A brief history of English literature
1. Anglo-Saxon literature
Written in Old English c.650-c.1100. Anglo-Saxon poetry survives almost entirely in four manuscripts. Beowulf is the oldest surviving Germanic epic and the longest Old English poem; other great works include The Wanderer, The Battle of Maldon, and The Dream of the Rood. Notable prose includes the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, a historical record begun about the time of King Alfred´s reign (871-899) and continuing for more than three centuries. Authors: Caedmon (English poet), Cynewulf (English poet), Franciscus Junius, the Younger (European scholar) and John Gardner (American author) Works: Beowulf (Old English poem), Exeter Book (Old English literature) manuscript volume of Old English religious and secular poetry, of various dates of composition, compiled c.975 and given to Exeter Cathedral by Bishop Leofric (d. 1072); The Husband´s Message (Old English literature) an Old English poem of 53 lines in the Exeter Book. Its ostensible form is a message to a woman from her husband who has had to leave his own country because of a feud, telling her of his prosperity in another land and asking her to join him; The Battle of Maldon (Old English poem). Sources: (2010) In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 13, 2010 from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/426926/Anglo-Saxon-literature;http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Exeter_Book.aspx;http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O54-HusbandsMessageThe.html. 2. Elizabethan poetry and prose.
English poetry and prose burst into sudden glory in the late 1570s. A decisive shift toward a fluent artistry self-consciously displaying its own grace and sophistication was announced in the works of Spenser and Sidney. It was accompanied by an upsurge in literary production that came to fruition in the 1590s. and 1600s, two decades of astonishing productivity by writers of every persuasion and calibre. Authors: Sidney and Spenser
Works: Epithalamion (1595), Prothalamion (1596), The Faerie Queene (central poem of the Elizabethan period). The Faerie Queene was a public poem, addressed to the queen, and politically it echoed the hopes of the Leicester circle for government motivated by godliness and militancy.
Sources: (2010) In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 13, 2010 from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/188217/English-literature Prose styles, 1550-1600
Prose was easily the principal medium in Elizabethan period, and, despite the mid-century uncertainties over the language´s weaknesses and strengths-whether coined and imported words should be admitted; whether the structural modeling of English prose on Latin writing was beneficial or, as Bacon would complain, pursuit of “choiceness of phrase” at the expense of “soundness of argument”-the general attainment of prose writing was uniformly high, as is often manifested in contexts not conventionally imaginative or “literally”, such as tracts, pamphlets , and treatises. Authors: William Harrison, Phillip Stubbes, Reginal Scot, John Stow. Works: Description of England (1577), The Anatomy of Abuses (1583), Discovery of Witchcraft (1584), Survey of London (1598). Sources: (2010) In Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved October 13, 2010 from Encyclopedia Britannica Online: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/188217/English-literature 3. The Restoration
In English history, the re-establishment of the monarchy in 1660 the term Restoration is often extended to the period following 1660, and is especially associated with a flowering of English literature, notably in Restoration drama. A Description of the Morning, by Jonathan Swift, itemizes some typical sights and sounds as the city wakes. All sorts of noise filled the streets; the famous "Cries of London," as vendors hawked their wares, were celebrated in popular prints and songs. Authors: Swift (satiric prose), Congreve (comedy), Pope...
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