Tree of english li

Guide teachers:
Literature is the artistic expression of profound thoughts, which
is replete with spontaneous and intense passions, imaginative
ideas and reflective viewpoints of the literary men. It is exposed
in such an untechnical form as to make it more comprehensible,
giving aesthetic pleasure and relief to the mind of the common
man. It enhances our vision of life and we begin to look at
nature with new eyes.
The first works in English, written in Old English, appeared in the
early Middle Ages (the oldest surviving text is Cædmon's Hymn).
The oral tradition was very strong in the early English culture and
most literary works were written to be performed. Epic poems
were thus very popular and many, including Beowulf, have
survived to the present day in the rich corpus of Anglo-Saxon
literature that closely resemble today's Icelandic, Norwegian,
North Frisian and the Northumbrian and Scots English dialects
of modern English.
In the 12th century, a new form of English now known as
Middle English evolved. This is the earliest form of English
literature which is comprehensible to modern readers and
listeners, though not easily.
Middle English lasts up until the 1470s, when the Chancery
Standard, a form of London-based English, became
widespread and the printing press regularized the language.
There are three main categories of Middle English
Literature: Religious, Courtly love, and Arthurian.
William Langland’s Piers Plowman, Chaucer's Canterbury
Tales and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight are
considered as the great works of Middle English literature
Following the introduction of a printing press into England by
William Caxton in 1476, vernacular literature flourished. The
Reformation inspired the production of vernacular liturgy which led
to the Book of Common Prayer, a lasting influence on literary English
The poetry, drama, and prose produced under both Queen Elizabeth I
and King James I constitute what is today labelled as Early modern
(or Renaissance).
The Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field
of drama. The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and
Roman theatre, and this was instrumental in the development of the new
drama, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and
miracle plays of the Middle Ages. The Italians were inspired by Seneca and
The plays like Gorboduc by Sackville & Norton and The Spanish Tragedy by
Kyd, of that time, provided much material for Hamlet, William Shakespeare
who stands out to be a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed.
After Shakespeare's death, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson was the
leading literary figure of the Jacobean era (The reign of James I). However,
Jonson's aesthetics hark back to the Middle Ages rather than to the Tudor
Era: his characters embody the theory of humours. According to this
contemporary medical theory, behavioral differences result from a prevalence
of one of the body's four "humours" (blood, phlegm, black bile, and yellow
bile) over the other three; these humours correspond with the four elements
of the universe: air, water, fire, and earth. This leads Jonson to exemplify
such differences to the point of creating types, or clichés.
Literary life in England flourishes so impressively in the
early years of the 18th century that contemporaries draw
parallels with the heyday of Virgil, Horace and Ovid at the
time of the emperor Augustus. The new Augustan Age
becomes identified with the reign of Queen Anne (1702-
1714), though the spirit of the age extends well beyond her
The oldest of the Augustan authors, Jonathan
Swift, first makes his mark in 1704 with The Battle
of the Books and
A Tale of a Tub. These two
tracts, respectively about literary theory and
religious discord, reveal that there is a new prose
writer on the scene with lethal satirical powers
During the Age of Sensibility, literature reflected the
worldview of the Age of Enlightenment (or Age of
Reason) – a rational and scientific approach to religious,
social, political, and economic issues that promoted a
secular view of the world and a general sense of progress
and perfectibility.
During the end of the 18th century, Horace Walpole's
1764 novel The Castle of Otranto, created the Gothic
fiction genre, that combines elements of horror and
romance. The pioneering gothic novelist Ann
Radcliffe introduced the brooding figure of the
gothic villain which developed into the Byronic hero.
It was in the Victorian era (1837–1901) that the novel became the
leading form of literature in English. Most writers were now more
concerned to meet the tastes of a large middle class reading public
than to please aristocratic patrons.
The best known works of the era include the emotionally powerful
works of the Brontë sisters; the satire Vanity Fair by William
Makepeace Thackeray; and the realist novels of George Eliot;
Charles Dickens was one of the Victorian writers in literature.
His famous works include The Tale of Two Cities (1859) and Great
Expectations (1961)
Major political and social changes at the end of the 18th
century, particularly the French Revolution, prompted a new
breed of writing known as Romanticism.
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge began the
trend for bringing emotionalism and introspection to English
literature, with a new concentration on the individual and the
common man. The reaction to urbanism and industrialization
prompted poets to explore nature, for example the Lake Poets.
William Blake is considered a seminal figure in the history of both the poetry
and visual arts of the Romantic Age
William Blake's "The Tyger," published in his Songs of Innocence and of Experience is a
work of Romanticism
The major lyric poet of the first decades of the 20th century was
Thomas Hardy. Following the classic novels Tess of the
d'Urbervilles and Far from the Madding Crowd, Hardy then
concentrated on poetry after the harsh response to his last novel,
Jude the Obscure.
The most widely popular writer of the early years of the 20th
century was arguably Rudyard Kipling, a highly versatile writer of
novels, short stories and poems.
Modernist literature is the literary expression of the tendencies of modernism,
especially high modernism. Modernistic literature tends to revolve around the
themes of individualism, mistrust of institutions (government, religion) and the
disbelief in any absolute truths, and to involve a literary structure that departs
from conventionality and realism.
Modernism as a literary movement reached its height in Europe between 1900 and
the middle 1920s. Modernist literature addressed aesthetic problems similar to
those examined in non-literary forms of contemporaneous Modernist art, such as
Modernist painting.
Modernist authors include Knut Hamsun, James Joyce, Mikhail Bulgakov,
T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, H.D., Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, John
Steinbeck, Dylan Thomas and many more.
The best-selling works of the 20th century are estimated to be Quotations
from Chairman Mao (1966, 900 million copies), Harry Potter and the
Philosopher's Stone (1997, 120 million copies), And Then There Were
None (1939, 115 million copies) and The Lord of the Rings (1954/55, 100
million copies). The Lord of the Rings was also voted "book of the
century" in various surveys.
The term Postmodern literature is used to describe certain
tendencies in post-World War II literature. It is both a
continuation of the experimentation championed by writers of
the modernist periods and a reaction against Enlightenment
ideas implicit in Modernist literature. Postmodern literature, like
postmodernism as a whole, is difficult to define and there is little
agreement on the exact characteristics, scope, and importance of
postmodern literature.
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