English Literature Part III

English Literature 3

The little spade of time, z. B. C. Marlowe’s “Hero and Leander” (1593; published 1598) or Shakespeare’s “Venus and Adonis” (1592; published 1593), was in the Ovid tradition and told erotic stories from classical and ancient mythology. The example of Virgil and Theocrit , on the other hand, was followed by the shepherd’s poetry, which established itself in England with E. Spenser’s eclogue cycle “The shepheardes calender” (1579). E. Spensers unfinished epic »The faerie queene« (1590–96) finally combined the traditions of the reception of Virgil, the Arthurian and Italian Renaissance epics as well as medieval allegory to create a morally, religiously and politically significant conception of the world.

The prose literature of the Elizabethan age ranged from works that can be assigned to the courtly-aristocratic culture, such as P. Sidney’s stylistically refined pastoral romance “Arcadia” (published 1590), his literary theoretical essay “Defense of poesie” (1580; published 1595) or J. Lyly’s ingenious mannerist prose novel “Euphues” (1578) through to popular narratives such as T. Nashes’ crude picaresque picaresque novel “The unfortunate traveler” (1594) or T. Deloney’s artisan stories, swank books, prose satiries (T. Dekker. ) Pamphlet literature.

The tradition of morality lived on in drama into the 16th century, but the form was now used to convey secular and political content: J. Skelton’s “Magnificence” (1515–16) castigated power hunger and excessive ambition; J. Bales “King John” (1536?) Denounces the Pope and the Catholic Church. The first completely secular dramas were the interludes, short, farce-like pieces that were performed by professional actors at court or in aristocratic houses. Around the middle of the 16th century, the debate began with the classical-antique drama, which was pursued in particular by the “University wits” and members of the law schools (“Inns of Court”). Comedies were based on the model of P. Terenz and T. Plautus (N. Udall , “Ralph Roister Doister”, 1553?); at the tragedies was Seneca d. J. Pate (T. Sackville and T. Norton , “Gorboduc”, 1565). The drama, which emulates ancient models, was never able to assert itself against the local folk tradition, which preferred dramatic hybrid forms. From 1576 onwards, the establishment of permanent theaters in London and the formation of professional groups of actors protected by noble patronage (with exclusively male actors) encouraged the emergence of a theater culture that was open to all social classes. The first high points of Elizabethan drama in the 1580s and 1590s were J. Lylys courtly comedies and R. Greene’s romantic-fantastic dramas, T. Kyd’s revenge tragedy “The Spanish tragedy” (1584–89), which plays with extreme effects, early bourgeois tragedies (“Arden of Feversham”, 1592) and C. Marlowe’s Blankvers tragedies, at the center of which were immoderate figures striving for limitless power. The dramatic work of Shakespeare emerges from this environmentwho created cheerful and bitter comedies, historical dramas as well as humanly moving and politically clairvoyant tragedies with extraordinary versatility from a wide variety of domestic, European and ancient sources, which thanks to their linguistic power, character design and open form have lost none of their effect to this day (Elizabethan drama). In comparison, B. Jonson’s learned and strictly classical Roman tragedies appear pale, while the satirical type comedy he created, the “Comedy of Humor”, was much more successful and had a style-forming effect.

Stuart era and interregnum

At the beginning of the 17th century, at the beginning of the Stuart era, new developments can be observed: At court, mask games (»Court masques«) enjoyed increasing popularity, for which B. Jonson wrote numerous texts (including »The masque of blackness«, 1605) and for which I. Jones used his Italian-trained decorating skills from 1605 onwards. At the same time, F. Beaumont and J. Fletcher popularized the tragic comedy based on the Italian model. The tragedies, among whose authors v. a. J. Webster , C. Tourneur and a little later J. Ford stand out, on the other hand tended to increasingly blatant extremes: by outbidding each other in the portrayal of sexual excesses, unusual atrocities and appalling atrocities, they pointed to the questionable nature of the Christian-humanist image of man and the outrageous state of society, which was heading towards civil war. Among the contemporaries and successors of Shakespeare up to the closure of the theater by the Puritans (1642) are above all G. Chapman (with “humor” comedies in the Jonson style, masquerades and stoicist tragedies), T. Middleton (with satirical comedies and tragedies, illuminating the psychic abyss) and the epigonal J. Shirley to highlight.

According to picktrue.com, the cultural change during the reign of the Stuart kings James I (1603-25) and Charles I (1625-49) also manifested itself in the change to an empirical understanding of reality and science, which F. Bacon philosophically prepared the ground and that later was based on the works of T. Hobbes and J. Locke and the program of the Royal Society, founded in 1660. At the same time, the resistance of the Puritans to absolutism grew and the theological and ecclesiastical intransigence of the Stuarts; this led to the civil war, the result of which was the republican Interregnum (the “Commonwealth of England, Scotland and Ireland”) with O. Cromwell as Lord Chancellor (1653-58).

English Literature 3