History of English Literature

Tuesday, April 26, 2011 - Posted by chameli at 3:37 PM
The history of English Literature is very closely related to the history of the English people. It began with the emergence of the English nation and then onward kept on developing withe the social development of the nation. In the history of the English there had been several religious and political changes. Several scientific discoveries and inventions also changed the style of life. Each of those changes reflected a change in it's literature. In the English people and in the history of English Literature, there were different phases of progress. Each of those phases, known as "Age" or "Period". It has been given a particular name. Sometimes according to the name of the king or queen, sometimes after the name of a grate writer, and sometimes according to the spirit of the time. Different historians have given then different names because some of the ages have got more than one name. Similarly the duration of a particular age also differs according to the choice of the historians. Some of the ages are subdivided into smaller ages. English Literature differ from historian to historian. Thus, the history of English Literature has 8 period.
The old English period (450-1066)
This age started in the 50 country. When the Jutes, Angles and Saxons came to English from Germany, defeated the English tribes and started their reign. This time had no vehicles. In ended in1066 with the Norman conquest.
Features of this Periods
Most of the writers of this age are unknown except Caedmon who is held to be the first known poet of English and Bede, the first historian. Thought Christianity is traceable, paganism dominates the literary spirit of the time. Heroic deeds, love of glory savagery are the main features of the literature of this period.
The middle English Period (1066-1500)
This period started with the Norman conquest in 1066 and ended with the end of fifteenth century. There are shorter ages in this period. From 1066 to 1340 is called Anglo-Norman period because the literature of that period was written mainly in Anglo-Norman, the french dialect spoken by the new ruling class of England.
The period from 1340 to 1400 is called the age of chaucer, because chaucer, the great poet. He dominated this period. The time from 1066 to 1500 is also called The Middle Ages.The early part of the Middle Ages is called the Dark Ages because what actually happened during that time can hardly be known.
Feature of this Period
Prose got a strong foundation. Poetry served as the main genre and Drama began in the form of "Mystery Play", "Morality Play" and "Interlude". The writers of the age were greatly influenced by Dante, Petrach and Boccacio. Love, chivalry and religion are the three main literary ideals of this period. The spirit of romance pervades every writing of the time.
The Renaissance Period (1500-1660)
Though renaissance began in 1453, it's effect on English life and Literature was felt after 1500. For this reason it is generally accepted that the renaissance period began with the beginning of the 16th century and continued till the Restoration in 1660. The Renaissance spirit was the main force that characterized the Literature of this time.
Features of the Period
The Renaissance brought ancient Greek and Roman wisdom to England. The religious reformation taught religious tolerance and secularism. The geographical and astronomical enploration brought affluence and power. Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, Keats and Byron were poets of this period.