The Development of English Literature
Usually, English literature is divided into seven periods from the academic angle: The first period is Early and Medieval English literature. And this period can be divided into two parts. The first part is Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066). The main literary contribution of this period is the Epic, and its masterpiece is the national epic The Song of Beowulf. It is the oldest poem in the English language and the oldest surviving epic in Anglo-Saxon literature. Next is the Anglo-Norman Period (1066-1350).The literature of this period is greatly influenced by the Norman Conquest. After the conquest, the customs and ideals known as chivalry was introduced by the Normans into England and can be reflected in literature, such as the knightly code, the romantic interest in women , tenderness and reverence paid to Virgin Mary etc.. The prevailing form of literature in the Feudal England was Romance (传奇，骑士文学). The most famous Romance was Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The second period is the English Renaissance. The 16th century in England was a period of the breaking up of feudal relations and the establishing of the foundations of capitalism. The result is an intellectual movement(思想运动) known as the Renaissance. The key-note of Renaissance is humanism and the greatest humanist is Thomas More, the author of Utopia. The representatives in literature are Shakespeare and Bacon. The 17th Century is the Period of Revolution and Restoration The literature of this period was greatly influenced by the bourgeoisie revolution against monarchy. The politically tempestuous period made the literature one of confusion in the Puritan Age. The greatest representatives of this period are the “Three Johns”: John Milton, John Donne, the representative of the Metaphysical School and John Bunyan, a great prose writer. The 18th c. is called the Age of Enlightenment, which, on the whole, was an expression of struggle of the then progressive class of...
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