Otázka: Great British Novelists and Dramatists
I would like to talk about the English literature – mainly about its history – and of course about some great British novelists and dramatists.
The beginnings of the English literature can be traced to the 7th century AD. From this time remained mainly heroic epic poems, elegies, proverbs and riddles. Lyric and religious poetry developed as well during that period. One of the most famous pieces from this time is heroic poem called Beowulf written by an unknown author.
After the year of 1066 a French influence got on the British Isles. Knightly stories, court lyric poetry etc. started to get into the English literature. The most popular of these genres was the knightly novel inspired by the Celtic mythology (mostly legends about King Arthur). The peak of this period came with Geoffrey Chaucer – the author of The Cantenbury Tales – in the 14ft century.
Chaucer was one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages (14th century) and also politician. His works were really popular, because they tell stories of ordinary people he daily met. For example, he wrote books like the Book of the Duchess and The Canterbury Tales.
Canterbury Tales is a collection of short stories, which are told by people traveling to Canterbury. They are inspired by the Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio and most of them are written in verse. There are thirty men of different social status and character, who meet in the pub, where are all of them equal. The innkeeper suggests them to tell stories. Stories are written in many genres and include a lot of the popular topics like love, betrayal and friendship.
The Renaissance period
Later on in 16th century came the Renaissance period represented mainly by William Shakespeare. This era culminated during reign of Elizabeth I and it was a period of prosperity, successful sea voyages and cultural activities.
Career of William Shakespear began in the late 16th century, when he started writing comedies like A Midsummer night’s dream or As you like it. Later, he was writing historical tragedies and tragedies, including King Lear, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, that picked him up to the top. But he wasn’t only playwright, he was also a poet known for his sonnets about life, politics, love and beauty.
Romeo and Juliet is one of the Shakespeare’s famous tragedies. It is about two young lovers from Italian city Verona. Juliet is Capulet and Romeo is Montague and the problem is, that these two families are feuding. Nevertheless, they love each other so much, that they secretly married. But after the wedding, Juliet’s cousin Tybalt kills Romeo’s friend Mercutio, and because of it, Romeo kills Tybalt. Then Romeo must leave Verona. Juliet’s father tells her, that she must marry rich man Paris, so she is really desperate. She asks father Lorenc for help, and he gives her a bottle of poison, after which she will look like dead and Romeo will be able to take her out of the tomb. But Romeo thinks that she is really dead and he meets Paris in the tomb. Romeo kills him and then commits suicide. Right after that Juliet wakes up and seeing Romeo dead she commits suicide too.
The english revolution and reconstruction
After this era, came the period of the English revolution and reconstruction. It was in the 17th century and it was a time of wars and struggles and also of the beginning of the Civil war.
One of the most famous authors of the 17th century was John Milton – poet active in the Baroque period. He was also a defender of divorce and freedom of speech and press.
Milton was writing poems and the best known of them is Paradise lost. Paradise Lost consists of twelve books and it is a vast epic poem with spiritual and biblical topics. The story is from Genesis and it’s about the rebellion of angels, creation of the world and a fallen angel, who is transformed into a serpent and seduces Eve to the first sin. This poem is very famous and it was inspiration for a lot of other works
Other important writer is Daniel Defoe, best known for his novel Robinson Crusoe. This novel tells a story about a man who was forgotten on a desert island for 28 years. He meets with cannibals and save their prisoner, who later became his friend Pátek. In the end, he is saved when the crew of an English ship.
Then come the Victorian era. Popular forms were for example novels describing English society and huge industrial progress.
is one of the best known British writers, and one of the most appreciated novelist. His favorite theme was the tough life of orphans which appeared in novels Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Another famous book is for example A Christmas Carol – which is a story full of ghosts who change an old grumpy man to a generous and loving.
was an Irish writer, playwright and poet born in Dublin. Although he was married and had two sons, he had a relationship with a man and he was sentenced 2 years of hard labour.
His most famous piece is The Picture of Dorian Grey. It tells a story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful yet corrupt man. When he wishes that a perfect portrait of himself would bear the signs of ageing in his place, the picture becomes his hideous secret, as it follows Dorian’s own downward spiral into cruelty and depravity.
One of the famous pieces of this author is Animal Farm- story about farm animals who decide to revolt against their master. They create several rules, according to which every animal is supposed to behave, every animal is supposed to be equal, they all should help with developing and taking care of the farm. The animals are exposed to starvation, hard work, and bad treatment, while we watch the pigs becoming more and more powerful and human-like. In the end of the book, they cooperate with people again, and it is impossible to tell them apart.
This book is surprisingly accurate allegory of communistic dictatorship. He basically predicted every phase it would go through.
J. R. R. Tolkien
Was an English author very interested in history, fairytales and mostly mythology, which inspired him in his writing. He is famous because of his books about Hobits.
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
A wizard Gandalf the Grey talks the hobbit Bilbo Baggins into an adventurous journey to get back a dwarf treasure stolen by a dragon Smaug. During the journey, Bilbo finds a mysterious golden ring which used to belong to Gollum. He eventually finds his way out, after solving riddles which was posed by Gollum. The whole group escapes and continues without Gandalf. They finally approach the Lonely Mountain in which the treasure is hidden. Thanks to Bilbo, the dragon is killed, but a near city is badly damaged. The Dwarf refuses to share their treasure to help the people, and a war between people and elves on one side and dwarfs on the other begins. Suddenly, Gandalf appears to warn them about goblins, and they all have to unite to protect themselves. In the end, everyone is forgiven, and Bilbo, even though he takes just a bit from the treasure, returns to the Bag End as a very wealthy hobbit.