Literature Essay

5188 WordsJan 4, 201421 Pages
English Literature Topics and Reviews in Successive Periods The Middle Ages: Topics The Middle Ages designates the time span from the collapse of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and Reformation, and the adjective "medieval" refers to whatever was made, written, or thought during the Middle Ages. The Middle Ages was a period of enormous historical, social, and linguistic change, despite the continuity of the Roman Catholic Church. In literary terms, the period can be divided into the Anglo-Saxon period (c. 450-1066), the Anglo-Norman period (1066- c. 1200), and the period of Middle English literature (thirteenth and fourteenth centuries). Linguistic and cultural changes in Britain were accelerated by the Norman Conquest in 1066, when words from French began to enter the English vocabulary. Awareness of a uniquely English literature did not actually exist before the late fourteenth century. In this period English finally began to replace French as the language of government. Geoffrey Chaucer's decision to emulate French and Italian poetry in his own vernacular would greatly enhance the prestige of English as a vehicle for literature. Britain was largely Christian during the Roman occupation. After the withdrawal of the Roman legions in the fifth century, three Germanic tribes invaded Britain: the Angles, the Saxons, and the Jutes. The conversion of these people to Christianity began in 597, with the arrival of St. Augustine of Canterbury. Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People (731) tells the story of the conversion. Before Christianity, there had been no books. Germanic heroic poetry continued to be performed orally in alliterative verse. Christian writers like the Beowulf poet looked back on their pagan ancestors with a mixture of admiration and sympathy. The world of Old English poetry is often elegiac. The Normans, an Anglo-Saxon

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