Essays on literary works - 2023
Byron's tradition in the affairs of the best sons of the English people
Lord George Gordon Byron
Characteristically, this plan remained unfulfilled. This was the last echo of the gloomy, Byronic moods of the poet - the mood of the time when Byron opposed his proud loneliness to society as a whole. In the last period of creativity, on the basis of connection with the real revolutionary movement, overcoming romantic disappointment, Byron moved on to full-blooded realistic satire (Beppo, Don Juan, Vision of the Court, Bronze Age).
Not a hopeless war of a loner with society, but the close connection of the poet with the revolutionary part of society in its struggle against the ruling classes - this is Byron's new position, reflected in his Italian and Greek diaries. And proud Byron for the first time subordinates his personality to the interests of the common cause, is ready to give and gives his life to the cause of the insurgent people.
Byron's traditions are alive in the deeds of such best sons of the English people as Ralph Fox, J. Cornford, J. Sprigg (Caldwell), in the deeds of their associates and comrades, who continue the struggle for the ideals of advanced progressive humanity.
In our country, the brilliant English novelists Dickens and Thackeray are well known, and less significant writers, their contemporaries, Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell are well known. George Eliot (her real name is Mary Ann Ivens) is incomparably less known. Meanwhile, her work is a very important link in the development of English literature. This writer in a sense can be compared with her French contemporaries Flaubert and Zola.
Between the classical realism of Dickens and Thackeray and the realism of the 20th century lies a transitional period in the development of literature. It is represented not only by the literature of the end of the century, all kinds of literature of decadence, but also by a new type of realism that arose in the central European countries after the revolution of 1848.
George Eliot (1819-1880) is one of the outstanding exponents of this realism.
The study of its strengths and weaknesses helps to understand how realism developed and what paths followed within the framework of bourgeois society.
Of paramount importance for understanding the ideological position of George Eliot is the philosophy of positivism. The meaning and reasons for the popularity of this philosophy must be clarified here.
Their need for a philosophical synthesis was satisfied by the then very widespread philosophy of positivism, put forward by Auguste Comte. Comte's elements of agnosticism and the role of common sense emphasized by him were close to the British (according to Comte, philosophy is only "generalized and systematized common sense"). In Puritan England, the moral and religious side of Comte's teachings enjoyed particular success: from the point of view of social balance, according to Comte, not so much "human rights" are important as his duties. Everyone must learn to live for others (hence Kant's coined word "altruism"). With all his striving for scientificity, Comte does not deny religion, but the subject of a religious cult should not be a deity, but all of humanity in its totality as the highest being, Comte establishes various rites, prayers and sacraments of this new cult of humanity. While in France many of Comte's followers rejected the religious part of his teachings, Congreve, the leader of the Comtists in England, considered himself the head of the "Comtist Church".
Under the influence of positivism there were people in England with very different political views and different political behavior. Among them was George Eliot's husband, George Henry Lewis.
Lewis combined political radicalism with orthodox contism. Realizing that Comte's idea of a combination of progress and order was closest to the compromise policy of the Whigs, he unsuccessfully tried to prove in his work on Comte that even more decisive conclusions could be drawn from his teaching. In philosophy, he tried to fight elements of Kantianism and agnosticism in Spencer and other contemporary English philosophers, but because of the extreme mechanistic nature of his concept, he came to flat, and sometimes simply absurd conclusions. At one time he identified all philosophy with idealistic metaphysics and proved its uselessness. A person receives knowledge about the world with the help of the sense organs, he does not have a special body for philosophizing, therefore, philosophy must be replaced by experimental, natural sciences.
Here Lewis continues his war on apriorism and agnosticism. “All concepts, even the most abstract ones, were originally sensations,” he writes. What seem to us to be innate ideas also arose from experience, but not ours, but the experience of our ancestors. There are no mysterious “things in themselves” behind things, no mysterious forces are hidden behind the processes of nature. But this is where Lewis starts to simplify. He does not recognize the difference between essence and phenomenon, cause and effect. "Objects are their properties and nothing more." Things are what they seem to us. The cause of any natural process is the process itself. The reason for the fall of bodies lies in the very process of their fall. Struggling with objective idealism, trying to explain the process of thinking scientifically, purely physiologically, Lewis, due to his non-dialectical and vague idea of materialism, sometimes comes to formulations that cannot be regarded otherwise than as subjective idealism. Thus, for example, he states: "Things are associations of sensations, certain groups of nerve units with a definite name." About this formulation, the Russian critic of Lewis (Stadlin) rightly says: "It is impossible to imagine anything more bizarre than this mixture of idealism (in meaning) and materialism (in terms of expression)."