14 Th Century British Literature Essay

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------------------------------------------------- British Literature ------------------------------------------------- The Late Medieval Period: From Chaucer to Caxton Historical background: 14th and the 15th centuries form the period of transition from feudalism to pre-industrial era. It was also a period of political, social and ideological conflicts. * England was in the war with France (Hundred Years War 1337-1453, trade and national war, Edward’s claim to the French throne, to bring England, Flanders and Gascony under a unified political control). * The defeats in France added to the internal crisis. The decline of agriculture combined with a continuous growth of the population resulted in frequent famines which helped spread in the 14th century so called “Black Death”. After the Peasant’s Revolt (1381), commutation of feudal services went on steadily. In the 15th c., farm leases and financial earnings substituted servile labor. * Culture: By mid-15th c., England had become a nation, with a sense of separate identity and an indigenous culture * In 1362, a Parliamentary statute declared English the official language in the law courts and English was also used in schools. The 14th c. witnessed the appearance of the first original literary works written in English. * The Fourteenth Century The poetry of the alliterative revival, the unexplained reemergence of the Anglo-Saxon verse form in the 14th cent., includes some of the best poetry in Middle English. The Christian allegory The Pearl is a poem of great intricacy and sensibility that is meaningful on several symbolic levels. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, by the same anonymous author, is also of high literary sophistication, and its intelligence, vividness, and symbolic interest render it possibly the finest Arthurian poem in English. Other important

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