‘Spontaneous’ through the centuries: 1658 – 1921; ‘Spontaneous Combustion’ – a fashionable metaphor? (Dickens, Bronte, Melville, Joyce); the concept of ‘Spontaneous’ and ‘Spontaneity’ in Lawrence’s Fantasia of the Unconscious

Our collage ‘Quotations, Authors and Literary Works’ was inspired by the Word of the Day ‘Spontaneous‘ posted by Merriam-Webster on 10/12/2020.

In the collage, we show you the quotations with ‘Spontaneous’ from different centuries without disclosing the name of the author or the literary work (they are shown on a separate page). If you would like to guess the authors’ names, explore the collage; alternatively, see the ‘solution’ below.

‘Spontaneous’ as ‘spontaneous combustion’ occurs with surprising frequency in the 19th century. See examples in the section Spontaneous Combustion below.

‘Spontaneous’ plays great significance in D. H. Lawrence’s Fantasia of the Unconscious. The author uses the word 34 times in a work of 64 thousand words. He uses the word with far lower frequency in his other works. (Women in Love – 183 thousand words, 8 occurrences.) Explore the significance of the concept of spontaneity through examining all instances of ‘Spontaneous‘ and ‘Spontaneity‘ in Fantasia of the Unconscious and other works of Lawrence.

Solution to the collage:

  1. Hydriotaphia and the Garden of Cyrus  Browne, Thomas 1658
  1. Paradise Lost Milton, John 1667
  1. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Volume 2 Locke, John 1689
  1. The Iliad of Homer (Translation) Pope, Alexander 1720
  1. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling Fielding, Henry 1749
  1. Poems Cowper, William 1782
  1. Vala, or The Four Zoas, Prophetic Books Blake, William 1797
  1. The Poetical Works of Mary Robinson, Robinson, Mary 1800
  1. Mansfield Park Austen, Jane 1814
  1.  Confessions of an English Opium-Eater De Quincey, Thomas 1821
  1. Sartor Resartus Carlyle, Thomas 1836
  1. A Christmas Carol (Christmas Books) Dickens, Charles 1843
  1. Shirley Brontë, Charlotte 1849
  1. White Jacket Melville, Herman 1850
  1. The Letters of Anne Gilchrist and Walt Whitman
  1. The Ring and the Book Browning, Robert 1869
  1. Middlemarch Eliot, George (Evans, Mary Ann) 1872
  1. Roderick Hudson James, Henry 1875
  1. In the South Seas Stevenson, Robert Louis 1896
  1. Dracula Stoker, Bram 1897
  1. The Reef Wharton, Edith 1912
  1. Father and Son Gosse, Edmund 1907
  1. The Green Helmet and Other Poems Yeats, William Butler 1910
  1. The New Machiavelli Wells, Herbert George 1910
  1. Under Western Eyes Conrad, Joseph 1911
  1. Ulysses Joyce, James 1920
  1. Fantasia of the Unconscious Lawrence, D. H. 1921

Spontaneous Combustion

  1. A Christmas Carol (Christmas Books) Dickens, Charles 1843

2. Jane Eyre Brontë, Charlotte 1847

3. Bleak House Dickens, Charles 1853

4. Israel Potter Melville, Herman 1854

5. Ulysses Joyce, James 1920

Image: The Long Room of the Library of Trinity College Dublin, Fragment, Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC BY-SA 3.0