Middle English literature - Wikipedia

 

literature of the middle ages

The Middle Ages is like no other period in The Norton Anthology of English Literature in terms of the time span it covers. Caedmon's Hymn, the earliest English poem to survive as a text (NAEL 8, ), belongs to the latter part of the seventh century. So stories got (re)produced and disseminated far faster than ever before. Literature became, in a way, much more democratic than before. Since the manuscripts of the Middle Ages were all written and illustrated by hand—the word "manuscript" literally means written by hand—it was one long process. > Geoffrey Chaucer, from a contemporary MS. in the British Museum. When the fourteenth century arrived, England was ceasing to be bilingual. If Norman-French was the language of the court, English modified by Norman-French had nevertheless.


Medieval English Literature


The morality play, Everymanis dated "after " and probably belongs to the early-sixteenth century. In addition, for the Middle Ages, there is no one central movement or event such as the English Reformation, the Civil War, or the Restoration around which to organize a historical approach to the period. When did "English Literature" begin? Any answer to that question must be problematic, for the very concept of English literature is a construction of literary history, a concept that changed over time.

There are no "English" characters in Beowulfand English scholars and authors had no knowledge of the poem before it was discovered and edited in the nineteenth century. Although written in the language called "Anglo-Saxon," the poem was claimed by Danish and German scholars as their earliest national epic before it came to be thought of as an "Old English" poem. One of the results of the Norman Conquest was that the structure and vocabulary of the English language changed to such an extent that Chaucer, even if he had come across a manuscript of Old English poetry, would have experienced far more difficulty construing the language than with medieval Latin, French, or Italian.

If a King Arthur had actually lived, he would have spoken a Celtic language possibly still intelligible to native speakers of Middle Welsh but not to Middle English speakers. The literary culture of the Middle Ages was far more international than national and was literature of the middle ages more by lines of class and audience than by language.

Latin was the language of the Church and of learning. After the eleventh century, French became the dominant language of secular European literary culture. Edward, the Prince of Wales, literature of the middle ages, who took the king of Literature of the middle ages prisoner at the battle of Poitiers inhad culturally more in common with his royal captive than with the common people of England.

And the legendary King Arthur was an international figure. Stories about him and his knights originated in Celtic poems and tales and were adapted and greatly expanded in Latin chronicles and French romances even before Literature of the middle ages became an English hero. Chaucer was certainly familiar with poetry that had its roots in the Old English period.

He read popular romances in Middle English, most of which derive from more sophisticated French and Italian sources. But when he began writing in the s and s, he turned directly to French and Italian models as well as to classical poets especially Ovid.

English poets in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries looked upon Chaucer and his contemporary John Gower as founders of English literature, as those who made English a language fit for cultivated readers.

In the Renaissance, Chaucer was referred to as the "English Homer. Nevertheless, Chaucer and his contemporaries Gower, William Langland, and the Gawain poet — all writing in the latter third of the fourteenth century — are heirs to classical and medieval cultures that had been evolving for many centuries, literature of the middle ages. Cultures is put in the plural deliberately, for there is a tendency, even on the part of medievalists, to think of the Middle Ages as a single culture epitomized by the Great Gothic cathedrals in which architecture, art, music, and liturgy seem to join in magnificent expressions of a unified faith — an approach one recent scholar has referred to as "cathedralism, literature of the middle ages.

The texts included here from "The Middle Ages" attempt to convey that diversity. They date from the sixth to the late- fifteenth century. An Anglo-Saxon poet who was writing an epic based on the book of Genesis was able to insert into his work the episodes of the fall of the angels and the fall of man that he adapted with relatively minor changes from an Old Saxon poem thought literature of the middle ages have been lost literature of the middle ages a fragment from it was found late in the nineteenth century in the Vatican Library, literature of the middle ages.

Germanic mythology and legend preserved in Old Icelandic literature centuries later than Beowulf provide us with better insights into stories known to the poet than anything in ancient Greek and Roman epic poetry.

Particular attention is given to religious orders and to the ascetic ideals that were supposed to rule the lives of men and women living in religious communities such as Chaucer's Prioress, Monk, and Friar, who honor those rules more in the breach than in the observance and anchorites such as Julian of Norwich living apart. The Rule of Saint Benedictliterature of the middle ages, written for a sixth-century religious community, can serve the modern reader as a guidebook to the ideals and daily practices of monastic life.

The mutual influence of those ideals and new aristocratic ideals of chivalry is evident in the selection from the Ancrene Riwle Rule for Anchoresses, NAEL 8, [1. Though medieval social theory has little to say about women, women were sometimes treated satirically as if they constituted their own estate and profession in rebellion against the divinely ordained rule of men.

The tenth-century English Benedictine monk Aelfric gives one of the earliest formulations of the theory of three estates — clergy, nobles, and commoners — working harmoniously together. But the deep- seated resentment between the upper and lower estates flared up dramatically in the Uprising of and is revealed by the slogans of the rebels, which are cited here in selections from the chronicles of Henry Knighton and Thomas Walsingham, and by the attack of the poet John Gower on the rebels in his Vox Clamantis.

In the late-medieval genre of estates satire, all three estates are portrayed as selfishly corrupting and disrupting a mythical social order believed to have prevailed in a past happier age.

Such adventures often take the form of a quest to achieve honor or what Sir Thomas Malory often refers to as "worship. In the thirteenth century, clerics turned the sagas of Arthur and his knights — especially Sir Lancelot — into immensely long prose romances that disparaged worldly literature of the middle ages and the love of women and advocated spiritual chivalry and sexual purity, literature of the middle ages.

These were the "French books" that Malory, as his editor and printer William Caxton tells us, "abridged into English," and gave them the definitive form from which Arthurian literature has survived in poetry, prose, art, and film into modern times.

Preached by Pope Urban II, the aim of the crusade was to unite warring Christian factions in the common goal of liberating the Holy Land from its Moslem rulers. The chronicle of Robert the Monk is one of several versions of Urban's address, literature of the middle ages. The Hebrew chronicle of Eliezer bar Nathan gives a moving account of attacks made by some of the crusaders on Jewish communities in the Rhineland — the beginnings of the persecution of European Literature of the middle ages in the later Middle Ages.

In the biography of her father, the Byzantine emperor Alexius I, the princess Anna Comnena provides us with still another perspective of the leaders of the First Crusade whom she met on their passage through Constantinople en route to the Holy Land.

The taking of Jerusalem by the crusaders came to be celebrated by European writers of history and epic poetry as one of the greatest heroic achievements of all times. The accounts by the Arab historian Ibn Al-Athir and by William of Tyre tell us what happened after literature of the middle ages crusaders breached the walls of Jerusalem from complementary but very different points of view.

 

Medieval literature - Wikipedia

 

literature of the middle ages

 

> Geoffrey Chaucer, from a contemporary MS. in the British Museum. When the fourteenth century arrived, England was ceasing to be bilingual. If Norman-French was the language of the court, English modified by Norman-French had nevertheless. So stories got (re)produced and disseminated far faster than ever before. Literature became, in a way, much more democratic than before. Since the manuscripts of the Middle Ages were all written and illustrated by hand—the word "manuscript" literally means written by hand—it was one long process. The best medieval books, from travel writing and history to works of poetry Say 'medieval literature' and a few names will spring to mind: Geoffrey Chaucer, Dante, the anonymous author of Beowulf. But where does one start exploring the wonderful and colourful world of medieval writing? Here are our ten recommendations, which give a sense of.