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Medieval and Renaissance English Literature Middle English Literature 1. Natália Pikli, PhD ELTE.

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Presentation on theme: "Medieval and Renaissance English Literature Middle English Literature 1. Natália Pikli, PhD ELTE."— Presentation transcript:

1 Medieval and Renaissance English Literature Middle English Literature 1. Natália Pikli, PhD ELTE

2 Middle Ages cc. 1000-1600: dark or glorious?

3 England: 1066 - end of 15th c., Middle English Period Norman Conquest: influence of French and continental culture French, Latin, English (Middle English: dialects!) Crusades: ideals of knighthood, courtly love (fin’ amors) Christianity: expansion and glory (Gothic cathedrals) vs the Great Schism (1387-1417) and heresies (Lollards, John Wycliff: Bible!) Secular poetry and themes (Sumer is icumen in) universities: Oxford and Cambridge (13th c.) Wars: the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453), 14th c.: peasant revolts (Wat Tyler, John Ball), 15th c. Wars of the Roses Black Death

4 Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote, The droghte of March hath perced to the roote And bathed every veyne in swich licour, Of which vertu engendred is the flour; Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth Inspired hath in every holt and heeth The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne, And smale foweles maken melodye, That slepen al the nyght with open eye- So priketh hem Nature in hir corages- Thanne longen folk to goon on pilgrimages And palmeres for to seken straunge strondes To ferne halwes, kowthe in sondry londes; And specially, from every shires ende Of Engelond, to Caunturbury they wende, The hooly blisful martir for the seke That hem hath holpen, whan that they were seeke. (G. Chaucer: The Canterbury Tales, General Prologue ll. 1-18.)

5 Innovations in literature ornamental (end) rhymes iambic feet /metrical versification (stressed and unstressed syllables) – The Canterbury Tales: iambic pentameter new themes: romances, lyrical secular poetry: Sumer is icumen in – outspoken, love, worldy pleasures, The Harley lyrics alliterative revival in the North (Sir Gawain and the Green Knight) – stanzaic form Drama: mystery plays and morality plays SOURCES: manuscripts (Auchenlick MS – Sir Orfeo, MS Harley, BL Cotton Caligula A II. – Sir Launfal, MS Cotton Nero A x- Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Ellesmere MS – The Canturbury Tales, etc.)

6 Hans Memling: The Last Judgement (Gdansk, 1467-71) triptych, cathedrals, hell, allegories, visions

7 Religious poetry 1. Wycliffite Bible (New Testament by Wycliff, Old Testament by associates) poems on nativitiy, Christ’s passion, Mary, carols I sing of a Maiden, Mother, stand firm beneath the Rood(dialogue) Debates: The Owl and the Nightingale, c. 1200 Purity, Patience – homiletic poems (often together with secular poems in the same Harley MS)

8 Religious poetry 2. allegorical narrative, dream vision William Langland: Piers Plowman 1360-87 narrative allegorical poem (Will=dreamer, tower on a hill v donjon in the valley v folk in the field, PP: guide to Truth, Dowel, Dobet, Dobest) social criticism! Pearl (Gawain-poet) alliterative dream vision (also end rhymes in 101 stanzas), 14th c. – garden (earthly and otherwordly), river, heavenly Jerusalem, ‘pearl’

9 Secular love – fin amors Roman de la Rose (British Library digitised manuscripts): ‘art of love’ Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun, 1235-75 Over 150 MSs (Chaucer!) enclosed garden / garden of pleasures Lover/ Rose/ allegorical characters (Beauty, Ugliness, Faux Semblance/False Seeming, Vielle/Old Bawd, etc.)

10 Secular literature: courtly love / fin amors troubadur, minnesänger (Walter von der Vogelweide) jousts, tournements Chrétien de Troyes (12th c.) Breton lays: –Sir Orfeo, to be recited (King Orfeo, Queen Heurodis, Fairy King, loyalty and singing, rhyming iambic tetrameter) –Sir Launfal (Round Table, disgrace and love, Guinevre, fairy Triamour)

11 Secular Literature: romances (vernacular) and lays Alexander the Great, Trojan war, Charlemagne, Roland, King Horn Arthurian legends: G. of Monmouth: Historia Regum Britanniae (1137, ‘greatest forger’), Breton lays, Sir Launfal, Malory: Le morte d’Arthur (15th c.) King Arthur, Queen Guinevre, Sir Launcelot, Merlin, Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad, Mordred, Morgan Le Fay Welsh, French, English and Latin works ALLEGORY/Spirituality: quest, code, Holy Grail Prowess and largesse: trowthe

12 Sir Gawain and the Green Knight 14th c. North-West Midlands dialect, alliterative revival (‘rum-ram-ruf’), bob and wheel stanza Pearl poet The longest English Arthurian verse romance Christmas, beheading, Green Knight, year, Bertilak and the Lady, tests, 3x, girdle, humble vs perfect Numbers: 3 and 5, Celtic and folklore elements

13 14th century: ‘golden age’ and ‘troubles’ William Langland, the Gawain/Pearl poet, Gower writing in 3 languages Geoffrey Chaucer (1343- 1400): ‘synthesis’/’father of English literature’ Life: ‘civil servant’, 3 kings, Italy/France: diplomat, writing: pastime, audiences: readers and/or listeners, writing in English! (London dialect), popularity: CT- 80 Mss

14 Sources at seas Primary readings (not all!) / Medieval and Renaissance English Literature (BA) / Handouts / Medieval and Renaissance English Literature (BA) Handout / Lecture slides to lectures 1-4 / Medieval and Renaissance English Lit: Lectures /

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