A Survey of the Background and Development of English Literature from the Earliest Time to Eighteen Century

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A Survey of the Background and Development of English Literature from the Earliest Time to Eighteen Century

Contents

1. What is Literature?

2. Why the Knowledge of English Literature’s history is important

3. Distinct phases from Earliest to Modern Age

4. Brief survey of ages before Eighteen Century

• Anglo-Saxon period
• The Medieval period
• The Renaissance period
• The Puritan period
• The Restoration period

5. A panorama of Eighteen century
• General view of eighteen century
• Social aspects
• Religious aspects
• Characteristics of eighteen century
• Literary Critics of the age

Chronology of the writers of the age

What is Literature?

The production of written works, having excellence of form or expression and dealing with ideas of permanent interest is called literature. Literature is one of the Fine Arts like,

• Music
• Dance
• Painting
• Sculpture.

As it is meant to give aesthetic pleasure rather than serve any utilitarian purpose. It consists of great writings which, what ever their subjects are , notable for literary form or expression.

Life, Society and Nature are the subject matters of literature. There is an intimate connection between literature and life, which provides the raw material on which literature imposes an artistic form.

Why the Knowledge of English Literature’s history is important?

English literature is one of the richest literatures of the world, the literature of a great nation which has vitality, rich verity and continuity. As literature is the reflection of society, the various changes which have come about in English society, from the earliest to the modern times, have left their stamp on English literature thus in order to appreciate the true sense and taste of literature the knowledge of various phases of English literature, English society and political history of the land is essential.

When we study the history of English literature from the earliest to modern times, we find that it has passed through certain definite phases, each having marked characteristics. These phases may be termed as “Ages” or “Periods” and divided into different section according to their characteristics. There are five ways to identify the different eras of English Literature.

Distinct phases from Earliest to Modern Age:

1. Phases which are named after the Central Literary figures.

• Chaucer
• Shakespeare
• Milton
• Dryden
• Pope
• Johnson
• Wordsworth
• Tennyson
• Hardy

2: Periods named after the Rulers of the time.

• Elizabethan Age
• The Jacobean period
• The Age of Queen Anne
• The Victorian Age
• The Georgian Period

3: simple partitions named after literary movements

• Classical Age
• Romantic Age

4: While other after certain important historical eras as,

• Anglo-Saxon period
• The Medieval period
• The Renaissance period
• The Puritan period
• The Restoration period

5: Named by the span of Time

• The Seventeen Century Literature
• Eighteen Century Literature
• Nineteenth Century Literature
• Twentieth Century Literature

Brief survey of ages before Eighteen Century:

The Old English Period or the Anglo-Saxon Period refers to the literature produced from the invasion of Celtic England by Germanic tribes in the first half of the fifth century to the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. During the Old English Period, written literature began to develop from oral tradition, and in the eighth century poetry written in the vernacular Anglo-Saxon (also known as Old English) appeared. One of the most well-known eighth century Old English pieces of literature is Beowulf, a great Germanic epic poem. Two poets of the Old...
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