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Novels of Thomas Love Peacock

Novels of Thomas Love Peacock

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Peacock was born in Weymouth, Dorset, the son of Samuel Peacock and his wife Sarah Love, daughter of Thomas Love, a retired master of a man-of-war in the Royal Navy. His father was a glass merchant in London, partner of a Mr Pellatt, presumed to be Apsley Pellatt (1763–1826).[2] Peacock went with his mother to live with her family at Chertsey in 1791 and in 1792 went to a school run by Joseph Harris Wicks at Englefield Green where he stayed for six and a half years.

Peacock's father died in 1794 in "poor circumstances" leaving a small annuity. Peacock's first known poem was an epitaph for a school fellow written at the age of ten and another on his Midsummer Holidays was written when he was thirteen. Around that time in 1798 he was abruptly taken from school and from then on was entirely self-educated.

Peacock's own place in literature is pre-eminently that of a satirist. That he has nevertheless been the favourite only of the few is owing partly to the highly intellectual quality of his work, but mainly to his lack of ordinary qualifications of the novelist, all pretension to which he entirely disclaims. He has no plot, little human interest, and no consistent delineation of character. His personages are mere puppets, or, at best, incarnations of abstract qualities such as grace or beauty, but beautifully depicted.

His comedy combines the mock-Gothic with the Aristophanic. He suffers from that dramatist's faults and, though not as daring in invention or as free in the use of sexual humour, shares many of his strengths. His greatest intellectual love is for Ancient Greece, including late and minor works such as the Dionysiaca of Nonnus; many of his characters are given punning names taken from Greek to indicate their personality or philosophy.

He tended to dramatize where traditional novelists narrated; he is more concerned with the interplay of ideas and opinions than of feelings and emotions; his dramatis personae is more likely to consist of a cast of more or less equal characters than of one outstanding hero or heroine and a host of minor auxiliaries; his novels have a tendency to approximate the Classical unities, with few changes of scene and few if any subplots; his novels are novels of conversation rather than novels of action; in fact, Peacock is so much more interested in what his characters say to one another than in what they do to one another that he often sets out entire chapters of his novels in dialogue form. Plato's Symposium is the literary ancestor of these works, by way of the Deipnosophists of Athenaeus, in which the conversation relates less to exalted philosophical themes than to the points of a good fish dinner.

 

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Inventory Last Updated: Oct 26, 2020

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