Wednesday, October 31, 2007

1839 to 1840

Literature
"The Village Blacksmith." HW Longfellow. 1839. Poetry. Describes a New England smithy.

The Charterhouse of Parma. Stendahl. French. 1839. Historical Novel. Post-Napoleonic era. Remarkable analysis of romanticism. From Waterloo to Carthusian monastery.

"Each and All." Ralph Waldo Emerson. American. 1839. Poetry. Seashore walk. Expression of faith in the oneness of the universe. All parts interdependent.

"The Fall of the House of Usher." Edgar Allan Poe. American. 1839. Story. Sister, supposedly dead, reappears in bloody shroud. Brother, sister fall dead together. House splits.

The Green Mountain Boys. Daniel Pierce Thompson. American. 1839. Novel. Vivid picture of Revolutionary times in Vermont. Central character is Ethan Allen.

Society
1840. Queen Victoria marries her first cousin Albert.

1840. William Henry Harrison wins election to the U.S. presidency.

1840. The World's Anti-Slavery Convention opens at London, but Boston abolitionist William Garrison refuses to attend, protesting the exclusion of women. The U.S. antislavery movement has split into two factions in the past year largely because of Garrison's advocacy of women's rights, including their right to participate in the antislavery movement.

1840. Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle by Charles Darwin makes no reference to the idea that struck him two years ago when he read the 1798 Malthus Essay on Population. Darwin realized that living creatures in nature must compete with each other for sustenance and that nature kills off those which cannot compete, but he will not commit the notion to paper, even in pencil, for another two years.

1840. A new worldwide cholera epidemic begins. It will kill millions in the next 22 years.

1840. Afternoon tea is introduced by Anna, the duchess of Bedford. The tea interval will become a lasting British tradition.

Literature
Two Years Before the Mast. Richard Henry Dana, Jr. American. 1840. Narrative. Brutality of a ship's captain and the sailors' lack of redress. Aroused public opinion and led to legal action; influenced Melville and Conrad.

Sordello. Robert Browning. British. 1840. Poetry. Southern Europe in the 13th century; poet's dilemma: action or song. Tennyson: Poem is obscure. Only understood first and last lines and they are not true.

The Old Curiosity Shop. Charles Dickens. British. 1840. Novel. The adventures of Little Nell who accompanies her grandfather, an obsessive gambler, after he has lost the Curiosity Shop because of gambling.

A Hero of Our Time. Mikhail Lermontov. Russian. 1840. Novel. Young aristocrat in the reign of Tsar Nicholas I, in the 1830s. Serve the state or remain inactive? Aimless willfulness is threat to all he touches. Character of the superfluous man. Psychological analysis.

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