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Renaissance: Impact on English Literature

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Renaissance: Impact on English Literature

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  • Jan. 2013
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Renaissance: Impact on English Literature

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            "Renaissance" is a French word which means rebirth, reawakening or revival. In literature the term "Renaissance" is used to denote the revival of ancient classical literature and culture and re-awakening of human mind, after the long sleep in the Medieval Ages, to the glory, wonders and beauty of man's earthly life and nature. The great literary movement, Renaissance began in Italy with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. But its influence was not felt in England till the last years of the fifteenth century when the English scholars who visited Italy at the time came back to England nourished on the Renaissance humanism. The Renaissance, however, had its full blossoming in the Elizabethan period (1551-1603). This late flowering of the Renaissance was due to the religious dissension (Reformation) which swept over England before Elizabeth's accession to the throne.             The most interesting significant product of the early Renaissance was the translation of Greek and Roman literature. The translators opened for their countrymen a window into the enchanted world of classical antiquity which appeared with all the freshness of a new discovery, the world of the gods and the goddesses of Greece and the great soldiers and statesmen and the Roman Empire. Moreover they brought their readers too into contact with the life and thought of contemporary Europe, and especially of Renaissance Italy. The invention of the printing press placed the translations within the reach of the common people. The translators amassed rich stores of material for the dramatists and poets of the future. Let us now consider the impact of the Renaissance on Elizabethan poetry, drama and prose.             Under the influence of the Renaissance English poetry awoke as from a long sleep at the court of Henry VIII. The English poetry was kindled into new life by contact with the Italian Renaissance. There appeared a group of...