English Literature Part VII

English Literature 7

English literature

Important works of English literature (selection)

Middle English literature

  • G. Chaucer: “The Canterbury tales” (started around 1387, printed around 1478; German “Canterbury stories”)

Humanism and renaissance

  • W. Shakespeare: »Sonnets« (written 1592–98, printed in 1609; German »The Sonnets«)
  • W. Shakespeare: “Hamlet” (created 1600/01, printed 1603 ff.; German, tragedy)

Classicism and Enlightenment

  • D. Defoe: »Robinson Crusoe« (1719–20; German, novel)
  • Jane Austen: “Sense and sensibility” (1811; German among other things as “Verstand undfühl”, novel)


  • W. Wordsworth and S. T. Coleridge: “Lyrical ballads” (1798)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: “Frankenstein or, The modern Prometheus” (1818; German, “Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus”, novel)

Victorian literature

  • C. Dickens: “Oliver Twist” (1838; German, novel)
  • Emily Brontë: »Wuthering heights« (1847; German »Die Sturmhöhe«, novel)
  • L. Carroll: “Alice’s adventures in wonderland” (1865; German “Alice in Wonderland”, children’s / youth book)
  • O. Wilde: “The importance of being earnest” (1893; German “Ernst sein!”, Also under the title “Bunbury”, comedy)
  • A. C. Doyle: “The hound of the Baskervilles” (1902; German “Der Hund von Baskerville”, novel)


  • T. S. Eliot: “The waste land” (1922; German “Das wüsten Land”, cycle of poems)
  • J. Joyce: »Ulysses« (1922; German, novel)
  • Agatha Christie: “The murder of Roger Ackroyd” (1926; German “Alibi”, novel)
  • Virginia Woolf: “A room of one’s own” (1929; German “A room for oneself”, essay)

Literature after 1945 and postmodernism

  • G. Orwell: “1984” (1949; German, novel)
  • S. Beckett: “Waiting for Godot” (1952; first in French as “En attendant Godot”; German “Waiting for Godot”, drama)
  • J. R. R. Tolkien: “The lord of the rings” (1954/55; German “The Lord of the Rings”, novel trilogy)
  • Muriel Spark: “The prime of Miss Jean Brodie” (1961; German “The teacher”, also under the title “The heyday of Miss Jean Brodie”, novel)
  • S. Heaney: “The haw lantern” (1987; German “Die Hagehuttenlaterne”, collection of poetry)
  • A. S. Byatt: »Possession« (1990; German »possessed«, novel)
  • Joanne K. Rowling: “Harry Potter and the philosopher’s stone” (1997; German “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone”, children’s / youth book)

The literature of the epoch fluctuated between unrealistic introspection and dealing with contemporary reality. In poetry, the tendency to move into romantic (exotic, medieval) dream worlds was particularly great and continued into the poetry of the fin de siècle; on the other hand, authors repeatedly took up current topics, either directly or indirectly, in their poetry. B. A. Tennyson the theory of evolution in “In memoriam” (1850; German 1854), M. Arnold the loss of metaphysical certainties in “Dover Beach” (1867) or E. Browning a multitude of current social problems in “Aurora Leigh” (1857); German 1865).

Another way to escape subjectivism was the dramatic monologue, which R. Browning made use of and which became one of the most popular forms of Victorian literature. Otherwise, Victorian poetry responded to the increasing complexity of social development by taking up a large number of topics and developing a wide variety of forms – from religious poetry (including C. Rossetti , GM Hopkins ) to large forms such as poetry cycles (e.g. E. Browning, “Sonnets from the Portuguese”, 1850; German, inter alia, “Sonnets nach dem Portugiesischen”, 1908, translated by RM Rilke ), verses (e.g. C. Patmore , “The angel in the house”, 1854-61) or epics (e.g. A. Tennyson, “Idylls of the king”, 1859-85; German “Königsidyllen”) to the political (e.g. B. T. Hood , “The song of the shirt”, 1843 German “Das Lied vom Hemde” 1849, translated by F. Freiligrath ), erotic (e.g. DG Rossetti , A. Swinburne ) and nonsense lyrics (L.. Carroll , E. Lear ) and music hall songs.

The actual place where the problems of the contemporary world were dealt with, however, was the novel, which rose to become the dominant genre in the 19th century and primarily addressed the field of tension between the individual and society. So tried z. B. the so-called “Condition of England” novels of the first half of the century to a realistic, documentary representation of the contemporary urban-capitalist industrial society and its effects on the life especially of the industrial proletariat and the common people, so inter alia. E. Gaskell , “Mary Barton” (1848; German 1849-50), C. Dickens , “Hard Times” (1854; German “Harte Zeiten”, 1854) and B. Disraeli , »Sybil« (1845; German 1846); the great social novels, however, examined aspects or parts of the Victorian world; B. G. Eliot the life of a provincial town in »Middlemarch« (1871–72; German 1872) or C. Dickens the judiciary in »Bleak house« (1852–53; German 1852–53), and observed the diverse interactions between individuals and their social environment.

According to sourcemakeup.com, historical novels (WM Thackeray , C. Dickens, G. Eliot) detoured the gaze to one’s own present through a detour via the more recent or more distant past; utopias and dystopias (W. Morris , S. Butler ) viewed them from the perspective of one future world. At the center of the important Victorian development novels were individuals (often women) and their various difficulties on the way to finding their own identity under the conditions of contemporary society, so inter alia. C. Dickens, ” David Copperfield ” (1850; German 1849) and “Great expectations” (1860–61; German “Großehaben”, 1861) or C. Brontë , ” Jane Eyre ” (1847; German 1850).

Otherwise, the Victorian era produced an immense number of novels that took up every imaginable subject, seriously or for entertainment purposes; however, new genres such as detective novels (W. Collins ; AC Doyle , Sherlock Holmes stories),science fiction (H. G. Wells , “The time machine”, 1895; German “Die Zeitmaschine”, 1914) or children’s literature (L Carroll, “Alice’s adventures in wonderland”, 1865; German “Alice’s adventures in wonderland”, 1869).

The drama had developed in two directions as a result of the Censorship Act of 1737: traditional spoken theater was reserved for licensed London theaters; In addition, a variety of forms of play (melodrama, farce, extravaganza, English “pantomime”, horse shows) developed which, with spectacular effects, served the entertainment needs of a petty-bourgeois, proletarian, urban mass audience, circumventing the law. Melodramas also liked to take up current social problems, but took away their virulence by transferring them to a morally unambiguous romantic dream world. A serious socially critical drama emerged, under the impression of H. Ibsen , only towards the end of the century with the works of AW Pinero (“The second Mrs. Tanqueray”, 1893; German “The second woman”, 1894?), Henry Arthur Jones (* 1851, † 1929) (“Mrs. Dane’s defense”, 1900) and above all the numerous problem pieces GB Shaws such as B. “Widower’s houses” (1885; German “Heuchler”, 1907, “Die Häuser des Herr Sartorius”, 1911) or “Mrs. Warren’s profession ”(1893; German“ Frau Warren’s trade ”, 1906), while at the same time in O. Wilde’s comedies all ethical or social problems were dissolved in linguistic brilliance – a gesture of protest against the appropriation of literature by society’s claims. At the same time, in the course of the ” Irish Renaissance “in Ireland, WB Yeats , Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory and JM Synge supported the national theater movement (1904 founding of the ” Abbey Theater ” in Dublin) a renewal of the poetic drama.

English Literature 7