Reader’s Journal: “Beowulf” Geoffrey Chaucer , “the Canterbury Tales” (“the General Prologue”), “English Literature” by Anthony Burgess: Chap. 9 “Romeo and Juliet”

Topics: Romeo and Juliet, The Canterbury Tales, William Shakespeare Pages: 8 (2849 words) Published: April 10, 2011
We all live in the world of popular culture. No one can isolate himself from different trappings of this worldwide phenomenon that is commonly regarded as culture for mass consumption connected with urbanisation and industrial revolution. It was defined and named shortly “pop culture” in the middle of the 20th century. Since we are pop culture receivers, we watch TV broadcasts and commercial movies with famous pop-stars, listen to the pop music on the radio, we are attacked by often offensive advertisements considered by some people as the type of art. Furthermore, we surf the Internet to read gossip about famous people or get other information as fast as possible – some of us spend on this long hours everyday and become even addicted to mass media that are most important conveyor of pop culture. One of components of pop culture we meet in media are celebrities. As stated Daniel Boorstin in 1961 celebrities are people who are “famous for being famous”. There is no particular identifiable reason why someone attains celebrity status – he or she does not have any particular talent or ability, does not have to be an authority, sometimes just attending popular places, parties or taking part in scandal is enough to become a celebrity.

It is the right moment to explain why I started my “Reader's journal” with introduction about pop culture. Firstly, when I read Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Renaissance pieces of literature, I started to wonder if it is true statement that popular culture emerged just in the 20th century? Or maybe it started already several centuries ago? Is it possible that some contemporary people were regarded similarly to nowadays celebrities? Through the prism of these issues I considered “Beowulf”, “The Canterbury Tales” by Geoffrey Chaucer, chapter about William Shakespeare's life and literature and “Romeo and Juliet”. So let's travel in my “Reader's journal” to Anglo-Saxon, Medieval and Renaissance times and look for any signs of pop culture of the times.

Part one of looking for sings of pop culture : Beowulf


I met him – brave Beowulf - for the first time when I was reading in the evening. The only thought I had after long day of pop culture coming from each side, was that it was just another character of old literature, so strong, so extraordinary, so fantastic and great, that absolutely similar to other heroes from ancient myths and European medieval stories (i.e. Greek Hercules, French Roland etc.), somehow stereotypical or even boring...

Beowulf is the main protagonist of one of the oldest poems in the English language. The poem of unknown authorhip probably originates from Scandinavia and was transmitted in England by people of Geatish origins. Firstly, it existed as an oral piece of literature, “passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation”, says Anthony Burgess in his book “English literature”. The poem was recorded by Christian monks between the 8th and the early 11th century.

Story of Beowulf's life is divided in two parts. First of them shows us the main character as a young warrior who comes to the aid of Hrothgar, the king of the Danes. His mead hall - Heorot – is oppressed by the terrible monster half-devil, half man, Grendel. Beowulf to prove his strength fights with Grendel and wounds him mortally. The second incredible battle he fights in this part of poem is against equally horrific monster's mother. They struggle fiercely after her revenge for Grendel's death on Hrothgar's most trusted warriors. He defeats her in her lair under a lake using magic sword. The young Geat warrior is generously awarded and honoured by the king for his courage and deeds for mead hall. The second part of the poem happens after fifty years, when Beowulf is himself king of the Geats. His realm is then terrorized by a dragon, whose treasure was stolen from his place. Once again, Beowulf turns out to be the hero who is to save his country. The great warrior comes to...
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