Middle English Period Literature)

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<ul><li><p>8/3/2019 Middle English Period Literature)</p><p> 1/3</p><p>MIDDLE ENGLISH PERIOD (1066-1485)</p><p>This period is the name given to the transition period during which Old English waschanging to Modern English. The year 1066 is taken because in this year one of themost important events in English history took place, namely The Norman Conquest.</p><p>This event is important not only because it completely changed the course ofEnglish literature but also significantly influenced the development of Englishlanguage.</p><p>Not long after the Conquest, the University of Cambridge and Oxford wereestablished. Soon after the conquest, French became the language used byeducated people. The Anglo-Saxon (Old English) was spoken only by uneducatedpeople. This situation of two parallel languages in daily use in the same countrylasted for more that 300 years.</p><p>There may be several reasons to the blank time of production of literary works.Firstly, the conquest has stunned English literature into silence. Secondly, thelimitation of Anglo-Saxon language probably prevented it from further advance.</p><p>Thirdly, the Norman, at the conquest, had no literature to offer.</p><p>By taking the French literature as its model, English literature revived at thebeginning of the 13th century. This process of assimilation, however, enrichedEnglish literature because the French , different from the Anglo-Saxon, which washumorous less in spirit, hard in vocabulary, and monotonous in alliteration (althoughit had more feeling and thought), was gay and colorful in spirit, soft in vocabularyand musical in its bright verse.</p><p>Chaucer</p><p>The greatest literary figure of this time is Geoffrey Chaucer. He was influenced bymany kinds of writing and used many European models. Chaucer was a European inoutlook and experience, but his ambition was to make the literature of English theequal of any other European writing.</p><p>Chaucers greatest work is The Canterbury Tales (1387-1400). It is also the firstmajor work in english literature. There are many aspects to The Canterbury Tales,both secular and religious. The Canterbury Tales is still the great mirror of itstimes, and a great collection of comic views of the life it describes. Chaucer usesirony to describe him as a verray parfit gentil knight [parfit=perfect,gentil=gentle] completely perfect and gentle are high moral values which are,difficult to keep.</p><p>Chaucer is describing a society that is changing, and its people and their values are</p><p>changing too. Again and again the stories and the story-tellers contrast old ways ofbehaving and of thinking with more modern attitudes. So religion is less importantthan enjoying life, and making money is a new ambition.</p><p>Another famous poet of this time is William Langland who wrote, among others,Piers Plowman which uses the dream-vision form to write a long series of dreamstories. It is a social allegory which stress the importance of hard-workings andhonesty in life.</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 Middle English Period Literature)</p><p> 2/3</p><p>Many anonymous text appeared in this era. The most popular are Pearland SirGawain and the Green Night. Both of them also explore the themes of emotionsand human weakness. Pearl is talking about a dream father has of his daughterwho died. She is now perfect, in heaven, and the father can see how far she is fromthe human level. Gawain, is in fact, a kind of anti-hero, and the poem is an ironicquestioning of the value of the historical myth of heroism in those changed times,</p><p>much as Chaucer questioned the old-fashioned values of his knight.</p><p>Prose</p><p>The most well-known figure in prose-writing in this era is John Wyelif (1324-1384).He was a scholar and a priest who was popular as a translator of the Bible. Hisprose-style put in the scripture was adopted by many people and gave a greatinfluence to he development of English to its standard form. Another famous workof Wyelif is Mendelvilles Travel, the authors reportage about his travels tovarious countries.</p><p>Another great prose-writer of this era is John Gower. He wrote a great many books,</p><p>in Latin and in French as well as in English. His most famous is ConfessioAmantis, the confession of a lover. Just like in The Canterbury Tales and PiersPlowman, there is irony in Gowers works, and the subject matter is clearly very farfrom the heroism of Old English: emotions and human weakness are becomingcommon themes in literature.</p><p>Drama</p><p>The main writing of this period was in poetry, but the tradition of drama, in additionin prose, was beginning at this time, too. The original medieval dramas were set inand around the church at festival times, and they showed scenes from the Bible foran audience. The plays were usually performed on moving carts, by thebusinessmen of the city, and the text which remains are often called by the name of</p><p>the group of businessmen which performed them. Group of there plays remain fromthe cities of York, Wakefield, and Chester.</p><p>Many of the theatrical effects were very impressive Hells Mouth is the mostfamous example. These plays are an important step forwards the great theatricalperiod at the end of the 16th century.</p><p>Influenced by the work of Chaucer in England, a group of writers in Scotlandproduced some major poetry. The names of these writers, the first great figures inScottish literature, are Robert Henryson and William Dunbar. The King of Scotland,King James the First (1394-1437) was also an important poet. His Kings Quair</p><p>[Kings Book] is a book of love poetry written in the verse from which, because of</p><p>his use of it, came to be known as rhyme-royal.</p><p>The major event in literary terms in the 15th century was the invention of printing,by Gutenburg (1398-1468) in Germany. The firs books to be printed were Bibles, butwhen William Caxton and later his assistant, Wynken de Worde, brought printing toEngland in the 1470s, they began to print literary works. The first of which was astory of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, called Le Morte d Arthurby Sir Thomas Malory, published in 1458. The author had died several years beforeCaxton published the book and it is not even certain who Malory was. Since the</p></li><li><p>8/3/2019 Middle English Period Literature)</p><p> 3/3</p><p>story had already been familiar myth, and has remained popular until the presentday.</p><p>The final figure in the late medieval period is John Skelton, a very individual poetwho wrote short rapid lines of poetry about such subjects as drinking alcohol, a petbird, and low life. Skeletons humor, as well as his poetic style, are unique. He and</p><p>his poetry are difficult to describe, not many critics have written about him inliterary history. But he brings together many of the themes of the middle Englishperiod: humor, and a different view on the values of the time, new verse forms andplay with language and style, and a strong sense of English identity.</p><p>-----------------------------------------------------------------ooo00ooo------------------------------------------------------------</p></li></ul>