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English Literature


It is one of the most famous works in all literature. ... Religious poems, magnificent sermons. 3. his writing style----Death be not proud ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: English Literature

English Literature
  • Compiled by Wu WeiLun

1. What is Literature?
  • Literature refers to the practice and profession
    of writing. It comes from human interest in
    telling a story, in arranging words in artistic
    forms, in describing in words some aspects of
    human experiences.
  • Literature is characterized by beauty of
    expression and form and by university of
    intellectual and emotional appeal.
  • Literature shows us not only what a society is
    like in a certain age, but also what individual
    feel about it, what they hope from it, and how
    they can change it or escape from it.

2. Why we read Literature?
  • a. read for pleasure
  • Howells observed that the study of Literature
    should begin and end in pleasure.
  • b. reading for relaxation
  • Modern life is full of pressure. It is peoples
    common desire to seek temporally relaxation from
    the stress in life.
  • c. reading to acquire knowledge.
  • Literature gives readers an insight into the
    tradition, custom, beliefs, attitudes, folklore,
    values of the age in which it is written.

3. How to study Literature?
  • a. analytical approach
  • The elements of fiction include plot, character,
    setting, point of view, theme, symbol, allegory,
    style, and tone.
  • b.thematic approach
  • What is the story, the poem, the play, or the
    essay about?

c. historical approach
  • It aims at illustrating the historical
    development of literature. All the Literature
    exists in time and as such bears the unmistakable
    imprint of the period and culture in which it is

d. Other approaches
  • Marxist/sociological criticism
  • psychoanalytical criticism
  • feminist/gender criticism
  • mythic and archetypal criticism
  • reader-response criticism
  • formalist /new criticism
  • structuralism

Other approaches(2)
  • post- structuralism
  • Decostructuralism
  • Our textbook is arranged in chronological order,
    but we deal with each period analytically with
    emphasis on theme.

II the Anglo-Saxon period (449-1066)
  • 1. historical background
  • Three conquests Roman conquest in 43 AD
    Anglo-Saxon conquest in 449 Norman conquest in
  • 43 AD, Roman conquered Britain ,making the
    latter a province of Roman Empire the withdrawal
    of Roman troops ,the Teutonic tribes, esp., the
    Anglos conquered the island and called it
    Angle-land, then England, their language is
    Anglo-Saxon old English.

2. literature
  • 1) pagan oral sagas the Song of Beowulf
  • 2) Christian copied by the monk.
  • The influence of the Christianity upon language
    and culture.
  • Two ecclesiastic poets Caedmon and Cynewulf
  • 3. the Song of Beowulf----Englands national
  • 1) creation time written in 10-th century

2).plot and theme
  • fight with Grendel
  • fight with Grendels mother
  • fight with firedrake
  • death and funeral

3). Characteristics of Beowulf
  • 3). Characteristics of Beowulf
  • a. the mixture of pagan elements with Christian
    coloring. The most outstanding example is the
    frequent reference in the epic to Wyrd (fate)
    as the decisive factor in human affaires, while
    on other occasions God or Lord is also
    mentioned as the omniscient and omnipotent being
    that rules over the whole universe.

Characteristics of Beowulf(2)
  • b. the frequent use of metaphors and
    understatements. Ring giver is used for king,
    Swan road, whale-path or seal bath for the
    sea, wave-traveler or sea-wood for ship,
    shield-bearer, battle-hero or spear-fighter
    for soldier.
  • c. Beowulf is written in alliterative verse. Its
    rhythm depends upon accent and alliteration. That
    is, the beginning of two or more words in the
    same line with the same sound or letter. The
    lines are made up of two short halves, separated
    by a pause. No rhyme is used but a musical
    effect is produced by giving each half line two
    strongly accented syllables. Each full line,
    therefore, has four accents, three of which
    usually begin with the same sound or letter.

Characteristics of Beowulf(3)
  • Beowulf towers above all other Anglo-Saxon
    literature, not only because it is a powerful
    poem about peoples hero written in true epic
    style, but also because it tells in artistic form
    the tale in a leisurely way, full of elaborations
    in legendary details, and the verse rises at
    places to heights of poetic grandeur.

The significance of Beowulf
  • 4).The significance of Beowulf
  • a. This glorious epic presents us a vivid picture
    of the life of Anglo-Saxon people and highly
    praises the brave and courageous spirit of the
    fighting against the elemental forces.
  • b. The epic reflects the situations the epoch of
    pagan tribalism and of the era of the
    Christianized feudal society.
  • c. The epic gives the vivid portrayal of a great
    national hero, strong and courageous people and
    his kinfolk.

Part II the Anglo-Norman period (10661350)
  • 1.      historical background
  • Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England, under
    William, Duke of Normandy after the battle of
    Hastings in 1066, accelerated the development of
    feudalism in England.
  • The middle ages the dark age (449-16-th century)

  • 1). three chief effects of the Conquest.
  • 2). Four kinds.
  • a. Geoffreys history a source book of
  • b. the work of the French Writers Arthurian
  • c. Riming/rhythmic chronicles history in
    doggerel verse
  • d. metrical romances, or tales in verse.

Three major themes
  • a. the matter of France about Charlemagne and
    his peers/knights
  • b. the matter of Greece and Rome about
    Alexander the great and the Trojan War and the
    fall of Troy
  • c. the matter of Britain king Arthur and his
    Round Table knight

3.Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
  • a. the plot
  • 1). Feast in the palace
  • 2) journey for the green chapel
  • 3) test in the castle
  • 4). blow in the chapel

b. characteristics and theme
  • the bravest of knights
  • a test of his virtue and truth
  • one of the best told stories in all the
    medieval literature of Europe
  • Motif the tests of faith, courage and
    purity----nobility of hero
  • the human weakness for self-preservation---
  • romance the heroic adventure for adventures
  • Beowulf to help the heros kinsfolk out of the
    distress or to protect them from disaster

Part III Geoffrey Chaucer (13401400)
  • 1.his life
  • born in a wine merchant family,page to Elizabeth
  • he had broad and intimate acquaintance with
    persons high and low in all walks of life and
    knew well the whole social life of his time.

His literary career
  • a.   French period(1360-1372) in French
    Romance of the rose
  • b.  Italian period(1372-1385) in Latin the
    legend of Good Women
  • English period(1386-1400) in English The
    Canterbury Tales

3. The Canterbury Tales
  • It is one of the most famous works in all
    literature. It begins with a general prologue
    that explains the occasion for the narration of
    the tales and gives a description of the pilgrims
    who narrate the tales, and then follow the
    twenty-four tales that make up the bulk of the
    book, plus the separate prologues and the links
    that accompany some of the tales.

5. Chaucers contributions to English Literature
and Language
  • a. a master of realism
  • b.founder of English literary language
  • c.Chaucers English London dialect
  • d.Father of English poetry heroic couplet(The
    heroic couplet is an iambic pentameter heaving
    the lines rhyming in pairs.
  • e. the first occupant of the Poets Corner

Popular Ballads
  • 1. Definition anonymous narrative songs that
    have been preserved by oral transmission.
  • 2. Classification of Popular Ballads
  • a. the reflection of the historical events
  • b. the reflection of myths and legends
  • c. the adaptation of some literary works.
  • Another classification
  • a.border ballads age-long struggle between Scots
    and English
  • b. the ballads of Robin Hood
  • c.  the humorous ballads

the characteristics of Robin Hood
  • a. his hatred for the cruel oppressors and his
    love for the poor and down-trodden
  • b.strong, brave and clever
  • c.tender-hearted and affectionate for the poor
    and down-trodden
  • d.his pure love for Marian
  • e.his simple loyalty to the monarchy

4.Varieties of themes
  • a. matters of class struggle
  • b.the border wars between England and Scotland
  • c.conflict between love and wealth
  • d.the cruel effect of jealousy and treachery
  • e.the struggle of young lovers against their
    feudal families
  • f.of humors
  • g.some about supernatural ghost and spirits

.The characteristic features of the popular
  • a. the extensive use of dialogue
  • b.the refrain
  • c.the ballad meter
  • d.the repetition of words or phrase

Part IV. The Renaissance
  • This is a greatest and most advanced revolution
    in the human history. This is the age the giants
    are needed and produced.
  • ------F. Engles

1.the renaissance in the world(1)
  • It originated in Italy in the 14-th century when
    the art, literature and ideas of ancient Greece
    and Rome were discovered and widely studied and
    came to a flowery in the 15-th century and later
    spread to France, Germany, Spain, Holland and
    Belgium and England in the 16-th century.
  • The Renaissance period is markedly by the
    rediscovery and study of the classics of ancient
    Greece and Rome, by challenge feudal obscurantism
    and religious dogmas, by opposing the tyranny of
    feudal rules.

1.the renaissance in the world(2)
  • It is characterized with the growth of a more
    scientific outlook, major development in art and
    literature, new invention and overseas
    discoveries and a general assertion of human
    value and emancipation of the human intellect and
  • Humanism was the keynote of the renaissance,
    reflecting the new outlook of the rising
    bourgeois class. The humanists advocated the
    emancipation of man, and they tried to have the
    new evaluation of man and his powers and fought
    for equality and justice, opposed feudal tyranny
    and obscurantism and religious obstinacy.

2. The renaissance in England
  • 1). Some major historic events
  • a.The War of Roses (1455-1488) and the
    establishment of the dynasties of Henry VII and
    VIIIthe centralized monarchy.
  • b.     The Enclosure movement sheep devoured
  • c.The religious reformation, establishment of the
    Anglican Church
  • d.     Flourishing in the Elizabethan Age
  • e.defeating the Spanish Invincible fleet Armada
    in 1588 and the establishment of the hegemony on
    the seas.
  • f. The geographical exploration and trade
    expansion brought about the growth of the cities
    and the development of the capitalist textile

2). The division of the English renaissance
  • a. Beginning the last years of the 15-th
    century---first half of the 16-th century
  • b. Flourishing the Elizabethan Age
  • c.Declining the period of James I (1603-1625)
    early 17-th century

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
  •  What a piece of work is a man, how noble in
    reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and
    moving, how express and admirable in action, how
    like an angle in apprehension, how like a god!
    The beauty of the world the paragon of animals
    and yet to me what is this quintessence of
    dust?---- William Shakespeare

  • 1.his life
  • 2.divisions of his literary career.
  • a.  the first period(1590-1600)
  • b.  the second period(1601-1608)
  • c.   the third period(1609-1612)
  • 3.analysis of hamlet and the Merchant of

Main features of Shakespeare
  • a.  one of the founders of realism in world
    literature as well as in English literature
  • b. the great successes in character creations in
    vividness and intensity in emotional and
    psychological depth
  • c.  the psychological probing of the characters
    inner conflict
  • d.  the adroit plot construction conflict
  • e.  skilled in many poetic forms
  • f.   a great master of English language
  • g.   the summit of the English Renaissance and
    one of the great writers the world over

  • ??????,????????????????,??????????????????????????

Online resources
  • Mr. Shakespeare and the Internet
  •     http//shakespeare.palomar.edu????????????????
  •  Shakespeare Classroom
  •     http//www.jetlink.net/massij/shakes/
    ????????????(Shakespeare Classroom),????????????

Francis Bacon(1561-1626)
  • 1.his life
  • 2.classification of his works
  • a. The philosophical works the Advancement of
  • b. Literary works Essays
  • c.  Professional works Marxims of the law

3.Of studies
  • a.      five parts purpose of reading
  • attitudes towards study
  • principles of studies
  • study method
  • study develop your character/effect of study on
    human character
  • Style a.. The arguments are well arranged in
    unity and coherence in one paragraph.
  • b.  the conciseness of expressions and phrases
    presents a plain style as well as his simple
  • c.  The simple metaphors have deep implications.
  • d. The omission makes the essay concise, clear
    and coherent.
  • e. The natural flow of parallels makes his logic
    and philosophical argument convincingly and
    forceful. E.g. To spend too much time in study
  • Crafty man simple man.

Part V the 17-th century
  • 1.Historical background
  • the contradictions between the feudal system and
  • a.   Elizabeth 1558-1603
  • b.  James I 1603-1625 political and religious
  • c.  Charles I 1625-1649
  • d.  Cromwell 1649-1660 commonwealth protector
  • e.   Charles II 1660-1688 restoration
  • f.    James II 1685-1688
  • g.  William of Orange 1688-1702
  • 1689???????,???????

2. Literary characteristics
  • 1). the puritan age/influence gloom age
  • Poem John Milton, metaphysical poets
  • Prose john Bunyan
  • 2). Restoration/French influence
  • drama rimed couplet
  • literature witty and clever, immoral and cynical
    on the whole

John Donne (1572-1631)
  • 1.     his life
  • 2.     his literary career
  • conceits\conceitful writing
  • Religious poems, magnificent sermons
  • 3.     his writing style----Death be not proud
  • prose style involuted and ornate, cumulative
    and lineronian 

John Milton(1608-1674)
  • 1.     his life totally blind in 1652
  • the child of Renaissance
  • 2.  his literary career
  • 1) early writing
  • 2)writing for the revolutionpamphlets
  • 3) writing poetry
  • paradise Lost plot, theme, characters esp. Santa

Features of Miltons Poetry
  • He dedicated himself by choice to a noble
    political cause, and turned poet only because
    that cause had failed. Though his genius is
    essentially poetic, he is epic poet only by
    circumstance. In the discharge of both duties, we
    see in him a loftiness of mind, which only his
    own name can designate. It is Miltonic.
    Shakespeare commands our wonder and admiration,
    but Milton our respect and awe.
  • His Biblical and classical allusions and his epic
    similes are often obscure, and their beauty is
    not easily caught, even with the help of
    explanatory notes. The effect of resonant
    syllables that roll with the sound of rumbling
    thunder can hardly be appreciated when the reader
    is busy figuring out the grammatical structure of
    his numerous Latinism
  • a great master of the blank verse

John Bunyan91628-1688)
  • 1.     his life
  • the most popular preacher and imprisoned for
  • 2.     The Pilgrims progress Christian
  • The most popular writer
  • Allegory

his style
  • Bunyan wrote in a simple but lively and vivid
    prose style. Everyday idiomatic expressions were
    used naturally and forcefully, and his knowledge
    of the translations of the Bible also helped him
    to introduce the biblical language into his own
    direct and uninvolved way of expression. In The
    Pilgrims Progress, his narrative method is a
    straightforward one, but the detail chosen are
    usually very commonplace yet extremely colorful,
    and his skill in picking out the right words and
    phrases adds to the artistic effect of the
    descriptive and narrative passages in the story.
    His simple, unaffected language of the common
    people, and his details taken from ordinary
    circumstances of ordinary life are largely
    responsible for the moderns of his prose as we
    read it today.

Its significance
  • The most significant thing is that the satires in
    the book are centered upon the ruling class.
    Especially well-known are the descriptions of
    Vanity Fair and of the experience of Christian
    and Faithful in it, for here Bunyan not only
    gives us a symbolic picture of London at the time
    of the restoration but of feudal-bourgeois
    society in general where all things are bought
    and sold(including honors, titles, kingdoms,
    lusts, pleasures and lives) and where cheating
    and roguery, murders and adultery are normal.

Part VI the 18-th century
  • The Glorious Revolution brought into power, along
    with William of Orange, the landlord and
    capitalist appropriators of surplus value.
  • ----- Marx

1.     historical background
  • 1) the glorious revolution in 1688
  • a. the bourgeoisie and the aristocracy ruled the
    country together
  • b. Enclosure movementcommercial
    expansioncolonial expansiona big industrial and
    colonial capitalist power
  • 2) American war of Independence (1775-1783)
  • 3) French bourgeoisie revolution in 1789
  • clear the mind of man for the coming revolution

2.The Enlightenment
  • The Enlightenment was a progressive intellectual
    movement throughout Western Europe in the 18th
    century and in Russia in the 19th century. It was
    a European movement as if prevailed not only over
    England but also over Russia and Germany and esp.
    France where there were such giants as
    Montesquieu, Pidero, Voltaire and Rousseau,
    writing on the eve of the French Revolution in
    1789. The Enlightenment in England was different
    from that in other European countries. Appeared
    in an epoch not preceding but after the bourgeois
    revolution. They did not call for the launching
    of a revolution but urged the carrying on of the
    revolution to system, at the foundation of which
    was the compromise between the upper strata of
    the old ruling class the aristocrats and upper
    strata of the new ruling class the bourgeoisie
    and the English Enlightenment come after this
    compromise. The enlighteners considered the chief
    means for the betterment of the society was
    enlightenment or education for the people.
    They believed in the power of reason. Reason
    served as the yardstick for the measure of all
    human activities and social relations.
    Superstition and injustice Privilege and
    oppression were to yield place to eternal
    truth, eternal justice natural equality and
    inalienable sight of man. But this right of
    reason is nothing other than the idealized reign
    of the bourgeoisie.

  • Preceding the bourgeois revolution esp. France
    while in English, after it, in Russia,19-th
  • the 18-th century was called the age of reason,
    which served as the yardstick for the measure of
    all human activities and social relations.
  • 3. Enlightenment in England
  • 1) moderate group and radical group
  • 2) three major periods 1688-1730s,
    1740s-1750s, 1760s-1790s
  • 4. Sentimentalism Lawrence, Sterne
  • 5. Preromanticism gothic novel

Daniel Defoe
  • 1.his life a legendary man
  • 2.     Robinson Crusoe
  • a.      plot

b.      Character analysis
  • The character Robinson is not common sailor. He
    is a businessman who takes overseas business as
    his cause.
  • Robinson is a bourgeoisie with adventurous spirit

  • Robinson is a bourgeoisie of practical spirit.
  • Robinson is bourgeoisie of colonizing character.

  • A. The artistic character of the novel the
    concreters of the description and vividness. The
    author does not express the character with his
    words but let the character show himself in his
    own action. The complements of comments and
  • C.  Limitation
  • 1.  simple structure b. loose and repletion c.
    minor characters lack much impression

. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)
  • 1.    his life
  • the most powerful satirist of the age(his
  • have no equal at pamphlet writing

   Gullivers Travel
  • 1) plot
  • a.     in Lilliput
  • b.     in Brobdingnag
  • c.     in flying island of laputa
  • d.     Houyhnhnms (horses) Yahoos
  • 2) its theme

Joseph Addison(1672-1719)
  • 1.    his life coffee house life and his
    friendships with Dick Steele1.    The Tatler and
    the Spectator periodical
  • The character of Sir Roger
  • 2.    his writing style
  • Dr. Johnsons comment

Henry Fielding (1707-1754)
  • 1.    his life
  • 2.    the history of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  • plot and characters

Thomas Gray (1716-1771)
  • 1.    his life
  • unhappy childhood, shy and scholarly life, the
    early romantic poet.
  • 2.    Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard
  • Literature of melancholy
  • The theme of death

Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774)
  • 1.    his life
  • essayist, poet,dramatist
  • 2.    The Vicar of Wakefield

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816)
  • 1.    the drama of the 18-th century
  • Oliver Goldsmith The Good-natured Man, She
    Strops to Conquer
  • 2.    his life
  • 3.    the Rival
  • the School for Scandal
  • the Critic

William Blake (1757-1827)
  • The most independent and original romantic poet
    of 18-th century
  • 1.    his life
  • 2.    his works
  • London, The Tiger, The Song of Experience
  • The Chimney Sweeper

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
  • The greatest of Scottish poet
  • 1.    his life
  • 2.    his works
  • Poems Chiefly in Scottish Dialect

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