Modern History 1750-1900

When this website is revised, an exercise I hope to accomplish in the next 12 months some time, I will give this sub-section its proper heading, that is: Modern Literature: 1750 to 1900---and not Modern History: 1750 to 1900. Readers wanting my writing on modern history need to go to that category at this site--at this link:http://www.ronpriceepoch.com/HISTORY-Modern.html
The early 18th century(1700-1730) sees the conclusion of the Baroque period and the incipient Age of Enlightenment with authors such as Immanuel Kant, Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Gotthold Lessing.  European cultural influence begins to spread to other continents, notably the Edo period in Japan with notable authors of the period including Ueda Akinari and Santō Kyōden.  Early American literature appears towards the end of the century; for example, with The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown (1789).  The late 18th century(1770-1800) in Germany sees the beginning Romantic (Novalis) and Sturm und Drang (Goethe und Schiller) movements.

19th century literature(1800-1900)

The 19th century was perhaps the most literary of all centuries. Not only were the forms of novel, short story and magazine-serial all in existence side-by-side with theatre and opera, but also film, radio and television did not yet exist. The popularity of the written word and its direct enactment were at their height.

The early part of the century(1800-1830)

The romantic movement was well under-way and along with it developed the splintering of fiction writing into genres and the rise of speculative fiction. There was a romantic tendency toward the exploration of folk traditions and old legends. In 1802 Sir Walter Scott published Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Amelia Opie, another romantic, was publishing poetry in the early 19th century and was an active anti-war campaigner. Anne Bannerman (1765–1829) reworked legends of King Arthur and Merlin. William Blake worked in words and pictures to share his visions and mysticism. In 1807 Thomas Moore published Irish Melodies. Lord Byron produced many influential poems during this period. In 1808 Goethe published part one of Faust. In 1810 Sir Walter Scott published Lady of the Lake. Percy Shelley published a gothic novel: Zastrozzi. The term "Gothic" had, by this time, come to mean a desire for a romantic return to the times before the renaissance. Percy Shelley also published a gothic novella: St. Irvyne in 1811.

For an excellent overview of the Romantic Age: 1770 to 1830 in poetry, its relationship with science, as well as some similarities and differences between that period and our own time in the 21st century, go to this link:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2009/aug/13/when-science-poetry-were-friends/

North Americans who would later produce great literature were being born in the first third of the century. In 1803 the great American poet and essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson was born and in 1804 Nathaniel Hawthorne. In 1807 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and then Edgar Allan Poe in 1809. Phillipe-Ignace François Aubert du Gaspe, author of the first French Canadian novel was born in 1814 followed by Henry David Thoreau in 1817 and then Herman Melville in 1819. Canadian poets Octave Crémazie and James McIntyre were both born in 1827.  In 1830 was the birth of Emily Dickinson and in 1835 Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) arrived in this world.  Before all of them was Washington Irving, said to be the first American "Literary Lion" and mentor to several other American writers. Washington Irving wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. This was a short story contained in his collection The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon. It was published in 1819 while he was living in Birmingham, England.

For some internet posts on modern literature(1750 to 1900) go to:

(I have some 150 posts at the site below and many are on modern literature from this period. To access them click on my photo, then on the word 'statistics,' and then on the words "Find all posts by Ron Price.")




The post–Civil War/pre–World War I(1864-1914) America bears a significant relationship to fin de siècle English culture, and poets like Emily Dickinson are aesthetic epicureans of a sort, finding profound meaning in “routes of evanescence,” to choose a phrase from her poetry.  Her work was akin to English essayist, critic of art and literature, and writer of fiction---Walter Pater's(1839-1894) ideal of burning with a hard gem-like flame. Both during and after the civil war Americans gradually left behind a static view of existence, a trust in fixed arrangements and hierarchies. Of course, like so many aspects of history, the story is complex. There was both new religiosity and more fundamentalism.  The literature of this period can not be summarized in a paragraph or two. In science and in art, in religion and in love, they came to see a new dynamism and movement in their lives, a brave new world of instability and evanescence, a dynamism that found perfect expression in the hummingbird. For more on this theme go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2008/sep/25/the-woman-in-white/

After watching parts of Part 1 and Part 2 of Moby Dick on ABC1 TV on 8 and 15 May 2011, I could not help but revise some reflections on Herman Melville and his work. Those reflections are found below.


In the year after the Bab, the precursor Prophet figure of the Baha'i Faith, was martyred Herman Melville published Moby Dick. Some have regarded this book as the greatest work in American fiction. Melville began writing this book in the late 1840s, perhaps 1849 at the earliest and the book was published in 1851. He said he loved all men who dived. Any fish could swim near the surface, but it took a great whale to go down five miles. Melville also thought that comfortable beliefs needed to be discarded. He could not himself believe and he was uncomfortable in his disbelief.-Ron Price, a summary of an essay and an encyclopaedia article on Melville.

Melville must be numbered henceforth in the company of the incorrigibles who occasionally tantalize us with indications of genius.....Melville has succeeded in investing objects.....with an absorbing fascination...Moby Dick is not a mere tale of adventure.  A whole philosophy of life unfolds in its pages.---Henry F. Chorley, in London Athenaeum, 25 October 1851; and London John Bull, 25 October 1851.

My Revelation is indeed far more bewildering than that of Muhammad....how strange that a person brought up among the people of Persia should be empowered by God....and be enabled to spontaneously reveal verses far more rapidly than anyone….-The Bab in Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Haifa, 1976, p.139.

They both went down deep
into the ocean of mystery,
some mystic intercourse
had possessed them with
subtle-penetrating grandeurs,
intensities, strangenesses,
absorbing fascination,
profound reflections,
a whole way of life in
their words, a certain
eccentricity of style,
an object of ridicule,
a kind of old extravagance,
bewildering, and that very
transcendental tendency of
the age, that 19th century age.

But One had musk-scented breaths...
written beyond the impenetrable
veil of concealment...oceans of divine
elixir, tinted crimson with the essence
of existence...Arks of ruby, tender....
wherein none shall sail but………
the people of Baha...1

Ron Price
18 February 1999

1 The Bab, Selections from the Writings of the Bab, Haifa, 1976, pp.57-8.

For a revision and amplification of the above piece on Moby Dick go to either of these sites:



I first came across the ideas of sociologist Emile Durkheim while studying sociology at university from 1963 to 1967. Many of his ideas I have always thought were relevant to a Baha'i perspective. One thing he wrote certainly reflects my experience of intellectual, artistic and literary pursuits, what 'Abdu'l-Baha called "learning and the cultural attainments of the mind." Just as Baha'i administration was taking its first form under the guidance of Shoghi Effendi in the 1920s, Durkheim wrote that "the love of art, the predilection for artistic joys, is accompanied by a certain aptitude for getting outside ourselves, a certain detachment or disinterestedness….We lose sight of our surroundings, our ordinary cares, our immediate interests. Indeed, this is the essence of the healing power of art. Art consoles us because it turns us away from ourselves."

After forty years of pioneering
I find here my peace and supper
as if after a long day's work.
Yes, Herman, this is its own reward.
Just a simple artistry in these poems,
part of my search for the right idiom
and the best ways of meet life's lot.
I do not feel like Frost, stricken,
intensely conscious, suspicious of
my struggle. A healing came, to me,
at last, Herman, at long last………….

And all that gloom, obsession,
temper, rage, depression softened
with the years and easy sleep
without the pain—dulled it was,
at last, life's sharp-ragged edges.

And my style could lighten
and take an easier road
without that heat and load.

Ron Price
22 September 2002

For the rest of the history of modern literature from 1500 to 1750 and 1750 to 1900 go to:


...He alone is an artist whose hands can execute perfectly what his mind has conceived...an artist spends himself, like the crayon in his hand until he is gone...Writing is like shooting...success depends on the aim not the means. Look on your mark not on your arrow....growth is the constant effort of the soul to find outside itself that which is within...as a man chooseth so is he...a man is a method...a selecting principle...our own life is the text of history and books are the commentary...-Ralph Waldo Emerson in Emerson: The Mind on Fire, Robert D. Richardson, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1995.

It was a pleasure....
spending an evening with you Waldo.
Yes married and chained for eternity
would be frightful if we could not share
truth together and even then......?#&
It has taken me a lifetime, it seems,
to learn to share bodies and minds,
truths and beauties, surely some souls
are worth going the distance with, Waldo?

Yes, art is a process and the poem
marks some ossification, some end,
some death; poetry is a process
that produces the poems;it is in
the world and I catch it.  The fire
within may be modest.....but it is
sufficient and excells any of the
impossible promises, any of the
awakened expectations brought
by fame's ploughing-of-the-air.

And so the beads of my life are
strung defining the who that I am,
aroused by this writing. And I shall
go on with this fire within which burns
with a white heat & cold but always more,
more, always more, always deeper, higher,
richer, more profound: all in the name of
principle, Cause, the mind’s emerging world
religion and an emotional intensity born of
some finger-mark of beauty and insight.

Ron Price
21 October 1995 to 16 May 2011

Henry David Thoreau said that Ralph Waldo Emerson was more familiar with his work than he was. I’m sure, should the full corpus of my work ever be published before my passing that there will be those who become more familiar with it--and perhaps with me--than I.   I lose touch with so much of it due to its very quantity.  There are also aspects of my life that I lose touch with as I get involved with the many disciplines and subjects, the burgeoning knowledge explosion.  Then there are those whom I love and there are those relationships which seem to dry up especially in areas of intimacy and contact which were once rich, wet and alive. Perhaps this is a way to develop friends in the next life and be ready to meet them when they, or rather I, arrive. This is an interesting theme. Thoreau said that the best growth in trees is in their old age, with harmony and regularity. He also said good deeds act as an encouragement to yourself, to your artistic pursuits, your writing. May I build up a niche of good deeds and may my tree grow best in the years ahead, in these middle years(67 to 75) of late adulthood which some human development psychologists call the years in the lifespan from 60 to 80.