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before Shakespeare 060924 (handout)

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before Shakespeare 060924 (handout)

    Survey of English Literature

    (I)

    Textbooks

     吴伟仁编,《英国文学史及选读》第二册?外语教学与研究出版社?1988年。

     王守仁主编,《英国文学选读》?高等教育出版社?2001年。

    Reference Books

     Peck, John & Martin Coyle. A Brief History of English Literature. Palgrave, 2002. Alexander, Michael. A History of English Literature. Macmillan Press LTD, 2000. 张定铨?吴刚主编:《新编简明英国文学史》?上海外语教育出版社?2002

     陈嘉,《英国文学史》?1-4册?商务印书馆?2000年。

     刘炳善:《英国文学简史》?新修订本?河南出版社?1995年。

    Class format

     In lecture form.

     With some video shows (usu. a particular literary works adapted for the film)

     Assignments for out-of-class reading.

    Your work

     Regular attendance

     Note-taking

     Reading assignments

     A 10-minute exercise for every lecture, based on the content covered in the lecture

     A mid-term test

     Final exam

    Course evaluation

     The course grade will be based on

    ; Your work in class and your attendance (20)

    ; A mid-term quiz (25)

    ; Final examination (55)

    Before Shakespeare

    (Old English Literature & Middle English Literature) Historical & Cultural Background

     The Anglo-Saxon settlement

     Invasion of Julius Caesar in 55 B.C.

     The Roman Conquest

     Three tribes: Angles, Saxons and Jutes

     England, the land of Angles

     English

     Anglo-Saxon

    General Features of Old English Literature Anonymous.

     Translation.

     Religious.

    Beowulf

     in Old English sometime before the tenth century A.D. describes the adventures of a great Scandinavian warrior of the sixth century.

     A rich fabric of fact and fancy, Beowulf is the oldest surviving epic in British literature.

     exists in only one manuscript.

     The first page of the Beowulf manuscript

     now housed in the British Library, London

     viewed both as the archetypal Anglo-Saxon literary work and as a cornerstone of

    modern literature

     a relic of pre-Anglo-Saxon culture

     The national epic of the Anglo-Saxon and English people A long poem of some 3,200 lines.

    th written by an unknown scribe at the beginning of the 10 century, probably a monk.

    Critical Interest

     Not until the 19th century did scholars and translators of Old English begin to take

    interest in in the document.

     The interest in the poem was primarily historicalthe text was viewed as a source of information about the Anglo-Saxon era.

     In 1936, the Oxford scholar J.R.R. Tolkien published a groundbreaking paper entitled

    Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” .The manuscript gained recognition as a

    serious work of art.

    Beowulf

     A warrior prince from Geatland in Sweden,who goes to Denmark and kills the monster

    Grendel.

Later, king of the Geats.

     A grand hero, faithful to his people, forgetting himself in face of death A typical product of a primitive, tribal society on the Continent.

    Structure of Beowulf

     built around 3 fights involving Beowulf and monsters.

    ; Grendel‟s domination of Heorot Hall

    ; the vengeance of Grendel‟s mother after Grendel is slain

    ; the rage of the dragon after a thief steals a treasure that it has been guarding

    Stylistic Features

     Alliterative verse

     Resembling heroic epic, though smaller in scope than most classical epics the third person narrator, from a generally objective standpoint

    Themes

     reflects and expresses the anxieties of society that dangerous,unpredictable and incomprehensible forces threaten the security and well-being of those in power and the way of life they represent.

    Images & Symbols

     Monsters: have a symbolic or allegorical meaning.

    ; Grendel is descended from the biblical figure Cain and often has been understood

    to represent the evil in Scandinavian society.

    ; the dragon, a common Christian symbol of sin, may represent an external malice

    that must be conquered to prove a hero‟s goodness.

     The Mead-Hall: Hrothgar‟s great hall of Heorot, in Denmark, and Hygelac‟s hall in Geatland.

    ; function as important cultural institutions that provide light and warmth, food and

    drink, and singing and revelry.

     The banquet:

    ; represents the restoration of order and harmony to the Danish people.

    ; The preparation involves the rebuilding of the damaged mead-hall, which, in

    conjunction with the banquet itself, symbolizes the rebirth of the community. The Golden Torque: the collar or necklace that Wealhtheow gives Beowulf

    ; represents the restoration of order and harmony to the Danish people.

    Middle English Literature

    English Language & Literature

     Two stages in the development:

     (a) Early Middle English, lasting approximately till 1300.

     (b) Late Middle English, lasting approximately till 1450.

    General Literary Features

     Early Middle English

     1.disappearance of O.E.

     2.Reappearance of semi-inflected language, a fusion of French & English

     3. Prevalence of dialects

     4. Literature chiefly poetical, imitative, & religious

     5. Large body of romances

     Late Middle English

     1. Loss of inflections

     2. Emergence of a standard dialect

     3. Growth of literary power and originality

    Literary Forms

     The romance

     1. about the life & adventures of a noble hero, usu. a knight.

    2. about loyalty to king and lord.

    3. audience of the court and the castle.

    4. composed only for the nobles

     Ballads ndth 1. stories told in songs, usu. in 4-line stanzas, with 2 & 4 lines rhymed.

     2. in various dialects

     3. struggle of young lovers against their feudal families.

     4. conflict bt. love & wealth.

     5. wars bt. England & Scotland

     6. cruel effect of jealousy

     7. intended for ordinary people

    Some Representative Works

     Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

     Sir Patrick Spens

     The Canterbury Tales

    Sir Gawain & the Green Knight

     Anonymous

     Alliterative poem

     Romance, Arthurian legend

     Middle English

     Third person omniscient

    th An alliterative poem of 2,500 lines of the 14 century

     The main plot is that Gawain accepts the green knight‟s challenge

     A trial of the integrity of a knight, the nature of chivalry

    Images & Symbols

     The changing seasons:

    ; correspond to Gawain‟s changing psychological state, from cheerfulness (pleasant

    weather) to bleakness (the winter).

    ; the five changing seasons also correspond to the five ages of man (birth/infancy,

    youth, adulthood, middle age, and old age/death), as well as to the cycles of fertility

    and decay that govern all creatures in the natural world.

     The Green Girdle: made out of green silk and embroidered with gold thread

    ; it possesses the power to keep its wearer from harm

    ; as a badge of his sinfulness

    Sir Patrick Spens

     an ancient ballad

     simple plot

     Sir Patrick Spens goes to sea on a mission for the king. He has to fetch the daughter of the king of Norway and sail with her to Scotland.

     Sir Patrick and his crew die on the voyage

    Themes

     Loyalty

     Nature

     Sailing

    Late Middle English Poetry

     Geoffrey Chaucer (13401400)

     The Canterbury Tales

    Geoffrey Chaucer

    (13401400)

     His work

     1. The French Period

     The Death of the Duchess, The Romaunt of the Rose, The Parliament of Fowls

     2. The Italian Period

     Troilus and Cressida, The House of Fame, The Legend of Good Women

     3. The English Period

     The Canterbury Tales

    The Canterbury Tales

     A collection of 24 tales and stories, all but two of these tales are in verse The “General Prologue”

     The “General Prologue”provides a framework for the tales, an amusing reflection of the pilgrims‟ characters, and a picture of the English society during the late Middle Ages:

    ; Its work and play, its deeds and dreams, its fun and sympathy and hearty joy of

    living

     covers all the major types of medieval literature: romance of knights & ladies; folk tales, merry & moral; animal stories; stories of travels & adventures. It comprises a group of vivid sketches of typical medieval figures. The pilgrims are people from various parts of England, representatives of various walks of life and social groups:

    ; ranging from the knight and squire and prioress, through the landed proprietor and

    wealthy tradesman, down to the drunken cook and humble plowman.

    ; There are also a doctor and a lawyer, monks of different orders and nuns and

    priests, and a sailor, a miller, a carpenter, a yeoman and an oxford scholar.

    ; In the center of the group is the wife of Bath, the owner of a large cloth-factory.

    Basic themes

     Pervasiveness of courtly love

     The importance of company

     The corruption of the church

    Basic symbols

     Spring time:

    ; rebirth and fresh beginnings

    ; evokes erotic love

     Clothing

    ; what lies beneath the surface of each personality Physiognomy

    ; judges a person‟s temperament and character

    What does the work show us?

    th The social and religious aspirations of 14 century people, and secular and religious failings characteristic of this society at the time. A work looks to the future and also to the past, and in negotiating between the two,

    creates a new voice of poised conservatism.

    Features of his Work

     Descriptive power

     Treatment

     Style

     Meter

     The dialect

     His attitude to his Age

     Descriptive power

    ; Chaucer had keen observation, a ready wit, a shrewd humor, and the faculty of

    seizing upon telling details. His language is vivid and exact. He was a mater of

    word-picture.

     Treatment

    ; Chaucer was the tolerant man of the world in his handling of his fellowmen, their

    vices and their virtues. He does not preach over them; he is kindly, wise, and

    genially humorous.

     Style

    ; Smooth and ease.

    ; Drew upon both the English and French elements and worked them into a

    harmonious unity

     Meter

    ; The heroic couplet

     The dialect

    ; In the East Midland dialect

    Chaucer‟s attitude to his age

     Chaucer came to a critical time in English history. The Middle Ages were passing away, and a new age, alive with fresh and disturbing ideas, was taking their place:

    ; Unrestpolitical, religious and socialwas simmering throughout the land.

    ; Wars and pestilence had added their contributions to the general discontent.

     Chaucer was a court poet, yet sympathetic with the working people and hard upon the clergy.

    Chaucer‟s contributions

     introduces from France the rhymed stanzas of various types, esp. the rhymed couplet of iambic pentameter(„heroic couplet‟) to English poetry.

     the first great poet who wrote in the current English language, making the dialect of London the foundation for modern English speech.

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