History of British Literature Essay

3336 Words May 7th, 2013 14 Pages
Late Medieval Period 14th Century British Literature

14th and 15th were period of transition from feudalism to pre-industrial era. A time of political, social and ideological conflicts;
England was in war with France (the hundred year war 1337-1453 Edward’s claim to the French throne and attempt to bring England, Gascony and Flanders under unified political control). The defeats in France lead to deepening the internal crisis. The decline in agriculture together with the rise in the population resulted in frequent famines and helped the spread during the 14th c. of the “Black Death”. 1381 – The Peasants’ Revolt.
Culture: by 15th century England had become a nation with the sense of separate identity and indigenous culture
1362-
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Many French literary forms also became popular, among them the fabliau; the exemplum, or moral tale; the animal fable; and the dream vision. The continental allegorical tradition, which derived from classical literature, is exemplified by the Roman de la Rose, which had a strong impact on English literature.

Medieval works of literature often center on a popular rhetorical figure, such as the ubi sunt, which remarks on the inevitability–and sadness–of change, loss, and death; and the cursor mundi, which harps on the vanity of human grandeur. A 15,000-line 13th-century English poem, the Cursor Mundi, retells human history (i.e., the medieval version–biblical plus classical story) from the point of view its title implies.

A number of 13th-century secular and religious Middle English lyrics are extant, including the exuberant Sumer Is Icumen In, but like Middle English literature in general, the lyric reached its fullest flower during the second half of the 14th cent. Lyrics continued popular in the 15th cent., from which time the ballad also dates.

The Fourteenth Century

The poetry of the alliterative revival (see alliteration), the unexplained reemergence of the Anglo-Saxon verse form in the 14th cent., includes some of the best poetry in Middle English. The Christian allegory The Pearl

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