English literature - REF.BY

 
 

 

English literature
Reading is to the mind is what exercise to the body. That's words ring true. Reading is one of the most interesting occupation. It gives us opportunities for developing imagination, it educates a person, enriches his intellect. Books help us to mould a person's character, from his moral values. Through out the centuries books had an enormous influence on the minds and hearts of people. Books bind together ages, personalities. Thanks to books we can talk to people who lived in different countries and ages. Through reading books we hear their voices, thoughts and feelings. The book is the surest way to bring nations together. It helps people achieve understanding, trust, cooperation and friendship. Books awaken the young reader's imagination. They develop literary taste, arouse interest and curiosity, the reader's laugher as well as his tears. They teach the readers to be truthful, friendly, honest decisive, conscientious, frank, firm, fair and serious. Thanks to books we learn to express our thoughts and feelings more exactly. The book is faithful and understanding friend. It can be put aside and taken up again at any moment. Books is one of the greatest wonders in the world. Books gives us an unique chance to link up with author, who lives hundreds years ago. Through reading we can hear voices thoughts and feelings who live in different countries and ages. The books of all times are the treasure of the nationality. I suppose they are like luxurious white pearl and precious stones on the black velvet. Surely the knowledge of foreign languages helps us to read books in originally. It is not a secret that a value of a book depends on a writer. The literature of England is one of the highest achievements of a great nation. It should not, however, be read simply as a national expression. It is a body of significant statements about abiding human concerns. The language in which it is written has evolved over hundreds of years and is still changing. Several nations, including Canada, the United States, and Australia are indebted to England for a literary heritage. Shakespeare--Genius of Drama The great genius of the Elizabethan Age was William Shakespeare (1564-1616). He wrote more than 35 plays as well as 154 sonnets and 2 narrative poems ('Venus and Adonis', 1593; 'The Rape of Lucrece', 1594). Like Chaucer, Shakespeare had a genius for telling a story. Although he generally took over stories already told by others, his adaptations of these narratives made them into something new and wonderful. Shakespeare surpassed even Chaucer in creating character. Noble and disturbed Hamlet, pathetic Ophelia, wise Portia, ambitious Macbeth, witty Rosalind, villainous Iago, dainty Ariel--these are a few of the characters Shakespeare made immortal. In addition to his ability to tell a story and to create character, Shakespeare was able to use words brilliantly. Phrases and whole lines from his works have become part of daily speech--for example, "the milk of human kindness" or "the play's the thing." Entire speeches are universally familiar--"To be or not to be," from 'Hamlet'; "All the world's a stage," from 'As You Like It'; "The quality of mercy is not strained," from 'The Merchant of Venice'. No one in all history has had a greater command of the right word, the unforgettable phrase, or the sentence that strikes straight to the heart of the truth. Most of the great literature of the time was written from 1360 to 1400, a good part of it by one man, Geoffrey Chaucer (1340?-1400). Chaucer was one of the world's greatest storytellers. His 'Canterbury Tales' is a masterpiece, it is a collection of stories in verse told by people of different social standing. Chaucer had planned 120 stories but wrote only 24, because death broke off his work. The stories are preceded by a prologue, in which the characters what will tell the stories are described. Short prologues to each story connect them into one work. The prologue tells about a group of pilgrims, who were on their way to pray at the cathedral of Canterbury. One fine April evening these pilgrims met at a London inn called the Tabard; the innkeeper was a jolly man whose name was Harry Bailey. There were twenty-eight pilgrims. Harry Bailey proposed to the company that each pilgrim should tell two on the way to Canterbury and two more on the way home. They would decide whose story was the best and a dinner would be given to the winner. The Canterbury Tales was the fist great work in verse in English literature. Chaucer painted a vivid picture of English society, as it was in his days; each of his characters was given as an individual, typical of his country and his time. Another poet contemporary with Chaucer was William Langland (1330?-1400?), a figure almost as shadowy as the Pearl Poet. His masterpiece, also in a somewhat difficult dialect, is 'The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman'. It consists of a series of dream-visions in which human life passes in review. Langland wrote with power and sincerity. He attacked the social ills of his time, rebuked evildoers, and urged men to "learn to love." For nearly 200 years after the death of Chaucer there were almost no great literary works produced in England. The other outstanding literary achievement of the times was the creation of the great English and Scottish ballads. These were probably sung by people at social gatherings. The ballads preserved the local events and beliefs and characters in an easily remembered form. It was not until several hundred years later that people began to write down these ballads. They are immensely vivid stories that modern readers find especially attractive. Three familiar ballads are 'The Wife of Usher's Well', about her three ghost sons; 'Sir Patrick Spens', concerning his death by drowning; and 'Edward', about his murderous revenge.

 

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