Friday, November 9, 2007

1847 to 1848

Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. British. 1847. Novel. Rochester, strange, violent, bereft of conventional courtesy, law to himself. Married to insane wife. Hero, heroine new types in English fiction. Not conventional heroine. No superficial beauty, charm.

Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte. British. 1847. Novel. Heathcliff, a foundling, is strange, uncouth, passionate and disruptive. Wuthering Heights is the Earnshaw's lonely moorland home. "Wuthering" = turbulent weather. Catherine loves Heathcliff but suggests she can't marry him because it would degrade her. Furious, he leaves. Returns as polished, wealthy man. Exacts his revenge. Eventually, he gains control of Wuthering Heights.

Tancred, or the New Crusade. Benjamin Disraeli. British. 1847. Novel. Young, high-born visionary leaves social circles of 19th century London to travel in the East. Experiences "the great Asian mystery," which is to work for the regeneration of the West.

"Ulalume." Edgar Allan Poe. American. 1847. Poetry. Composed at the request of an elocutionist needing a poem to recite. Narrator and his soul walk in a "ghoul-haunted woodland" on Halloween. Stopped by the door of the forgotten tomb of the narrator's beloved, Ulalume.

Box and Cox. John Maddison Morton. British. 1847. Play. Farce. Characters are Box, Cox and the landlady. She rents the same room to both. One works at night, the other in the day. Hopes they won't know.

Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie. Henry W. Longfellow. American. 1847. Poetry. Lovers are separated when British expel the Acadians from Nova Scotia. They spend years searching for each other. Tragic reunion.

Le Cousin Pons. Honore de Balzac. French. 1847. Novel. Musical composer squanders his income on works of art. Ugly and lonely, he becomes a glutton and a parasite.

Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas. Herman Melville. American. 1847. Novel. Polynesian word for "wanderer." Hero and doctor friend explore the island of Tahiti.

Agnes Grey. Anne Bronte. British. 1847. Novel. Quiet account of life of ill-treated lonely governess who eventually marries a curate.

1848. French revolutionists force Louis Philippe to abdicate and proclaim a new republic. Prince Louis Napoleon Bonaparte is elected president.

1848. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican War that began in 1846.

1848. U.S. Whigs nominate Mexican War hero Zachary Taylor for the presidency in preference to the controversial party leaders Henry Clay and Daniel Webster.

1848. Paris students and workers seize the city in response to last year's Communist Manifesto and proclaim a new French Republic. The revolution spreads to Berlin, Budapest, Vienna and throughout much of Europe as the Manifesto appears in virtually every European language.

1848. The first Woman's Rights Convention opens at Seneca Falls, NY, under the leadership of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott.

1848. Gold is discovered in California January 24 by New Jersey prospector James Marshall while working to free the wheel in the millrace for a sawmill he is building on the American River for Johann Sutter. Stutter tries to keep Marshall's discovery a secret but the news appears in James Gordon Bennett's New York Herald and by year's end some 6,000 men are working in the gold fields.

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