outline of english literature

Published by admin on

Old English Period / Anglo-Saxon Period (700 – 1066)
a) Mixture of Christian and pagan elements
b) Alliterative verse: epic (narrative), lyric (nostalgia); Beowulf
c) Prose: Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, sermons, translations of Latin works
Middle English Period (1066 – 1500)
Religious poetry (didactic, often allegorical), love poetry (courtly love in the romances)
Early drama: miracle plays and moralities. Popular ballads (esp. 15th century): Sir Patrick Spense
First printer: Caxton (1477)
The Father of English literature: Geoffrey Chaucer – Canterbury Tales
Renaissance (1500 – 1660)
b) Early Renaissance (1500 – 1550): lyrical poetry, esp. the sonnet
c) Elizabethan Age (1550 – 1625): flourishing of drama. Prose: essays, pamphlets Authorized version of the Bible: 1611
d) Early 17th century (1625 – 1660): Metaphysical poetry: union of passion and thought; unconventional images, conceits (witty similes and metaphors)
e) William Shakespeare
Neo-Classical Period (1660 – 1798)
a) Close to imitation of Classical examples; more intellectual, less emotional. Satirical poetry, some lyrical poetry. Rise of periodicals and literary essays. Rise of the novel.
b) Restoration Period (1660-1700): rise of scientific thinking
c) The First English novel: 1719, Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe
d) Pre-Romantic Period (1750 – 1800): Growing interest in natural beauty, in common people, in the past.
Romantic Age (1798 – 1837)
a) Reaction against the Age of Reason: more emotional, less intellectual
b) Many older verse forms are used again: sonnets, ballads
c) Poets: William Wordsworth, Lord Byron, John Keats, William Blake
d) Novelists: Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott
Victorian Age (1837 – 1901)
a) Growing social interest; optimistic belief in progress; industrialisation; materialism; religious doubt. Poetry more philosophical, less exuberant. Late Romanticism. Flourishing of the novel
b) Novelists: Charles Dickens, George Elliot, Thomas Hardy, the Brontë sisters (Romantic novels)
Modern Age (from 1901 on)
a) Before World War I: continuation of Victorian interest, mood and manner
b) Between the World Wars: symbolism. Interest in psychology, especially the subconscious. Intellectualism. Revived interest in Elizabethans and Metaphysicals. Left-wing social literature. Free verse. After World War II: Continuation of social interest: literature of protest
Categories: English Literature