Wednesday, August 8, 2007

1755 to 1763

Dictionary of the English Language. Samuel Johnson. British. 1755. Dictionary. Standard dictionary until Noah Webster's. Refused Lord Chesterfield's belated offer of patronage.

1756. Seven Years' War begins in Europe. Prussia vs. France, Russia and Sweden. The French and Indian War in America was an offshoot of the European war.

1757. Battle of Plassey establishes British sovereignty in India. Robert Clive.

1757. Potato planting increases because of famine accompanying Seven Years' War.

1759. French Canada falls to the British. The Battle of Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City. Wolfe vs. Montcalm.

History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia. Samuel Johnson. British. 1759. Romance. Escapes from Paradise to learn that the intellectual lives of the real world do not provide happiness. Like Voltaire's Candide, an attack on the optimism of the time.

Candide, ou L'Optimism. Voltaire. French. 1759. Novel. Satirized Leibnitz's "All is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." Pangloss, Cunegonde, Lisbon earthquake, the Inquisition, El Dorado. Ends with, "We must cultivate our garden."

Tristram Shandy. Laurence Sterne. British. 1759/67. Novel. Chaotic account of Tristram's life from conception to the present. Influenced by Locke's association of ideas. Never gets beyond the second or third year of his life. Sandwiched in are "opinions," long-winded reflections on everything. Sterne has written a hodge-podge, instead of a history. Describes events whose chain of causation is cosmic, but significance is petty. Primary importance: content of consciousness at a given moment. Typographical eccentricities include one-sentence chapters, blank pages and unfinished sentences.

1760. Britain's George II dies. Succeeded by George III.

1760. American colonies have estimated population of 1.5 million.

1761. London physician John Hill makes first association between tobacco and cancer.

The Social Contract. Jean Jacques Rousseau. French. 1762. Nonfiction. Treatise on the origins and organization of government and the rights of citizens. No man has any natural authority over another. Individual is the basic political unit. The individual surrenders his rights to the state. Is equal to all others. Distrusts democracy. Aristocracy is acceptable. Monarchy is best. Minorities must submit to the will of the majority.

Emile, ou l'Education. Jean Jacques Rousseau. French. 1762. Romance. A child is not an adult and should not be treated as such until ready. Character formation: learn by experience, observation. Physical exercise and mastery of trades and hard work. Education of Sophie (women): Please men, be charming, modest, virtuous, and submissive.

The Citizen of the World. Oliver Goldsmith. British. 1762. Novel. Colloquial prose. Chinese philosopher visits England and reports on it to his friends in the East.

"Rameau's Nephew." Denis Diderot. French. 1762. Sketch. Satiric character sketch of a lazy, hare-brained, sensual, utterly candid social parasite.

1763. Treaty of Paris ends Seven Years' War.

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