important

Topics: Novel, Literature, Poetry Pages: 15 (3693 words) Published: December 16, 2013
9/17/2013

CSS POINT

A brief history of English literature Notes

Note: This material is supposed to be original and authentic for the Subject English Literature. Although This Booklet is a complied work by The CSS Point. All contents have been collected from different internet sources. The CSS Point is not responsible for any fact/information mentioned in this booklet.

Thank You
http://www.thecsspoint.com
info@thecsspoint.com

English Literature | The CSS Point

A brief history of English literature Notes

Literary forms
Literary forms such as the novel or lyric poem, or genres, such as the horror-story, have a history. In one sense, they appear because they have not been thought of before, but they also appear, or become popular for other cultural reasons, such as the absence or emergence of literacy. In studying the history of literature (or any kind of art), you are challenged to consider



what constitutes a given form,



how it has developed, and



whether it has a future.

The novels of the late Catherine Cookson may have much in common with those of Charlotte Brontë, but is it worth mimicking in the late 20th century, what was ground-breaking in the 1840s? While Brontë examines what is contemporary for her, Miss Cookson invents an imagined past which may be of interest to the cultural historian in studying the present sources of her nostalgia, but not to the student of the period in which her novels are set. Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is a long work of prose fiction, but critics do not necessarily describe it as a novel. Why might this be? Knowing works in their historical context does not give easy answers, but may shed more or less light on our darkness in considering such questions.

www.thecsspoint.com

Page 2

A brief history of English literature Notes

Old English, Middle English and Chaucer
Old English
English, as we know it, descends from the language spoken by the north Germanic tribes who settled in England from the 5th century A.D. onwards. They had no writing (except runes, used as charms) until they learned the Latin alphabet from Roman missionaries. The earliest written works in Old English (as their language is now known to scholars) were probably composed orally at first, and may have been passed on from speaker to speaker before being written. We know the names of some of the later writers (Cædmon, Ælfric and King Alfred) but most writing is anonymous. Old English literature is mostly chronicle and poetry - lyric, descriptive but chiefly narrative or epic. By the time literacy becomes widespread, Old English is effectively a foreign and dead language. And its forms do not significantly affect subsequent developments in English literature. (With the scholarly exception of the 19th century poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, who finds in Old English verse the model for his metrical system of "sprung rhythm".)

Middle English and Chaucer
From 1066 onwards, the language is known to scholars as Middle English. Ideas and themes from French and Celtic literature appear in English writing at about this time, but the first great name in English literature is that of Geoffrey Chaucer (?1343-1400). Chaucer introduces the iambic pentameter line, the rhyming couplet and other rhymes used in Italian poetry (a language in which rhyming is arguably much easier than in English, thanks to the frequency of terminal vowels). Some of Chaucer's work is prose and some is lyric poetry, but his greatest work is mostly narrative poetry, which

www.thecsspoint.com

Page 3

A brief history of English literature Notes

we find in Troilus and Criseyde and The Canterbury Tales. Other notable mediaeval works are the anonymous Pearl and Gawain and the Green Knight (probably by the same author) and William Langlands' Piers Plowman.

Tudor lyric poetry
Modern lyric poetry in English begins in the early 16th century with the work of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542) and Henry...
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • important Essay
  • important Essay
  • important Essay
  • Is innovation important in organizational sustainability Essay
  • Essay on Important
  • Important Essay
  • IMPORTANT Essay
  • Not Important Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free