English Education B1
The English literature was influenced by many factors such as the history of the language, national history, politics and religion, and art. That term refers to literature written in the English language. All of the writers or the authors were not only from England, they were also Poland, Scottish, Irish, American, Trinidad, Russian, etc.
In general, the English literature period could be classified into eight periods as the most important literary periods:
Old English Period : 5-11th century
Middle English Period : 12-15th century
Renaissance : 16-17th century
Augustan Age : 18th century
Romantic Period : first half of 19th century
Victorian Age : second half of 19th century
Modernism : first to second World War
Post Modernism : last 19th century
That’s the preliminary overview before we see their each descriptions, included the texts or the works, and the author. For the specific one, here is the more wide classification:
450-1066 : Old English (or Anglo-Saxon) Period
1066-1500 : Middle English Period
1500-1660 : The Renaissance
1558-1603 : Elizabethan Age
1603-1625 : Jacobean Age
1625-1649 : Caroline Age
1649-1660 : Commonwealth Period (or Puritan Interregnum)
1660-1785 : The Neoclassical Period
1660-1700 : The Restoration
1700-1745 : The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope)
1745-1785 : The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson)
1785-1830 : The Romantic Period
1832-1901 : The Victorian Period
1848-1860 : The Pre-Raphaelites
1880-1901 : Aestheticism and Decadence
1901-1914 : The Edwardian Period
1910-1936 : The Georgian Period
1914-1945 : The Modern Period
1945-1990 : Postmodern Period
The Old English Period or the Anglo-Saxon Period refers to the literature produced from the invasion of Celtic England by Germanic tribes in the first half of the fifth century to the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conqueror. During the Old English Period, written literature began to develop from oral tradition, and in the eighth century poetry written in the vernacular Anglo-Saxon or Old English appeared. The themes were epic, myth, history, and religion. However, the true beginnings of literature in England were found in the Latin Middle Ages, when monastries were the main institution that preserved classical culture.
Works : poems “Beowulf”,” The Seafarer”, “The Wanderer”, “The Battle of Maldon”, “Caedmon”, “Cynewulf”.
The Middle English Period consists of the literature produced in the four and a half centuries between the Norman Conquest of 1066 and about 1500, when the standard literary language, derived from the dialect of the London area, became recognizable as "modern English". Prior to the second half of the fourteenth century, vernacular literature consisted primarily of religious writings. The second half of the fourteenth century produced the first great age of secular literature.
Works : poems “Piers Plowman”, romances “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight”, “Le Morte d'Arthur” (Thomas Malory), narratives “The Canterbury Tales” (Geoffrey Chaucer), “Il Decamerone” (Giovanni Boccaccio).
The English Literary Renaissance consists of four subsets: The Elizabethan Age, the Jacobean Age, the Caroline Age, and the Commonwealth Period (which is also known as the Puritan Interregnum).
The Elizabethan Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of Elizabeth I, 1558 - 1603. During this time, medieval tradition was blended with Renaissance optimism. Lyric poetry, prose, and drama were the major styles of literature that flowered during the Elizabethan Age. The Jacobean Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of James I, 1603 - 1625. During this time the literature became sophisticated, sombre, and conscious of social abuse and rivalry. The Jacobean Age produced rich prose and drama as well as the King James translation of the Bible. Shakespeare and Jonson wrote during the Jacobean Age, as well as John Donne, Francis Bacon, and Thomas Middleton.
Works : epic “Faerie Queene” (Edmund Spenser), drama (William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe), “Court Masque”, prose romance “Euphues” (John Lyly), “Arcadia” (Philip Sidney).
The Caroline Age of English Literature coincides with the reign of Charles I, 1625 - 1649. The writers of this age wrote with refinement and elegance. This era produced a circle of poets known as the "Cavalier Poets" and the dramatists of this age were the last to write in the Elizabethan tradition. The Commonwealth Period, also known as the Puritan Interregnum, of English Literature includes the literature produced during the time of Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell. This period produced the political writings of John Milton, Thomas Hobbes' political treatise Leviathan, and the prose of Andrew Marvell. In September of 1642, the Puritans closed theatres on moral and religious grounds. For the next eighteen years the theatres remained closed, accounting for the lack of drama produced during this time period.
The Neoclassical Period of English literature (1660 - 1785) was much influenced by contemporary French literature, which was in the midst of its greatest age. The literature of this time is known for its use of philosophy, reason, skepticism, wit, and refinement. The Neoclassical Period also marks the first great age of English literary criticism. Much like the English Literary Renaissance, the Neoclassical Period can be divided into three subsets: the Restoration, the Augustan Age, and the Age of Sensibility. The Restoration, 1660 - 1700, is marked by the restoration of the monarchy and the triumph of reason and tolerance over religious and political passion. The Restoration produced an abundance of prose and poetry and the distinctive comedy of manners known as Restoration comedy. It was during the Restoration that John Milton published Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained. Other major writers of the era include John Dryden, John Wilmot 2nd Earl of Rochester, and John Locke.
The English Augustan Age derived its name from the brilliant literary period of Vergil and Ovid under the Roman emperor Augustus. In English literature, the Augustan Age, 1700-1745, refers to literature with the predominant characteristics of refinement, clarity, elegance, and balance of judgment. The writers such as John Dryden, Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison wrote translations, theoretical essays, literary texts in a variety of genres. A significant contribution of this time period included the release of the first English novels by Defoe. Another name for this period is the Age of Johnson because the dominant authors of this period were Samuel Johnson and his literary and intellectual circle.
Works : novels "Pamela“ and “Clarissa” (Samuel Richardson), “Robinson Crusoe” (Daniel Defoe), "Tom Jones” (Henry Fielding), “Tristram Shandy” (Laurence Sterne), magazines “The Tatler” and “The Spectator”.
The Romantic Period of English literature began in the late 18th century and lasted until approximately 1832. In general, Romantic literature can be characterized by its personal nature, its strong use of feeling, its abundant use of symbolism, and its exploration of nature and the supernatural. In addition, the writings of the Romantics were considered innovative based on their belief that literature should be spontaneous, imaginative, personal, and free. The Romantic Period produced a wealth of authors including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, Jane Austen, and Lord Byron. It was during the Romantic Period that Gothic literature was born. Traits of Gothic literature are dark and gloomy settings and characters and situations that are fantastic, grotesque, wild, savage, mysterious, and often melodramatic. Two of the most famous Gothic novelists are Anne Radcliffe and Mary Shelley.
The Victorian Period of English literature began with the accession of Queen Victoria to the throne in 1837, and lasted until her death in 1901. Because the Victorian Period of English literature spans over six decades, the year 1870 is often used to divide the era into "early Victorian" and "late Victorian." In general, Victorian literature deals with the issues and problems of the day. Some contemporary issues that the Victorians dealt with include the social, economic, religious, and intellectual issues and problems surrounding the Industrial Revolution, growing class tensions, the early feminist movement, pressures toward political and social reform, and the impact of Charles Darwin's theory of evolution on philosophy and religion. Some of the most recognized authors of the Victorian era include Alfred Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, her husband Robert, Matthew Arnold, Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy. Within the Victorian Period, two other literary movements, that of The Pre-Raphaelites (1848-1860) and the movement of Aestheticism and Decadence (1880-1900), gained prominence. In 1848, a group of English artists, including Dante Gabriel Rossetti, formed the "Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood." It was the aim of this group to return painting to a style of truthfulness, simplicity, and religious devotion that had reigned prior to Raphael and the high Italian Renaissance. Rossetti and his literary circle, which included his sister Christina, incorporated these ideals into their literature, and the result was that of the literary Pre-Raphaelites.
The Aestheticism and Decadence movement of English literature grew out of the French movement of the same name. The authors of this movement encouraged experimentation and held the view that art is totally opposed "natural" norms of morality. This style of literature opposed the dominance of scientific thinking and defied the hostility of society to any art that was not useful or did not teach moral values. It was from the movement of Aestheticism and Decadence that the phrase art for art's sake emerged. A well-known author of the English Aestheticism and Decadence movement is Oscar Wilde.
The Edwardian Period is named for King Edward VII and spans the time from Queen Victoria's death (1901) to the beginning of World War I (1914). During this time, the British Empire was at its height and the wealthy lived lives of materialistic luxury. However, four fifths of the English population lived in squalor. The writings of the Edwardian Period reflect and comment on these social conditions. For example, writers such as George Bernard Shaw and H.G. Wells attacked social injustice and the selfishness of the upper classes. Other writers of the time include William Butler Yeats, Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, and E.M. Forster. The Georgian Period refers to the period of British Literature that is named for the reign of George V (1910-36). Many writers of the Edwardian Period continued to write during the Georgian Period. This era also produced a group of poets known as the Georgian poets. These writers, now regarded as minor poets, were published in four anthologies entitled Georgian Poetry, published by Edward Marsh between 1912 and 1922. Georgian poetry tends to focus on rural subject matter and is traditional in technique and form.
The Modern Period applies to British literature written since the beginning of World War I in 1914. The authors of the Modern Period have experimented with subject matter, form, and style and have produced achievements in all literary genres. Poets of the period include Yeats, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, and Seamus Heaney. Novelists include James Joyce, D.H. Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf. Dramatists include Noel Coward and Samuel Beckett.
Works : "Ulysses“ and “Finnegans Wake” (James Joyce), “Mrs. Dalloway” and “To the Lighthouse” (Virginia Wolfs), "Three Lives” (Gertrude Stein), “The Cantos” (Ezra Pound), “The Waste Land” (T.S. Eliot), “The Sound and The Fury” (William Faulkners).
The Postmodern Period of British Literature developed following World War II (1939-1945). Postmodernism blends literary genres and styles and attempts to break free of modernist forms. While the British literary scene at the turn of the new millennium is crowded and varied, the authors still fall into the categories of modernism and postmodernism. However, with the passage of time the Modern era may be reorganized and expanded.
Works : "Lost in the Funhouse“ (John Barth), “The Crying of Lot 49” (Thomas Pynchon), “Double or Nothing” (Raymond Federman), "Tom Jones” (Henry Fielding), “Tristram Shandy” (Laurence Sterne), magazines “The Tatler” and “The Spectator”.
Klarer, Mario.1998.An Introducing to Literary Studies. London: Routledge.