Presentation on theme: "Literary Periods The Story of the Word. Literary Periods As with visual arts and fashion, it is possible to divide literature into definitive historical."— Presentation transcript:
Literary Periods The Story of the Word
Literary Periods As with visual arts and fashion, it is possible to divide literature into definitive historical periods. The authors and works that are mentioned in this lecture are the most well-known and representative exemplars for the literary period.
Caveats... This lecture deals with prose only, although poetry generally follows the same pattern. We only understand what defines a literary period after it ends. The years given are approximate. Literary periods overlap each other. This is an examination of Western hemisphere literature only. African, Middle Eastern and Asian literature do not follow the same pattern.
The Ancient Greeks~ BCE “The gods must be crazy” The Epic The language was ancient Greek long narrative poems has a central hero who is important consists of a series of episodes setting is vast deeds of great valor and courage are done supernatural forces (the gods) intervene on behalf of their favorites most famous: The Odyssey by Homer
Excerpt from Homer’s The Odyssey Tell me, O muse, of that ingenious hero who travelled far and wide after he had sacked the famous town of Troy. Many cities did he visit, and many were the nations with whose manners and customs he was acquainted; moreover he suffered much by sea while trying to save his own life and bring his men safely home; but do what he might he could not save his men, for they perished through their own sheer folly in eating the cattle of the Sun-god Hyperion; so the god prevented them from ever reaching home. Tell me, too, about all these things, O daughter of Jove, from whatsoever source you may know them.
The Ancient Greeks: Drama tragedies and comedies unification of setting~one time and one place a chorus (choragos) that represents the people and comments on the action male actors wore masks, robes & platforms Most famous: Oedipus Rex by Sophocles
Excerpt from Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex OEDIPUS My children, latest born to Cadmus old, Why sit ye here as suppliants, in your hands Branches of olive filleted with wool? What means this reek of incense everywhere, And everywhere laments and litanies? Children, it were not meet that I should learn From others, and am hither come, myself, I Oedipus, your world-renowned king. Ho! aged sire, whose venerable locks Proclaim thee spokesman of this company, Explain your mood and purport. Is it dread Of ill that moves you or a boon ye crave? My zeal in your behalf ye cannot doubt; Ruthless indeed were I and obdurate If such petitioners as you I spurned.
The Romans~200 BCE to 500 AD “Divide & Conquer” Oratory & Satire The language was Latin too busy building the Republic/Empire so continued Greek literary styles. A new emphasis on: Oratories ~ public speeches Satires ~ derogatory arguments both were intended to influence the populace Most famous: Virgil’s Aeneid (an epic)
Excerpt from Virgil’s The Aeneid Arms, and the man I sing, who, forc'd by fate, And haughty Juno's unrelenting hate, Expell'd and exil'd, left the Trojan shore. Long labors, both by sea and land, he bore, And in the doubtful war, before he won The Latian realm, and built the destin'd town; His banish'd gods restor'd to rites divine, And settled sure succession in his line, From whence the race of Alban fathers come, And the long glories of majestic Rome. O Muse! the causes and the crimes relate; What goddess was provok'd, and whence her hate; For what offense the Queen of Heav'n began To persecute so brave, so just a man; Involv'd his anxious life in endless cares, Expos'd to wants, and hurried into wars!
The Middle Ages~500 AD to 1400 “In God we trust.” Dramas and romances written in Old English or French Mystery Plays based on Old and New Testament stories Morality Plays allegorical struggle between good and evil “characters” are personified human traits: Vanity, Shame, Mercy, Conscience, etc. the protagonist represents humanity The Romance tales of adventure~knights and ladies codes of chivalry and honor determine behavior love is always involved Most famous: “Sir Gawain & the Green Knight”
“Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” SIÞEN þe sege and þe assaut watz sesed at Troye, Þe bor brittened and brent to bronde and askez, Þe tulk þat þe trammes of tresoun þer wro t Watz tried for his tricherie, þe trewest on erthe: Hit watz Ennias þe athel, and his highe kynde, Þat siþen depreced prouinces, and patrounes bicome Welne e of al þe wele in þe west iles. The siege and assault having ceased at Troy as its blazing battlements blackened to ash, the man who had planned and plotted that treason had trial enough for the truest traitor! Then Aeneas the prince and his honored line plundered provinces and held in their power nearly all the wealth of the western isles.
NEW!!!! Transition to the Renaissance: circa 1400 to 1500: Epics and Short Stories Most famous epic: Dante’s Divine Comedy written in Italian Most famous collection of short stories: The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer frame is a pilgrimage to Canterbury characters narrate their own tales characters are ordinary people in all walks of life “The Wife of Bath” is very racy!
The Divine Comedy Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward pathway had been lost. Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say What was this forest savage, rough, and stern, Which in the very thought renews the fear. So bitter is it, death is little more; But of the good to treat, which there I found, Speak will I of the other things I saw there. I cannot well repeat how there I entered, So full was I of slumber at the moment In which I had abandoned the true way.
The Canterbury Tales in Middle English Whan that Aprille, with hise shoures soote, 2 The droghte of March hath perced to the roote 3 And bathed every veyne in swich licour, 4 Of which vertu engendred is the flour; 5 Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth 6 Inspired hath in every holt and heeth 7 The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne 8 Hath in the Ram his halfe cours yronne, 9 And smale foweles maken melodye, 10 That slepen al the nyght with open eye-
The Canterbury Tales in modern English 1 When April with his showers sweet with fruit 2 The drought of March has pierced unto the root 3 And bathed each vein with liquor that has power 4 To generate therein and sire the flower; 5 When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath, 6 Quickened again, in every holt and heath, 7 The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun 8 Into the Ram one half his course has run, 9 And many little birds make melody 10 That sleep through all the night with open eye
The Renaissance ~ 1500 to 1650 ~ “Eat, drink and be merrie…” A “rebirth” of Greek ideas and culture, especially art and literature Focus shifts from works of God to works of man as a being created by God and given the power to create A carpe diem attitude toward life Began with The Divine Comedy
The Renaissance Drama The most important work is The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, by William Shakespeare Scene 1. Elsinore. A platform before the castle. FRANCISCO at his post. Enter to him BERNARDO Bernardo: Who's there? Francisco: Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself. Bernardo: Long live the king! Francisco: Bernardo? Bernardo: He. Francisco: You come most carefully upon your hour. Bernardo: 'Tis now struck twelve; get thee to bed, Francisco. Francisco: For this relief much thanks: 'tis bitter cold, And I am sick at heart.
Renaissance Poetry The sonnet was the preferred form. Fourteen lines of iambic rhyme. Sonnet contests were common. Italian sonnet rhyme scheme: abba abba cde cde Shakespearean rhyme scheme: abab cdcd efef gg
Renaissance Poetry Sonnet 130 By William Shakespeare My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun, Coral is far more red than her lips red, If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun, If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head. I have seen roses damasked, red and white, But no such roses see I in her cheeks, And in some perfumes is there more delight, That in the breath that from my mistress reeks. I love to hear her speak, yet well I know That music hath a more pleasing sound, I grant I never saw a goddess go, My mistress when she walks treads on the ground. And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare As any she belied with false compare.
The Neoclassical Period “Cogito, ergo sum” (The Age of Reason)~1650 to 1800 The goal was serenity, balance, and modest common sense Essays and poems had dialectic reasoning Satire and Irony Deism: the acceptance of God’s rationally ordered universe. Most well-known work: Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”
“A Modest Proposal” Jonathan Swift ”I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled...”
Romanticism ~1800 to 1860 “The hills are alive…” Celebrated the individual and equality Believed in the basic goodness and perfectability of mankind Nature is the model for harmony Imagination is important Emotion is more powerful than logic, intuition over thought, the senses over the mind The “dark side” was Gothic, e.g. Poe Famous work: “Kubla Khan” by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
“Kubla Khan” Samuel Taylor Coleridge In Xanadu did Kubla Khan A stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph, the sacred river, ran Through caverns measureless to man Down to a sunless sea. So twice five miles of fertile ground With walls and towers were girdled round: And here were gardens bright with sinuous rills Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree; And here were forests ancient as the hills, Enfolding sunny spots of greenery. But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover! A savage place! as holy and enchanted As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
REALISM to 1920 “Tell it like it is.” A faithful reproduction of life ordinary people in real settings with common events Plain style “Slice of life” stories Women writers begin to have credibility One example: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway
excerpt from Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as she then was) solemn, feeling as she did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen; looking at the flowers, at the trees with the smoke winding off them and the rooks rising, falling; standing and looking until Peter Walsh said, "Musing among the vegetables?"-was that it?-"I prefer men to cauliflowers"-was that it?
Modernism to 1965 “Life sucks, and then you die.” The past is dead, God is dead. All that is left is the “inner person” who makes his or her own reality The unconscious outweighs the conscious Subjectivity (existentialism, surrealism & nihilism) and stream of consciousness The most famous work is Ulysses, by James Joyce
Ulysses by James Joyce Her secrets: old featherfans, tasselled dancecards, powdered with musk, a gaud of amber beads in her locked drawer. A birdcage hung in the sunny window of her house when she was a girl. She heard old Royce sing in the pantomime of Turko the Terrible and laughed with others when he sang: I am the boy That can enjoy Invisibility. Phantasmal mirth, folded away: muskperfumed. And no more turn aside and brood.
Post-Modernism~1965 to ? “Anything Goes” Exploring the dilemma of self and meaning An explosion of genres, styles, and new ways of writing Brisk plots with lots of action and less imagery Multi-cultural and personal One of my favorite post-modern books: The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me: white girls with mousy brown hair. This was before kids of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back when people believed things like that didn't happen.