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Medieval and Renaissance English Literature. Middle English Literature 1. Natália Pikli, PhD ELTE. Middle Ages cc. 1000-1600: dark or glorious?. England: 1066 - end of 15th c., Middle English Period. Norman Conquest: influence of French and continental culture

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Medieval and Renaissance English Literature


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medieval and renaissance english literature

Medieval and Renaissance English Literature

Middle English Literature 1.

Natália Pikli, PhD

ELTE

england 1066 end of 15th c middle english period
England: 1066 - end of 15th c., Middle English Period
  • Norman Conquest: influence of French and continental culture
  • French, Latin, English (Middle English: dialects!)
  • Crusades: ideals of knighthood, courtly love (fin’ amors)
  • Christianity: expansion and glory (Gothic cathedrals) vs the Great Schism (1387-1417) and heresies (Lollards, John Wycliff: Bible!)
  • Secular poetry and themes (Sumer is icumen in)
  • universities: Oxford and Cambridge (13th c.)
  • Wars: the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), 14th c.: peasant revolts (Wat Tyler, John Ball), 15th c. Wars of the Roses
  • Black Death
slide4
Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote,

The droghte of March hath perced to the roote

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne,

And smale foweles maken melodye,

That slepen al the nyght with open eye-

So priketh hem Nature in hir corages-

Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages

And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes

To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes;

And specially, from every shires ende

Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende,

The hooly blisful martir for the seke

That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke.

(G. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue ll. 1-18.)

innovations in literature
Innovations in literature
  • ornamental (end) rhymes
  • iambic feet /metrical versification (stressed and unstressed syllables) – The Canterbury Tales: iambic pentameter
  • new themes: romances, lyrical secular poetry: Sumer is icumen in – outspoken, love, worldy pleasures, The Harley lyrics
  • alliterative revival in the North (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) – stanzaic form
  • Drama: mystery plays and morality plays
  • SOURCES: manuscripts (Auchenlick MS – Sir Orfeo, MS Harley, BL Cotton Caligula A II. – Sir Launfal, MS Cotton Nero A x- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ellesmere MS – The Canturbury Tales, etc.)
religious poetry 1
Religious poetry 1.
  • Wycliffite Bible (New Testament by Wycliff, Old Testament by associates)
  • poems on nativitiy, Christ’s passion, Mary, carols
  • I sing of a Maiden,
  • Mother, stand firm beneath the Rood(dialogue)
  • Debates: The Owl and the Nightingale, c. 1200
  • Purity, Patience – homiletic poems
  • (often together with secular poems in the same Harley MS)
religious poetry 2 allegorical narrative dream vision
Religious poetry 2. allegorical narrative, dream vision

William Langland: Piers Plowman 1360-87 narrative allegorical poem(Will=dreamer, tower on a hill v donjon in the valley v folk in the field, PP: guide to Truth, Dowel, Dobet, Dobest) social criticism!

Pearl (Gawain-poet) alliterative dream vision (also end rhymes in 101 stanzas), 14th c. – garden (earthly and otherwordly), river, heavenly Jerusalem, ‘pearl’

secular love fin amors
Secular love – fin amors
  • Roman de la Rose (British Library digitised manuscripts): ‘art of love’
  • Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, 1235-75
  • Over 150 MSs (Chaucer!)
  • enclosed garden / garden of pleasures
  • Lover/ Rose/ allegorical characters (Beauty, Ugliness, Faux Semblance/False Seeming, Vielle/Old Bawd, etc.)
secular literature courtly love fin amors
Secular literature: courtly love / fin amors
  • troubadur, minnesänger (Walter von der Vogelweide)
  • jousts, tournements
  • Chrétien de Troyes (12th c.)
  • Breton lays:
    • Sir Orfeo, to be recited (King Orfeo, Queen Heurodis, Fairy King, loyalty and singing, rhyming iambic tetrameter)
    • Sir Launfal (Round Table, disgrace and love, Guinevre, fairy Triamour)
secular literature romances vernacular and lays
Secular Literature: romances (vernacular) and lays
  • Alexander the Great, Trojan war, Charlemagne, Roland, King Horn
  • Arthurian legends: G. of Monmouth: Historia Regum Britanniae (1137, ‘greatest forger’), Breton lays, Sir Launfal, Malory: Le morte d’Arthur (15th c.)
  • King Arthur, Queen Guinevre, Sir Launcelot, Merlin, Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad, Mordred, Morgan Le Fay
  • Welsh, French, English and Latin works
  • ALLEGORY/Spirituality: quest, code, Holy Grail
  • Prowess and largesse: trowthe
sir gawain and the green knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • 14th c. North-West Midlands dialect, alliterative revival (‘rum-ram-ruf’), bob and wheel stanza
  • Pearl poet
  • The longest English Arthurian verse romance
  • Christmas, beheading, Green Knight, year, Bertilak and the Lady, tests, 3x, girdle, humble vs perfect
  • Numbers: 3 and 5, Celtic and folklore elements
14th century golden age and troubles
14th century: ‘golden age’ and ‘troubles’
  • William Langland, the Gawain/Pearl poet, Gower writing in 3 languages
  • Geoffrey Chaucer (1343-1400): ‘synthesis’/’father of English literature’
  • Life: ‘civil servant’, 3 kings, Italy/France: diplomat, writing: pastime, audiences: readers and/or listeners, writing in English! (London dialect), popularity: CT- 80 Mss
sources at seas
Sources at seas
  • Primary readings (not all!)
  • http://seas3.elte.hu/coursematerial/KallayGeza/index.html /Medieval and Renaissance English Literature (BA)
  • Handouts
  • http://seas3.elte.hu/coursematerial/KallayGeza/index.html /Medieval and Renaissance English Literature (BA) Handout
  • Lecture slides to lectures 1-4
  • http://seas3.elte.hu/coursematerial/PikliNatalia/index.html / Medieval and Renaissance English Lit: Lectures