British Literature: Part 1

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Last updated: November 30, 2019

Periods of British Literature
Classical Period (1200 BC to 455 AD)-Medieval Period (455 AD to 1485)-Renaissance and the Commonwealth Period (1485 to 1660)-Neoclassical Period (1660 to 1790)-Romantic Period (1790 to 1830)-Victorian Period (1832 to 1901)-Edwardian Era (1901 to 1910)-Modernism (1914 to 1945)-Post-Modernism Period from 1945 to the present

3 Periods of Ancient Greek history
-Pre-Classical (to 1200s BC)-Classical (500s and 400s BC)-Greco-Roman and Hellenistic (200 BC forward)

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epic poems
long narrative poems that describe persons and events that are believed to be true by both the author and the audience; EX: *The Iliad* and *The Odyssey*

lyric poems
express feelings and emotions rather than adventures and heroic deeds; became the main form of Greek literature from 650 BC to 600 BC; The word lyric covers many types of poems including elegiac, iambic, and lyric.; usually features a short poem that expresses an individual’s experience and emotions

Greco-Roman Age
The Roman conquest of Greece in 146 BC began the era known as the Greco-Roman Age, a time period spanned Greek and Roman literature and led to the development of Latin literature.

Early Period
In 272 BC, Romans captured the Spartan colony of Tarentum and Greek slaves were brought to Rome. Among the Greek slaves was Livius Andronicus (c. 284 BC – c. 204 BC), considered by some to be the first Latin writer; thus began Latin literature.

Golden Age
The first part of the Golden Age was known as the Age of Cicero, (70 BC to 43 BC).

Marcus Tullius Cicero was thought to be the greatest writer of Latin prose. Writers of the Augustan Age had the classical Latin style of Cicero and Catullus as models for their literature. Horace and Virgil were two of the leading poets of this time. The greatest prose writer of the Augustan Age was the historian Livy (59 BC – 17AD).

Silver Age
also known as the Imperial period; followed the death of Augustus in 14 AD; Pliny the Elder wrote *Historia Naturalis*, an encyclopedia on natural history.

Pliny the Younger described the daily life of the Romans, including the eruption of Mount Vesuvius at Pompey.

Medieval Period (455-1485)
The time period between ancient and modern times (from about 455 AD and extending for 1000 years) in western Europe was known as the Middle Ages (or the Medieval Period or the Dark Ages). The Anglo-Saxon period (455-1066) and the Middle English period (1066-1485) were part of this era.During this time, there was a low level of learning and culture in Europe. There was also very little commercial activity, and cities lost population and became dangerous places to live. A revival of learning and the arts reached its highest point in Europe during the Carolingian Period (early to mid-800s), which corresponded to the reign of Charlemagne (742-814). He served as the first Holy Roman Emperor from 800 to 814. There was an increased interest in the study of the culture of the Romans during this time period.

Anglo-Saxon Period (455-1066)
Saint Augustine of Canterbury, who lived in the late 500s and died c. 604, was sent to England by Pope Gregory to convert the Anglo-Saxons to Christianity. The Anglo-Saxons spoke a dialect called Old English.

The beginning of English literature can be traced to the influence of the Catholic Church and the Anglo-Saxons. This time period included Anglo-Saxon literature such as *Beowulf*, a famous Old English poem.

Caemond
important religious poet who lived in the 600s; wrote a famous poem about the creation.

Cynewulf (c. 700s and 800s)
was an Anglo-Saxon monk from Northumbria who wrote poetry such as “Juliana,” “Fates of the Apostles,” and “Elene”

Bede (c. 673-735)
an English theologian and historian, wrote *Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation*, which was an important historical source of early English history

Aelfric (c.

955-1020)

was an abbot who wrote *Catholic Homilies* and *Lives of the Saints*

Middle English Period (1066-1485)
began when the English were defeated at the Battle of Hastings in 1066, marking the end of the Anglo-Saxon Period; During this time, sagas became an important form of writing, especially during the twelfth through fourteenth centuries in Iceland and Scandinavia. The setting for these sagas ranged from the mid-800s to the mid-1000s. A saga is a long prose story that describes important events and heroic deeds of warriors and kings.

The longest of these sagas is *Njál’s Saga*, about a feud that lasted half a century.

Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1410–1471)
wrote a romance called *Le Morte D’Arthur* about the adventures of King Arthur and his knights of the round table

Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340–1400)
wrote *The Canterbury Tales*, a collection of stories told by a group of people traveling to Canterbury written in iambic pentameter

John Gower (c. 1325–1408)
poet; wrote *Confessio Amantis*

William Langland (c. 1332–1400)
was an English poet who wrote *The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman*

Margery Kempe (c. 1373–1439)
was a religious personality and traveler; Her life story, *The Book of Margery Kempe*, is considered by some to be the first biography in English.

The Medieval Church
One of the most famous scholars to emerge during the Middle Ages was Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274).

He believed there was no conflict between faith and reason because these were gifts from God. He also taught that when there were differences between faith and reasoning, a person’s reasoning was mistaken. Aquinas wrote *Summa Theologica*, in which he tried to explain Christian beliefs by using reasoning. His teachings are still of great importance today.

Medieval Science and Philosophy
Roger Bacon (c. 1214–1294) was an English philosopher and scientist who conducted many experiments that enabled him to make several amazing predictions. Bacon considered mathematics the key to any scientific investigation, especially astronomy. He demonstrated the usefulness and interdependence of mathematics and scientific experiments in optics, his primary field of study.

Bacon also described the exact anatomy of the eye and the optic nerves. He ranks as one of the leading figures in the development of science during the Middle Ages.

Renaissance and the Commonwealth Period (1485–1660)
The Renaissance was not an event that happened overnight but a gradual change in the way people viewed themselves and the world around them.

This great cultural movement began in Italy and spread to England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries in the late 1400s. The Renaissance included the Early Period, Elizabethan Period, Jacobean Period, Caroline Period, and Commonwealth Period. The Renaissance reached its height in England during the Elizabethan Period (1558–1603). This time period corresponded to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, the daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. Music, politics, diplomacy, and social behavior of this period were influenced by the Italian movement. Poetry, music, and the theater became a part of daily life. Three types of poetry were prominent during the Elizabethan Age: lyric poetry, the sonnet, and narrative poetry.

Sonnet
a poem that consists of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter; popular forms of the sonnet: the Italian (Petrarchan) and the English (Shakespearean)

Narrative poetry
involves telling a story; like a short story; has the elements of characters, setting, a plot that builds to a climax, and a point of view

Writers of the Renaissance
One important writer during the Elizabethan Age was the lyric poet Thomas Campion (1567–1620), who wrote the *Book of Ayres*.

Writers of sonnets included Sir Thomas Wyatt (c.1503–1542), who first used the Italian sonnet form in English literature. William Shakespeare (1564–1616) wrote sonnets and narrative poetry with his friend Edmund Spenser (c.1552–1599). Spenser was the author of *The Faerie Queene*.

Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593) was considered to be a leading writer of tragedy during the Elizabethan period. His most famous work was *The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus*.

He also wrote *Tamburlaine the Great*,* The Jew of Malta*, and *Edward II*. Thomas Kyd (1558–1595) was one of the leading writers in the development of Elizabethan drama. In his famous work, The *Spanish Tragedy*, Kyd used the elements of a Roman tragedy to create a play based on the motive of revenge. He also wrote *Pompey the Great*.

William Shakespeare
born on April 23, 1564, in Stratford-upon-Avon, England; parents were Mary Arden and John Shakeseare; Father was a glove maker, and a successful businessman.

; died on April 23, 1616

Jacobean Period (1603–1625)
wrote Cymbeline, Henry VIII, The Tempest, Two Noble Kinsman, and The Winter’s Tale

Ben Jonson (1572–1637)
a friend of William Shakespeare; was an influential playwright and poet who created English comedies that made fun of foolish human behavior and vices; important works include *Every Man in his Humour*, *Volpone*, and *The Alchemist*

John Webster (c. 1580–1625)
was an English playwright who wrote *The White Devil* and *The Duchess of Malfi*

John Donne (1572–1631)
was a writer of romantic and religious poetry and sermons and was considered to be a leading orator of his time; was raised a Roman Catholic but later converted to the Anglican Church; wrote *Satires and Elegies* and a group of poems titled *Songs and Sonnets*, as well as the poem “The Canonization”

conceits
imagery and metaphors

Thomas Dekker (c. 1572–1632)
was an English playwright and author of pamphlets; many writings focused on describing the lives of the people in England; wrote *The Shoemaker’s Holiday* and *Old Fortunatus*

Caroline Period
occurred during the reign of Charles I, who was beheaded in 1649

John Milton (1608–1674)
was a Puritan English poet and writer of prose including works on politics; most famous work was *Paradise Lost*, an epic poem that described the fall of man; also wrote *Paradise Regained* and *Samson Agonistes*

George Herbert (1593–1633)
was a writer of religious poetry; *The Temple* was published in 1633.; also wrote “Let All the World In Every Corner Sing,” an Anglican hymn

Robert Herrick (1591–1674)
was a writer of lyric poetry; “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time” is a poem with the *carpe diem* theme; Other works included “The Argument of His Book” and “To Daffodils,”; also wrote poetry in the form of epigrams such as “His Loss.”

carpe diem
seize the day

John Bunyan (1628–1688)
wrote The Pilgrim’s Progress, a famous religious allegory; was a minister who was arrested and put in prison for illegal preaching; other literary works include *Grace Abounding*, *The Life and Death of Mr. Badman*, and *The Holy War*

Thomas Carew (c.

1595–1640)

was one of the leaders of the Cavalier poets (poets who wrote lighthearted lyrics during the Caroline Period about love during the reign of Charles I); work includes the love poem “A Rapture” and the masque *Coelum Britannicum*

masque
play

Richard Lovelace (1618–1657)
works include “To Althea, from Prison” and “To Lucasta, Going to the Wars”

Sir John Suckling (1609–1642)
wrote “Ballad Upon a Wedding” and the play *Aglaura*

Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)
was a metaphysical poet who wrote satire and poems about nonreligious subjects including political repression; Some of his works include “The Garden,” “To His Coy Mistress,” and “An Horatian Ode upon Cromwell’s Return from Ireland.”

Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682)
was an English physician and author;His work *Religio Medici* discusses religious issues and his profession as a physician. Browne also wrote about death, funerals, and burial ceremonies in *Urn Burial* and *The Garden of Cyrus*.

Jeremy Taylor (1613–1667)
was a religious writer of theology and an English preacher; His works include *Holy Living* and *Holy Dying*. Taylor was named bishop in Ireland following the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660.

Which of these time periods was characterized by a low level of learning and culture in Europe?
Dark Ages

The story of this person’s life was considered to be the first biography in English.
Margery Kempe

What type of poem consists of fourteen lines of iambic pentameter?
sonnet

Who was sent to England by Pope Gregory to convert Anglo-Saxons to Christianity?
Augustine

Who was beheaded in 1649 after a bitter dispute with the Puritans?
Charles I

What great cultural movement began in Italy and spread to England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and other countries in the late 1400s?
Renaissance

Which of these types of literature did William Shakespeare not write?
melodramas

Which English theologian and historian wrote *Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation*, an important historical source of early English history?
Bede

Which of these is not one form of a sonnet?
Horatian

Who served as the first Holy Roman Emperor from 800 to 814?
Charlemagne

Who wrote a romance called *Le Morte D’Arthur* about the death of King Arthur?
Sir Thomas Malory

Which of these is described as a short poem that expresses an individual’s experience and emotions?
lyric poetry

Which of these statements is false?
The literature of Ancient Rome was the model for the literature of the Western world.

Which of these is the name of a famous Old English poem from the Anglo Saxon Period?
Beowulf

The Cavalier poets were associated with which time period of the Renaissance?
Caroline Period

Which of these types of literature involves telling a story and includes the elements of characters, setting, plot, and a point of view?
narrative poetry

Who wrote sonnets and narrative poetry with William Shakespeare?
Geoffrey Chaucer

Which event marked the end of the Anglo Saxon Period?
the Norman invasion of England in1066

Who wrote Paradise Lost?
John Milton

Who wrote The Canterbury Tales?
Chaucer

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