English literature

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OLD ENGLISH LITERATURE Introduction Old−English literature encompasses literature written in Anglo−Saxon during the period that extends from about 410 to the Norman Conquest of Britain in 1066. It was time of war, invasions, death, soldiers, heroes The Germanic tribes from Europe (Angles, Saxons, Yutes, Vikings) occupied the territory in the 5th century after the Roman withdrawal. The invasionsleft very important influences, not only buildings (castles specially) but also their culture; religion, language, social structure by classes. They had not writings (except runes) until they learned Latin alphabet from Roman missionaries, thus they brought the Old English or Anglo−Saxon language, which is the basis of Modern English. The earliest written works in old English were probably composedorally at first and may have been passed on from speaker to speaker before being written. The monks had a very important role preserving literature. Most of the literature works was written by monks so it was quite religious and masculine. Anglo−Saxon poetry Much of old English poetry was probably intended to be chanted, with harp a accompaniment, by a very interesting figure: the SCOP (or bold).This kind of poet was a member of Comitatus, and he had to speak in favour of his Lord, sure. Often bold and strong, but also mournful and elegiac in spirit, this poetry emphasizes the sorrow and ultimate futility of life and the helplessness of humans before the power of fate. The Anglo−Saxon time can be divided in two periods; The first one, from 5th century to 8th century, is characterized bythe lack of texts. In the 6th century Christianity brought the idea of poetry as a written art. The language that they used is Latin because it was considered the language of culture. In the second period, from 8th to 11th century English was written in monasteries. Poetry was based on rhythm not on rhyme and on stress. As literary resources we find alliteration, repetition, variation, formulaeand kenning. Authorship wasn't important then, but there are five exceptions: Aldhem, Bede, Caedmon, Cynewulf and Alfred. They are the only one who signed their works in Anglo−Saxon literature. The first known English poet is Aldhem, however, Caedmon is the first English poet whose words survive at all. His story is related in the Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis Anglorum ( Ecclesiastical History ofthe English People −731−) by St Bede (the Venerable Bede). Written in Latin prose, it remains an indispensable primary source for English history from 597 to 731. It gives the most thorough and reliable contemporary account of the triumph of Christianity and of the growth of Anglo−Saxon culture in England. Caedmon's only known surviving works is Caedmon's Hymn, the nine−line alliterative vernacular*praise poem in honour of God he supposedly learned to sing in his initial dream. The poem is one of the earliest attested examples of Old English and also one of the earliest recorded examples of sustained poetry in a Germanic Language. Cynewulf, who came from Northumbria, is famous for his religious composition; four poems have been ascribed to him: Juliana, The Ascension, Elene, and The Fatesof the Apostles. Alfred (849−899) promoted the composition of vernacular* texts. 1

The Dream of the Rood is one of the earliest Christian poems in the Anglo Saxon literature and belongs to the genre of dream−vision poetry. Like all English poetry, it's written in alliterative verse. In this longer text in the Vercelli Book, the SCOP describes his dream of a conversation with the wood of theTrue Cross. Jesus is like the heroic model of a Germanic warrior, and the speaker Cross (also called Tree of Victory or Tree of Glory) faces the Christ crucifixion. • Epic poems The name of epic poems has been applied to a group of stories telling historical deeds of heroes. Thus the epic celebrates the hero's fearless and bloody struggles against monsters, his courage, honor and loyalty. Beowulf...
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