The Augustan Age in English literature refers to the period from the early 18th century to the mid-18th century, during which time the literary culture of England was heavily influenced by the classical ideals of the Roman Empire. This period is named after the Roman Emperor Augustus, who reigned during a time of peace and prosperity in the Roman Empire and is often seen as a model for the English monarchy of the time.
During the Augustan Age, English literature saw a shift towards more formal and polished writing styles, as writers sought to emulate the classical ideals of the Roman Empire. The emphasis was on reason, restraint, and decorum, and writers sought to create works that were well-structured and balanced, with a clear and logical progression of ideas.
One of the most notable writers of the Augustan Age was Alexander Pope, who is known for his poetry, including his famous work "The Rape of the Lock," as well as his translation of Homer's "Iliad." Pope's work is characterized by its use of classical allusions and its emphasis on reason and order, and he is often seen as a key figure in the development of the Augustan style.
Another important writer of the Augustan Age was Jonathan Swift, who is best known for his satirical works such as "Gulliver's Travels" and "A Modest Proposal." Swift's writing is marked by its wit and irony, and he is known for using satire to expose the flaws and follies of society.
The Augustan Age also saw the emergence of the novel as a popular form of literature, with writers such as Daniel Defoe and Samuel Richardson publishing works such as "Robinson Crusoe" and "Pamela." These novels were often concerned with practical and moral issues, and they sought to educate and improve readers through their portrayal of virtuous characters and the resolution of conflicts.
Overall, the Augustan Age in English literature was a time of great cultural and artistic achievement, as writers sought to emulate the classical ideals of the Roman Empire and create works that were polished, well-structured, and intellectually stimulating. It was a time of great innovation and creativity, and the works produced during this period continue to be highly influential and widely read to this day.
Sherman Alexie's poem "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" tells the story of a Native American man named Jack, who is desperate to get back his grandmother's powwow regalia, or traditional dance clothes, which he sold for cash when he was struggling financially. The poem is set in a pawn shop, where Jack is bargaining with the shopkeeper to buy back the regalia.
The poem is rich with themes of identity, family, and cultural heritage. Jack's desperate desire to regain the regalia is tied to his sense of self and his connection to his ancestors. The regalia represents a part of his identity that has been lost, and he is willing to do whatever it takes to get it back.
The shopkeeper, on the other hand, is more interested in the monetary value of the regalia than its cultural significance. He sees it as nothing more than a commodity to be bought and sold. This contrast between Jack's emotional connection to the regalia and the shopkeeper's detachment highlights the theme of the commercialization of culture and the way in which it can undermine the value of traditions and heritage.
The title of the poem, "What You Pawn I Will Redeem," suggests that Jack is willing to pay any price to reclaim the regalia. This phrase also has deeper meaning, as it suggests that Jack is willing to redeem not only the regalia, but also his own sense of identity and connection to his culture.
Ultimately, the poem speaks to the importance of cultural traditions and the way in which they shape our sense of self and our connection to our ancestors. It also critiques the way in which these traditions can be commodified and stripped of their meaning in a capitalist society.
In conclusion, "What You Pawn I Will Redeem" is a poignant and thought-provoking poem that explores themes of identity, family, and cultural heritage, and the way in which they can be threatened by the forces of capitalism. It is a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving and valuing our cultural traditions.