Saturday, 27 August 2016

THE HISTORICAL BACKGROUND :THE SOCIAL , POLITICAL , ECONOMIC AND RELIGIOUS STATE IN THE AGE OF CHAUCER

Chaucer belonged to the middle of the fourteenth century . And that was the latter past of the middle Ages . The designation of the dark ages for the period was then on the wane . Of course,calmities and upheavals were not all over . Periodic famines , after the Great famine and the dreadful Black Death , definitely affected much the quietude of the age . A good many people , particularly of the crowded towns , were killed by that deadlist epidemic black plague . As a result , he social state of the time was not all satisfactory . The curse of the fatal epidemic haunted all , rich and poor,and made life insecure everywhere . The political condition of the period was not all sound , too ,at that time . The hundred years'war , fought between England and France , still continued . That war , constituted of a series of conflicts , had two specific phases at this age . The Edwardian War (1337-1360) and the Caroline War (1369-1389).Of course , the English hold in France was in decline only to be completely washed away some years after by the emergence of Joan of arc.

Moreover,after the glorious conquest of Edward,there came the troublesome reign of Richard II , which was an unfortunate time for the English nation . In the religious matters , the age had the bitter taste of some unfortunate controversy within the Church . The mighty authority of the Catholic Church had dissension within and resulted in the rise of Protestantism in the earliest form , that was a prelude to the separation between Catholicism and Lutheranism and a definitive end to the unified Church of the Middle Ages . But the happy indication was there that despotism and corruption of the Catholic Church would not continue much longer .

Nevertheless,all was not wrong in England . The social condition of England in particular immensely changed from what it had been during the couple of centuries after the Conquest . The arrogant victorious Normans did no more consider themselves foreigners . They were merged,under the stress of changing political situations,with the English nation . There was a strong awakening of national pride and confidence in the formation of one nation by the Normans and the English . Moreover , the economic condition , particularly of the peasantry definitely improved . with better production and higher prices , a healthier living could be possible for the much subdued and oppressed peasant class before the peasants'Revolt.

Moreover , there was the rise of the strong , royalty-based nation-state-the Kingdom of England.The King began to be more assertive , free from the undue intervention of the haughty peers.Of course , the royal oppression remained , but much more confined . indiscriminate tyranny by the greedy lords and their followers were curbed to a great ectent . The right of the commons began to push itself forward. Their power came to be counted . But,what was of greater interest was the flourish of literature in England,so much needed for the emergence of the Renaissance,soon to follow . The great awakening of English literature in the second half of the fourteenth century , was particularly due to a great master . He multiplicity of occupations endowed him with wide experiences . His great literature was the direct result of his unique and varied experiences of life as a page , esquire , diplomat , soldier , official and courtier and of his wide acquaintances with great foreign literary masters of France and Italy.

Indeed , in the developed of English literature, Chaucer is a great name . The gradual advancement of English literature , from the Old English period to the Middle English , reched the height of excellence, in the age of Chaucer by his literary magnificence . Chaucer's uniqueness and significance in English literature are particularly borne out in the very designation given to his age as the age of Chaucer.

Monday, 22 August 2016

NEW ENGLISH LITERATURE AFTER THE CONQUEST

Native literature remained in a a prolonged silence for more than a century . Of course , there had grown , in the meantime , a kind of Anglo -Norman literature .That consisted of chronicles in rhymes .The revival of English literature was first heard through religious poetical works . The native tongues could express itself , under the rigours of foreign masters , only through religious matters initially . But those religious works were inspired by the literary ideal of the French .

The literary ideal of the French , however , was immensely different from that of the Anglo-Saxon . Anglo-Saxon literature was rather grave , reflective and pensive . But French literature was full of liveliness and gaiety . Anglo-Saxon literature mostly missed the finer element of humour or the sharp sense of wit . But French literature was immensely rich in wit and humour . Again , love , an elemental passion of life , was scrupulously absent in Anglo-Saxon literature , except in the three cases of short elegies . But love featured remarkably in French romance . Lastly , Anglo-Saxon poetry had but one metre-the alliterative . That single metre made Anglo-Saxon poetry monotonous and mechanical . The French lines , on the other hand , had the variety of different syllables and rhymes .

The earliest of those religious works was Poema Morale or Moral Ode , which was possibly written about 1170 . It was followed by the Ormulum or the Works of the Monk Orm , written about 1200 . The third important religious work was Cursor Mundi , written about 1320 . Another work pricke of conscience was possibly written in 1340 . Among those religious works , there was a fine prose piece , Ancrene Riwle , which might be taken as the best example of the prose of the time . The Life of Saint Brendan and The Life of Saint Dunstan were two other popular works of the period . All those religious works had thir inspiration in French religious poetry.


Saturday, 20 August 2016

THE NORMAN CONQUEST

The Norman Conquest imposed a French  Speaking ruling class in England . With their laws and administration ,the Normans imported into England a French literary ideal and a French culture . They were the conquerors and rulers of the land . Before their supremacy , the native tongue could not but draw back . It was dragged down and spoken only by the poor English people . Latin and French were the only recognised and honoured languages in the Norman Court . Consequently the English language was ignored and English literature remained silent for a pretty long time . In fact . the development of English literature was arrested for nearly a hundred and fifty years after the Conquest .

Of course , that was nothing unusual . After all , the Normans were superior to the Anglo-saxons , politically and militarily . They also had a better culture attainment , with their French language and French literary tradition that enjoyed then almost the position of the classical languages and classical literature .

When English literature reappeared , after a large of more than a century , it was found different , significantly influenced by French literature . The whole literary ideal underwent a great change , under the influence of French culture and French literature . Of course , the national vernacular literature of France was hardly transplanted to the English soil , just after the Conquest . But , in the next two centuries , the cultivation of romance immensely enriched and expanded English literature , under the French literary influence , direct as well as indirect .

The Nowman Conquest  contributed to the expansion of English culture and literature in other ways , too . First , there was the enrichment of the English language and literature  by the direct cultural and literary influence of Rome , Which the Norman had brought . Second , there was the immense enlargement of scholarship and learing as a result of the contact with the scholars of much reputed of Europe . Third , literary themes and expressions were greatly multiplied by the Norman inclusion of French themes and modes of expression . Fouth , the Normans inspired England with the ideal of a strong , National , centralised government , without which no nationality or national literature could at all flourish .

THE MIDDLE AGES : EUROPE IN DARKNESS

Historically the duration of the Middle Ages seems to vary from land to land . Commonly speaking it lasted from the fall of Roman Empire to the capture of the Constabtinople by the Turks in 1453 . But the full implication of the Middle Ages came to be assessed in different continental countries at different periods . In England , however , it started with the Norman Conquest and continued till the Revival of Learning .

The Middle Ages presented a picture of dark Europe . Constant warfare , fatal pestilence and grim famine were the general scenes of Europe in the dark Middle Ages . The existence of common people was pathetic and helpless . The triple authority of the Crown , of the Catholic Church and of the overbearing peers was reckless and ruthless in action and conduct . As a result , there were , on the one hand , tyranny and exploitation and , on the other , servitude and suffering . revered as the Crusades , for the liberation of Jerusalem .

Indeed , it was a dark time , the situation was nothing fair for the Common Englishmen , too . The forces at the top , individually or collectively , tortured and oppressed them with utmost severity . The occasional appearance of some chivalrous hero , like Robin Hood , perhaps , could bring a temporary relief for the suffering and oppressed masses .

There was , however , some beacon light even in the darkest time . That came throught the scholarship and humanistic approach of some fearless visionaries . The soul of Europe gradually awakened to sanity , justice and culture . The dark ages came to an end even before the chronological closure of the Middle Ages , Chaucer's great literature was a unique achievement in the end of the dark phase of the Middle Ages .

Thursday, 18 August 2016

THE MIDDLE AGES AND THE AGE OF CHAUCER

The last Saxon king Harold was defeated by the Duke of Normandy , William II , in the battle of Hastings , fought in 1066 . That was the end of the Anglo Saxon authority and the beginning of the Norman rule . on the Norman rule . On the Christmas Day ,  1066 , William was crowned as the king William I of England .

The Norman Conquest of 1066 was a decisive event in the history of England in all spheres . It proved to be a landmark and brought about radical changes in all matters-in English life and mind . It did not merely introduce a new sort of assertive rulers , with their rigorous administive machinery . But it opened , too ,a new phase in the growth of English literature as well as language . There was the transition from the old age of Anglo-Saxon literature to Middle English literature or what is more commonly called Medieval English literature .

Middle English literature refers to the literature that existed betwixt the end of old Anglo-Saxon literature , and the beginning of new English literature , under the impact of the Revival if learning . It represents the medieval or middle ages , so full of romance and magic , chivalry and cruelty , heroism and villainy . It is found to bear out medical manners and aspirations , religious rigours and Social obligation .

The term 'middle English' was invented by the celebrated German philologist Grimm . He found In English the identical stages if growth in the German language in the medieval times . Middle English is definitely different fron old English and a bit more intricate , too . Whereas in Anglo-Saxon literature the only language was English , that language was completely dominated by the French language in Middle English imposes by the Norman rulers after the conguest .