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History and Anthology of English Literature. Mickey Xu. Major Content. Early and Medieval English Literature The English Renaissance The Period of the English Bourgeois The Eighteenth Century Romanticism in England Victoria age: English Critical Realism

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Major content
Major Content

  • Early and Medieval English Literature

  • The English Renaissance

  • The Period of the English Bourgeois

  • The Eighteenth Century

  • Romanticism in England

  • Victoria age: English Critical Realism

  • Twentieth Century English Literature

Chapter one early and medieval literature
Chapter One Early and Medieval Literature

  • English People and English Language

  • Beowulf

  • Romance

  • Langland

  • The English Ballads

  • Chaucer

English people and english language
English People and English Language

● Britons, a tribe of Celts

● Roman Invasion (Roman occupation lasted for about 400 years)

during which

Roman mode of life;

networks of highways

Rise of towns

History and anthology of english literature

Angles, Saxons, and Jutes

● Norman Conquest—

French-speaking Normans under Duke William came in 1066,which marked the establishment of feudalism. William was crowned as the King of England.

The influence of the norman conquest on the english
The influence of the Norman Conquest on the English

1. French and Latin are upper languages. By the end of 14th century, Normans intermingled with English, English again dominated, but different from the old English, French words in.)

2. Two distinct classes: landlords and peasants.

3. The Rising of 1381

The peasants could endure no longer—Wat Tyler and John Ball—treachously and bloodily repressed—shakened the feudal system in England to root


  • English literature began with the settlements of Anglo-Saxons in England.

  • A long poem telling about the story of a hero on whose actions depend the fate of a tribe, a nation or the human race.

  • The Hero in it is half legendary and half historical.

Subject matter
Subject Matter

  • Three Fights–

    with Grendel ;

    with Grendel’s mother;

    with the fire dragon

  • Hrothgar,the king of the Danes

Historical significance
Historical significance:

1. Features: Heroic Ideal is that of Warrior---physical strength and courage of a soldier is emphasized, rather than virtues of culture, mind, or spirit. 2. Alliteration: a strong feature of old English. Certain accented words in a line begin with the same consonant sound. 3. Metaphor &Understatement: Swan’s bath, whales’ road---sea, Ring-giver----king not troublesome---very welcome need not praise---a right to condemn


The most prevailing kind of literature in feudal England—the life and adventures of a noble hero—riding forth to seek adventures, fighting for his lord in battle—devoted to the church and the king—chivalry(code of manners and morals—the theme of loyalty to king and lord emphasized (stone of feudal morality)—only for nobles

  • Three languages in literature:

    folk lit. in English

    religious lit. in Latin

    romance in French.

History and anthology of english literature

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight---1400—Late Middle Ages---Part of the Arthurian Cycle—2530lines—4 parts


  • William Langland: educated in a school of monastery

  • 1362, began his famous poem-- Piers the Plowman-- in old alliterative verse—over 7000 lines—sets forth a series of wonderful dreams through which we can see a picture of feudal England

Chaucer 1340 1400
Chaucer (1340-1400)

the founder of English poetry

Father of English poetry

  • Life

  • Literary career

  • The Canterbury Tales

  • Contribution

History and anthology of english literature








Literary career three stages
Literary Career: Three stages

  • French Translation:

    The Romaunt of the Rose

  • Italian Adaptation:

    Troilus and Criseyde

  • English Creation:

    The Canterbury Tales

The canterbury tales
The Canterbury Tales

1. Outline: 29 pilgrims and the author and the host of the inn. Each 4 story to beguile the time on their way to the Canterbury. 124 in all. But only 24 were finished.

2. Ways of Linking: The remarks of the host, inviting, criticizing, admiring and denouncing, connecting each tale and the prologue.

3. Prologue: Sketches of typical medieval figures supply a miniature of the English society of Chaucer’s time.

4. Different classes and characters suited by the story: The Wife of Bath (a city of textile, famous because of this book) : the most vivid one

History and anthology of english literature

Significance of

The Canterbury Tales

1. The Canterbury Tales places Chaucer as the first great English poet in English literary history.

2. The tales that they tell, which are appropriate to their social status, reflect their interest in life.

The general prologue
The General Prologue

  • Whan that Aprill with his 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 sweete breeth

  • Inspired hath in every holt the heeth

  • The tender 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 palmers fro to seken straunge strands

  • To ferne halwes, kowthe in sundry londes;

  • And specially from every shires ende

  • Of Engelond to Caunterbury they wende

  • The hooly blissful martir for to seke

  • That hem holpen whan that they were seeke.

History and anthology of english literature

A good WIF was ther of biside BATHE,

But she was somdel deef, and that was scathe.

Of clooth makyng she hadde swich an haunt,

She passed hem of Ypres and of Gaunt.

In al the parisshe wif ne was ther noon

That to the offrynge bifore hire sholde goon;

And if ther dide, certeyn so wrooth was she

That she was out of alle charitee.

Character analysis
Character analysis

  • There was among us a worthy Wife from near Bath, but she was a bit deaf, which was a pity. At cloth-making she beat even the weavers of Ypres and Ghent. There was not a woman in her parish who dared go in front of her when she went to the offertory; if anybody did, you may be sure it put her into such a rage she was out of all patience.

The wife of bath s tale
The Wife of Bath’s Tale

  • Wife of Bath: Widow who has had five husbands

  • Believes women should rule over men—ironic reversal of male chauvanist beliefs of the time

  • Wife of Bath’s Character—we admire her strength, independence and fighting spirit even if we disagree with her views.

Chaucer s contribution
Chaucer’s Contribution

  • To poetry:

    He introduced from France the rhymed stanza of various types, esp. heroic couplet.

  • To English Language:

    He was the first great poet who wrote in English, so he improved the social state of English. He made the dialect of London the standard for the modern English speech.


Chapter ii the english renaissance
Chapter II The English Renaissance


  • religious and political background: from turmoil to peace

    • reformation by Henry VIII: he declared the break with Rome, and made himself the king of the church of England. He found support from a new rising class-----bourgeois.

History and anthology of english literature

economical background:

slow but steady

from a producer of wool to

a manufacturer of cloth--


war with Spain, the biggest rival of overseas expansion:

The renaissance
The Renaissance

Renaissance: the rebirth of letters, an intellectual movement, first started in Italy, and then spread all over Europe. Two features: a thirsting curiosity for the classical literature. (study Greek and Latin authors, their works as the model literary forms, spirit different from Catholic dogma.) The keen interest in the activities of humanity. (humanism as the key-note. People not only live for God, but for their own desires and happiness)

History and anthology of english literature

  • Humanists: Thomas More.

    Masterpiece: Utopia

    Form: conversation between More and a returned voyager, Two books.

    Content: the 1st book: a long discussion of the social conditions of England

    The 2nd book: description of an ideal society, Utopia. Greek word: “No place”.

The flourishing of literature
The Flourishing of Literature

  • “The sphere of human interest was widened as it has never been widened before----by the revelation of a new heaven and a new earth.” ----- J. R. Green

  • Sir Philip Sidney(1554-86): a poet and critic of poetry.

Edmund spenser 1552 1599 poet s poet
Edmund Spenser(1552-1599): “Poet’s poet”

  • “中世纪和文艺复兴,近代和古代,宫廷气派和人民爱好汇集于他的一身。且不管这些目的是如何错综复杂,他无与伦比地始终是一位艺术巨匠。”


  • The Shepherd’s Calendar” : a pastoral poem in twelve books, each for one month in the year.

  • Amoretti (88 sonnets)









History and anthology of english literature

The Faerie Queene

1) “a long poem, allegory planned in 12 books, he finished 6;dedicated to Queen Elizabeth I.

2)The Faerie Queene holds a feast of 12 day, each day a guest appeared to seek help. A knight is assigned to each guest. Each knight represents a virtue, as Holiness, Temperance, Chastity, Friendship, Justice and Courtesy.

3)Form: Spenserian stanza: eight iambic pentameter lines followed by a ninth line of six iambic feet, with the

rhyme scheme ababbcbcc.

Francis bacon 1521 1626
Francis Bacon(1521—1626 )

  • “Essays”(1597---1625, 58 essays) a wide variety of subjects:“Men fear death as children fear to go in the dark”

History and anthology of english literature

Drama-- The main form

the highest glory then

Three earliest forms
Three earliest forms

  • The Miracle Play: based on Bible stories, such as the creation of world, Noah and the flood, and the birth of Christ.

  • The Morality Play: presented the conflict of good and evil with allegorical personages, Mercy, Peace, Hate, and Folly. “Everyman”: he is summoned by death, and although he has many friends, knowledge, goods, strength and so on, only Good Deed, will accompany him.

  • The Interlude: a short performance slipped between a play. “The Play of the Weather”.

History and anthology of english literature

The Classical Dramas: Comedies and tragedies on classical models:Gammer Gurton’s Needle ----the 1st English comedy, a quarrel over the loss of a needleGorboduc-----the 1st English tragedy.

The London Theatre:

wooden buildings, circular in form, with tiers of galleries surrounding a roofless pit.

History and anthology of english literature

The Playwrights

new plays are always needed to satisfy the audiences

University Wits (Lyly, Peele, Marlowe, Greene, Lodge and Nash): They entered the dramatic circle between 1587---1593.They were all of humble birth and struggled for a livelihood through writing. They had a close contact with the actors and audiences. The most gifted one is Marlowe.

Marlowe 1564 1593 forerunner

  • Tamburlaine(1587): Mongol conqueror. Passion for sovereignty, insatiable

    greed for power.

  • The Jew of Malta(1592):

    Barabas, a rich merchant,

    greed for money and gold.

  • Doctor Faustus(1588):

    German legend. A scholar,

    insatiable thirsts for knowledge.

    He sold his soul to the Devil so he may live 24 years in all voluptuousness.

History and anthology of english literature

Show the spirit of the rising bourgeoisie, its eager curiosity and appetite.

Theme: praise of individuality and the conviction of the boundless possibility of human efforts in conquering the universe.But, the individualistic ambition brings ruins to themselves and the world.

Marlowe’s Literary Achievement:--the greatest of the pioneers of English drama. He first made blank verse the principal instrument of English drama.--Epical, lyrical verse. “mighty line”--His paved the way for Shakespeare.

Shakespeare 1564 1616
Shakespeare(1564-1616) curiosity and appetite.

  • life: born on Aril 23,1564, in Stratford-on-Avon, a town in Warwickshire.His father, a trader in wool, once alderman.

  • At 7, local grammar school and 6 years there, read widely the current books and picked up small Latin and less Greek.At 14, father in debt. He worked as a schoolmaster to support the family.

History and anthology of english literature

1582 married to Anne Hathaway, a farmer’s daughter, 8 years older than him.

--three children: Susanna, and the twins: Judith and Hamlet.

1586 or 87, arrived in London. kept horses out of play-houses. many odd jobs, difficulties in life. Then actor of minor roles, and worked hard with his pen. He revised the old plays and wrote new ones at the rate of two in one year.

History and anthology of english literature

A handsome, well-shaped man, very good company, and of a very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

Busy life: continual rehearsals and performances and writings.

Back to his native town in 1611, London theatre declined. back to London in 1614.

He died in 1616, buried in Stratford Church.

works very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.:

  • 37 plays, 2 long poems and 154 sonnets.

History and anthology of english literature

Literary career: very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

The 1st period(1590-94) early comedies and historical plays:

The 2nd Period(1595-1600): optimism, Sunshine and laughter.

The 3nd Period, England, risings against Queen’s absoluteness. clouds and storms in works, pessimism. A period of “ great tragedies” and “dark comedies.”

The 4th period(1608-1612): a period of romantic drama.

The 1st period 1590 94
The 1st period(1590-94) very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

  • He is young and concerned with the affairs of youth and full of romantic sentiment. Early historical plays tried to handle political themes and

    give historical reasons.

    (The Comedy of Errors, the

    Taming of the Shrew, Romeo

    and Juliet…)

The 2nd period 1595 1600
The 2nd Period(1595-1600): very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

period of 6 “great comedies ” and 5 mature historical plays.

(A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Much Ado about Nothing, As You Like It, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar and some historical plays)

History and anthology of english literature

The 3nd Period very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

5 tragedies (Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Timon of Athens) ,

3 comedies(Troilus and Cressida, All’s well That Ends Well, Measure for Measure),

2 Roman tragedies (Antony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus)

History and anthology of english literature

The 4th period(1608-1612) very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.

4 romances or “reconciliation plays ”, and a historical play. a great peacefulness of light, a harmony of earth and heaven.

(Pericles, Cymbeline, The Winter’s Tale, Tempest, Henry VIII)

History and anthology of english literature

poems very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.:

Two narrative poems:

Venus and Adonis

The Rape of Lucrece

Sonnets: “Shakespeare’s Sonnets. Never before Imprinted”(1609). 154 sonnets. 1-126 to a handsome young man, his patron, tries to persuade him to get married and beget offspring. 126-154 to a dark lady.

History and anthology of english literature

Features of Shakespeare very ready and pleasant smooth wit. “gentle Shakespeare”.’s Drama:

one of the founders of realism in world literature.

His works reflects the major social contradictions of his time.

Adaptation (He borrowed his plots from Greek legends and Roman history, Italian stories and English chronicles, and romances of his contemporaries. But they all become original compositions.)

History and anthology of english literature

  • Elastic dramas: action develops freely, without the three unities of time, place and action.

  • Many themes in one play. Plots coexist with sub-plot. Characters with manifold quality.

  • skilled in many poetic forms: the song, the sonnet, the couplet, and the dramatic blank verse.

  • a great master of the English language. A large vocabulary, different styles.

Ben johnson
Ben Johnson unities of time, place and action.

  • the most-well-known successor of Shakespeare’s

  • The Poet Laureate of James I

  • His comedies:

    Every Man in His Humour (1598)《人性互异》 Volpone, Or the Fox(1606) The Alchemist (1610) Bartholomew Fair (1614) Comedies of Humours

History and anthology of english literature

History and anthology of english literature

To Celia determines his or her behavior, thoughts and manner of speech. Every character in Johnson’s comedies personifies a different “humour”.

DRINK to me only with thine eyes,     And I will pledge with mine; Or leave a kiss but in the cup,     And I'll not look for wine.The thirst that from the soul doth rise     Doth ask a drink divine;But might I of Jove's nectar sup,     I would not change for thine. I sent thee late a rosy wreath,     Not so much honoring thee,As giving it a hope that there     It could not withered be.But thou thereon dids't only breathe,     And sent'st it back to me;Since when, it grows, and smells, I swear,     Not of itself, but thee.