Herman Melville

Melville, Herman,

1819–91, American author, b. New York City, considered one of the great American writers and a major figure in world literature.

Early Life and Works

Born into an impoverished family of distinguished Dutch and English colonial descent, Melville was 12 when his father died. He left school at 15, worked at a variety of jobs, and in 1839 signed on as a cabin boy on a ship bound for Liverpool, an experience reflected in his romance Redburn. In 1841–42 he spent 18 months on a whaler, but intolerable hardships on board caused him and a companion to escape from the ship at the Marquesas Islands. The two were captured by a tribe of cannibals, by whom they were well treated. After being rescued by an Australian whaler, Melville spent some time in Tahiti and other Pacific islands before shipping home in 1844.

The immediate results of his experiences were Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life (1846), Omoo: A Narrative of Adventures in the South Seas (1847), as well as Redburn (1849), all fresh, exuberant, and immensely popular romances. In 1847, Melville married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of Lemuel Shaw, chief justice of Massachusetts. The popularity of his books brought him prosperity, business trips to Europe, and admission to literary circles in New York City. In 1850 he bought a farm near Pittsfield, Mass., and became friends with his neighbor Nathaniel Hawthorne Hawthorne, Nathaniel,
1804–64, American novelist and short-story writer, b. Salem, Mass., one of the great masters of American fiction. His novels and tales are penetrating explorations of moral and spiritual conflicts.
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. The allegorical implications evident in his romances Mardi: and a Voyage Thither (1849) and White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850) reached full development in Melville’s masterpiece, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851).


The story of a deranged whaling captain’s obsessive voyage to find and destroy the great white whale that had ripped off his leg, the novel is at once an exciting sea story, a sociological critique of various American class and racial prejudices, a repository of information about whales and whaling, and a philosophical inquiry into the nature of good and evil, of man and his fate. The novel is heavily symbolic, and many critical formulations have been made as to the meaning of its central symbol, the great white whale Moby-Dick himself. Moby-Dick is greatly enhanced by Melville’s rhythmic, rhetorical prose style. Although it is now considered one of the greatest of all novels, Moby-Dick was misunderstood and ill-received in its time. Readers were confused by the book’s symbolism, and they failed to grasp Melville’s complex view of the world.

Later Works and Life

Like Moby-Dick, Pierre; or, The Ambiguities (1852), a psychological study of guilt and frustrated good, was disregarded by the public. Disheartened by debts, ill health, and the failure to win an audience, Melville became absorbed in mysticism. He was unable to accept the optimism of transcendentalism transcendentalism
[Lat.,=overpassing], in literature, philosophical and literary movement that flourished in New England from about 1836 to 1860. It originated among a small group of intellectuals who were reacting against the orthodoxy of Calvinism and the rationalism of the
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, for he was always able to see the cruel as well as the beautiful in nature. Although he searched for a faith that would satisfy his yearning for the Absolute, he never found one. Melville continued to produce important works in The Piazza Tales (1856), a collection which includes “Benito Cereno” and “Bartleby the Scrivener,” and The Confidence Man: His Masquerade (1857), a pessimistic satire on materialism.

Melville was forced to sell his farm, and in 1866 he secured a poorly paying position in New York City as a district inspector of customs, a job he held for 19 years. His late works include the volumes of poetry Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866) and John Marr and Other Sailors (1888) and the long poem Clarel (1876). However, he wrote no more fiction until his last years when he composed the posthumously published novella Billy Budd, Foretopman (1924), the tragedy of an innocent. Melville died in poverty and obscurity. Although neglected for many years, he was rediscovered around 1920 and has been enthusiastically studied by critics and scholars ever since. Many of his unpublished works were issued posthumously, notably The Apple Tree Table (1922), a collection of magazine sketches; Journal of a Visit to London and the Continent (1948); and Journal of a Visit to Europe and the Levant (1955).


See the authoritative ed. of his writings (15 vol., ed. by H. M. Hayford et al., 1968–93); his letters (ed. by M. R. Davis and W. H. Gilman, 1960); biographies by N. Arvin (1950, repr. 1972, 2002), L. Howard (1981), G. Wolff (1987), H. Parker (2 vol., 1996–2002), L. Robertson-Lorant (1996), E. Hardwick (2000), and A. Delbanco (2005); studies by M. Rogin (1983), N. Tolchin (1988), W. Dimock (1989), and N. Philbrick (2011).

Melville, Herman


Born Aug. 1, 1819, in New York; died there Sept. 28, 1891. American writer.

The son of a merchant, Melville served as a sailor on whalers and other American ships between 1839 and 1844. In the short novels Typee (1846; Russian translation, 1958) and Omoo (1847; Russian translation, 1960), Melville shows the destructive influence of bourgeois civilization on the inhabitants of Polynesia. In 1849 he published the autobiographical novel of the sea Redburn and the satirical allegory Mardi. In White-Jacket (1850), Melville exposes the inhuman treatment of sailors on US warships.

In 1851, Melville wrote his sociophilosophical novel Moby Dick, or the White Whale, centered on a semifantastic pursuit of a white whale, symbolizing the titanic struggle of good and evil. Romantic symbolism and epic descriptions of the sea are mingled with realistic themes.

Melville’s later works include the psychological novel Pierre, or the Ambiguities (1852), Israel Potter (1855; Russian translation, 1966), a historical tale about the Revolutionary War period, the collection of short stories The Piazza Tales (1856), and the satirical novel The Confidence-Man (1857). His meager literary earnings compelled Melville to take a post in the New York customhouse in 1866. He subsequently wrote several poetic works: Battle-Pieces (1866), poems about the American Civil War; Clarel (1876), a novel in verse; and the collections John Marr (1888) and Timoleon (1891). The sea tale Billy Budd was published posthumously in 1924.

Unappreciated and forgotten by his contemporaries, Melville was recognized in the 1920’s as a classic American writer. R. Kent’s illustrations for Moby Dick are famous. B. Britten’s opera Billy Budd (1951) was based on Melville’s novel.


The Works of Herman Melville, vols. 1-16. London, 1922-24.
Letters. Edited by M. R. Davis and W. H. Oilman. New Haven, 1960.
In Russian translation:
“Pisets Bartl’bi.”In the collection Amerikanskaia novella XIX v. , vol. 1. Moscow, 1958.
MobiDik, iliBelyikit. [With an introduction by A. I. Startsev.] Moscow, 1961.


Istoriia amerikanskoi literatury, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Kovalev, lu. V. German Melvill i amerikanskii romantizm. Leningrad, 1972.
Matthiessen, F. O. Otvetstvennost’ kritiki. Moscow, 1972.
Arvin, N. H. Melville. London, 1950.
Leyda, J. The Melville Log, vols. 1-2. New York, 1951.
Sedgwick, W. E. Herman Melville: The Tragedy of Mind. New York, 1962.
Bowen, M. The Long Encounter: Self and Experience in the Writings of Herman Melville. Chicago-London, 1963.
Dryden, E. A. Melville’s The ma tics of Form: The Great Art of Telling the Truth. Baltimore, 1968.

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Jonathan Swift

Swift, Jonathan,

1667–1745, English author, b. Dublin. He is widely recognized as one of the greatest satirists in the English language.

Early Life and Works

Since his father, an Englishman who had settled in Ireland, died before his birth and his mother deserted him for some time, Swift was dependent upon an uncle for his education. He was sent first to Kilkenny School and then to Trinity College, Dublin, where he managed, in spite of his rebellious behavior, to obtain a degree. In 1689 he became secretary to Sir William Temple Temple, William,
1881–1944, archbishop of York (1929–42) and archbishop of Canterbury (1942–44); son of Frederick Temple. At Balliol College, Oxford, he became (1904) president of the Oxford Union.
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 at Moor Park, Surrey, where he formed his lifelong attachment to Esther Johnson, the “Stella” of his famous journal. Disappointed of church preferment in England, Swift returned to Ireland, where he was ordained an Anglican priest and in 1695 was given the small prebend of Kilroot.

Unable to make a success in Ireland, Swift returned to Moor Park the following year, remaining until Temple’s death in 1699. During this period he wrote The Battle of the Books, in which he defended Temple’s contention that the ancients were superior to the moderns in literature and learning, and A Tale of a Tub, a satire on religious excesses. These works were not published, however, until 1704. Again disappointment with his advancement sent him back to Ireland, where he was given the living of Laracor.

In the course of numerous visits to London he became friendly with Addison Addison, Joseph,
1672–1719, English essayist, poet, and statesman. He was educated at Charterhouse, where he was a classmate of Richard Steele, and at Oxford, where he became a distinguished classical scholar.
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 and Steele Steele, Sir Richard,
1672–1729, English essayist and playwright, b. Dublin. After studying at Charterhouse and Oxford, he entered the army in 1694 and rose to the rank of captain by 1700. His first book, a moral tract entitled The Christian Hero, appeared in 1701.
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 and active in Whig politics. His Whig sympathies were severed, however, when that party demonstrated its unfriendliness to the Anglican Church. In 1708 he began a series of pamphlets on ecclesiastical issues with his ironic Argument against Abolishing Christianity. He joined the Tories in 1710, edited the Tory Examiner for a year, and wrote various political pamphlets, notably The Conduct of the Allies (1711), Remarks on the Barrier Treaty (1712), and The Public Spirit of the Whigs (1714), in reply to Steele’s Crisis.

Later Life and Works

In 1713 Swift joined Pope Pope, Alexander,
1688–1744, English poet. Although his literary reputation declined somewhat during the 19th cent., he is now recognized as the greatest poet of the 18th cent. and the greatest verse satirist in English.
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, Arbuthnot Arbuthnot, John
, 1667–1735, Scottish author and scientist, court physician (1705–14) to Queen Anne. He is best remembered for his five “John Bull” pamphlets (1712), political satires on the Whig war policy, which introduced the character John Bull, the typical
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, Gay Gay, John,
1685–1732, English playwright and poet, b. Barnstaple, Devon. Educated at the local grammar school, he was apprenticed to a silk mercer for a brief time before commencing his literary career in London.
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, and others in forming the celebrated Scriblerus Club Scriblerus Club,
English literary group formed about 1713 to satirize “all the false tastes in learning.” Among its chief members were Arbuthnot, Gay, Thomas Parnell, Pope, and Swift. Meetings of the club were discontinued after 1714.
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. About this time Swift became involved with another woman, Esther Vanhomrigh, the “Vanessa” of his poem Cadenus and Vanessa. The intensity of his relationship with her, as with Stella, is questionable, but Vanessa died a few weeks after his final rupture with her in 1723. Swift became a national hero of the Irish with his Drapier Letters (1724) and his bitterly ironical pamphlet A Modest Proposal (1729), which propounds that the children of the poor be sold as food for the tables of the rich.

Swift’s satirical masterpiece Gulliver’s Travels appeared in 1726. Written in four parts, it describes the travels of Lemuel Gulliver to Lilliput, a land inhabited by tiny people whose diminutive size renders all their pompous activities absurd; to Brobdingnag, a land populated by giants who are amused when Gulliver tells them about the glories of England; to Laputa and its neighbor Lagado, peopled by quack philosophers and scientists; and to the land of the Houhynhnms, where horses behave with reason and men, called Yahoos, behave as beasts. Ironically, this ruthless satire of human follies subsequently was turned into an expurgated story for children. In his last years Swift was paralyzed and afflicted with a brain disorder, and by 1742 he was declared unsound of mind. He was buried in St. Patrick’s, Dublin, beside Stella.


See his prose (ed. by H. Davis, 14 vol., 1939; repr. 1964–68); his poetry (ed. by H. Davis, 3 vol., 2d ed. 1958), The Portable Swift, ed. by C. Van Doren (new ed. 1968); his correspondence (ed. by H. Williams, 5 vol., 1963); biographies by J. M. Murray (1954), I. Ephrenpreis (3 vol., 1962–83), C. Van Doren (1930, repr. 1964), D. Nokes (1985), V. Glendinning (1999), and L. Damrosch (2013); studies by R. Quintana (1936, repr. 1965; and 1955, repr. 1962), R. Hunting (1966), N. F. Dennis (1964, repr. 1967), D. Donoghue (1969), and Louise K. Barnett (1981).

Swift, Jonathan


Born Nov. 30, 1667, in Dublin; died there Oct. 19, 1745. English writer.

The son of a steward, Swift studied at Trinity College of the University of Dublin from 1682 to 1688. From 1689 to 1699 he was secretary and librarian to W. Temple, a retired diplomat and prominent essayist. In 1695, Swift became a clergyman, and in 1701, a doctor of theology.

In the early 1680’s, Swift tested his gift for the poetic genres and developed a compressed, parodic prose style. His first work, the pamphlet The Battle of the Books (1697), was a savage mockery of the defenders of the intellectual and cultural innovations of the new bourgeois civilization. Swift’s search for a literary form began with The Battle of the Books and was successfully resolved in A Tale of a Tub (1704), in which the first-person narrator is a hack writer compiling an encyclopedia of future insanity. Through his “author,” Swift expressed the religious, humanistic, and Utopian pretensions of bourgeois progress and exposed their intrinsic hypocrisy. This tale about three brothers, each of whom represents a branch of Christianity (Catholic, Anglican, and Calvinist), was a pretext for endless parodic digressions that used the resources of language to expose the latest intellectual distortions.

From 1701, when he obtained a position as a vicar in Laracor (Ireland), Swift came to London only for brief visits. He had already won fame as a political pamphleteer, and the Whigs considered him their supporter, but he emphasized his ideological and political independence with the pamphlets The Sentiments of a Church-of England Man (1708) and An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity (1709). During these years Swift created a stir with pamphlets in which, under the guise of Isaac Bicker-staff, a sage prophet and patriot, he used real-life examples to demonstrate the power of printed propaganda, which can arbitrarily invent and excise facts.

From 1710 to 1714, Swift formed close ties with the leaders of the Tory government, which was trying to extricate Great Britain from the War of the Spanish Succession and stabilize the domestic situation. He actively supported and guided government policies with his articles in the Examiner (1710–11), a journai, and with pamphlets, including The Conduct of the Allies (1711) and The Publick Spirit of the Whigs (1714).

The Journal to Stella, which was published posthumously, contains the daily letters and accounts sent by Swift from Laracor to Esther Johnson, his former ward and pupil, between 1710 and 1713.

In 1713, Swift was made dean of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin. Residing in Ireland almost uninterruptedly as a political exile, Swift joined the struggle for the violated rights of the Irish people, turning out pamphlets such as A Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720) and A Modest Proposal for Preventing the Children of Poor People From Being a Burthen to Their Parents (1729). In the series A Drapier’s Letters (1723–24), Swift, reproducing the logic and language of the common man, so skillfully linked broad political agitation with concrete events that the British government barely prevented a national uprising in Ireland.

Swift’s work reached its peak with Gulliver’s Travels (1726). Simultaneously parodying and epitomizing travel literature, Swift discovers fantastical countries and comments satirically on the prospects and ideals of the European social structure, the comical, parodie reflection of which is the world of the Lilliputians. Free, sound common sense condemns man’s latest achievements in “The Voyage to Brobdingnag.” The “Voyage to Laputa” mocks the insanity of “pure” scientific progress, and the bankruptcy of bourgeois Enlightenment humanism is demonstrated in the “Voyage to the Land of the Houyhnhnms,” which offers an ironic choice between a utopia based on “horse sense” and an ape society similar to socially perverted human existence. Swift’s book was not a sermon of hopeless pessimism but a farsighted overview of the social and ideological tenets of bourgeois progress. It prompted the prominent artistic and literary theoretician A. V. Lunacharskii to call Swift the “lookout.” The most outstanding of Swift’s last works, which essentially repeat earlier themes and motifs, are the pamphlets Directions to Servants and A Serious and Useful Scheme to Make a Hospital for Incurables.

The chief technique in Swift’s satire was realistic parody. He presented absurdity and monstrosity as social norms, as actual and potential characterizations of the phenomena he described. His dramatic satire records the intellectual panorama of the early British Enlightenment.


The Prose Works, vols. 1–14. Oxford, 1939–68.
The Poems, vols. 1–3. Oxford, 1958.
In Russian translation:
Pamflety. Moscow, 1955.
Skazka o bochke. Moscow, 1930.
Puteshestvie v nekotorye otdalennye strany Lemiuelia Gullivera. Moscow, 1967.


Zabludovskii, M. D. “Satira i realizm Svifta.’ In the collection Realizm XVIII v. na Zapade. Moscow, 1956.
Levidov, N. Iu. Putesheslvie v nekolorye otdalennye strany: Mysli i chuvstva Dzhonatana Svifta. Moscow, 1964.
Murav’ev, V. Dzhonatan Svift. Moscow, 1968.
Craik, H. The Life of Jonathan Swift, vols. 1–2. London, 1894.
Quintana, R. The Mind and Art of Jonathan Swift. London-New York, 1936.
Williams, K. Jonathan Swift and the Age of Compromise. Lawrence, Kan., 1958.
Ehrenpreis, I. Swift…. vols. 1–2. London, 1964–67.
Swift. Edited by C. J. Rawson. London (1971).

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Francis Bacon

Born Jan. 22, 1561, in London; died there on Apr. 9, 1626. English philosopher; originator of English materialism.

In 1584, Bacon was elected to Parliament. In 1617 he became lord keeper of the press and later lord chancellor; he was created Baron Verulam and made Viscount St. Albans. In 1621 he was brought to trial on the charge of bribery, convicted, and relieved of all his duties. Though pardoned by the king, he did not return to government service and devoted the last years of his life to scientific and literary work.

Bacon’s philosophy took shape in the atmosphere of general scientific and cultural progress of the countries of Europe that had entered upon the path of capitalist development and of the liberation of science from the Scholastic fetters of clerical dogmatism. All his life, Bacon worked upon a large-scale plan for the Instauratio magna.

Science, according to Bacon, must give man power over nature, increase his might, and improve his life. From this point of view, he criticized Scholasticism and its syllogistic deductive method, which he contrasted to the appeal to experience and the refinement of its inductions by emphasizing the importance of experiments. In the words of Marx, for Bacon “science is an empirical science and consists of the application of rational method to sensory data” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 2, p. 142). In elaborating rules for the application of the inductive method which he proposed, Bacon compiled tables of the presence, absence, and degree of various properties in individual objects of a given class. The mass of facts compiled in this manner was to make up the third part of his Natural and Experimental History.

Bacon’s emphasis on the importance of method allowed him to propose a principle, which is very important in teaching, according to which the goal of education is not the accumulation of the greatest amount of knowledge possible but rather the ability to use methods in order to gain knowledge. Bacon divided all extant and possible knowledge in accordance with the three faculties of the human mind: history corresponds to memory; poetry corresponds to imagination; and philosophy, including the study of god, nature, and man, corresponds to reason.

Bacon believed that the reason for errors in reasoning was false ideas—“specters,” or “idols,” of four kinds: “specters of the tribe,” rooted in the very nature of the human race and caused by man’s attempt to view nature by analogy with himself; “specters of the cave,” which arise from the individual personal characteristics; “specters of the marketplace,” bred by an uncritical attitude to prevailing opinions and to incorrect usage of words; and “specters of the theater,” or false perception of reality based on blind faith in authority and traditional dogmatic systems similar to the deceptive verisimilitude of theatrical performances. Bacon regarded matter as the objective diversity of sensory qualities perceived by man; Bacon’s concept of matter had not yet become mechanistic as it did later with Galileo, Descartes, and Hobbes.

Bacon’s teaching exerted an enormous influence on the subsequent development of science and philosophy and made possible the formation of T. Hobbes’ materialism and the sensualism of J. Locke and his followers. Bacon’s logical method was the point of departure for the development of inductive logic, especially that of J. S. Mill. Bacon’s appeal to the experimental study of nature was a catalyst to natural science in the 17th century and played an important role in the creation of scientific organizations—for example, the Royal Society of London. Bacon’s classification of knowledge was adopted by the French enlighteners—the Encyclopedists.


The Works …, vols. 1-14. London, 1857-74. (Reprinted: London, 1968.)
In Russian translation:
Sobr. soch., vols. 1-2. St. Petersburg, 1874.
O printsipakh i nachalakh. Moscow, 1937.
Novyi organon. Moscow, 1938.
Novaia Atlantida, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1962.


Herzen, A. I. Izbr. filosofskie proizvedeniia, vol. 1. [Moscow] 1948. Pages 239-270.
Fisher, K. Real’naia filosofiia i ee vek: Frantsisk Bekon Verulamskii, 2nd ed. St. Petersburg, 1870.
Milonov, K. K. Filosofiia Frantsiska Bekona. Moscow, 1924.
Subbotnik, S. Frensis Bekon. Moscow, 1937.
Mel’vil’, M. N. Frensis Bekon. Moscow, 1961.
Frost, W. Bacon und die Naturphilosophie. Munich, 1927.
Anderson, F. H. The Philosophy of F. Bacon. Chicago, 1948.
Green, A. W. Sir F. Bacon. New York [1966].

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principal figure of ancient Greek literature; the first European poet.

Works, Life, and Legends

Two epic poems are attributed to Homer, the Iliad and the Odyssey. They are composed in a literary type of Greek, Ionic in basis with Aeolic admixtures. Ranked among the great works of Western literature, these two poems together constitute the prototype for all subsequent Western epic poetry.

The “Homeric question” was the great dispute of scholarship in the 19th cent. Scholars tried to analyze the two works by various tests, usually to show that they were strung together from older narrative poems. Recent evidence strongly suggests that the Iliad is the work of a single poet. Modern scholars are generally agreed that there was a poet named Homer who lived before 700 B.C., probably in Asia Minor, and that the Iliad and the Odyssey are each the product of one poet’s work, developed out of older legendary matter. Some assign the Odyssey to a poet who lived slightly after the author of the Iliad.

Legends about Homer were numerous in ancient times. He was said to be blind. His birthplace has always been disputed, but Chios or Smyrna seem most likely. The study of Homer was required of all Greek students in antiquity, and his heroes were worshiped in many parts of Greece. The Iliad and the Odyssey are composed in dactylic hexameter and are of nearly the same length. The Homeric Hymns Homeric Hymns
, name applied to a body of 34 hexameter poems falsely attributed to Homer by the ancients. Composed probably between 800 and 300 B.C., they are complimentary verses addressed to the various gods, such as Aphrodite, Apollo, Demeter, and Hermes.
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 were falsely attributed to Homer.

The Iliad

Divided into 24 books, the Iliad tells of the wrath of Achilles Achilles
, in Greek mythology, foremost Greek hero of the Trojan War, son of Peleus and Thetis. He was a formidable warrior, possessing fierce and uncontrollable anger. Thetis, knowing that Achilles was fated to die at Troy, disguised him as a girl and hid him among the women at
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 and its tragic consequences, an episode in the Trojan War Trojan War,
in Greek mythology, war between the Greeks and the people of Troy. The strife began after the Trojan prince Paris abducted Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. When Menelaus demanded her return, the Trojans refused.
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. The action is in several sections. Achilles quarrels with Agamemnon over possession of the captive woman Briseis, and Achilles retires from the war to sulk in his tent. The Greek position gradually weakens until Agamemnon Agamemnon
, in Greek mythology, leader of the Greek forces in the Trojan War; king of Mycenae (or Argos). He and Menelaus were sons of Atreus and suffered the curse laid upon Pelops. Agamemnon married Clytemnestra, and their children were Iphigenia, Electra, and Orestes.
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 offers amendment to Achilles (Books I–IX). Book X tells of an expedition by Odysseus and Diomedes leading to Greek reverses in the war. Thereupon Patroclus, Achilles’ friend, is inspired to go into battle wearing Achilles’ armor. He is killed by Hector Hector,
in Greek mythology, leader and greatest hero of the Trojan troops during the Trojan War. He was the eldest son of Priam and Hecuba, the husband of Andromache, and the father by her of Astyanax.
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 (Books XI–XVII).

Book XVIII tells of the visit of Thetis, mother of Achilles, to comfort her grieving son and of the forging of new armor by Hephaestus for Achilles. Achilles then determines to avenge his friend, kills Hector, buries Patroclus, and finally, at the entreaty of Priam, gives Hector’s body to the Trojan hero’s aged father (Books XIX–XXIV). The Iliad is a highly unified work, splendid in its dramatic action. Written in a simple yet lofty style, it contains many perceptive characterizations that make exalted personages like Hector and Achilles believable as human beings.

The Odyssey

The Odyssey is written in 24 books and begins nearly ten years after the fall of Troy. In the first part, Telemachus, Odysseus’ son, visits Nestor Nestor
, in Greek mythology, wise king of Pylos; son of Neleus and father of Antilochus. In the Iliad, Nestor went with the Greeks to the Trojan War, and although he had lived three generations he was still a vigorous warrior and a respected adviser.
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 at Pylos and Menelaus Menelaus
, in Greek mythology, king of Sparta, son of Atreus. He was the husband of Helen, father of Hermione, and younger brother of Agamemnon. When Paris, prince of Troy, abducted Helen, Menelaus asked the other Greek kings to join him in an expedition against Troy, beginning
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 at Sparta, seeking news of his absent father. He tells them of the troubles of his mother, Penelope, who is beset by mercenary suitors. Menelaus informs him that his father is with the nymph Calypso (Books I–IV). The scene then shifts to Mt. Olympus with an account of Zeus’ order to Calypso to release Odysseus, who then builds a raft and sails to Phaeacia. There he is entertained by King Alcinoüs and his daughter Nausicaä; he relates to them the story of his wanderings in which he has encountered Polyphemus, Aeolus, Circe, Scylla and Charybdis, the Sirens, the Laestrygones, and the lotus-eaters (Books V–XII).

Dramatic tension mounts with the return of Odysseus and Telemachus to Ithaca; together they plan and execute the death of the suitors. Afterward Odysseus makes himself known to his wife and his father, with whose aid he repulses the suitors’ angry kinsmen. Athena intervenes, peace is restored, and Odysseus once again rules his country (Books XIII–XXIV). The atmosphere of adventure and fate in the Odyssey contrasts with the heavier tone and tragic grandeur of the Iliad.


Among the many notable translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey are the prose translations by A. Lang et al., the mid-20th-century poetic translations by R. Lattimore, and the late 20th-century translations by R. Fagles and S. Lombardo. See C. H. Whitman, Homer and the Heroic Tradition (1958, repr. 1965); M. Parry, The Making of Homeric Verse, ed. by A. Parry (1971); C. M. Bowra, Homer (1930, repr. 1973); A. J. B. Wace and F. H. Stubbings, ed., A Companion to Homer (1962, repr. 1974); C. R. Beye, The Iliad, the Odyssey and the Epic Tradition (1966, repr. 1976); G. S. Kirk, The Songs of Homer (1962; repr. 1977); A. B. Lord, The Singer of Tales (1960, repr. 1978); W. A. Camps, An Introduction to Homer (1980); H. W. Clarke, Homer’s Readers (1981); M. W. Edwards, Homer (1987); K. C. King, ed., Homer (1994).

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Born 384 B.C.; died 322 B.C. Ancient Greek philosopher and scholar.

Aristotle was born in Stagira and moved to Athens in 367. He became a student of Plato and was a participating member of Plato’s Academy for 20 years, until Plato’s death in 347. In the year 343, Aristotle was summoned by Philip, king of Macedonia, to tutor his son Alexander. In 335, Aristotle returned to Athens and there established his own school (the Lyceum, or peripatetic school). He died in Chalcis on the island of Euboea, where he had fled from persecution arising from accusations of a crime against religion. He was an advocate of a moderate form of democracy.

The works of Aristotle that have come down to us may be divided into seven groups according to their contents. They are (1) logical treatises, collected in the compilation entitled Organon, which include Categories (Russian translations, 1859, 1939), On Interpretation (Russian translation, 1891), Prior and Posterior Analytics (Russian translation, 1952), and Topics; (2) physical treatises, including Physics, On Coming to Be and Passing Away, On the Heavens, and On Meteorological Questions; (3) biological treatises—History of Animals, On the Parts of Animals (Russian translation, 1937), On the Origin of Animals (Russian translation, 1940), and On the Movement of Animals, as well as the treatise On the Soul (Russian translation, 1937); (4) works dealing with “first philosophy” which consider being as such and consequently have received the title Metaphysics (Russian translation, 1934); (5) ethical works—the so-called Nicomachean Ethics (dedicated to Nicomachus, Aristotle’s son; Russian translations, 1900, 1908) and the Eudemian Ethics (dedicated to Eudemus, Aristotle’s student); (6) sociopolitical and historical works—Politics (Russian translations, 1865, 1911), the Athenian Constitution (Russian translations, 1891, 1937); and (7) works about art, poetry, and rhetoric, including Rhetoric (Russian translation, 1894) and the incompletely preserved Poetics (Russian translations, 1927, 1957).

Aristotle embraced almost all the branches of knowledge accessible in his time. In his “first philosophy” (“metaphysics”), he criticized Plato’s doctrine of ideas and provided a solution to the ontological relationship between universals and particulars. The particular is that which exists only “somewhere” and “now”; it is perceivable by the senses. The universal is that which exists in any place and at any time (“everywhere” and “always”), and appears under definite conditions in the particular, through which it becomes known. The universal constitutes the object of scientific knowledge and is attained by the mind. In order to explain what exists, Aristotle employed four causes: (1) the essence and core of being, by means of which every object is what it is (formal cause); (2) matter and what lies beneath it (substratum)—that out of which something originates (material cause); (3) moving cause, the beginning of motion; and (4) final cause—that for the sake of which something is done. Although Aristotle acknowledged matter as one of the first causes and considered it to be a certain kind of essence, he saw in it only a passive principle (a potential to become something). Moreover, he attributed all activity to the remaining three causes; to the essence of being—form—he ascribed eternity and immutability, and he considered the source of all motion to be the unmoved but moving principle—god. Aristotle’s god is the “prime mover” of the world, the highest goal of all forms and formations developing in accord with their own laws. Aristotle’s doctrine concerning “form” is the doctrine of objective idealism. Nevertheless, as Lenin remarked, this idealism is in many respects “more objective and removed, more general than Plato’s idealism, and therefore in natural philosophy it is more often equal to materialism” (Poln. sobr. soch., 5th ed., vol. 29, p. 255). Motion, according to Aristotle, is the transition of something from a potential to an actual state of being. Aristotle distinguished four kinds of motion: qualitative, or change; quantitative—increasing and decreasing; displacement—spatial movement; and coming to be and passing away, which could be included among the first two kinds.

According to Aristotle, every genuinely existing object is a unity of “matter” and “form,” and “form” is an inherent “appearance” that substance takes. One and the same object of the sensory world may be regarded both as “matter” and “form.” Copper is “matter” in relation to a sphere (“form”) which is cast from the copper, but the very same copper is “form” in relation to the physical elements which are combined, in Aristotle’s view, to form the substance of copper. Thus, all reality turns out to be a sequence of transitions from “matter” to “form” and from “form” to “matter.”

In his doctrine of knowledge and its aspects, Aristotle distinguished “dialectic” from “apodictic” knowledge. The sphere of the former is “opinion” gained from experience, whereas the sphere of the latter is trustworthy knowledge. Although opinion may also attain an extremely high level of probability in its content, Aristotle considered that experience is not the last instance of trustworthiness in knowledge because the highest principles of knowledge are directly contemplated by the mind. Aristotle saw the goal of scientific knowledge as the complete definition of an object, achievable only by combining deduction and induction: first, knowledge about each separate property must be gained from experience and, second, the conviction that this property is essential must be proved by the conclusion of a special logical form—the categorical syllogism. With his doctrine of proof, the research on the categorical syllogism conducted by Aristotle in his Analytics became the central part of his logical teaching. Aristotle understood the connection between the three terms of the syllogism as a reflection of the connection between consequence, cause, and causal agent. The basic principle of the syllogism expresses the connection between general class, less general class, and the particular object. The aggregate of scientific knowledge cannot be subsumed under a single system of concepts because there is no such concept which could be the predicate of all the other concepts. For Aristotle, therefore, it seemed necessary to indicate all the higher general classes—the categories—under which the remaining classes of being could be subsumed.

Aristotle’s cosmology, for all its achievements (the inclusion of all visible celestial phenomena and the movements of the stars in one harmonious theory), was in several respects backward compared to the cosmology of Democritus and the Pythagoreans. The influence of Aristotle’s geocentric cosmology remained paramount until the period of Copernicus. Aristotle was guided by the planetary theory of Eudoxus of Cnidos, but he ascribed a real, physical existence to the planetary spheres. In this view, the universe consists of a number of concentric spheres moving at various speeds and driven into motion by the extreme sphere of the immovable stars. The “sublunar” world—that is, the region between the moon’s orbit and the earth’s center, is an area of disordered, uneven movements, and all the bodies in this region consist of the four lower elements—earth, water, air, and fire. As the heaviest element, the earth occupies the central position, and above it in sequence are distributed encircling layers of water, air, and fire. The “superlunar” world—that is, the region between the moon’s orbit and the extreme sphere of the immovable stars, is an area of eternally even movements, whereas the stars themselves consist of a fifth, most perfect element—the ether.

In biology one of Aristotle’s meritorious services is his doctrine of biological expediency, based on observations of the expedient structure of living organisms. Aristotle saw examples of nature’s expediency in such facts as the growth of organic structures from seeds, the various manifestations of the expeditiously acting instinct among animals, the mutual adaptability of their organs, and so on. In his biological works, which served for a long time as the fundamental source of knowledge in zoology, Aristotle provided a classification and description of numerous animal species. The body was considered to be the material of life, whereas its form was the soul, which Aristotle called entelechy. Corresponding to the three main classes of living beings (vegetable, animal, and human), Aristotle made the distinction between three souls, or three parts of the soul—vegetative, animal (capable of sensation), and rational.

In ethics Aristotle placed above everything the contemplative activity of reason (dianoetic virtues), which, in his opinion, contained in itself its own particular pleasure, strengthening its energy. In this ideal was expressed the separation—characteristic of slave-owning Greece during the fourth century B.C.—of physical labor, which was the fate of the slaves, from intellectual labor, which was the privilege of free citizens. Aristotle’s moral ideal was god—the most perfect philosopher, or “thought thinking itself.” The ethical virtue, which Aristotle conceived as the rational regulation of one’s activity, was defined by him as the mean between two extremes (“metriopathy”). For example, generosity is the mean between miserliness and squandering.

Art was regarded by Aristotle as a special kind of cognition, based on imitation. He ranked it as an activity which depicts that which could be on a higher level than historical knowledge, which has as its object the reproduction of momentary, individual events in their bare, factual nature. This view of art allowed Aristotle (in his Poetics and Rhetoric) to develop a profound theory of art, close to that of realism. He also put forth a doctrine of artistic activity and theories concerning the epic and drama.

Aristotle distinguished three good and three evil forms of governing a state. He considered those forms good within which the possibility for making a profit from the use of power was excluded and wherein power itself would be used to serve the entire society. Such forms include monarchy, aristocracy, and “polity” (the power of the middle class), based on a combination of oligarchy and democracy. Tyranny, pure oligarchy, and extreme democracy, on the other hand, were considered by Aristotle to be the evil, degenerate variations of these forms. As an advocate of the city-state (polis) ideology, Aristotle was opposed to large state formations. He based his theory of the state on an enormous amount of factual material on the Greek city-states which he had studied and which had been collected in his school. The doctrine of Aristotle, whom Marx called the summit of ancient Greek philosophy (see K. Marx and F. Engels, Iz rannikh proizv. 1956, p. 27), had an enormous influence on the subsequent development of philosophical thought.

On the basis of his ethical and psychological conceptions, Aristotle developed a theory of education for “freeborn citizens.” According to Aristotle, the three aspects of the soul should have three corresponding and interconnected aspects of education—physical, moral, and intellectual. The goal of education consists in developing the higher aspects of the soul, both rational and animal (the will). Natural endowments, habits, and intellect are in Aristotle’s opinion the motivating forces of development upon which education must be based. Aristotle was the first in pedagogic history to attempt to divide education into periods according to age. Regarding education as a means for strengthening the state structure, he considered that there should be only state-administered schools and that in them all citizens except slaves should receive the same education, which would orient them toward state order.

Aristotle’s economic doctrine was based on the premise that slavery was a natural phenomenon and must always be the basis of production. He studied the relationships between goods and money and came close to understanding the difference between a natural economy and the production of goods. Aristotle distinguished two kinds of wealth—the aggregate of consumer values in use and the accumulation of money (or the aggregate of exchange values). The source of the first kind of wealth was considered by Aristotle to be production—agriculture and crafts—and he called it natural production since it arises as a result of productive activity directed at satisfying people’s needs and because its scope is limited by those needs. The second kind of wealth was called unnatural by Aristotle because it arises from circulation; it does not consist of objects of direct consumption, and its scope is in no way limited. Aristotle divided the study of wealth into economics and chrematistics. He understood economics as the study of natural phenomena connected with the production of consumer values. In this he also included small-scale trade necessary for the satisfaction of people’s needs. Aristotle understood chrematistics as the study of unnatural phenomena connected with the accumulation of money; he included large-scale trade in this category. Aristotle regarded chrematistics negatively.

Contrasting economics with chrematistics led Aristotle to an analysis of the inner nature of goods and their exchange. He was the first to note the distinction between value in use and exchange value. He attempted to analyze exchange value, but since he did not understand labor’s role in the creation of the value of goods, he asserted that only money makes it possible to compare various goods. Marx wrote: “Aristotle’s genius is revealed precisely in the fact that he discovered the relationship of equivalence in expressing the value of goods” (K. Marx and F. Engels, Sock., 2nd ed., vol. 23, p. 70).

Marx also noted that Aristotle provided a splendid explanation of how the need arose to assign the character of money to a specific good that has value from exchange trade between various communities (Ibid., vol. 13, p. 100, note 3). But Aristotle did not understand the historical expediency of money, and he considered that it had become the universal means of exchange as a result of agreement. Aristotle regarded money as a means of circulation, a measure of value, and accumulated wealth.


Aristotelis opera, vols. 1–5. Published by Academia Regia Borussica. Berlin, 1831–70.


Kazanskii, A. P. Uchenie Aristotelia o znachenii opyta pripoznanii. Odessa, 1891.
Buzeskul, V. P. “Afinskaia politiia” Aristotelia kak istochnik dlia istorii gosudarstvennogo stroia Afin do kontsa 5 v. do n. e. Kharkov, 1895.
Karpov, V. Naturfilosofiia Aristotelia i ee znachenie ν nastoiashchee vremia. Moscow, 1911.
Zelinskii, F. F. Pedagogicheskie vozzreniia Platona i Aristotelia. Petrograd, 1916.
Losev, A. F. Kritika platonizma u Aristotelia. Moscow, 1929.
Aleksandrov, G. F. Aristotel’. Moscow, 1940.
Kechek’ian, S. F. Uchenie Aristotelia o gosudarstve i prave. Moscow-Leningrad, 1947.
Reuel’, A. L. Ekonomicheskoe uchenie rabovladel’cheskogo obshchestva. Moscow, 1959.
Lukasiewicz, J. Aristotelevskaia sillogistika s tochki zreniia sovremennoi formal’noi logiki. Moscow, 1959. (Translated from English.)
Akhmanov, A. S. Logicheskoe uchenie Aristotelia. [Moscow, 1960.]
Asmus, V. F. “Iskusstvo i deistvitel’nost’ ν estetike Aristotelia.” In the collection Iz istorii esteticheskoi mysli drevnosti i srednevekov’ia. Moscow, 1961.
Zubov, V. P. Aristotel’. Moscow, 1963.
Dovatur, A. Politika Politii Aristotelia. Moscow-Leningrad, 1965.
Bonitz, H. Aristotelische Studien, [parts] 1–5. Vienna, 1862–67.
Maier, H. Die Syllogistik des Aristoteles, parts 1–2. Tübingen, 1896–1900.
Brentano, F. Aristoteles und seine Weltanschauung. Leipzig, 1911.
Ross, W. D . Aristotle. London, 1923; 5th ed., 1956.
Robin, L. Aristote. Paris, 1944.
Allan, D. D. The Philosophy of Aristotle. Oxford, 1952.
Bonitz, H. Index Aristotelicus. Berlin, 1955.
Theiler, W. “Die Entstehung der Metaphysik des Aristoteles.” Museum helveticum, 1958, year 15, fasc. 2.


Totok, W. Handbuch der Geschichte der Philosophic, vol. 1. Frankfurt am Main, 1964.

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John Milton

Milton, John,

1608–74, English poet, b. London, one of the greatest poets of the English language.

Early Life and Works

The son of a wealthy scrivener, Milton was educated at St. Paul’s School and Christ’s College, Cambridge. While Milton was at Cambridge he wrote poetry in both Latin and English, including the ode “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity” (1629). Although the exact dates are unknown, “L’Allegro” and “Il Penseroso” were probably written not long after this. His dislike of the increasing ritualism in the Church of England was the reason he later gave for not fulfilling his plans to become a minister. Resolved to be a poet, Milton retired to his father’s estate at Horton after leaving Cambridge and devoted himself to his studies. There he wrote the masque Comus (1634) and “Lycidas” (1638), one of his greatest poems, an elegy on the death of his friend Edward King.

Political and Moral Tracts

In 1638 Milton went to Italy, where he traveled, studied, and met many notable figures, including Galileo. Returning to England in 1639, he supported the Presbyterians in their attempt to reform the Church of England. His pamphlets, which attacked the episcopal form of church government, include Of Reformation in England (1641) and The Reason of Church Government Urged against Prelaty (1642).

In 1643 Milton married Mary Powell, a young woman half his age, who left him the same year. Disillusioned by the failure of his marriage, he started work on four controversial pamphlets (1643–45) upholding the morality of divorce for incompatibility. His Areopagitica (1644), one of the great arguments in favor of the freedom of the press, grew out of his dissatisfaction with the strict censorship of the press exercised by Parliament.

Milton gradually broke away from the Presbyterians, and in 1649 he wrote The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, which supported the Independents who had imprisoned King Charles in the Puritan Revolution. In it he declared that subjects may depose and put to death an unworthy king. This pamphlet secured Milton a position in Oliver Cromwell Cromwell, Oliver
, 1599–1658, lord protector of England. Parliamentary General

The son of a gentry family, he entered Cambridge in 1616 but probably left the next year.
….. Click the link for more information. ‘s government as Latin secretary for foreign affairs, and he continued to defend Cromwell and the Commonwealth government in his Eikonoklastes [the image breaker] (1649)—an answer to Eikon Basilike—and in the Latin pamphlets First Defense of the English People (1651), Second Defense of the English People (1654), and Defense of Himself (1655).

Later Life

In the midst of his heavy official business and pamphleteering, Milton, whose sight had been weak from childhood, became totally blind. From then on, he had to carry on his work through secretaries, one of whom was Andrew Marvell Marvell, Andrew
, 1621–78, one of the English metaphysical poets. Educated at Cambridge, he worked as a clerk, traveled abroad, and returned to serve as tutor to Lord Fairfax’s daughter in Yorkshire.
….. Click the link for more information.
. Mary Powell returned to Milton in 1645 but died in 1652 after she had borne him three daughters. He married Catharine Woodcock in 1656, and she died two years later. She is the subject of one of his most famous sonnets, beginning, “Methought I saw my late espoused saint.” In 1663 he married Elizabeth Minshull, who survived him. Milton supported the Commonwealth to the very end. After the Restoration (1660) he was forced into hiding for a time, and some of his books were burned. He was included in the general amnesty, however, and lived quietly thereafter.

Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained

For many years Milton had planned to write an epic poem, and he probably started his work on Paradise Lost before the Restoration. The blank-verse poem in ten books appeared in 1667; a second edition, in which Milton reorganized the original ten books into twelve, appeared in 1674. It was greatly admired by Milton’s contemporaries and has since then been considered the greatest epic poem in the English language. In telling the story of Satan’s rebellion against God and the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, Milton attempted to account for the evil in this world and, in his own words, to “justify the ways of God to man.”

Paradise Regained, a second blank-verse poem in four books, describes how Jesus, a greater individual than Adam, overcame the temptations of Satan. In both works, Milton’s characterizations of Satan, Adam, Eve, and Jesus are penetrating and moving. Indeed, his portrayal of Satan is so compelling that many 19th-century critics maintained that he rather than Adam was the hero of Paradise Lost. In these two great works Milton’s language is dignified and ornate, replete with biblical and classical allusions, allegorical representations, metaphors, puns, and rhetorical flourishes. Samson Agonistes, a poetic drama modeled on classical Greek tragedy but with biblical subject matter, appeared together with Paradise Regained in 1671.

Other Works

Milton’s theology, although in the Protestant tradition, is extremely unorthodox and individual on many points; it is set forth in the Latin pamphlet De doctrina Christiana [on Christian doctrine]. Unpublished during Milton’s lifetime, this work was discovered and published in 1825. Milton also wrote 18 sonnets in English and 5 in Italian, which generally follow the Petrarchan style and are accepted as among the greatest ever written.


See his complete works (ed. by F. A. Patterson, 20 vol., 1931–40); collections by F. A. Patterson (rev. ed. 1933), D. Bush (1965), and J. T. Shawcross (1971); variorum commentary on the poems (M. Y. Hughes, general editor; Vol. I, 1970; Vol. II, in 3 parts, 1972); Yale edition of his prose works (Vol. I-VI, 1953–73); biographies by W. A. Raleigh (1900, repr. 1967), J. H. Hanford (1949), W. R. Parker (2 vol., 1968, rev. ed. 1996), E. Wagenknecht (1971), B. K. Lewalski (2001), and G. Campbell and T. N. Corns (2008); studies by M. Nicolson (1963), D. Bush (1964), E. M. W. Tillyard (3 studies: 1938, repr. 1963; 1951, repr. 1960; and rev. ed. 1965), D. Daiches (1957, repr. 1966), J. M. Steadman (1967 and 1968), A. D. Ferry (1963 and 1969), J. T. Shawcross (1966, 1967, and 1970), F. Kermode (1960, repr. 1971), C. A. Patrides (1971), J. D. Simmonds, ed. (1969 and 1971), and A. Beer (2008).

See also J. H. Hanford and V. G. Taffe, A Milton Handbook (1970); L. Potter, A Preface to Milton (1972); J. Broadbent, ed., John Milton: Introductions (1973); M. Lieb and J. T. Shawcross, ed., Achievements of the Left Hand (1974).

Milton, John


Born Dec. 9, 1608, in London; died there Nov. 8, 1674. English poet; political figure; thinker.

Milton was the son of a scrivener who was close to Puritan circles. In 1632 he graduated from Cambridge University with a master of arts degree. Even his early works, including philosophical writings and English and Latin poetry, reflected his acquaintance with the thought of philosophers such as F. Bacon and revealed his familiarity with Puritan poetry (for example, “L’Allegro” and “II Penseroso,” a lyric diptych; and the dramatic poem Comus, an allegory of the struggle between chastity and vice). In 1638 he published the elegy “Lycidas,” which contained many allusions to the religious and political struggle in England. From 1638 to 1639 he lived in Italy, but in 1639 he returned to England to express his opposition to the Anglican Church. The fight against the church was the prelude to the struggle against the monarchy.

During the English Bourgeois Revolution of the 17th century Milton was an outstanding publicist and a supporter of the Independents. In defense of the freedom of the press against the censorship law passed by the Long Parliament he wrote the pamphlet Areopagitica (1644; Russian translation, 1907). The book Eikonoklastes (1649), a justification of the conviction and execution of King Charles I as a tyrant, a murderer, and an unmitigated enemy of the English state, opened a debate with the royalist pamphleteers of England and Europe. In the two pamphlets entitled Defense of the People of England (1650 and 1654), Milton emerged as an adherent of 16th-century antityranny theories and a champion of the sovereignty of the English republic. From 1649 to 1652 he held the post of Latin secretary, conducting international state correspondence and working on the semiofficial journal Mercurius Politicus. Repeatedly, he voiced concern about the state of affairs in England, condemning the violation of parliamentary prerogatives, the absence of religious freedom, and the persecution of the democratic movement. In pamphlets written in 1659–60, Milton warned that the triumph of the Restoration would lead to a revival of tyranny. During this period he also translated the psalms and wrote sonnets.

After the restoration of the Stuarts (1660), Eikonoklastes and the pamphlets entitled Defense of the People of England were publicly burned. Avoiding prison and death, Milton led a reclusive life. Although he suffered from blindness, during this period of intense creativity he wrote Paradise Lost (1667) and Paradise Regained (1671), poems inspired by the Bible, and completed The History of Britain (1670). Paradise Lost discusses the lawfulness of rebelling against god. Despite Milton’s contradictory evaluations of his actions, the rebellious Satan is a titanic, profoundly attractive character, as are the people who violated god’s commandment. The poem’s complex, contradictory ideological and artistic variety stem from the struggle within the poet between the humanist and the god-fearing Puritan. Paradise Regained is a weaker poem, even though it contains the idea of struggle.

Milton’s creative work culminated in the brilliant tragedy Samson Agonistes (1671; Russian translation, 1911), which glorified the inexhaustible forces of popular resistance to tyranny. His creative powers evolved from a reliance on Late Renaissance traditions into an independent style that revealed a proclivity for classicism.

Milton’s influence on the development of European poetry can be traced from his own time to the 1830’s. The English poet and thinker was known and highly esteemed in Russia during the 18th and 19th centuries. Milton himself had shown an interest in Russia in the work A Brief History of Moscovia (1682; Russian translation under the title John Milton’s Muscovy, 1875).


The Works, vols. 1–8. New York, 1931–38.
In Russian translation:
Poteriannyi i vozvrashchennyi rai. St. Petersburg, 1899.


Lunacharskii, A. V. Sobr. soch., vol. 4. Moscow, 1964. Page 164.
Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, fasc. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.
Kon, I. S. “Dzh. Mil’ton kak sotsial’no-politicheskii myslitel’.” Voprosy filosofii, 1959, no. 1.
Samarin, R. M. Tvorchestvo Dzhona Mil’tona. Moscow, 1964.
Hanford, J. Milton Handbook, New York, 1926.
Tillyard, E. M. Milton. London, 1959.
Muir, K. John Milton. London, 1961.
Parker, W. R. Milton: A Biography, vols. 1–2. Oxford, 1968.
Milton Studies …. [Pittsburgh, 1969.] (A continuing publication.)

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Mary Shelley

Also found in: Dictionary/thesaurus.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft,

1797–1851, English author; daughter of William Godwin Godwin, William,
1756–1836, English author and political philosopher. A minister in his youth, he was, however, plagued by religious doubts and gave up preaching in 1783 for a literary career.
….. Click the link for more information.
 and Mary Wollstonecraft Wollstonecraft, Mary
, 1759–97, English author and feminist, b. London. She was an early proponent of educational equality between men and women, expressing this radical opinion in Thoughts on the Education of Daughters (1786).
….. Click the link for more information.
. In 1814 she fell in love with the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley Shelley, Percy Bysshe
, 1792–1822, English poet, b. Horsham, Sussex. He is ranked as one of the great English poets of the romantic period. A Tempestuous Life

….. Click the link for more information.

, accompanied him abroad, and after the death of his first wife in 1816 was married to him. Her most notable contribution to literature is her novel of terror, Frankenstein, published in 1818. It is the story of a German student who learns the secret of infusing life into inanimate matter and creates a monster that ultimately destroys him. Included among her other novels are Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), and the partly autobiographical Lodore (1835). After Shelley’s death in 1822, she devoted herself to caring for her aged father and educating her only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley. In 1839–40 she edited her husband’s works.


See her journal (ed. by F. L. Jones, 1947); her letters (ed. by M. Spark and D. Stamford, 1953); biographies by M. Spark (1951, repr. 1988), N. B. Gerson (1973), and M. Seymour (2001); studies by W. A. Walling (1972), E. Sunstein (1989), and R. Montillo (2013).

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft


Born Aug. 30, 1797, in London; died there Feb. 1, 1851. English writer. Daughter of W. Godwin; wife of P. B. Shelley.

The hero of Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818; Russian translation, 1965) creates a monster that tries to do good, but, embittered by loneliness, kills its creator. A gloomy picture of the coming downfall of mankind through epidemics and starvation is at the center of her novel The Last Man (1826). Shelley also wrote the autobiographical novel Lodore (1835) and commentaries to a posthumous edition of works by P. B. Shelley (1839).


The Letters of Mary Shelley, vols. 1–2. Norman, Okla., 1944–46.
Mary Shelley’s Journal. Norman, Okla., 1947.


Bel’skii, A. A. Angliiskii roman 1800–1810-x gg. Perm’, 1968.
Spark, M. Child of Light. Hadleigh, Essex, 1951.
Small, C. Ariel Like a Harpy. London, 1972.

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Charlotte Bronte



(brŏn`tē), family of English novelists, including

Charlotte Brontë, 1816–55, English novelist,

Emily Jane Brontë, 1818–48, English novelist and poet, and

Anne Brontë, 1820–49, English novelist.

Lives and Works

The Brontë sisters were daughters of Patrick Brontë (1777–1861), an Anglican clergyman of Irish birth, educated at Cambridge. In 1820 Patrick Brontë became incumbent of Haworth, West Riding of Yorkshire. The next year his wife died, and her sister, Elizabeth Branwell, came to the parsonage to care for the six Brontë children, five girls and one boy, Branwell. Maria and Elizabeth, the two oldest girls, were sent to the Cowan Bridge school for the daughters of poor clergymen. In spite of the harsh conditions there, Charlotte and Emily were also sent in 1824, but were brought home after Maria and Elizabeth contracted tuberculosis and died.

At home for the next five years, the children were left much to themselves, and they began to write about an imaginary world they had created. This escapist writing, transcribed in tiny script on small pieces of paper, continued into adulthood and is a remarkable key to the development of genius in Charlotte and Emily. In 1831, Charlotte was sent to Miss Wooler’s school at Roe Head. She became a teacher there in 1835, but in 1838 she returned to Haworth. At home she found the family finances in wretched condition. Branwell—talented as a writer and painter, on whom his sisters’ hopes for money and success rested—had lost three jobs and was declining into alcoholism and opium addiction.

To increase their income Charlotte and her sisters laid ill-considered plans to establish a school. In order to study languages Emily and Charlotte spent 1842 at the Pensionnat Héger in Brussels, but returned home at the death of their aunt, who had willed them her small fortune. Both girls were offered positions at the pensionnat, but only Charlotte returned in 1843. She went home the following year, because, it is thought, she was in love with M. Héger and had aroused the jealousy of Mme Héger. Mr. Brontë’s failing eyesight and the rapid degeneration of Branwell made this an unhappy period at home.

When Charlotte discovered Emily’s poetry in 1845, Anne revealed hers, and the next year the collected poems of the three sisters, published at their own expense, appeared under the pseudonyms Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell. In 1847 Emily’s novel Wuthering Heights and Anne’s Agnes Grey were published as a set. Although the novel The Professor by Charlotte was rejected, her Jane Eyre (1847) was accepted and published with great success. The identity of the sisters as authors was at first unknown even to their publishers. It was not until after the publication of Charlotte’s Shirley in 1849 that the truth was made public.

By the publication date tragedy had all but destroyed the Brontë family. In Sept., 1848, Branwell died; Emily caught cold at his funeral and, refusing all medical aid, died of tuberculosis the following December. Anne, whose Tenant of Wildfell Hall appeared in 1848, also died of tuberculosis in May, 1849. Now that the people who had occupied most of her life were gone, Charlotte began to make trips to London where she was lionized. Her Villette appeared in 1853. In 1854 she married her father’s curate, Arthur Bell Nichols, with whom she seems to have been happy. She died, however, of pregnancy toxemia complicated by the Brontë susceptibility to tuberculosis, after only a year of marriage. The Professor was published posthumously in 1857.

An Appraisal

Of the three prodigiously gifted Brontë sisters Anne has been judged the least talented. Nonetheless, her novels have been widely praised for their realism, integrity, and moral force. Agnes Grey is the unadorned story of a governess’s life and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall tells of a young girl’s marriage to a rake.

Charlotte Brontë was the most professional of the sisters, consciously trying to achieve financial success from the family’s literary efforts. Her novel Jane Eyre, the story of a governess and her passionate love for her Byronic employer, Mr. Rochester, is ranked among the great English novels. Strong, violently emotional, somewhat melodramatic, Jane Eyre brilliantly articulates the theme found in all Charlotte’s work—the need of women for both love and independence.

The undisputed genius of the family was Emily Brontë. An unyielding and enigmatic personality, she produced only one novel and a few poems, yet she is ranked among the giants of English literature. Her masterpiece, Wuthering Heights, is the wild, passionate story of the intense, almost demonic, love between Catherine Earnshaw and the Gypsy foundling Heathcliff. The action of the story is chaotic and unremittingly violent; its characters are less people than forces. Indeed, the novel would be extraordinarily difficult to read were it not for the power of Emily Brontë’s vision and the beauty and energy of her prose. In addition, some of her powerful lyrics are counted with the best of English poetry.


The early (1857) biography of Charlotte by Mrs. Elizabeth Gaskell, although containing many inaccuracies and distortions, is still valuable, as are the books on the Brontës by C. K. Shorter. The poems of Emily have been edited by C. W. Hatfield (1941), the Brontë letters by M. Spark (1954), selected letters by J. Barker (1998). See the reconsideration of Mrs. Gaskell’s Life by M. Lane (1953, repr. 1973); biographies of each of the Brontës by W. Gérin: Anne (1959), Charlotte (1967), Branwell (1961, repr. 1972), and Emily (1972); biographies of the family by L. and E. Hanson (4th ed. 1967), P. Bentley (1947, repr. 1973), and R. Fraser (1989); and the exhaustive family history by J. Barker (1995). See also F. E. Ratchford, The Brontës’ Web of Childhood (1941, repr. 1964); Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work, Part 1 (biographical) by M. Spark, Part 2 (critical) by D. Stanford (1960); M. Peters, Charlotte Brontë: Style in the Novel, (1973); T. Winnifrith, The Brontës and Their Background, (1973); L. Gordon, Charlotte Brontë: A Passionate Life (1994); L. Miller, The Brontë Myth (2001).



Charlotte, Emily, and Anne (sisters), English writers. The Brontë sisters were the children of a country parson in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. Their life was characterized by want, hard work, and paternal despotism. They held posts as schoolteachers and governesses. In 1846 the Brontë sisters published a collection of poems under the pseudonym of the “Bell Brothers,” and in 1847 their novels began to appear in print.

Charlotte Brontë. Born June 21, 1816, in Thornton; died Mar. 31, 1855, in Haworth. The most famous writer of the Brontë family. Under the pseudonym of Currer Bell she sent her first novel, The Professor, to publishers. The novel was rejected and not published until 1857. Charlotte Brontë exposed the ugliness of the bourgeois system and the status of women deprived of their rights with a directness unusual for the British Victorian novel. Her principal works were the novels Jane Eyre (vols. 1-3, 1847; Russian translation, 1849), Shirley (vols. 1-3, 1849; Russian translation, 1851), and Villette (vols. 1-3, 1853; Russian translation, 1853). K. Marx included Charlotte Brontë among the “brilliant pleiad … of English novelists” along with C. Dickens, W. Thackeray, and E. Gaskell (K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 10. p. 648).

Emily Brontë. (literary pseudonym, Ellis Bell). Born Aug. 20, 1818, in Thornton; died Dec. 19, 1848, in Haworth. In her youth Emily Brontë created a cycle of romantic lyric and narrative poems about an imaginary country named Gondal, where, against a background of gloomy landscapes, stormy passions and political upheavals prevailed. Her philosophical lyrics expressed pantheistic views. In 1847 Emily Bronte’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, was published (Russian translation, Storm Pass, 1956).

Anne Brontë. (literary pseudonym, Acton Bell). Born Mar. 25, 1820, in Thornton; died May 25, 1849, in Scarborough. The author of poems and the novels Agnes Grey (1847) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848).


The Novels and Poems of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë, vols. 1-5. London, 1906-32.
The Brontë Letters. London-New York, 1954.
In Russian translation:
Brontë, C. Dzhen Eir. Leningrad, 1955.
Brontë, C. Sherli. Moscow, 1963.


Peterson, O. Semeistvo Bronte. St. Petersburg, 1895.
Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 2, part 2. Moscow, 1955.
Anikst, A. Istoriia angliiskoi literatury. Moscow, 1956.
Elizarova, M. E. [et al.]. Istoriia zarubezhnoi literatury XIX v. Moscow, 1957.
Gaskell, E. Life of Charlotte Brontë. London, 1947.
Crampton, M. Passionate Search. London, 1955.
Hanson, L., and E. Hanson. The Four Brontës. [Hamden] 1967. (Bibliography pp. 335-47.)
Gerin, W. Charlotte Brontë: The Evolution of Genius. Oxford, 1967.
Martin, R. B. The Accents of Persuasion: Charlotte Brontë’s Novels. London, 1966.
Ewbank, I. S. Their Proper Sphere: A Study of the Brontë Sisters as Early-Victorian Female Novelists. London, 1966.
Spark, M., and D. Stanford. Emily Brontë: Her Life and Work. New York, 1966.
Sherry, N. Charlotte and Emily Brontë. London [1969].

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Agatha Christie

Also found in: Dictionary/thesaurus.

Christie, Dame Agatha,

1890–1976, English detective story writer, b. Torquay, Devon, as Agatha Mary Clarissa Miller. Christie’s second husband was the archaeologist Sir Max Mallowan Mallowan, Sir Max Edgar Lucien,
1904–78, British archaeologist, educated at Oxford. He participated in the British Museum–Univ. of Pennsylvania excavations at Ur (1925–30) and Nineveh (1931–32), both in present-day Iraq.
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, and she gained much material for her later novels during his excavations in the Middle East. An extraordinarily popular author, Christie wrote over 80 books, most of them featuring one of her two famous detectives; Hercule Poirot, an egotistical Belgian, and Miss Jane Marple, an elderly spinster. Her novels, noted for their skillful plots, include The Mysterious Affair at Styles (1920), The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (1926), Murder on the Orient Express (1934), Death on the Nile (1937), And Then There Were None (1940), Death Comes as the End (1945), Funerals Are Fatal (1953), The Pale Horse (1962), Passenger to Frankfurt (1970), Elephants Can Remember (1973), and Curtain (1975); her plays include The Mousetrap (1952), one of the longest-running plays in theatrical history, and Witness for the Prosecution (1954). Christie also published novels under the pseudonym Mary Westmacott. She was named Dame Commander, Order of the British Empire, in 1971.


See her memoir (1944, repr. 2012) and her autobiography (1977, repr. 2012); biography by J. Morgan (1985, repr. 1997).

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Robert Louis Stevenson

Born Nov. 13, 1850, in Edinburgh; died Dec. 3, 1894, on the island of Upolu, Samoa. British writer.

A Scot by origin, Stevenson was the son of an engineer. He graduated from the faculty of law of the University of Edinburgh in 1875. He traveled a great deal. Suffering from a serious form of tuberculosis, he settled in the Samoan Islands in 1890.

Stevenson’s first printed work was The Pentland Rising (1866). His classic adventure story Treasure Island (1883; Russian translation, 1886) brought him world renown. In the strongly plotted novels Kidnapped (1886; Russian translation, 1901), The Master of Ballantrae (1889; Russian translation, 1890), The Wrecker (1892; Russian translation, 1896), and Catriona (1893; Russian translation, 1901) the world of profiteering and greed is counter-posed to pure aspirations and high morality. The historical novels Prince Otto (1885; Russian translation, 1886) and The Black Arrow (1888; Russian translation, 1889) combine the romance of adventure with a precise re-creation of local color and historical circumstances.

Stevenson’s psychological novella The Strange Case of Dr. Je-kyll and Mr. Hyde (1886; Russian translation, 1888) is a classic working out of the theme of the “split personality” in English literature.

In Russia, Stevenson’s works were translated by K. Bal’mont, V. Briusov, I. Kashkin, and K. Chukovskii. Several screen versions of Treasure Island have been made in the USSR. The contemporary British writer R. Delderfield offers an original in-terpetation of Treasure Island in his novel The Adventures of Ben Gunn (1956; Russian translation, 1973).


Collected Works, vols. 1–35. London, 1923–24.
In Russian translation:
Poln. sobr. romanov, povestei i rasskazov, vols. 1–20. St. Petersburg, 1913–14.
Sobr. soch., vols. 1–5. Moscow, 1967.


Kashkin, I. “R. L. Stivenson.” In his book Dlia chitateliasovremennika. Moscow, 1968.
Urnov, M. V. Na rubezhe vekov. Moscow, 1970.
Oldington, R. Stivenson. Moscow, 1973.
Balfour, G. The Life of R. L. Stevenson, vols. 1–2. New York, 1901.
Eigner, E. M. R. L. Stevenson and Romantic Tradition. Princeton, N.J.,1966.
Kiely, R. R. L. Stevenson …. Cambridge, Mass., 1964.

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