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History of British Literature

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1 History of British Literature

2 A Brief Outline of British Literature
I. The early and Medieval literature 1. Beowulf Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales II. The English Renaissance ( ) Edmund Spencer’s Faerie Queen Francis Bacon’s Essays William Shakespeare’s dramas

3 III. The 17th century (1603-1660) 1. The English Revolution 2
III. The 17th century ( ) The English Revolution John Milton’s Paradise Lost John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress

4 IV. The Restoration and the 18th Century
( ) enlightenment 2. neo-classicism: a. John Dryden’s dramas b. Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock c. Richard Steele and Joseph Addison’s essays d. Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary 3. rise of the novel writing: a. Daniel DeFoe’s Robinson Crusoe b. Janathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels

5 V. The Age of Romanticism (1798-1830) 1. Pre-Romanticism : a
V. The Age of Romanticism ( ) 1. Pre-Romanticism : a. William Blake b. Robert Burns c. William Wordsworth 2. Romanticism a. P. B. Shelley b. G. G. Byron c. J. Keats 3. Jane Austen’s novels

6 VI. The Victorian Age (1832-1901) 1. industrial revolution
2. realism a. Charles Dickens b. Thomas Hardy c. Bronte sisters d. George Eliot 3. aestheticism a. Oscar Wilde

7 VII. The 20th century (1901-) 1. two world wars
2. modernism 3. psychological fiction and stream of consciousness a. D. H. Lawrence b. James Joyce c. Virginia Woolf 4. poetry

8 Early and Medieval English Literature
1.The early inhabitants in England (today) were Britons, a tribe of Celts, which was primitive people, living in tribal society. [Britain: the land of Britons.] 2.The Roman Conquest In 55 B.C., Julius Caesar invaded Britain. “ I see, I go, I conquer.” 1) Roman mode of life came across to Britain: theaters; baths conquerors native Britons  slaves 2) London became an important trading center. 3) Christianity was introduced to Britain. 4) Roman Empire began to decline at the beginning of 5C. In 410 A. D. all the Roman troops went back to the continent and never returned. The Roman occupation ended.

9 3. The English Conquest swarms of pirates invaded Britain simultaneously:
In the 7th century, seven kingdoms  a united kingdom: “England”, “the land of Angles”, with Angles the most numerous and a language “ Anglo-Saxon”= “Old English”. The tribal society  feudalism, “kingship” 4. Religion Anglo-Saxons were heathen people. Anglo-Saxons believed in old mythology of Northern Europe. In the 7th century, Anglo-Saxons were Christianized. The English conquest

10 Three tribes: Angles in the east; Jutes in the southeast; Saxons in the south

11 5. “Beowulf” for hundreds of years, it passed from mouth to mouth,
written down in the 10th century. 3,000 lines long poem of Old English. 700 – 750 AD, sung by minstrels to the chiefs and warriors in feasting hall

12 plot: nephew of King of Geats in Denmark  hearing King of Danes in great trouble  Grendel, a monster carries away King of Danes’ warriors from a hall  Beowulf sails for Denmark with 14 companions  after a feasting welcome, Beowulf and 14 men lie down in the hall waiting for the monster  Beowulf grapples the monster single-handed, hand to hand combat, the monster retreats mortally wounded  the monster’s mother the she-monster comes to avenge the death, Beowulf following the bloody trail to a lake  Beowulf plunges into water, finds her, follows her into a hall under the waves  by chance finding a big sword left by giants of old time  Beowulf cuts off her head and the monster’s too. After a celebration, Beowulf sails home to Geats land and becomes king and reigns over his people for 50 years. A fire dragon comes out of its den and belches forth its fire to burn the people old Beowulf bids farewell and goes to seak the dragon with 11 companions.  single-handed fighting, the sword failing to bite, Beowulf is enveloped in flames.  at last the dragon is killed. But the hero is hopelessly wounded.  the poem ends with the funeral of the hero.

13 Prototype: folk legends of primitive Northern tribes living in impenetrable forests, they had to fight against beasts. They were brave but superstitious.

14 6. The Norman Conquest establishment of feudalism in England.
In 1066, Duke William came and got crowned as king of England. High hand rule: Normans= master=speak French=writing in Latin and French Saxons=servant=Old English= no written literature. In the Anglo-Norman period, the prominent kind of literature, Romances, were at first all in French. At the end of the 14th century, English became Dominant once more.

15 7. The Romances a long composition, sometimes in verse, or in prose, about a knight, a man of noble birth, skilled in weapons, riding forth to seek adventures, taking part in tournaments, fighting for his lord in battles, devoted to the church and king.==== chivalry. e.g. “Adventures of King Arthur and his Knights of the Roundtable” “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” Romances were composed for the noble, of the noble and by the poets patronized by the noble.

16 8.English Ballads literature of English people (peasants), not written but oral. a story told in song, usu. In 4-line stanzas, with the 2nd and the 4th lines rhymed. Subjects: young lovers’ struggle against feudal-minded families; conflict between love and wealth; cruelty of jealousy; criticism of the civil war (1337~1377 between England and France.); matters of class struggle. Eg. Robin Hood Ballads: most important.

17 9 Chaucer(1340-1400) and The Canterbury Tales(1387-1400)
founder of English poetry. founder of English realism. the first great poet writing in the English language. Life experiences Career experiences Masterpiece

18 Life experiences son of a wine merchant who had connections with the Court to France at 19 on Hundred Years War ( ) to Italy on diplomatic missions twice to be appointed as controller of customs at London to be M.P for Kent in 1386 to die in 1400, buried in Westminster Abbey, thus founding the “Poets’ Corner

19 Career experiences In France. connection with the court, love of French poets. The Romaunt of the Rose 《玫瑰传奇》translated from French. In Italy. studying the poems of Dante, Petrarch, Boccaccio, all writers of the Renaissance period. An ardent admirer of Latin authors prevailing in the Middle Ages In England. creating in his native language. The Canterbury Tales purely in English.

20 The Canterbury Tales outline:
On a spring evening, at the Tabard Inn (泰巴旅店), at the South end of London Bridge, Chaucer meets 29 pilgrims ready for Canterbury and he joins them. Suggested by the host of the inn, each is to tell 2 stories going and 2 returning. The best teller will be treated with a fine supper at the end. The host will be the judge. As a gigantic plan, 124 stories should be told but only 24 were written. But these tales cover practically all the major types of medieval literature: a. country romance; b. folk tale; c. beast fable(神话); d. story of travel and adventure; e. saint’s life; f. allegorical tale(寓言); g. sermon; h. alchemical account(炼丹术); i. others.

21 2. features: All tales but two are written in verse (poetry); Connected in two ways: the host’s criticizing; intimate connection between the tales and the Prologue. in order to get a better understanding of each tale, readers have to read back the corresponding portion of the Prologue. 3. the Prologue: a framework for the tales; The 30 palmers represent all classes of the English feudal society except the royalty and the poorest peasant. There are knight, squire(治安官), prioress(女尼), proprietor(经营者), tradesman, drunken cook, humble plowman, doctor, lawyer, monks, nuns, priests, summoner, sailor, miller, carpenter, yeoman(自耕农), an Oxford scholar, and in the center of the group, the wife of Bath, who is the owner of a large cloth factory. A miniature of the English society of Chaucer’s time. Of all the tales, those of the knight and the wife of Bath are among the best.

22 Chaucer’s Contribution to English literature
introduced ( from France) the rhymed stanza of various types esp. the rhymed couplet of 5 accents in iambic meter ( heroic couplet) instead of the old alliterative verse. established English as the literary language of the country. made the dialect of London the standard for the modern English speech.

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