Life. Mary Ann (or Marian) Evans, known to us by her pen name of George Eliot, began to write late in life, when nearly forty years of age, and attained the leading position among living English novelists in the ten years between 1870 and 1880, after Thackeray and Dickens had passed away. She was born at Arbury Farm, Warwickshire, some twenty miles from Stratford-on-Avon, in 1819. Her parents were plain, honest folk, of the farmer class, who brought her up in the somewhat strict religious manner of those days. Her father seems to have been a man of sterling integrity and of INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница practical English sense,--one of those essentially noble characters who do the world's work silently and well, and who by their solid worth obtain a position of influence among their fellow-men.
A few months after George Eliot's birth the family moved to another home, in the parish of Griff, where her childhood was largely passed. The scenery of the Midland counties and many details of her own family life are reflected in her earlier novels. Thus we find her and her brother, as Maggie and Tom Tulliver, in The Mill on the Floss; her INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница aunt, as Dinah Morris, and her mother, as Mrs. Poyser, in Adam Bede. We have a suggestion of her father in the hero of the latter novel, but the picture is more fully drawn as Caleb Garth, in Middlemarch. For a few years she studied at two private schools for young ladies, at Nuneaton and Coventry; but the death of her mother called her, at seventeen years of age, to take entire charge of the household. Thereafter her education was gained wholly by miscellaneous reading. We have a suggestion of her method in one of her early letters, in which she INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница says: "My mind presents an assemblage of disjointed specimens of history, ancient and modern; scraps of poetry picked up from Shakespeare, Cowper, Wordsworth, and Milton; newspaper topics, morsels of Addison and Bacon, Latin verbs, geometry, entomology, and chemistry; reviews and metaphysics, all arrested and petrified and smothered by the fast-thickening everyday accession of actual events, relative anxieties, and household cares and vexations."
MARY ANN EVANS, GEORGE ELIOT
When Mary was twenty-one years old the family again moved, this time to Foleshill Road, near Coventry. Here she became acquainted with the family of Charles Bray, a prosperous ribbon manufacturer, whose INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница house was a gathering place for the freethinkers of the neighborhood. The effect of this liberal atmosphere upon Miss Evans, brought up in a narrow way, with no knowledge of the world, was to unsettle many of her youthful convictions. From a narrow, intense dogmatism, she went to the other extreme of radicalism; then (about 1860) she lost all sympathy with the freethinkers, and, being instinctively religious, seemed to be groping after a definite faith while following the ideal of duty. This spiritual struggle, which suggests that of Carlyle, is undoubtedly the cause of that gloom and INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница depression which hang, like an English fog, over much of her work; though her biographer, Cross, tells us that she was not by any means a sad or gloomy woman.
In 1849 Miss Evans's father died, and the Brays took her abroad for a tour of the continent. On her return to England she wrote several liberal articles for the Westminster Review, and presently was made assistant editor of that magazine. Her residence in London at this time marks a turning point in her career and the real beginning of her literary life. She made strong friendships with Spencer, Mill, and INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница other scientists of the day, and through Spencer met George Henry Lewes, a miscellaneous writer, whom she afterwards married.
Under his sympathetic influence she began to write fiction for the magazines, her first story being "Amos Barton" (1857), which was later included in the Scenes of Clerical Life (1858). Her first long novel, Adam Bede, appeared early in 1859 and met with such popular favor that to the end of her life she despaired of ever again repeating her triumph. But the unexpected success proved to be an inspiration, and she completed The Mill on the Floss and began Silas Marner during the INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница following year. Not until the great success of these works led to an insistent demand to know the author did the English public learn that it was a woman, and not an English clergyman, as they supposed, who had suddenly jumped to the front rank of living writers.
Up to this point George Eliot had confined herself to English country life, but now she suddenly abandoned the scenes and the people with whom she was most familiar in order to write an historical novel. It was in 1860, while traveling in Italy, that she formed "the great INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница project" of Romola,--a mingling of fiction and moral philosophy, against the background of the mighty Renaissance movement. In this she was writing of things of which she had no personal knowledge, and the book cost her many months of hard and depressing labor. She said herself that she was a young woman when she began the work, and an old woman when she finished it. Romola (1862--1863) was not successful with the public, and the same may be said of Felix Holt the Radical (1866) and The Spanish Gypsy (1868). The last-named work was the result of the author's ambition to write INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница a dramatic poem which should duplicate the lesson of Romola; and for the purpose of gathering material she visited Spain, which she had decided upon as the scene of her poetical effort. With the publication of Middlemarch (1871-1872) George Eliot came back again into popular favor, though this work is less spontaneous, and more labored and pedantic, than her earlier novels. The fault of too much analysis and moralizing was even more conspicuous in Daniei Deronda (1876), which she regarded as her greatest book. Her life during all this time was singularly uneventful, and the chief milestones along the road mark INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница the publication of her successive novels.
During all the years of her literary success her husband Lewes had been a most sympathetic friend and critic, and when he died, in 1878, the loss seemed to be more than she could bear. Her letters of this period are touching in their loneliness and their craving for sympathy. Later she astonished everybody by marrying John Walter Cross, much younger than herself, who is known as her biographer. "Deep down below there is a river of sadness, but ... I am able to enjoy my newly re-opened life," writes this INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница woman of sixty, who, ever since she was the girl whom we know as Maggie Tulliver, must always have some one to love and to depend upon. Her new interest in life lasted but a few months, for she died in December of the same year (1880). One of the best indications of her strength and her limitations is her portrait, with its strong masculine features, suggesting both by resemblance and by contrast that wonderful portrait of Savonarola which hangs over his old desk in the monastery at Florence.
Works of George Eliot. These are conveniently divided into three groups INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница, corresponding to the three periods of her life. The first group includes all her early essays and miscellaneous work, from her translation of Strauss's Leben Jesu, in 1846, to her union with Lewes in 1854. The second group includes Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, Mill on the Floss, and Silas Marner, all published between 1858 and 1861. These four novels of the middle period are founded on the author's own life and experience; their scenes are laid in the country, and their characters are taken from the stolid people of the Midlands, with whom George Eliot had been familiar since childhood. They are INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница probably the author's most enduring works. They have a naturalness, a spontaneity, at times a flash of real humor, which are lacking in her later novels; and they show a rapid development of literary power which reaches a climax in Silas Marner.
The novel of Italian life, Romola (1862-1863), marks a transition to the third group, which includes three more novels,--Felix Holt (1866), Middlemarch (1871-1872), Daniel Deronda (1876), the ambitious dramatic poem The Spanish Gypsy (1868), and a collection of miscellaneous essays called The Impressions of Theophrastus Such (1879). The general impression, of these works is not so favorable as INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница that produced by the novels of the middle period. They are more labored and less interesting; they contain much deep reflection and analysis of character, but less observation, less delight in picturing country life as it is, and very little of what we call inspiration. We must add, however, that this does not express a unanimous literary judgment, for critics are not wanting who assert that Daniel Deronda is the highest expression of the author's genius.
General CharacterThe general character of all these novels may be described, in the author's own term, as psychologic realism. This means that George Eliot INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница sought to do in her novels what Browning attempted in his poetry; that is, to represent the inner struggle of a soul, and to reveal the motives, impulses, and hereditary influences which govern human action. Browning generally stops when he tells his story, and either lets you draw your own conclusion or else gives you his in a few striking lines. But George Eliot is not content until she has minutely explained the motives of her characters and the moral lesson to be learned from them. Moreover, it is the development of a soul, the slow INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница growth or decline of moral power, which chiefly interests her. Her heroes and heroines differ radically from those of Dickens and Thackeray in this respect,--that when we meet the men and women of the latter novelists, their characters are already formed, and we are reasonably sure what they will do under given circumstances. In George Eliot's novels the characters develop gradually as we come to know them. They go from weakness to strength, or from strength to weakness, according to the works that they do and the thoughts that they cherish. In Romola, for instance, Tito, as we first meet INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница him, may be either good or bad, and we know not whether he will finally turn to the right hand or to the left. As time passes, we see him degenerate steadily because he follows his selfish impulses, while Romola, whose character is at first only faintly indicated, grows into beauty and strength with every act of self-renunciation.
Moral TeachingIn these two characters, Tito and Romola, we have an epitome of our author's moral teaching. The principle of law was in the air during the Victorian era, and we have already noted how deeply Tennyson was INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница influenced by it. With George Eliot law is like fate; it overwhelms personal freedom and inclination. Moral law was to her as inevitable, as automatic, as gravitation. Tito's degeneration, and the sad failure of Dorothea and Lydgate in Middlemarch, may be explained as simply as the fall of an apple, or as a bruised knee when a man loses his balance. A certain act produces a definite moral effect on the individual; and character is the added sum of all, the acts of a man's; life,--just as the weight of a body is the sum INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница of the weights of many different atoms which constitute it. The matter of rewards and punishments, therefore, needs no final judge or judgment, since these things take care of themselves automatically in a world of inviolable moral law.
Perhaps one thing more should be added to the general characteristics of George Eliot's novels,--they are all rather depressing. The gladsomeness of life, the sunshine of smiles and laughter, is denied her. It is said that once, when her husband remarked that her novels were all essentially sad, she wept, and answered that she must describe life as she had found INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница it.
What to Read. George Eliot's first stories are in some respects her best, though her literary power increases during her second period, culminating in Silas Marner, and her psychological analysis is more evident in Daniel Deronda. On the whole, it is an excellent way to begin with the freshness and inspiration of the Scenes of Clerical Life and read her books in the order in which they were written. In the first group of novels Adam Bede is the most natural, and probably interests more readers than all the others combined. The Mill on the Floss has INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница a larger personal interest, because it reflects much of George Eliot's history and the scenes and the friends of her early life. The lack of proportion in this story, which gives rather too much space to the girl-and-boy experiences, is naturally explained by the tendency in every man and woman to linger over early memories.
Silas MarnerSilas Marner is artistically the most perfect of George Eliot's novels, and we venture to analyze it as typical of her ideals and methods. We note first the style, which is heavy and a little self-conscious, lacking INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница the vigor and picturesqueness of Dickens, and the grace and naturalness of Thackeray. The characters are the common people of the Midlands, the hero being a linen weaver, a lonely outcast who hoards and gloats over his hard-earned money, is robbed, thrown into utter despair, and brought back to life and happiness by the coming of an abandoned child to his fire. In the development of her story the author shows herself, first, a realist, by the naturalness of her characters and the minute accuracy with which she reproduces their ways and even the accents of their speech INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница; second, a psychologist, by the continual analysis and explanation of motives; third, a moralist, by showing in each individual the action and reaction of universal moral forces, and especially by making every evil act bring inevitable punishment to the man who does it. Tragedy, therefore, plays a large part in the story; for, according to George Eliot, tragedy and suffering walk close behind us, or lurk at every turn in the road of life. Like all her novels, Silas Marner is depressing. We turn away from even the wedding of Eppie--which is just as it should be--with a INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница sense of sadness and incompleteness. Finally, as we close the book, we are conscious of a powerful and enduring impression of reality. Silas, the poor weaver; Godfrey Cass, the well-meaning, selfish man; Mr. Macey, the garrulous, and observant parish clerk; Dolly Winthrop, the kind-hearted countrywoman who cannot understand the mysteries of religion and so interprets God in terms of human love,--these are real people, whom having once met we can never forget.
RomolaRomola has the same general moral theme as the English novels; but the scenes are entirely different, and opinion is divided as INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница to the comparative merit of the work. It is a study, a very profound study of moral development in one character and of moral degeneracy in another. Its characters and its scenes are both Italian, and the action takes place during a critical period of the Renaissance movement, when Savonarola was at the height of his power in Florence. Here is a magnificent theme and a superb background for a great novel, and George Eliot read and studied till she felt sure that she understood the place, the time, and the people of her story. Romola is therefore interesting INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница reading, in many respects the most interesting of her works. It has been called one of our greatest historical novels; but as such it has one grievous fault. It is not quite true to the people or even to the locality which it endeavors to represent. One who reads it here, in a new and different land, thinks only of the story and of the novelist's power; but one who reads it on the spot which it describes, and amidst the life which it pictures, is continually haunted by the suggestion that George Eliot understood neither Italy nor the INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница Italians. It is this lack of harmony with Italian life itself which caused Morris and Rossetti and even Browning, with all his admiration for the author, to lay aside the book, unable to read it with pleasure or profit. In a word, Romola is a great moral study and a very interesting book; but the characters are not Italian, and the novel as a whole lacks the strong reality which marks George Eliot's English studies.
MINOR NOVELISTS OF THE VICTORIAN AGE
In the three great novelists just considered we have an epitome of the fiction of the age INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница, Dickens using the novel to solve social problems, Thackeray to paint the life of society as he saw it, and George Eliot to teach the fundamental principles of morality. The influence of these three writers is reflected in all the minor novelists of the Victorian Age. Thus, Dickens is reflected in Charles Reade, Thackeray in Anthony Trollope and the Brontл sisters, and George Eliot's psychology finds artistic expression in George Meredith. To these social and moral and realistic studies we should add the element of romance, from which few of our modern novelist's can long escape. The INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница nineteenth century, which began with the romanticism of Walter Scott, returns to its first love, like a man glad to be home, in its delight over Blackmore's Lorna Doone and the romances of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Charles Reade. In his fondness for stage effects, for picturing the romantic side of common life, and for using the novel as the instrument of social reform, there is a strong suggestion of Dickens in the work of Charles Reade (1814-1884). Thus his Peg Woffington is a study of stage life from behind the scenes; A Terrible Temptation is a study of social reforms and INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница reformers; and Put yourself in his Place is the picture of a workingman who struggles against the injustice of the trades unions. His masterpiece, The Cloister and the Hearth (1861), one of our best historical novels, is a somewhat laborious study of student and vagabond life in Europe in the days of the German Renaissance. It has small resemblance to George Eliot's Romola, whose scene is laid in Italy during the same period; but the two works may well be read in succession, as the efforts of two very different novelists of the same period to restore the INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница life of an age long past.
Anthony Trollope. In his realism, and especially in his conception of the novel as the entertainment of an idle hour, Trollope (1815-1882) is a reflection of Thackeray. It would be hard to find a better duplicate of Becky Sharp, the heroine of Vanity Fair, for instance, than is found in Lizzie Eustace, the heroine of The Eustace Diamonds. Trollope was the most industrious and systematic of modern novelists, writing a definite amount each day, and the wide range of his characters suggests the Human Comedy of Balzac. His masterpiece is Barchester Towers INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница (1857). This is a study of life in a cathedral town, and is remarkable for its minute pictures of bishops and clergymen, with their families and dependents. It would be well to read this novel in connection with The Warden (1855), The Last Chronicle of Barset (1867), and other novels of the same series, since the scenes and characters are the same in all these books, and they are undoubtedly the best expression of the author's genius. Hawthorne says of his novels: "They precisely suit my taste,--solid and substantial, and ... just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница of the earth and put it under a glass case, with all the inhabitants going about their daily business and not suspecting that they were being made a show of."
Charlotte Brontл. We have another suggestion of Thackeray in the work of Charlotte Brontл (1816-1855). She aimed to make her novels a realistic picture of society, but she added to Thackeray's realism the element of passionate and somewhat unbalanced romanticism. The latter element was partly the expression of Miss Brontл's own nature, and partly the result of her lonely and grief-stricken life, which was darkened by a INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница succession of family tragedies. It will help us to understand her work if we remember that both Charlotte Brontл and her sister Emily turned to literature because they found their work as governess and teacher unendurable, and sought to relieve the loneliness and sadness of their own lot by creating a new world of the imagination. In this new world, however, the sadness of the old remains, and all the Brontл novels have behind them an aching heart. Charlotte Brontл's best known work is Jane Eyre (1847), which, with all its faults, is a powerful and INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница fascinating study of elemental love and hate, reminding us vaguely of one of Marlowe's tragedies. This work won instant favor with the public, and the author was placed in the front rank of living novelists. Aside from its value as a novel, it is interesting, in many of its early passages, as the reflection of the author's own life and experience. Shirley (1849) and Villette (1853) make up the trio of novels by which this gifted woman is generally remembered.
Bulwer Lytton. Edward Bulwer Lytton (1803-1873) was an extremely versatile writer, who tried almost every kind of novel known to INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница the nineteenth century. In his early life he wrote poems and dramas, under the influence of Byron; but his first notable work, Pelham (1828), one of the best of his novels, was a kind of burlesque on the Byronic type of gentleman. As a study of contemporary manners in high society, Pelham has a suggestion of Thackeray, and the resemblance is more noticeable in other novels of the same type, such as Ernest Maltravers (1837), The Caxtons (1848-1849), My Novel (1853), and Kenelm Chillingly (1873). We have a suggestion of Dickens in at least two of Lytton's novels, Paul Clifford and Eugene Aram, the heroes of INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница which are criminals, pictured as the victims rather than as the oppressors of society. Lytton essayed also, with considerable popular success, the romantic novel in The Pilgrims of the Rhine and Zanoni, and tried the ghost story in The Haunted and the Haunters. His fame at the present day rests largely upon his historical novels, in imitation of Walter Scott, The Last Days of Pompeii (1834), Riettza (1835), and Harold (1848), the last being his most ambitious attempt to make the novel the supplement of history. In all his novels Lytton is inclined to sentimentalism and sensationalism, and his INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница works, though generally interesting, seem hardly worthy of a high place in the history of fiction.
Kingsley. Entirely different in spirit are the novels of the scholarly clergyman, Charles Kingsley (1819-1875). His works naturally divide themselves into three classes. In the first are his social studies and problem novels, such as Alton Locke (1850), having for its hero a London tailor and poet, and Yeast (1848), which deals with the problem of the agricultural laborer. In the second class are his historical novels, Hereward the Wake, Hypatia, and Westward Ho! Hypatia is a dramatic story of Christianity in contact with paganism, having its scene INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница laid in Alexandria at the beginning of the fifth century. Westward Ho! (1855), his best known work, is a stirring tale of English conquest by land and sea in the days of Elizabeth. In the third class are his various miscellaneous works, not the least of which is Water-Babies, a fascinating story of a chimney sweep, which mothers read to their children at bedtime,--to the great delight of the round-eyed little listeners under the counterpane.
Mrs. Gaskell. Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) began, like Kingsley, with the idea of making the novel the instrument of social reform. As the INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница wife of a clergyman in Manchester, she had come in close contact with the struggles and ideals of the industrial poor of a great city, and she reflected her sympathy as well as her observation in Mary Barton (1848) and in North and South (1855). Between these two problem novels she published her masterpiece, Cranford, in 1853. The original of this country village, which is given over to spinsters, is undoubtedly Knutsford, in Cheshire, where Mrs. Gaskell had spent her childhood. The sympathy, the keen observation, and the gentle humor with which the small affairs of a country village are described make Cranford INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница one of the most delightful stories in the English language. We are indebted to Mrs. Gaskell also for the Life of Charlotte Brontл, which is one of our best biographies.
Blackmore. Richard Doddridge Blackrhore (1825--1900) was a prolific writer, but he owes his fame almost entirely to one splendid novel, Lorna Doone, which was published in 1869. The scene of this fascinating romance is laid in Exmoor in the seventeenth century. The story abounds in romantic scenes and incidents; its descriptions of natural scenery are unsurpassed; the rhythmic language is at times almost equal to poetry; and the whole INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница tone of the book is wholesome and refreshing. Altogether it would be hard to find a more delightful romance in any language, and it well deserves the place it has won as one of the classics of our literature. Other works of Blackmore which will repay the reader are Clara Vaughan (1864), his first novel, The Maid of Sker (1872), Springhaven (1887), Perlycross (1894), and Tales from the Telling House (1896); but none of these, though he counted them his best work, has met with the same favor as Lorna Doone.
Meredith. So much does George Meredith (1828-1909) belong to our own day that it is difficult INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница to think of him as one of the Victorian novelists. His first notable work, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, was published in 1859, the same year as George Eliot's Adam Bede; but it was not till the publication of Diana of the Crossways in 1885, that his power as a novelist was widely recognized. He resembles Browning not only in his condensed style, packed with thought, but also in this respect,--that he labored for years in obscurity, and after much of his best work was published and apparently forgotten he slowly won the leading place in English fiction. We INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница are still too near him to speak of the permanence of his work, but a casual reading of any of his novels suggests a comparison and a contrast with George Eliot. Like her, he is a realist and a psychologist; but while George Eliot uses tragedy to teach a moral lesson, Meredith depends more upon comedy, making vice not terrible but ridiculous. For the hero or heroine of her novel George Eliot invariably takes an individual, and shows in each one the play of universal moral forces. Meredith constructs a type-man as a hero, and INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница makes this type express his purpose and meaning. So his characters seldom speak naturally, as George Eliot's do; they are more like Browning's characters in packing a whole paragraph into a single sentence or an exclamation. On account of his enigmatic style and his psychology, Meredith will never be popular; but by thoughtful men and women he will probably be ranked among our greatest writers of fiction. The simplest and easiest of his novels for a beginner is The Adventures of Henry Richmond (1871). Among the best of his works, besides the two mentioned above, are Beauchamp's Career (1876) and The INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница Egoist (1879). The latter is, in our personal judgment, one of the strongest and most convincing novels of the Victorian Age.
Hardy. Thomas Hardy (1840-) seems, like Meredith, to belong to the present rather than to a past age, and an interesting comparison may be drawn between these two novelists. In style, Meredith is obscure and difficult, while Hardy is direct and simple, aiming at realism in all things. Meredith makes man the most important phenomenon in the universe; and the struggles of men are brightened by the hope of victory. Hardy makes man an insignificant part of the world INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница, struggling against powers greater than himself,--sometimes against systems which he cannot reach or influence, sometimes against a kind of grim world-spirit who delights in making human affairs go wrong. He is, therefore, hardly a realist, but rather a man blinded by pessimism; and his novels, though generally powerful and sometimes fascinating, are not pleasant or wholesome reading. From the reader's view point some of his earlier works, like the idyllic love story Under the Greenwood Tree (1872) and A Pair of Blue Eyes (1873), are the most interesting. Hardy became noted, however, when he published Far INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница from the Madding Crowd, a book which, when it appeared anonymously in the Cornhill Magazine (1874), was generally attributed to George Eliot, for the simple reason that no other novelist was supposed to be capable of writing it. The Return of the Native (1878) and The Woodlanders are generally regarded as Hardy's masterpieces; but two novels of our own day, Tess of the D'Ubervilles (1891) and Jude the Obscure (1895), are better expressions of Hardy's literary art and of his gloomy philosophy.
Stevenson. In pleasing contrast with Hardy is Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), a brave, cheery, wholesome spirit, who has made us all INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница braver and cheerier by what he has written. Aside from their intrinsic value, Stevenson's novels are interesting in this respect,--that they mark a return to the pure romanticism of Walter Scott. The novel of the nineteenth century had, as we have shown, a very definite purpose. It aimed not only to represent life but to correct it, and to offer a solution to pressing moral and social problems. At the end of the century Hardy's gloom in the face of modern social conditions became oppressive, and Stevenson broke away from it into that land INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница of delightful romance in which youth finds an answer to all its questions. Problems differ, but youth is ever the same, and therefore Stevenson will probably be regarded by future generations as one of our most enduring writers. To his life, with its "heroically happy" struggle, first against poverty, then against physical illness, it is impossible to do justice in a short article. Even a longer biography is inadequate, for Stevenson's spirit, not the incidents of his life, is the important thing; and the spirit has no biographer. Though he had written much better work earlier, he first gained fame INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница by his Treasure Island (1883), an absorbing story of pirates and of a hunt for buried gold. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) is a profound ethical parable, in which, however, Stevenson leaves the psychology and the minute analysis of character to his readers, and makes the story the chief thing in his novel. Kidnapped (1886), The Master of Ballantrae (1889), and David Balfour (1893) are novels of adventure, giving us vivid pictures of Scotch life. Two romances left unfinished by his early death in Samoa are The Weir of Hermiston and St. Ives. The latter was finished by Quiller-Couch in INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница 1897; the former is happily just as Stevenson left it, and though unfinished is generally regarded as his masterpiece. In addition to these novels, Stevenson wrote a large number of essays, the best of which are collected in Virginibus Puerisque, Familiar Studies of Men and Books, and Memories and Portraits. Delightful sketches of his travels are found in An Inland Voyage (1878), Travels with a Donkey (1879), Across the Plains (1892), and The Amateur Emigrant (1894). Underwoods (1887) is an exquisite little volume of poetry, and A Child's Garden of Verses is one of the books that mothers will always keep to read to their children INTRODUCTION--THE MEANING OF LITERATURE 37 страница.