British Literature

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British Literature
1. the Middle Ages
the oldest literature monument of the Anglo – Saxon period is the old Germanic legend called BEOWULF. This heroic poem is about the strong and courageous pagan hero Beowulf John Wycliffe – is a professor of Oxford University. With his students he translated the whole Bible into English - he influenced Master Jan Hus and our Hussite movement very much 2. the renaissance and humanism

Geoffrey Chaucer – Canterbury Tales – brilliant portrait of 30 pilgrims who travel to Canterbury and they were saying stories each other, each one said four stories, but in tact there are only 23 tales. William Shakespeare – is the biggest author of this period Christopher Marlowe – might became another Shakespeare but he had been killed, lived only short life, he wrote many plays – “The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus”, “the Jew of Malta”, perhaps he also wrote Henry VI. – which Shakespeare revised and completed Sir Thomas More: he wrote “Utopia” – a vision of Imaginary Island with perfectly organized society 3. 17th century

John Milton – is the figure of this period his masterpiece is “Paradies Lost” – is about the revolt of Satan against Heaven and God 4. 18th century
In the 18th century there is a big development of the society and economy, journalism, novels and drama developed very much. Literature became very popular. Jonathan Swift – was a sharp critic, he wrote satirical pamphlets on all unfair events in British society. His most popular work is Gullivers travels – allegory of Lemuel Gulliver’s travelling through imaginary countries. He criticizes politics in England, kingdoms, armies, bad politicians etc. He visits four quite different worlds. The first one is country called Lillipyt, where the people are six inches high, the second country is Brobdingnag, which is inhabited by giants. The third are Laputa and Lgado – philosophers and science, and the fourth one is with Yahoos, disgusting beasts in the shape of men. Henry Fielding was – journalist, lawyer and playwright. He wrote a realistic novel “Tom Johnes” – where he described the life in the 18th century England. Fielding is considered as the founder of the Modern English novel Daniel Defoe – was a politician, traveler and journalist. His most famous work is “Robinson Crusoe”. Robinson shipwrecked on a lonely island. He represents the qualities, which the middle class needed in capitalist competition to be successful 5. romanticism

Sir Walter Scot – is a founder of historical novel. He draw the themes for his romantic novels from old folk ballads, especially from Scottish history. “Ivanhoe” is from the period of Richard the Lionhearted. The other novels are “Waverley, Kenilworht” etc. The romantic period is known especially for its poetry – the best English romantic poets are: Samuel Coleridge – “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner” – masterpiece, a beautiful ballad about the mariner who shot the albatross and because of this the whole ship is cursed. The mariner is the only one who survives and his penalty is to travel from land to land with suffering soul. Lord George Gordon Byron – represent revolutionary romanticism – unhappy and usually lonely heroes fight for freedom and their fight ends in vain. Byron was a son of nobleman. He was physically disabled from his birth. His main work is “Child Harold’s Pilgrimage” – The hero travels all over Europe and makes comments of the hypocritical society and unfairness life. Persy Bysshe Shelly – represents also as a Byron revolutionary romanticism. His greatest work is “Prometheus Unbound”, based on an old Greek legend about Prometheus who steals fire from Olympus to give it to People 6. Victorian Age (Critical Realism) – 19th century

Victorian age produced great novels criticizing various evils of prosperous but imperialistic society. Among the best authors of this period belong: Emily Bronte: “Wuthering Hights”
Charlotte Bronte: “Jane Eyre” – both of them dealt with moral...
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