Literature

in English Society

Before 1660

 

A Historical Survey

 

 

Brother Anthony, An Sonjae

 

 

 

 

 

Sogang University Press

Seoul,  Korea


 

 

 

Contents

 

 

Introduction.......................................................................................   vii (below)

 

1. Literature and Society before 1066.....................................................   1

Caedmon's Hymn................................................................................   1

Christianity enters England..............................................................   2

Bede........................................................................................................   3

The Germanic Inheritance.................................................................   4

The Dream of the Rood......................................................................   6

Relations with the European Continent...........................................   8

The Genesis Poems..............................................................................   8

Heroic Poetry....................................................................................... 10

Beowulf................................................................................................. 11

The Elegies........................................................................................... 12

The Vikings.......................................................................................... 14

King Alfred the Great......................................................................... 15

Monastic Revival.................................................................................. 17

From Maldon to Hastings................................................................... 17

The Celtic tradition: Ireland, Scotland, Wales.............................. 19

 

2. The Middle Ages before 1300................................................................. 23

Social history....................................................................................... 23

The Universities................................................................... 25

The Church........................................................................... 26

The development of narrative literature.......................................... 28

Geoffrey of Monmouth........................................................ 28

Layamon's Brut.................................................................... 29

Fine amor............................................................................. 30

The Matter of Britain.......................................................................... 32

Tristan and Iseult................................................................ 32

Marie de France................................................................... 32

Chrétien de Troyes.............................................................. 33

Arthurian Romance after Chrétien................................. 34

The Matter of Rome and Antiquity................................................... 36

Le Roman d'Eneas.............................................................. 36

Le Roman de Troie............................................................. 36


Le Roman de Thebes.......................................................... 37

Alexandre le Grand............................................................ 38

The Matter of France.......................................................................... 38

The Song of Roland............................................................ 39

The Matter of England........................................................................ 39

King Horn............................................................................. 40

Havelok the Dane................................................................ 41

Sir Orfeo................................................................................ 42

Bevis of Hampton and Guy of Warwick.......................... 44

Other narrative forms........................................................................ 45

Fabliau and beast-fable...................................................... 46

Lyric poetry in France........................................................................ 46

Lyric poetry in England...................................................................... 47

Le Roman de la Rose.......................................................................... 48

Dante Alighieri.................................................................................... 49

 

3. The Fourteenth Century......................................................................... 52

Social and political history................................................................ 52

The Black Death and the Peasants' Revolt..................... 52

Wyclif and the Lollards...................................................... 53

The Hundred Years' War................................................... 54

Alliterative poetry................................................................................ 54

Wynnere and Wastoure...................................................... 56

Pearl....................................................................................... 57

Piers Plowman..................................................................... 59

Alliterative romances......................................................... 64

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.................................... 65

Lyric Poetry in England..................................................................... 67

Lyric Poetry in France....................................................................... 70

Religious Prose................................................................................... 70

Julian of Norwich................................................................ 72

Margery Kempe................................................................... 73

 

4. Petrarch and Boccaccio, Chaucer and Gower.................................. 75

Petrarch ..............................................................................................  75

Boccaccio.............................................................................................. 79

Geoffrey Chaucer................................................................................ 80

The shorter works............................................................... 81

Troilus and Criseyde.......................................................... 83

The Canterbury Tales......................................................... 87

John Gower........................................................................................... 98


5. The Fifteenth Century............................................................................. 102

Poetry after Chaucer.......................................................................... 103

Thomas Hoccleve................................................................. 103

John Lydgate (?1370-1449).............................................. 105

Robert Henryson.................................................................. 106

William Dunbar................................................................... 107

Charles d'Orléans............................................................... 110

Renaissance Humanism..................................................................... 114

Saint Anselm........................................................................ 115

Scholasticism....................................................................... 115

Raimon Lull.......................................................................... 115

Nicolas of Cusa.................................................................... 116

Marsilio Ficino..................................................................... 117

Pico della Mirandola........................................................... 118

Renaissance Political Thought......................................................... 119

Niccolo Machiavelli............................................................. 122

 

6. Drama before 1550..................................................................................... 126

Mystery Play Cycles........................................................................... 126

The Second Shepherd's Play............................................. 128

Morality Plays...................................................................................... 131

Everyman.............................................................................. 133

Skelton's Magnyfycence................................................... 135

Bale's King Johan............................................................... 136

Interludes.............................................................................. 136

 



 

 

 

 

 

                                               Introduction

 

 

This book surveys in a very general way the evolution of English literature of the Middle Ages. It focuses on as many individual works and writers as possible, situating them in a broad historical and social context.

Korean students of English literature often have little or no detailed knowledge of British history or culture, yet they use histories of English literature in which the main outlines of English history are assumed to be familiar. This leads to difficulties. On the other hand, in many histories of literature, the individual works are assumed to be familiar and nothing is quoted at length or explained. Again, this causes problems.

In Sogang University, the main textbook for courses in English Literature is the two-volume Norton Anthology of English Literature. This anthology is very useful, but the introductions are often fragmentary and unclear, while students in a survey course can do almost nothing with the huge extracts from the major works that the Anthology provides.

In the pages that follow, surveys of and quotations from as many works as possible are set in a narrative about writers, works, and their historical contexts, English and European. The expected readership is of undergraduate and graduate level, students in survey courses as well as those looking for general background information about a particular period or writer. Some may be surprised to find quite long discussions of French or Italian literature and philosophy; they are included because it is not possible to separate English literature from its European context, the works in question have all played a major role in England and should be familiar to students.


Given the book's very general character, it has seemed best to keep the bibliographical information to a minimum. Each writer and topic has been the object of innumerable studies. Therefore each section or chapter ends with a short list of recently published works in which students will find full bibliographical information for a higher level of detailed research, as well as more precise introductions to each of the topics mentioned.

Every aspect of English literature has been discussed at great length by many scholars. This book is only a general introduction written in a deliberately simple style, the author could never acknowledge in detail the multiple sources he has been informed by at every point. In addition, there are so many different opinions about almost every detail that it has seemed better not to quote directly from critical works, and not to use footnotes or endnotes.

Students wishing to have a rather fuller degree of concentrated information on a particular writer or work may turn first to The Oxford Companion to English Literature or a similar encyclopedic work. Beyond that, and the various general studies indicated after each section or chapter, there is no end to the variety of studies available.

It is a pity that this book cannot provide pictures. Many aspects of medieval culture, be it the buildings, the clothing, or the way of daily life, become much clearer from photographs and illustrations. Students are advised to look for illustrated histories of the period while they are studying.


 

 



 


 

 

Index

 

 


Abelard, Peter                         39

Aelfric                                    27

Agincourt, battle of                154

Aidan                                       4

Alcuin                                    12

Alexandre le Grand                  57

Alfred (life and works)             23

Alliterative Revival                   85

Ancrene Riwle                         40

Ancrene Wisse                         40

Aneirin                                   31

Anglo-Saxon Chronicle             25

Anselm, Saint                        172

Appositive style                       10

Aquinas

on knowing God        173

Aristotle

rediscovery of             39

Arthur first mentioned              31

Augustine of Canterbury            3

Bale, John                             205

Battle of Maldon, The              27

Beast-fable                              69

Becket, Archbishop Thomas     36

Bede, life of                              5

Benedict Biscop                         4

Benoit de Sainte-Maure             56

Beowulf                                  16

Bernard of Clairvaux                40

Bevis of Hampton                    68

Black Death                            81

Boccaccio, Giovanni              120

Boniface                                 12

Brut (Layamon's)                    44

Brut (Roman de)                     44

Caedmon's dream and hymn       1

Canterbury                               4

Canterbury Tales, The            132

Canzoniere (Petrarch's)          117

Carolingian Renaissance           12

Castiglione, Baldassare            183

Castle of Perseverance,          198

Caxton, William                     155

Celtic tradition                         30

Chanson de Roland, La            59

Chansons de geste                    58

Charlemagne                           12

Charles d'Orléans                   166

Chaucer, Geoffrey

Book of the Duchess  124

Canterbury Tales       132

Complaint                123

House of Fame          125

life of                       122

Parliament of Fowls  124

Troilus and Criseyde  126

Chivalry                                  35

Chrétien de Troyes                  50

Christ and Satan                       9

Cistercians                              40

Cleanness                               88

Cligès                                     51


Cloud of Unknowing, The       110

Concatenation in Pearl             90

Confessio Amantis                 149

Corpus Christi plays               191

Courtly love                            47

Cuchulain                               32

Cusa, Nicolas of                    175

Dame Sirith                            70

Danes                                     23

Daniel                                      9

Dante Alighieri                         75

Dares and Dictys                     56

Days of the week (names of)      8

De casibus  (Boccaccio's)     121

Decameron (Boccaccio's)       121

Deschamps, Eustache            107

Divina Commedia (Dante)        76

Domesday Book                      35

Dominic (Saint)                       40

Dominicans                             40

Dream of the Rood, The            9

Dream-vision                     11, 87

Dunbar, William                     162

Dunstan of Canterbury             26

Ecclesiastical History (Bede)      2

Eckhart, Meister                    108

Edward II                               80

Edward III                              80

Edward the Confessor              28

Eleanor of Aquitaine                 36

Elegy (Old English)                  19

Erec                                       51

Everyman                             201

Exeter Book, The                     20

Fabliau                                  69

Ficino, Marsilio                      176

Filocolo (Boccaccio's)           121

Filostrato (Boccaccio's)         121

Fine amor                               47

Finn                                       32

First Crusade                          35

Francis of Assisi (Saint)           40

Franciscans                            41

Froissart, Jean                         83

Fulgens and Lucrece              207

Galahad                                  54

Genesis                                    9

Genesis Poems                        13

Geoffrey of Monmouth            43

Germanic society                      7

Gest Historiale of  Troy          57

Gildas                                     31

Gothic                                    34

Gower, John                         148

Guido de Columnis                  56

Guillaume de Lorris                  74

Guy of Warwick                      68

Harley Lyrics                     72, 84

Havelok the Dane                    62

Henry III                                37

Henry V                                154

Henry VI                               154

Henry VII                             156

Henryson, Robert                   160

Heywood, John                     207

High Middle Ages                    34

Hilton, Walter                        109

Historia Destructionis Troiae    57

Historia Regum Britanniae       43

Hoccleve, Thomas                 156

Humanism                             114

Humanism (Renaissance)        171

Hundred Years' War                 83

Huss, John                              83

Interludes                              206

Jean de Meung                        74


Joan of Arc                           154

Joseph d'Arimathie                  53

Julian of Norwich                  110

Kempe, Margery                    112

Kennings                                10

King Edwin (conversion of)        5

King Horn                              61

King Johan (Bale's)                205

Lancelot                                 51

Langland, William                    91

Lanval                                   49

Lateran Council                       41

Laura                                    116

Layamon                                44

Lindisfarne                               4

Lollards                                  82

Lull, Raimon                          174

Lydgate, John                        159

Lyric Poetry

12-13th c., French       70

13th c., English           72

14th c., English         103

14th c., French          107

Machaut, Guillaume de           107

Machiavelli, Nicolo                 184

Magna Carta                           37

Magnyfycence (Skelton's)       204

Malory, Sir Thomas               169

Mankind                               200

Marie de France                      49

Medwall, Henry                     206

Mendicant orders                     41

Merlin                                    53

Morality Plays                       198

Morte Arthure                    54, 99

Morte D'Arthur (Malory's)      169

Mystery Play Cycles              190

Norman Conquest              29, 34

Normandy (origin of)               26

Otium                                   182

Owl and the Nightingale, The   70

Patience                                 88

Pearl                                      88

Peasants' Revolt                      82

Peasants' Revolt                    155

Pepin                                      12

Perceval                                 51

Petrarch's view of Man          172

Petrarch, Francesco               116

Pico della Mirandola               178

Piers Plowman                        91

Pisan, Christine de                 107

Plantagenets                            36

Political Thought                   179

Population in 14th century        81

Pride of Life, The                  198

Prince, The (Machiavelli's)      184

Rastell, John                          207

Regiment of Princes, The        156

Renaissance (Italian)              115

Revelations of Divine Love     111

Richard II                               81

Richard III                            155

Richard the Lionheart               37

Riddles                                   11

Robert de Boron                      53

Robin Hood                             37

Rolle, Richard                        109

Roman d'Eneas, Le                  55

Roman de la Rose, Le              73

Roman de Renart, Le               70

Roman de Thebes, Le               57

Roman de Troie, Le                 56

Romances                               48

Rutebeuf                                 71

Seafarer, The                          20


Second Shepherd's Play, The   193

Sir Gawain and the

Green Knight             100

Sir Orfeo                                65

Skelton, John                        204

Song of Roland, The                59

Summa theologiae                   42

Testament of Cresseid, The     160

Thomas Aquinas (Saint)           41

Triads (Welsh)                        31

Tristan and Iseult                     48

Troilus and Criseyde              126

Troubadours                           46

Troy Book, The                       57

Tudors                                 156

Twelfth century Renaissance    39

Universities (rise of)                 39

Vikings                                   23

Vita nuova, La                        75

Wace                                     44

Wakefield Master                   193

Wanderer, The                         20

Wars of the Roses                 155

William the Conqueror              29

Wisdom                                 200

Wulfstan                                 27

Wyclif, John                           82

Wynnere and Wastoure             86

Yvain                                     51