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LECTURE 02

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1.4.2.

MERRY OLD ENGLAND: STORIES AND LEGENDS (1066 – 1485)

2.1. Распространение французской литературы. Сосуществование трех языков в общественной жизни и литературе. Народное сатирическое творчество в среде низшего духовенства. Народные баллады.

2.1.1. Extending from 1066 to 1485, this period is noted for the extensive influence of French literature on native English forms and themes. From the Norman-French conquest of England in 1066 until the 14th century, French largely replaced English in ordinary literary composition, and Latin maintained its role as the language of learned works. By the 14th century, when English again became the chosen language of the ruling classes, it had lost much of the Old English inflectional system, had undergone certain sound changes, and had acquired the characteristic it still possesses of freely taking into the native stock numbers of foreign words, in this case French and Latin ones. Thus, the various dialects of Middle English spoken in the 14th century were similar to Modern English and can be read without great difficulty today.

The Middle English literature of the 14th and 15th centuries is much more diversified than the previous Old English literature. A variety of French and even Italian elements influenced Middle English literature, especially in southern England. In addition, different regional styles were maintained, in literature and learning had not yet been centralized. For these reasons, as well as because of the vigorous and uneven growth of national life, the Middle English period contains a wealth of literary monuments not easily classified.

The first four hundred years of the second millennium were hard for England. It remained a backyard of Europe, and was torn apart by greedy lords and rival feudal families. The written work of the period is much better documented than that of the earlier period. At the beginning though, it was largely written in French or Latin.




Most of the literary pieces are religious in character. Material in English appears in the 1200s, but within 150 years it became a flood. There was a marked increased in the number of translated writings during the 1300s. Guild records, proclamations, proverbs, dialogues, allegories, and letters illustrate the diverse range of new styles and genres. Middle English poetry was influenced by French literary traditions, both in content and style. Later works include romances in the French style, secular lyrics, bestiaries, ballads, biblical poetry, Christian legends, hymns, prayers, and elegies.

2.1.2. In the north and west, poems continued to be written in forms very like the Old English alliterative, four-stress lines. Of these poems, The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman, better known as Piers Plowman, is the most significant. Now thought to be by William Langland, it is a long, impassioned work in the form of dream visions (a favorite literary device of the day), protesting the plight of the poor, the avarice of the powerful, and the sinfulness of all people. The emphasis, however, is placed on a Christian vision of the life of activity, of the life of unity with God, and of the synthesis of these two under the rule of a purified church. Realistic and allegorical elements are mingled in a phantasmagoric way, and both the poetic medium and the structure are frequently subverted by the writer's spiritual and didactic impulses. Passages of theological reasoning mingle with satire, and moments of sublime religious feeling appear alongside political comment. This makes it a work of the utmost difficulty, but at the same time Langland never fails to convince the reader of the passionate integrity of his writing. His bitter attacks on political and ecclesiastical corruption (especially among the friars) quickly struck chords with his contemporaries.

In a somer sesun, whon softe was the sonne,

I schop me into a shroud, as I a scheep were;

In habite as an hermite unholy of werkes

Wente I wyde in this world wondres to here;

Bote in a Mayes morwnynge on Malverne hulles

Me bifel a ferly, of fairie, me-thoughte. [ferly = marvel]

I was wery, forwandred, and wente me to reste[forwandred = worn out]

Undur a brod banke bi a bourne side;

And as I lay and leonede and lokede on the watres, [leonede = leaned]

I slumbrede in a slepynge, hit swyed so murie. [=sounded pleasantly]

Thenne gon I meeten a mervelous sweven,

That I was in a wildernesse, wuste I never where; [wuste = knew]

And as I beheold into the est an heigh to the sonne,

I sauh a tour on a toft, tryelyche i-maket; [sauh = saw]



A deop dale bineothe, a dungun ther-inne,

With deop dich and derk and dredful of sighte.

A feir feld full of folk fond I ther bitwene,

Of alle maner of men, the mene and the riche, [mene = mean, common]

Worchinge and wandringe as the world asketh.

2.1.3. A wonderful phenomenon in early English literature is its balladry. British ballads, which form a particularly rich and artistic canon, most often consist of a series of quatrains having the stress pattern 4 3 4 3 (such quatrains were originally 7-stress couplets), but a 4 4 4 4 stress pattern is also popular. The quatrains are rhymed and often have refrains to comment on the action or to emphasize mood. Dialogue often proceeds without identification of the speakers, and conversation and action often build to a dramatic conclusion. Much of the language and action are stylized: cliches are frequent (“rosy-red lips,” ”lily-white hands,” ”milk-white steeds”), as is conventionalized conduct (a lover opening a casket to kiss the “cold, clay lips” of a corpse; a man taking a girl on his knee to hear an explanation).

Ballads differ greatly in their themes, of course. If to scrutinize their subjects attentively, one will see that by far the largest group of ballads deals with the stuff of tabloid journalism – sensation tales of lust, revenge, and domestic crime. Unwed mothers slay their newborn babies; lovers unwilling to marry their pregnant mistresses brutally murder the poor women. Brothers kill one another out of jealousy or in rivalry over a girl. Incest is surprisingly frequent. Some ballads treat the relations of supernatural beings and human folk, which is the concern of some of the finest English ballads. As for humourous ballads, these with monotonous regularity have to do with the shabby dealings of incompatible married couples: the cuckold, the shrewish wife, the discontented spouse who is frustrated in the attempt to "do in" the other partner.

Somewhat artificially, scholars divide the English-language ballads into traditionalballads, broadside ballads, and native ballads of former British colonies. The traditional ballads are also known as Child ballads after the American scholar Francis James Child, who, in his book The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, compiled what he considered a canon of 305 ballads the histories of which date from or nearly from the Middle Ages.

In this country, the first English folk ballads to get wide popularity due to translation into Russian were the ballads about Robin Hood. Originally, those were quite a common commodity as early as the end of the 14th century. In the 15th century several chroniclers, both Scottish and English, allude to the popularity of the ballads about Robin Hood and his merry men. But none of the early chroniclers has anything to say about the outlaw as a historical person. Using poetic license, perhaps, Sir Walter Scott, in his Ivanhoe, casts Robin Hood (his Locksley) as the leader of Saxon guerillas still holding out against the Norman regime.



Diligent searches in ancient manorial rolls and court records have unearthed a number of Robin Hoods, several of them plausible prospects for the outlaw. Anyway, it is obvious that the real biography of such a man, if it could be reconstructed, would be pale stuff beside the exploits of the legendary character. Stylistically the Robin Hood ballads are in a class by themselves. The older ballads seem to have been composed not by folk singers but by professional minstrels. The ballads dwell lovingly on the forest scenery, for example. Everywhere the minstrel intrudes into the story. This is quite unlike popular balladry. Anyway, the character himself became one of the nation's favourites.

2.2. конецформыначалоформыДжефри Чосер как основоположник реализма и литературного английского языка. Микрокосм средневековья в «Кентерберийских рассказах». Влияние Чосера на развитие английской литературы.

2.2.1. In the Middle Ages English literature experienced a great breakthrough which is associated with the name of Geoffrey Chaucer (1343?-1400). He is one of the greatest English poets, whose masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales, was one of the most important influences on the development of English literature. His life is known primarily through records pertaining to his career as a courtier and civil servant under the English kings Edward III and Richard II.

The son of a prosperous London wine merchant, Chaucer may have attended the Latin grammar school of Saint Paul's Cathedral and may have studied law at the Inns of Court. Early in his teens, he was page to the countess of Ulster, Elizabeth; there, he would have learned the ways of the court and the use of arms. He married a lady-in-waiting to the queen and afterward served as controller of customs for London. He traveled on several diplomatic missions to France, to Spain and to Italy. In the last year of his life, Chaucer leased a house within the precincts of Westminster Abbey. After his death, he was buried in the Abbey (an honor for a commoner), in what has since become Poets' Corner.

Chaucer wrote for and may have read his works aloud to a select audience of fellow courtiers and officials, which doubtless sometimes included members of the royal family. The culture of the English upper class was still predominantly French, and Chaucer's earliest works were influenced by the fashionable French poets and by the great dream allegory Le Roman de la Rose. The common theme of these works is courtly love. His other works show the influence of Dante and of Boccaccio, whose works Chaucer probably encountered on his first journey to Italy. Chaucer also translated and adapted religious, historical, and philosophical works.

Troilus, a poem of more than 8000 lines, is Chaucer's major work besides The Canterbury Tales. It is the tragic love story of the Trojan prince Troilus, who wins Criseyde (Cressida), and then loses her to the Greek warrior Diomede. The love story turns into a deeply felt medieval tragedy, the human pursuit of transitory earthly ideals that pale into insignificance beside the eternal love of God. The poem ends with the narrator's solemn advice to young people to flee vain loves and turn their hearts to Christ. Chaucer's characters are psychologically so complex that the work has also been called the first modern novel.

2.2.2. By 1387 Chaucer was engaged on his masterpiece, The Canterbury Tales. It is a collection of stories set within a framing story of a pilgrimage to Canterbury Cathedral, the shrine of Saint Thomas а Becket. The poet joins a band of pilgrims, vividly described in the General Prologue, who assemble at the Tabard Inn outside London for the journey to Canterbury. Ranging in status from a Knight to a humble Plowman, they are a microcosm of English society of the time. Host proposes a storytelling contest to pass the time; each of the 30 or so pilgrims (the exact number is unclear) is to tell four tales on the round round trip. Chaucer completed less than a quarter of this plan. The work contains 22 verse tales (two unfinished) and two long prose tales; a few are thought to be pieces written earlier by Chaucer. The Canterbury Tales, composed of more than 18,000 lines of poetry, is made up of separate blocks of one or more tales with links introducing and joining stories within a block.

The tales represent nearly every variety of medieval story at its best. The special genius of Chaucer's work, however, lies in the dramatic interaction between the tales and the framing story.

After the Knight's courtly and philosophical romance about noble love, the Miller interrupts with a deliciously bawdy story of seduction aimed at the Reeve (an officer or steward of a manor); the Reeve takes revenge with a tale about the seduction of a miller's wife and daughter. Thus, the tales develop the personalities, quarrels, and diverse opinions of their tellers. The prologues and tales of the Wife of Bath and the Pardoner are high points of Chaucer's art. The Wife, an outspoken champion of her gender against the traditional antifeminism of the church, initiates a series of tales about sex, marriage, and nobility (“gentilesse”).

Although Chaucer satirizes the abuses of the church, he also includes a number of didactic and religious tales. Chaucer greatly increased the prestige of English as a literary language and extended the range of its poetic vocabulary and meters. He was the first English poet to use the seven-line stanza in iambic pentameter known as rhyme royal and the couplet later called heroic. Chaucer dominated the works of his 15th-century English followers. For the Renaissance, he was the English Homer. Edmund Spenser paid tribute to him as his master; many of the plays of William Shakespeare show thorough assimilation of Chaucer's comic spirit. John Dryden, who modernized several of the Canterbury tales, called Chaucer the father of English poetry.

2.3. Начало книгопечатания. «Смерть Артура» Томаса Мэлори как синтез средневекового этапа развития романов артуровского цикла.

2.3.1. Book printing in England was started by William Caxton (1422-1491). He was born probably in Kent. Caxton moved to Belgium, where he opened his own textile business, and then to Cologne, Germany, where he learned the art of printing. At this time Caxton was also translating into English a popular French romance, which he printed in Brugge as The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye (1474?). It is famous as the first book printed in English. Returning to England in 1476, Caxton set up a printing press at Westminster Abbey. His first publication there was an indulgence, which was distributed in December 1476. During his career Caxton printed nearly 100 publications, about 20 of which he also translated from French and Dutch. Among the more notable books from his press are The Canterbury Tales and Troilus and Criseyde by the English poet Geoffrey Chaucer. Caxton also wrote prefaces and epilogues to many of the works he published, notably the preface to the prose epic Le Morte d'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory.

2.3.2. Sir Thomas Malory ( ? —1471?) is an English translator and compiler, who is generally held to have been the author of the first great English prose epic, Le morte d'Arthur (The Death of Arthur). It is believed that he was an English knight of Warwickshire, that he saw military service in France, and that he spent many years in prison for political offenses and civic crimes.Le morte d'Arthur (1469-1470) was supposedly composed while the author was in prison. It was published in 1485by the first English printer, William Caxton. It is a compilation and translation from old French sources (with additions from English sources and the compiler's own composition) of most of the tales about the semilegendary Arthur, king of the Britons, and his knights. One of the outstanding prose works of Middle English, it is divided into 21 books. The poetic prose is noted for its color, dignity, simplicity, and melodic quality.

Malory loosely tied together stories of various Knights of the Round Table, but most memorably of Arthur himself, of Galahad, and of the guilty love of Lancelot and Arthur's queen, Guinevere. Despite the great variety of incident and the complications of plot in his work, the dominant theme is the need to sacrifice individual desire for the sake of national unity and religious salvation, the latter of which is envisioned in terms of the dreamlike but intense mystical symbolism of the Holy Grail.

Yet many men say in many parts of England that King Arthur is not dead, but had by the will of Our Lord Jesu into another place; and many men say that he shall come again, and he shall win the holy cross. I will not say that it shall be so, rather I will say that here in tghis world he changed his life. But many men say that there is written upon his tomb this verse: HIC IACET ARTHURUS, REX QUONDAM REXQUE FUTURUS (Here lies Arthur, the once and future king.)

2.4. Происхождение средневековой драмы,конецформыначалоформы конецформыначалоформыэтапы её развития и основные жанры (миракль, мистерия, моралитэ, фарсы). Жанровое своеобразие.

Drama begins at that time. Because the manuscripts of medieval English plays were usually short-lived performance scripts rather than reading matter, very few examples have survived from what once must have been a very large dramatic literature. From the late 14th century onward two main dramatic genres are discernible, the mystery or Corpus Christi cycles and the morality plays.

2.4.1. The mystery plays were long cyclic dramas of the Creation, Fall, and Redemption of mankind, based mostly on biblical narratives. They usually included a selection of Old Testament episodes but concentrated mainly on the life and Passion of Jesus Christ. They always ended with the Last Judgment. The cycles were generally financed and performed by the craft guilds and staged on wagons in the streets and squares of the towns.



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