VICTORIAN AGE ( 1837 ~ 1901 )

During in Queen Victoria's reign Britain there were many economic, political, social, and cultural changes. Victorian age take its name from the name of Queen Victoria Victoria's reign was so long that it is usually divided into three chronological phases. The first phase saw economic depression, technical invention, discontent and conflict. During the second phase, there was a balance of interests. Industrial employers, landlords, farmers, and skilled workers were better off. Typically Victorian literature such as the works of Charles Dickens, George Eliot, belongs to this phase. The third phase saw the balance tilt as cheap imports of American wheat undermined English agriculture; increasing industrialisation abroad reduced employers' profit margins; the workforce organised and demanded their share and socialism increased in popularity.
Throughout the different phases of the reign the population increased dramatically. There was also a striking increase both in the number of people living in and the number of towns and cities. The contrast between city and countryside. Strangely by the late Victorian years there was some talk of underpopulation.

The economy was subject to cyclical booms and slumps. There was a sustained growth in productivity, increasing industrialisation; a new railways and telegraphs; a fall in agricultural income; an uneven rise in exports and an much investment of capital overseas. Growth could be seen the factories, warehouses, railway stations and in the harbours. It could also be seen in terraced working-class houses, detached or semi-detached middle-class dwellings complete with gardens, and on public display in banks, offices, and town halls. There was also an intricate new urban infrastructure of water pipes, sewage pipes, gas pipes and, eventually, electric wires.
The great cultural achievement of the Victorian age was better public access to the arts, increasing the social status of the artists. The theatre slipped into populism with melodrama dominanting. Literature, however, flourished. Some of the best fiction was written by women from the Brontė sisters to George Eliot, introducing great heroines, like Eliot's Dorothea in Middlemarch. Concern was expressed about the content of "cheap literature", but the popularity of writers such as Dickens straddled class divides. Pictures began to accompany words and, with the invention of photography, acquired greater potency than in the past.

1. Charles Darwin

Darwin's research resulting from this voyage formed the basis of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection. Published in 1859, the work aroused a storm of controversy. Here Darwin outlined his theory of evolution, challenging the contemporary beliefs about the creation of life on earth.


2. Charles Dickens

The importance of Dickens is in the new attention to society. Social conditions are for him very important to be studied and understood: he observes his own society, the poor who suffer in terrible condition for health. Dickens founded social novel in England like Victor Hugo has founded it in France with The Miserables and Alessandro Manzoni with The fianced. A new attention for poor people, that Dickens understand better than the other for his continous economic problems.

Charles died on June 9th 1870. After doing a full days work on Edwin Drood, he suffered a second stroke and died the following day.


The Picture of Dorian Gray

Oscar Wilde

The Preface

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. To reveal art and conceal the artist is art's aim. The critic is he who can translate into another manner or a new material his impression of beautiful things.

The highest as the lowest form of criticism is a mode of autobiography. Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.

Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope. They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only beauty.

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.

The nineteenth century dislike of realism is the rage of Caliban seeing his own face in a glass.

The nineteenth century dislike of romanticism is the rage of Caliban not seeing his own face in a glass. The moral life of man forms part of the subject-matter of the artist, but the morality of art consists in the perfect use of an imperfect medium.

No artist desires to prove anything. Even things that are true can be proved. No artist has ethical sympathies. An ethical sympathy in an artist is an unpardonable mannerism of style. No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything.

Thought and language are to the artist instruments of an art. Vice and virtue are to the artist materials for an art. From the point of view of form, the type of all the arts is the art of the musician. From the point of view of feeling, the actor's craft is the type. All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.

Those who read the symbol do so at their peril. It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors. Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital. When critics disagree, the artist is in accord with himself. We can forgive a man for making a useful thing as long as he does not admire it. The only excuse for making a useless thing is that one admires it intensely.


All art is quite useless.