
characterization his style Contarini Fleming Henri-
etta Temple Coningsby Sybil Tancred. VIII. Charles
Dickens his personality his training his animation
his reforming tendencies Theodore Hook and Pierce
Egan Pickwick Papers humanitarianism Dickens' ex-
aggerations his inventiveness his use of emotion his
characters his idealism his appeal to the average
reader his influence. IX. Thackeray his use of history
Esmond Vanity Fair his methods his cynicism his
ethical purpose Pendennis its sly sarcasm the pathos
of disillusionment The Virginians The Newcomes his
increase of sentiment his attitude toward his charac-
ters his weak plots Esmond vs. Vanity Fair his
merits. X. Austen's influence Mrs. Opie Miss Terrier
Mrs. Trollope Baroness Toutphoeus Mrs. Henry
Wood Dinah Mulock Elizabeth Gaskell her realism
Cranford Ruth GaskelPs influence on George Eliot.

XI. Protest against Austen George Borrow Charles
Reade Charles Kingsley Hypatia Westward Ho.

XII. Charlotte Bronte Emily Bronte Jane Eyre Shir-
union with Lewes her sympathy, pathos, and humor
ley. XIII. George Eliot her gifts and training her
her accurate methods her ethical import causes of her
permanent success. XIV. Realism vs. romanticism
Blackmore's Lorna Doone Black's Princess of Thule
Anthony Trollope his protest his characters his real-
istic pictures. XV. George Meredith his lack of pop-
ularity his poetry vs. his fiction his closeness to life
his novels his psychology his heroines his humor
and pathos his future fame. XVI. Thomas Hardy vs.
Meredith Hardy's bitterness the school of natural-
ism Hardy's peasant characters his themes the fatal-
ism of Tess Hardy's use of Nature his style his
defects and merits. XVII. Robert Louis Stevenson his
romanticism his love of chance his characters his ap-
parent truthfulness his realistic touches his historical
romances his dual personality Dr. Jekyll and Mr.
Hyde his group of styles his influence. XVIII. George
Gissing his realism and pessimism his strain of ideal-
ism his grasp of details the value of his work. XIX.




Various minor novelists the scope and use of the nine-
teenth century novel.



I. Tendencies of the day impressionism French influ-
ences. II. McCarthy Lang Watson Barrie Crockett.
III. Mrs. Ward. IV. Hall Caine. V. Weyman Hag-
gard Jerome Hewlett Femberton Corelli Hawkins
Zangwill. VI. Conan Doyle H. G. Wells. VII. A.
C. Benson E. F. Benson. VIII. Snaith Trevena De
Morgan Phillpotts Locke Quiller-Couch. IX. John
Galsworthy his lack of plot his themes his assur-
ance. X. Rudyard Kipling his romanticism and real-
ism his character delineation his chief merits.


INDEX .......... A ... * . . . 433


The stream of fiction is hard to follow. It has its
origin in so many sources so widely separated and so
divergent in character, and these are in many cases so
obscured by remoteness or by insignificance, that they
are difficult to discover. When discovered they do not
disclose even to daring conjecture their possible influ-
ence upon the main current. The stream itself flows
with many windings because turned in its course by ad-
verse conditions or actually forced out of its normal
channel by insuperable obstacles. It flows too with un-
steady motion, now moving in well-defined limits, now
submerging adjacent territory and well-nigh engulfing
kindred forms and becoming itself sluggish in its for-
ward movement; at other times it dashes on with in-
explicable impetuosity and then eddies around some
fixed point in its course. Tributaries feed this stream
all along its course tributaries that demand but defy
full exploration and tempt the discoverer to lose him-
self in the mazes of their obscure sources. The author
of this book has succeeded well in playing the guide on
this stream with its twists and turnings, its lulling quiet-
ness and restive dashes, its accretions and its losses. By
seeing the end from the beginning he has kept himself
from being diverted from his single purpose and has
certainly made the journey easier for the next explorer
that comes this way.

Dropping the figure we may add more directly that



the author has amassed a wealth of valuable material
difficult of easy access to any one, and for the general
reader well-nigh inaccessible. This is particularly true
of the Old and Middle English stories inherently inter-
esting but rarely read because the originals are forbid-
ding and the modernizations not freely circulated. He
has subjected this, and all of his material, to careful,
though not to studiously critical analysis and reached
conclusions that are independent without being whim-
sically or perversely individual. These conclusions are
in general sane and suggestive and are set forth so di-
rectly and simply, with so little of academic affectation
and technical involutions, as to be readily intelligible
and highly entertaining.

The plan of the book is clear and is sufficiently ob-
served to protect the author and readers alike from need-
less wanderings; and, in spite of the irreconcilable va-
riety of the material, the transitions have been, in the
main, skilfully made and the whole book well articu-
lated. While it is not a book for a single sitting it has
continued interest and logical connection.

This book may be commended cordially and with con-
fidence to intelligent readers desiring general informa-
tion on this interesting development in literature; to
students requiring a running account of fiction parallel
with their closer study; and to those pursuing courses
designed especially for instruction and culture.

May 20, 1912.

Charlottesville, Virginia.



This book is an attempt to show with considerable de-
tail the development of English story-telling from the
fifth to the twentieth century. It might, with some ap-
propriateness be called a study of the story-telling in-
stinct among the English people ; for the book treats, not
only of the masterpieces of English narrative, but of the
crude efforts of our early forefathers. In the extent of
the field thus covered, this volume, so far as I have been
able to discover, stands alone. Almost every investiga-
tion of English fiction begins with the first quarter of
the eighteenth century ; only two or three extend as far
back as the days of Shakespeare. The present work fol-
lows the progress of the narrative art from the days of
the first Anglo-Saxon songs of heroes to the realistic
studies of life in the present day.

Fifteen hundred years of fiction is a tremendous
stretch to cover; but it is decidedly unfair to the sub-
ject and to the student of literature to begin with Defoe
and Richardson, and thus leave the impression that they
were the first English story tellers. More, Lyly, Lodge,
and Greene were writing fiction long before ; the British
folk were telling of King Arthur, King Horn, and
Robin Hood centuries before the Elizabethans wrote;
and before the days of Arthur the Anglo-Saxons were
relating the deeds of Beowulf. It is a continuous story
to be begun only at the beginning.


I have entirely excluded American and Colonial
writers. Cooper and Hawthorne were not British;
neither are William Dean Howells and Henry James,
no matter how much they have learned from their Eng-
lish friends. Moreover, American fiction is developing
such distinct traits that a study of it is worthy of a sep-
arate volume. This I hope to write at no distant date.

The book is not presented as a highly technical dis-
sertation for specialists already well versed in the evo-
lution of this type of literature. The effort has been to
produce an untechnical narrative of the general changes
and processes through which English story-telling has
reached its present form. Intended not only for stu-
dents making their first investigations in the subject,
but also for the general reader outside the college walls,
it is written purposely in "popular" style and with as
little delay on merely scholarly details as possible. This,
it is hoped, will not prove a disadvantage to the scholarly
reader, while it will undoubtedly prove a distinct ad-
vantage to those whose interest is not won and retained
by scholarship alone.

I wish to express my thanks to Miss Mary Hannah
Johnson, of the Carnegie Library, Nashville, Tennessee,
for aid rendered on many occasions ; to Professor George
Herbert Clarke, of the George Peabody College for
Teachers, for his valuable suggestions; and to the
students in my graduate class at Vanderbilt University
for their interest and assistance while this volume was
in the making.



Nashville, Tennessee,





HAMLET once declared that "the play 's the thing";
but he would have been much more accurate had he said,
"The story 's the thing." All nations, savage or civil-
ized, long for fiction, and it has ever been thus. Among
the Greeks Homer was but a culmination of a multi-
tude of legends and traditions that had been told about
the campfire or in the family circle for hundreds of
years ; Virgil found ready for his master hand a mass of
folklore known to Romans for centuries before he sang
his JEneid; the French with their Song of Roland and
the Germans with their Nibelungen Lied are but further
illustrations of the native and undying craving for great
dreams of what might have been. With none of these
nations has the longing been more persistent and more
evident than with the English. From their very birth
yes, before they were an organized people bearing one
name they called for stories. That man who could
retell these legends in vigorous and inspiring language
received all honor; he stood next to the king in appre-
ciation and reverence; he was lovingly called the scop,


/: , ; i / f ENGLISH FICTION

the maker, the creator; he was expected to incite men
to brave deeds and noble ideals; he was rewarded with
liberal gifts of gold and of property; he was the ad-
mired molder of tribal emotions and purposes.

To us moderns it would be a weird and fascinating
experience to glance into an ancient Anglo-Saxon feast,
to see the king and his warriors at the table in the
great hall, the crackling fire on stone hearths at either
end of the long room, the smoke curling slowly through
wide holes in the roof or lingering among the blackened
rafters, and along the walls the stone benches where
the long-haired harpers sat, taking their turn at sing-
ing the deeds of old-time heroes or chanting in unison
the brave battles and victories of their present chief.
Every man in that hall, from the king to the humblest
soldier, was expected to be a singer and to have in
memory a store of ballads of olden days; and often,
under the excitement of the music and ale, the chief
or some warrior snatched the harp from the hands of a
minstrel, burst forth into a mighty battle song, and
then passed the instrument to another of the feasters
to add to the unwritten volume of legendary lore.

Innumerable were the stories of that day. Unfortu-
nately, however, during the incursions of the mad-hearted
Danes in the eighth and ninth centuries a multitude
of manuscripts containing these ancient tales were de-
stroyed. Still, fate was not entirely heartless; there
remain enough shriveled parchments to show the form,
the style, the spirit, and the ideals of our primitive fic-
tion. In these we may trace the first rude gropings
in that art which, more than a thousand years later,


made the names of Scott, Thackeray, and Dickens fa-
mous throughout the world.

Stop ford Brooke 1 has said: "As far as we can go
back with certainty we find the Teutonic tribes harpists
or singers. . . . Beligion and war were the fullest
sources of their poetry. . . . At one special point
their religion and their war . . . were combined
into song in the mingling of the great jmyths with the
lives of tribal heroes. . . . The doings of the light
and darkness, of the heat and cold, were made into
mythical stories which gathered around a few and after-
wards around many gods whom the personating passion
of mankind fitted to the various doings of Nature.
. . . These stories grew into legends and sagas of the
gods. . . . But the myths thus existing took a fresh
life in the war stories. When a great hero arose, did
famous deeds, and died, his history grew into a saga.
. . . Then, because wonder must belong to him, the
Nature myths stole .also into history, and the tales of

Online LibraryCarl HollidayEnglish fiction from the fifth to the twentieth century → online text (page 1 of 31)