Littérature anglaise ( cours intégral en anglais)
I – FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO THE ELIZABETHAN ERA
I-1 – THE MIDDLE AGES
Beowulf is supposedly the oldest literary work in the English-speaking world. It is an anonymous work of which only a manuscript remains. It is an epic, a long narrative poem celebrating the great deeds of the hero in a ceremonious style. It was written between the 8th and 11th centuries in Old English. The story is set in Scandinavia, in the Anglo-Saxon world. The eponymous hero travels great distances to prove his strength killing monsters and a dragon, rewarded by his lord. It is a description of Germanic warrior society, which may well have been meant to illustrate Christian values too. Stylistically speaking, Old English poetry was based on alliteration – not on rhyme – and kennings, which are poetic descriptions of everyday words (sea = swan-road, lord = ring-giver). Beowulf was a great influence on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. EXTRACT.
Another landmark in mediaeval literature is Geoffrey Chaucer, who died in 1400. He was the most highly regarded English poet of the time. His Canterbury Tales are a collection of stories about fictional characters who tell a tale each as they go on a pilgrimage. The style is realistic and he wrote in popular English more than Latin or French. He used accentual-syllabic verse, which means that both stressed and unstressed syllables are counted: this has been the literary tradition in English poetry ever since. The different possible arrangements of stressed and unstressed syllables define as many types of metre, or patterns of measured sound-units recurring more or less regularly in lines of verse. AUDIO EXTRACT.
I-1 – SHAKESPEARE AND THE ELIZABETHAN ERA
The Elizabethan era was dominated by Shakespeare (1564-1616), nicknamed the Bard, or the Swan of Avon because he was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon. Began a career in London as an actor, writer and owner of theatre companies (the Lord Chamberlain’s