Timeline of british literature

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Timeline of British Literature Old English - Renaissance Literature 680- 1660 Old English Literature: c 680- 1066 658-680 Caedmon’s “Hymn”—earliest poem in English recorded in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of the English People (completed in 731) The first vernacular poem in English Alliterative verse Uses compound words or kennings Nu sculon herigean heofonrices Weard (Now we shall praise Heaven-Kingdon’s Guardian,) Meotodes Meahte and his modgethanc (The Measurer’s Might and his mindthoughts,) Weorc Wuldor-Faeder swa he wundra gewhaes (The work of the Glory-Father when he of wonders had,) Ece Drihten (eternal Lord, or onstealde established the beginning.) He aerest sceop (He first created Heofon to hrofe (Heaven as a roof, Tha middangeard (Then middle-earth Ece Drihten (The eternal Lord, Firum foldan (The earth for men, eorthan bearnum for the sons of earth) halig Scyppend the holy Maker, moncynnes Weard mankind’s Guardian, aefter teode afterwards made,) Frea Aelmihtig the Master almighty.) Old English Elegies “The Wanderer” (c 975) —an elegy or lament for the loss of one’s lord and companions; loneliness, exile, and utter desolation Heavy with the thought of mortality and the end of all being Speaker is in exile from his kin, his lord is dead; his companions lost in war Other elegies: The Seafarer,The Husband’s Lament, the Wife’s Lament Beowulf (c 1000) Written in alliterative verse and uses kennings, as does Caedmon’s Hymn An epic poem in the elegiac mode Deals with the Danish King, Hrothgar, whose court is attacked by the monster Grendel and his mother, who kill Many of the kings men Beowulf , a young Geat, comes boasting to Hrothgar’s court, and avenges these deaths by fighting Grendel and his mother, receiving rich rewards from Hrothgar—his ring-bearer—for these deeds He then fights a dragon to save his own people, but dies in slaying it The poem ends in a lament for Beowulf Middle English Literature (1350-1485) William Langland (c 1330-1387) The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman (1362, A text) An allegorical dream vision poem divided into three parts, each with a different vision The poem is written in unrhymed, alliterative verse with four stressed beats to each line and alliteration between the initial consonants in the first and second parts of the line It is both a social satire, a satire upon the Catholic church, and a call to live a pious and humble life The dreamer, William, beholds a “field full of folk” all before him as he begins his first vision He encounters Lady Meed, who tries to seduce him, and Holy Church, who also vies for his attention Geoffrey Chaucer (c 1343-1400) The Canterbury Tales (1380s) 24 tales and a framing prologue that sets up the fiction of pilgrims meeting at a tavern as they begin their pilgrimage to the shrine of St Thomas a Becket in Canterbury Each agrees to tell a tale The tales are linked by prologues The narrator begins the prologue by describing the fine April day and each of the pilgrims in his entourage Some characters: Knight, Miller, Wife of Bath, Prioress, Nun’s Priest, Squire, Reeve, Pardoner, Summoner, Cook, Man of Law, Oxford Scholar, etc Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1375-1500) Written by the unknown “Pearl poet,” who also wrote the allegorical dream-vision poem, “Pearl.” Arthurian Romance in Alliterative Verse Involves Sir Gawain’s quest to confront the Green Knight, who has disrupted Arthur’s court The Green Knight may represent fertility Gawain’s chastity is tested by his host’s wife, who tries to seduce him Gawain fails his test of trust by taking the girdle the woman offers him; it has protective power The host turns out to be the shape-shifting Green Knight, who spares Gawain’s life in a beheading game He Gives Gawain a green girdle as a token of G’s weakness and need for forgiveness Medieval Lyrics: Both Secular and Religious 13th – 15th Centuries Lyric poems, some of which were set to music Themes: love, the beauty of the beloved, the seasons, the pain of unrequited love, Religious themes, Biblical and liturgical themes, devotion to the virgin Mary, other devotional themes Cuckoo Song: “Sumer is ycomen in, Loude sing cuckou!” (Ezra Pound parodies) Western Wind: “Western wind, when will thou blow? The small rain down can rain Christ, that my love were in my arms, And I in my bed again.” Mystery Plays or Cycle Drama: Late 14th–15th Centuries Cycles of religious plays based on Biblical stories A cycle started with a creation play and ended with a Second Coming and Judgment play They were acted by the crafts guilds of towns once a year Each play moved through the streets on a wagon from one stopping place to the next Four complete cycles have survived from the guilds of four towns: Wakefield, Coventry, York, and Chester The Chester Noah’s Flood play has a shrewish Noah’s wife, who boozes it up with her girlfriends and cuffs Noah on the ear Wakefield Second Shepherd’s Play: Mak, Gil, sheep Book I is devoted to the virtue of Holiness; Redcrosse Knight is the hero Book II –Temperance -Sir Guyon is hero Book III – Chastity - Britomart, the virgin, female warrior is hero (Another allegorical figure for Elizabeth.) Book IV – Friendship - Cambel and Triamond are heros Book V – Justice – Artegal is hero Book VI – Courtesy - Calidore Edmund Spenser Amoretti (1595) A sonnet sequence of 89 sonnets that tell the story of a love relationship in which the couple move toward marriage (unlike all other sonnet sequences of the period) Some Other English Sonnet Sequences: Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella (1591) Samuel Daniel, Delia (1592) Michael Drayton, Idea's Mirror (1594) Shakespeare, Sonnets (1609; written earlier) Michael Drayton, Idea (1619) Phillip Sidney (1554-1586) The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia (1578-83) A prose pastoral romance dealing with shepherds and courtly people disguised as shepherds The plot involves mistaken identities, disguises, amazon women, crossdressed men, wild coincidences, melodramatic incidents, and tangled love intrigues Some characters: Pyrocles, Philoclea (with whom he’s in love), Musidorus, the Amazon Zelmane The Defense of Poesy (1579; published 1595) An important prose defense of poetry in which Sidney argues for the dignity, moral importance, and social effectiveness of poetry, which teaches and delights so that one will aspire toward virtue and shun vice Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) Poet & Playwright Dr Faustus (1604) Play about a man of learning who Strikes a bargain with Lucifer so that he can have forbidden knowledge and the power that brings He rejects his former legitimate studies for Black magic His fall is caused by his pride and ambition Characters: Faustus, Lucifer, Beelzebub, Mephastophilis, the Pope, Wagner, Valdes, Cornelius, the Seven Deadly Sins, and more Marlowe writes his plays in Blank Verse Critics admired “Marlowe’s Mighty Line.” William Shakespeare (1564-1616) See handout on Shakespeare’s dramatic canon Check out the web site that has synopses of all the plays Sonnets Venus and Adonis Long narrative poem about the love affair between these two characters It is highly erotic and sensuous in its verse Seventeenth Century Jacobean Era—1603-1625 the rule of King James I Caroline Era—1625-1640—the rule of Charles I, who was deposed in 1640 and executed in 1649 1642: The Civil Wars Begin 1649-1653: England is a Commonwealth under the rule of Parliament 1653-1658: England is a Protectorate under the rule of Oliver Cromwell, the Protector (Right!) 1660: Charles II is recalled and monarchy restored John Donne (1572-1631) & the Metaphysical Poets Metaphysical poetry is characterized by: energetic, rough, or uneven movement, unlike the studied elegance, sweetness, and smoothness of 16th century verse elaborate, strained, or far-fetched “conceits”; dazzling displays of wit a tendency toward logical argumentation or the structure of an argument in a poem an interest in philosophical questions and speculation Metaphysical Conceits: Examples from Donne: A woman’s naked body as an explorer’s map—”Oh, my America!” Two lover’s bodies as a compass with two legs and a fulcrum point holding the two parts together The action of God’s grace as a battering ram, a metal worker melting and hammering a dented vessel, a rapist A flea’s body that has just bitten both lovers as a sacred altar or a marriage bed How to Recognize a Donne Poem: dramatic, in medias res, opening a dramatic situation in which there is a speaker and one spoken to, who is always silent fairly rough, irregular rhythm a conversational tone highly imaginative and unlikely drawing of likenesses between things images drawn from all sorts of sources that seem more worldly than the lovely images of 16th century poetry Donne’s Works: Songs and Sonnets (not printed in his life time; begun in 1595 and probably written over the next 20 years) “The Flea” “The Good Morrow” “Song” “The Sun Rising” (an aubade or dawn poem) “The Canonization” Holy Sonnets Nineteen religious sonnets as part of his Divine Poems Sermons As an Anglican preacher, Donne preached Volumes of sermons, including his last, Deaths Duell Other Metaphysical Poets: George Herbert (1593-1633) The Temple (1633) “The Altar” “Redemption” “Easter Wings” “Affliction I” “Church Monuments” “The Windows” “The Collar” “Death” “Love” Henry Vaughan (1621-1695) Silex Scintillans “Regeneration,” “The Retreat,” “The World” “They Are All Gone into the World of Light,” “Cock-Crowing” Other Metaphysical Poets: Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) Steps to the Temple (1646) “To the Infant Martyrs” “The Weeper” calls Mary Magdalene’s tears “portable and compendious oceans” and a breakfast for cherubs Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) Poems (published after his death) “Damon the Mower” “The Mower’s Song” “The Mower Against Gardens” “The Mower’s Song” “To His Coy Mistress” “Upon Appleton House” The Cavalier Poets, or Sons of Ben or Tribe of Ben Ben Jonson (1572-1637) Poet, Playwright, Prose Writer Plays: Every Man In His Humour (1598) Every Man Out of His Humour (1599) Volpone The Alchemist and Epicoene (1609) Bartholomew Fair (1614) ETC Poetry: Epigrams: “On my First Son” “On my First Daughter,” “To my Book,” “On Something that Walks Somewhere” The Forest: “To Penshurst” “Song: To Celia” Sons of Ben OR Cavalier Poets: Robert Herrick (1591-1674) Hesperides (1648) “Upon the Loss of His Mistress,” “The Vine,” “Delight in Disorder,” “Upon Julia’s Clothes,” “Upon the Nipple on Julia’s Breast,” “To the Virgins to Make Much of Their Time”—a carpe diem poem, one that urges the reader to seize the day because time sweeps all into death Sir John Suckling (1609-1642) Song (“Why So Pale and Wan, fond lover?/Prithee, why so pale?” Fragmenta Aurea (1646) Richard Lovelace (1618-1657) Lucasta (1649) “To Lucasta, Going to War” [...]... Schoolmaster (1570) A treatise on education and the proper teaching of Latin, etc He attacks the vanity of Englishmen who travel to Italy and come back all corrupted in manners and dress Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-1547) Like Wyatt, Surrey was a courtier in the court of Henry VIII.Unlike Wyatt, he was beheaded Wrote sonnets in imitation of Petrarch and developed the English sonnet form that Shakespeare... humanistic education for statesmanship Focus on the individual and a concern with the fullest possible cultivation of human potential through proper education; focus on individual consciousness and the Interior mind Concern with the refinement of the language and the development of a national, vernacular literature Tudor England (1500-1557) Henry VII (acceded to throne in 1485) Henry VIII (acceded to throne... transforming, Wyatt stresses the anguish and disillusionment of love The speaker in some of the poems is bitter, cynical, Angry, longing and pained “They flee from me” In “Mine Own John Poins,” a Verse Epistle, he says he Will flee the corruption of the royal court and retreat home Roger Ascham (1515-1568) Educator Toxophilus (1545) A treatise on the art of shooting a bow He advocates skill, balance, and concentration—... Morte Darthur (1485) Prose Arthurian Romance Contains much of the Arthurian material used by later English writers Inspired Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s The Idylls of the King Inspired Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court Some call it a precursor to the novel Renaissance Literature (1485-1660) “Renaissance” means “Rebirth” Rebirth of interest in the Greek and Latin classics Emphasis on... six books Each book contains twelve cantos, each of which contains At least 40 stanza Each stanza is composed of nine lines 1-8 are iambic pentameter, and 9 is iambic hexameter (alexandrine); each stanza is rhymed ababbcbcc This form is called a Spenserian stanza The Faerie Queene Spenser planned to write 12 books of the Faerie Queene, one for each of the "twelve private moral virtues" from Aristotle... one of these moral virtues Arthur is "magnificence," the sum of all the virtues Gloriana in the Faerie Queene represents Queen Elizabeth Throughout the whole poem, Arthur appears, disappears, and reappears, looking for Gloriana, with whom he has fallen in love He longs to marry her Spenser completed only six books of his intended project (thank God for small favors) Book I is devoted to the virtue of. .. synopses of all the plays Sonnets Venus and Adonis Long narrative poem about the love affair between these two characters It is highly erotic and sensuous in its verse Seventeenth Century Jacobean Era—1603-1625 the rule of King James I Caroline Era—1625-1640—the rule of Charles I, who was deposed in 1640 and executed in 1649 1642: The Civil Wars Begin 1649-1653: England is a Commonwealth under the rule of. .. Poets, or Sons of Ben or Tribe of Ben Ben Jonson (1572-1637) Poet, Playwright, Prose Writer Plays: Every Man In His Humour (1598) Every Man Out of His Humour (1599) Volpone The Alchemist and Epicoene (1609) Bartholomew Fair (1614) ETC Poetry: Epigrams: “On my First Son” “On my First Daughter,” “To my Book,” “On Something that Walks Somewhere” The Forest: “To Penshurst” “Song: To Celia” Sons of Ben OR Cavalier... that this non-Christian commonwealth had attained a greater degree of peace and order than had his own England The fictional traveler, Ralph Hythloday, reports about his visit to a fictional “Thomas More,” who is the narrator of the piece Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) Lyric poet who introduced the sonnet form into English Translated some of Petrarch’s sonnets into English (“Whoso list to hunt, / I know... and Triamond are heros Book V – Justice – Artegal is hero Book VI – Courtesy - Calidore Edmund Spenser Amoretti (1595) A sonnet sequence of 89 sonnets that tell the story of a love relationship in which the couple move toward marriage (unlike all other sonnet sequences of the period) Some Other English Sonnet Sequences: Philip Sidney, Astrophel and Stella (1591) Samuel Daniel, Delia (1592) Michael Drayton,
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