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Later Medieval Period (Middle English Period)

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  1. Later Medieval Period(Middle English Period) • Layamon (c.1200): Brut. Arthurian Tales. • The Owl and the Nightingale. • Chaucer: Canterbury Tales; Troylus and Cryseyde (1372 – 7?); The Legend of Good Women (1385). • John Gower (1325 – 1408): Confessio Amantis • William Langland (1330?-1400?): The Vision of Piers the Ploughman • Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1360?). Pearl; Patience. • Richard Rolle: The Form of Perfect Living. • John Wycliffe (1328?-1384): The Bible. • Sir Thomas Malory: Morte D’Arthur. Printed 1485. • William Caxton (1442 – 91) The printing press 1476 – 7. 11. Miracle plays, mystery plays, comedy, interludes. City circuits.

  2. Geoffrey ChaucerBiographical sketch: • He was born in London between 1340 and 1344. • He lived most of his life in or around the royal court. • He was married to Philippa Roet, who was a lady-in-waiting to Edward III’s queen. • During the years 1370 to 1378, he paid several diplomatic visits to the continent, especially France and Italy. • Until his death he occupied several public offices • The official date of Chaucer’s death is Oct. 25, 1400. He was buried in Westminster Abbey.

  3. Geoffrey ChaucerHis career as a writer • His literary career can be divided into three periods: • The French period in which he wrote under the influence of French models. From this period we have the Book of the Duchess. • The Italian period saw the writer working under the influence of the great Italian authors Dante and Bocaccio. The fine poem Troilus and Criseyde comes from this period. • The final period of his career, starting around 1387, saw the production of his masterpiece and one of the most brilliant poems in English Literature, The Canterbury Tales.

  4. The Canterbury Tales • This is a long poem (about 17.000 lines) which presents a group of pilgrims who are on their way to Canterbury Cathedral. Each pilgrim represents a particular section of British medieval society. • Each one of the characters tells a tale, and each tale has a corresponding prologue. • The poem has been greatly praised for its clever and beautiful use of the English Language. In fact the poem might be credited for lending credibility to a language that was still considered barbaric by the academic establishment. • In this poem Chaucer introduces the Heroic Couplet into English.

  5. William Langland • Little is known about his life, but he is thought to have been a clerk and a minor cleric who lived many years in London in poverty. • He is credited with the authorship of the great mediaeval alliterative poem on the theme of spiritual pilgrimage, Piers Plowman (written over an uncertain period from c.1360). • The poem is written in colloquial, simple English, using familiar symbols and images, while reiterating mediaeval Christian doctrine.

  6. John Wycliffc.1330-1384 • English clergyman born in Yorkshire. • He was the initiator of several religious controversies, where he accused the Catholic church of diverse corrupted practices, such as the ownership of property. • He commissioned the first translation of the Bible into English. It is unknown whether he participated in the work himself. • Because of his radical religious ideas, some historians call him the “morning star of reformation”

  7. Sir Thomas Maloryd. 1471 • English author of Morte d’Arthur. It is almost certain that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revell, Warwickshire. • Knighted in 1442, he served in the Parliament of 1445. He was a violent, lawless individual who committed a series of crimes, including poaching, extortion, robbery, and murder. • Most of his life from 1451 was spent in prison, and he probably did most of his writing there. • Malory’s original book was called The Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table and was made up of eight romances that were more or less separate. • William Caxton printed the work in 1485 and gave it the misleading title of Morte d’Arthur.

  8. La Morte D’Arthur Summary of La Morte D’Arthur: Roughly, the story could be divided into three parts: • Drawing the sword from the stone. Adventures of the knights of the round table • The adventures of Tristan. 3.The quest of the Holy Grail. The treason of Lancelot and Guinevere. Death of Arthur.

  9. William Caxton • Born in the Weald of Kent, c. 1422; died at Westminster, 1491; the first English printer and the introducer of the art of printing into England. • Apparently Caxton first learned printing at Cologne, where other famous printers had learned it. • The first dated book issued from this press was the "Dictes and sayings of the Philosophers" and bears the imprint 1477. From this date to the end of his life he issued ninety-six books from the Westminster press, including, the works of Chaucer and Gower, Sir Thomas Malory's "Morte d'Arthur", among others. • He was not only a skilful master printer and publisher of books, but to some extent a man of letters–editor, author, translator. His work as writer and translator helped to fix the literary language of England in the sixteenth century.

  10. Samples of Caxton printed texts:

  11. Early Drama (theatre) • Early drama can be separated into Miracle plays, Mystery plays, Morality plays and Interludes. • Miracle plays were dramatic representations of the miracles of the Saints. • Miracle plays evolved into Mystery plays which dealt with biblical events from Creation to the Last Judgment. They were popular between the 13th and 16th century. • These plays were acted by priests, townspeople or actors who would perform on wagons or fixed stages. • There are 4 main cycles of plays written in English that survive today: York, Chester, Wakefield (Townley) and N. Town

  12. Early Drama • Morality plays were allegorical plays illustrating the struggle of good and evil for the soul of humans. • Morality plays were popular during the 15th century. • One of the earliest Morality play to have survived was the Castle of Perseverance. • Interludes were short plays that were used to break up different parts of the longer Mystery plays. Interludes were often humorous and light in tone.

  13. Heroic Couplet • One of the most important contributions of Chaucer to the English Language was the introduction of the heroic couplet a form which was adapted from its Italian counterpart. • A Heroic Couplet is a pair of lines with consonant rhyme, where each line constitutes an iambic pentameter. • An iambic pentameter is a line that contains five stressed syllables: So long as men can breathe or eyes can see So long lives this and this gives life to thee

  14. From the Canterbury Tales: The knight’s Tale (fragment) This duc of whom I make mencioun, Whan he was come almoost unto the toun, In al his wele and in his mooste pride, He was war, as he caste his eye aside, Where that ther kneled in the hye weye A compaignye of ladyes, tweye and tweye, Ech after oother, clad in clothes blake; But swich a cry and swich a wo they make, That in this world nys creature lyvynge That herde swich another waymentynge; And of this cry they nolde nevere stenten, Til they the reynes of his brydel henten.

  15. Romance • A popular love story written in verse where supernatural intervention can be expected in order to illustrate a moral point. • The Concept of romance is associated with the Arthurian Tales, Charlemagne and his Kinghts and classical heroes, especially Alexander.