March 2016 ~ All About English Literature

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Tuesday, 29 March 2016

40 Outstanding Facts About Francis Bacon

40 Outstanding Facts About Francis Bacon
What is Francis Bacon most famous for?

There are few names that shine with greater brilliance than Francis Bacon’s in the literary and scientific world to this day nearly four hundred years after his death. His is the life of high thinking, of genuine enthusiasm, of genuine desire to delight and benefit mankind by opening new paths of wonder, knowledge and power. It is the life of a man endowed with as rare combination of noble gifts as ever was bestowed on a human intellect, the life of one with whom the whole purpose of living and of every day’s work was to do great things, to enlighten and elevate his race, to enrich it with new powers, to lay up in store for all ages to come a source of blessing which should never fail to dry up.

Fast Look
Identity: Philosopher, Essayist, Diplomat, Scientist
Nationality: British   
Born on: 22 January 1561
Died At Age: 65
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Born in: Strand, London, England
Died on : 09 April 1626
Place of death: Highgate, London, England
Father: Sir Nicholas Bacon
Mother: Anne (Cooke) Bacon
Siblings: Anthony Bacon
Spouse: Alice Barnham (m. 1606–1625)
Education: Trinity College Cambridge, University of Poitiers
University of Cambridge

  • ·        Bacon was actually a beacon of the Age of Renaissance in the 16th century. A brand new world was coming to light with the exploration of ocean and the sea-way by the Portuguese and the Spanish.

  • ·        He was called the Father of Empiricism.

  • ·        Other notable people who lived in the same era as Bacon include Galileo Galilei and William Shakespeare, both born in 1564, and Johannes Kepler, born in 1571.

  • ·        Bacon’s father was Sir Nicholas Bacon, who held the powerful government position of Lord Keeper of the Great Seal.

  • ·        His mother was Anne Cooke, a scholar, translator, and holder of strong Puritan beliefs. She tried hard to ensure that her children were as well-educated and as puritanical as she was.

  • ·        Anne Cooke’s father, Sir Anthony Cooke had been tutor to King Henry the Eighth’s son, who became King Edward the Sixth of England.

  • ·        Her sister was the wife of the Queen Elizabeth’s Chief Minister, Lord Burleigh.

  • ·        This connection attracted Bacon to the royal court and even as a child the motherly Queen called him her “Little Lord Keeper.”

  • ·        It is believed that junior Bacon received education at home only, in the starting years of his life due to bad health. He received tuitions from John Walsall who was a graduate of Oxford with a strong bending towards Puritanism.

  • ·        His lessons were conducted entirely in Latin, focusing on arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, grammar, music theory, logic, and rhetoric.

  • ·        On April 5, 1573, Bacon gained admission in Trinity College, Cambridge at the age of 12. He lived there for three years with his older brother, Anthony under the personal guardianship of Dr John Whitgift, future Archbishop of Canterbury.

  • ·        The whole system of education appeared to him as something radically wrong. Even he denounced the system of Aristotle, which was considered the basis of all philosophy those days. He called it mere “a childish delusion” and scornfully declared that in the course of centuries Aristotelian system had produced no fruits, but only “jungles of dry and useless branches”.

  • ·         In 1576 he went to English Embassy in Paris as a junior Secretary to Sir Amyas Paulet, the Ambassador of England.

  • ·        Here he polished his experience as a diplomat. Following three years, Bacon visited Blois, Poitiers, Tours, Italy and Spain.

  • ·         In 1579, his return to England was prompted by the sudden and untimely death of his father.

  • ·          As a youngest son his inheritance was meagre. He found himself face to face with the stern realities of life. He was at sore monetary straits at that time.

  • ·        He sought help from his uncle Burleigh for any lucrative position in the court. But Burleigh misjudged him as a dreamer and self-seeker. He refused to help Bacon.

  • ·        Much against his inclination he began his studies in law at Gray’s Inn. Following two years, he worked at Gray’s Inn, only to be admitted as an outer barrister in 1582.

  • ·        In 1584 at the age of 22 he became Member of Parliament at Melcombe in Dorset and afterwards for Taunton in 1586.

  • ·        Bacon strongly opposed Roman Catholicism. He began attending the Temple Church with his mother to listen to Walter Travers and became more and more sympathetic towards puritan views.

  • ·        By 1586 Francis Bacon was publically called to witness the execution of Queen Mary, the Catholic Queen of Scotland. Bacon openly disapproved the fact. With the help of Lord Burghley Francis Bacon rapidly progressed at the bar and would become a Bencher in 1586. In 1587 he was elected as a Reader and by 1608 he would formally take over the office of reversion to the Clerkship of the Star Chamber.

  • ·        Prior to that in 1588 Francis Bacon would become MP for Liverpool and in 1593 for Middlesex, he sat for Ipswich on three occasions and for Cambridge University in 1614.

  • ·        In 1596, Bacon was appointed as the Queen's Counsel. During this phase, Bacon’s financial position remained dubious.

  • ·        His strategy for recovering his lost position by marrying a rich and young widow Lady Elizabeth Hatton failed, when she broke off with him and married a wealthier man.

  • ·        As such, in 1598, Bacon was arrested for debt.

  • ·        This time his image in the eyes of the Queen is improved.

  • ·        Bacon at this stage detached himself from Burgleigh and grew intimacy with the Earl of Essex. They became bosom friend.

  • ·        Lord Essex gifted him an estate at Twickenham.

  • ·        He advised Essex to undertake the difficult problem of Ireland Government. But Essex failed to suppress the rebellion and was impeached. He was put to trail for his failure. Promptly Bacon changed the side, time server as he was, and himself appeared as a prosecutor for his poor friend. Essex was beheaded. This trickery and meanness of Bacon is hard to understand and harder to forgive.

  • ·        After Queen’s death in 1603 when James I became the ruler he whole-heartedly devoted himself to come closer to him. He became Solicitor General (1607), Attorney General (1613), Lord Keeper (1617) and Lord Chancellor (1618).

  • ·         He also received the title of Baron Veruleem (1618), and Viscount St. Albans (1621).

  • ·        He spent money luxuriously and lived a splendid life.

  • ·        Soon the wheel of fate changed. The meteoric rise was followed by an equally meteoric fall. Charges of bribery and corruption were labelled against him. A committee from the House of Commons was appointed to investigate.  

  • ·        Later, Bacon was sentenced with a fine of £40,000. The punishment was remitted by King and Tower of London committee. Bacon was imprisoned just for few days only.

  • ·        Bacon now withdrew himself permanently from public life and went all out for studies, writing, and scientific research.

  • ·        Bacon’s most significant work, Novum Organum (The New Tool), described what came to be called the Baconian Method of science. Published in 1620, it was part of his Instauratio magna series of books.

  • ·        He married Alice Barnham, a wealthy woman on May 10, 1606, when he was 45 and she was 14. But in 1625 they broke up. The marriage had produced no children.
How did Francis Bacon die?
  • ·        Bacon died in the year after their separation. He died because he spent too long working in low temperatures. This was the time of the “Little Ice Age” when winters in Europe were colder and longer than today. At the beginning of April 1626 snow still lay on the ground, and Bacon became inspired to carry out some experiments on food preservation by freezing a chicken. Unfortunately he became chilled (Pneumonia) by the cold conditions.

  • ·        He was buried at St. Michael’s Church, St Albans.

  • ·        On his deathbed, he wrote: “… I was also desirous to try an experiment or two touching the conservation and in duration of bodies. As for the experiment itself, it succeeded excellently well…”

o   Francis Bacon
o   Letter to Lord Arundel

 ***The End***

Saturday, 26 March 2016

Deor's Lament: A Complete Analysis

Deor's Lament: A Complete Analysis
Deor's Lament or Lament of Deor

"Deor's Lament", one of the precious gems of Anglo-Saxon literature is found to employ a refrain and stanza pattern quite artistically. It was found in the Exeter Book which has been dated to around 960-990 AD. The poem might, of course, be older than the book itself, as many ancient poems were passed down orally.

Many critics and scholars have found it difficult to put "Deor" in a specific genre. Some call it a lament, an elegy, or even a "begging poem”, meaning that it was written by an itinerant begging poet without an official place in a court. There are, however, some similarities between "Deor" and two of the other poems in Exeter Book, "The Seafarer" and "The Wanderer".

It is a moving elegy of forty two lines which gives voice to the suffering of a minstrel or a scop who has been replaced by a rival after years of service to his Lord. The speaker’s self consolation takes a meditative form as he looks back upon five instances of suffering inflicted upon Germanic heroes. The characters employed here are all from historical or mythical figures.

In the first stanza, the narrator emphasizes Weyland's physical suffering. King Nithuthr enslaved him for fashioning beautiful golden rings. Being escaped Weland took revenge by killing Nithuthr's two sons and getting his daughter Beadohild pregnant. The second stanza focuses on Beadohild’s spiritual and cognitive pang. After being raped by the killer of his brothers she found herself pregnant. At first she was completely broken down but afterward she managed to overcome her situation. In the third stanza, the narrator mentions the brief and ambiguous affair between the unfamiliar lovers Geat and Maethild. Losing Maethild, Geat has no hope to survive in the world, but somehow gets over it. The fourth stanza is all about the tyrannical rule of Theoderic over Maeringaburg for thirty years. Then he was alienated from people. He had been suffering powerlessness. Eventually he got over his misery. The fifth stanza highlights the relationship between Ermanaric, the king of Ostrogoths and his warriors. In fact he suffered misfortune being separated from his people. His black days also passed away.

In the concluding stanza, Deor, by comparing his present state of mind to the legendary figures confirms a moral message. No matter how deep and grim a man’s sorrow is, it will surely pass one day. Deor lost everything that was dear to him - his lord, his position- and now he is experiencing woe. However, he knows that his pain will pass.

Deor’s Lament” reaches great heights of personal feelings which along with the expressive melancholy of the elegy give rise to a strong lyrical appeal. Deor’s lament is not just purely personal but also universal. Like a true elegy of the Anglo-Saxon Era it stresses on loss, exile and lamentation along with the belief in the fragility of earthly pleasures. This elegy is unique owing to it strophic form and the use of the constant refrain:

“That passed away; and this also may.”

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Blake's Mysticism and Symbolism in The Lamb

Blake's Mysticism and Symbolism in The Lamb
Blake's Mysticism and Symbolism in The Lamb

William Blake was an extraordinary literary genius in the Age of Transition. He often used to say that ‘only imagination is real’ and that his task as a poet was to ‘open the mortal eyes of man inwards into the worlds of thought.’ His visionary quality and his use of myth and mysticism made his more profound works so complicated for ordinary men’s understanding that he remained unknown so long as he lived.

Was William Blake a mystic?

As a hardcore mystic, Blake in his boyhood days saw bright angels standing in a tree by the roadside. In his manhood, the earth and the air seemed to him full of spiritual presences. His imagination could not summon at any moment before him “armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk.” In his intense mysticism he visualises the entire world as a spiritual and symbolical verities:

"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
The Lamb” is an emblematic poem of Songs of Innocence, a collection of Blake’s poems which give us glimpse of the ideal world free from the deadening influence of the social customs, selfishness or jealousy which assails the mind of man as he grows up. In this poem there are two characters – a child and a lamb. The child is the speaker and he lamb is the listener. The child asks several questions to the lamb expecting replies from it. This question-answer technique lends a dramatic touch to the poem.

Being struck with wonder at the beauty, innocence, meekness and mildness of a lamb an innocent child out of his naivety asks it if it knows who its Creator, giver of its food, beautiful fleece and charming and joyful voice. He does not contemplate child in the manner of Wordsworth, Hugo and Longfellow; he actually goes straight into their souls speaks through their own mouths. The grave meaning comes out when the child remarks:

“I, a child and thou a lamb
We are called by His name.”

These lines finely expose that all the creations are manifestations of Godhead. The child and the lamb are unified with God and the quality that links them together is innocence. Thus God, lamb and the child form a holy Trinity. The child harbours no evil thought. His mind is not polluted by any selfishness, envy, corruption. Blake frankly states “God is Man and exists in us and we in him...Imagination is the Divine Body in every man.” In the world of creation nothing is trivial even the a little lamb occupies a grand value.   

A fundamental question comes out from here, if the mundane things are created by someone else why not our natural world including air, water, earth and the animals? Mystics can give the answer in a ready way that behind every origination there must have been a source. Blake through the enthusiastic mind of the child seeks to answer those.

How does the lamb symbolize innocence?

Nobody acquainted with Blake’s poetry will deny that symbolism has large role to play in it. The present poem is no exception.  Symbols are largely drawn from the Bible. Unlike the tiger which stands for power, wildness, and cruelty, represents innocence, simplicity and joy.  The child is also the symbol of love, innocence, sympathy and instinctive wisdom. God in the same way acts as a symbol of the Good Shepherd under whose supervision both the lamb and the child can enjoy such delight, security and peace. Furthermore the child and the lamb represent two very important phases of Christ’s life – Incarnation and Redemption. In the stage of Incarnation, God came to earth in the body of Jesus Christ. In the child we witness the existence of both divine and human nature. In the age of Redemption Christ underwent self sacrifice to deliver mankind from sin. In the lamb we can see similar kind of sacrifice.

Blake expresses his mystical thoughts through symbols. Like Shelley he uses the object of nature as symbols to suggest the spiritual reality that lies behind the appearance.

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