The Periods of English Literature
“What is wonderful about great literature is that it transforms the man who reads it towards the condition of the man who wrote.”
The reason why I have chosen this subject is the essentiality of English literature all around the world. There is no school in Europe where at least one of the famous English writers isn’t studied. In my final exam paper I’m going to write about the most significant periods in English literature and prolific authors in them. I will state some facts and give my critical opinion at the end of this paper.
English literature is the whole body of written works composed in English language by authors from the British Isles, to be more precise England, Scotland and Wales. These three countries have produces many prolific and outstanding authors. English literature is a rich and wide diversed literature. Many types of works are represented, starting with novel, then the short story, epic and lyric poetry, the essay, literarery criticism and drama.
English literature is considered as one of the oldest national literatures in Western world, because the English authors have written since A.D.700. In my paper, I will write from the earliest periods towards present. I will try to keep to the point because English literature has enriched this world for many, many years, and it merits great attention.
Old English Literature (500-1100)
A groupation of three Germanic tribes-the Angles, Jutes and Saxons-known under the name Anglo-Saxons, founded powerful kingdoms in England. They spoke in a dialect that was later named Old English or Anglo-Saxon. That dialect remained as main language in England until 1100. When these tribes became Christians, under the influence of the Christian church, English literature was born. The first written literature dates from the early Christian monasteries.
Old English Poetry
Themes in Old English poetry were similar as themes in national poetry in our region, bravery and generousity. In many Old English poems, glorified real or imaginary heroes do magnificent deeds and fight evil. That period was famous for poets using different literature figures, for example alliteration(words that begin with the same sound), kennings (descriptive phrases), and also international rhyme(a word within a line that rhymes with a word at the end of the line).
The first poem was written during the 600′s by a poet who was known only by name Ceadmon. It is a nine-line poem which praises God and it introduced religious poetry at that time.
The first masterpiece of Old English literature is the epic Beowulf, written somewhere between 750 and 1100 by one or more unidentified authors. It is a narrative poem written in serious language. The main character is Beowulf, whose heroic and amazing actions are described and made well-known.
Cynewulf is one out of twelve Anglo-Saxon poets known by name who wrote mainly religious compositions. He was the first poet who signed his poems, even by acrostic. His most famous works were Elene, Juliana and The Fates of the Apostoles.
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