Anglo-Norman Period in English Literature | Anglo-Norman Period pdf notes | History of English Literature


Anglo-Norman Period in English Literature | Anglo-Norman Period in English Literature notes | Anglo-Norman Period | Anglo-Norman Literature notes pdf | Anglo-Norman Period notes | History of English Literature

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#Lecture No. 02

Topic: Anglo-Norman Period in English Literature

English Literature and Linguistics notes

Anglo-Norman Period in English Literature

After the Norman conquest of England in 1066, the written form of the Anglo-Saxon language became less common. Under the influence of the new aristocracy, French became the standard language of courts, parliament, and polite society. As the invaders integrated, their language and literature mingled with that of the natives, and the Norman dialects of the ruling classes became Anglo-Norman. From then until the 12th century, Anglo-Saxon underwent a gradual transition into Middle English. Political power was no longer in English hands, so the West Saxon literary language had no more influence than any other dialect, and Middle English literature was written in the many dialects that corresponded to the region, history, culture, and background of individual writers.

Related topic: Anglo-Saxon Period in English Literature

At the end of the 12th century, Layamon in Brut adapted the Norman-French of Wace to produce the first English-language work to present the legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. It was also the first history written in English since the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Related topic: The Renaissance Period

Middle English Bible translations, notably Wycliffe's Bible, helped to establish English as a literary language. Wycliffe's Bible is the name now given to a group of Bible translations into Middle English that were made under the direction of, or at the instigation of, John Wycliffe. They appeared between about 1382 and 1395. These Bible translations were the chief inspiration and cause of the Lollard movement, a pre-Reformation movement that rejected many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Related topic: The Fall of Constantinople

14th century that majors writers:

Another literary genre, that of romances, appears in English from the 13th century, with King Horn and Havelock the Dane, based on Anglo-Norman originals such as the Romance of Horn (c. 1170), but it was in the 14th century that major writers in English first appeared. These were William Langland, Geoffrey Chaucer, and the so-called Pearl Poet, whose most famous work is Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Langland's Piers Plowman (written c. 1360–87) or Visio Willelmi de Petro Plowman (William's Vision of Piers Plowman) is a Middle English allegorical narrative poem, written in unrhymed alliterative verse.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance. It is one of the better-known Arthurian stories of an established type known as the "beheading game". Developing from Welsh, Irish, and English traditions, Sir Gawain highlights the importance of honour and chivalry. Preserved in the same manuscript with Sir Gawayne were three other poems, now generally accepted as the work of the same author, including an intricate elegiac poem, Pearl. The English dialect of these poems from the Midlands is markedly different from that of London-based Chaucer, and though influenced by French in the scenes at court in Sir Gawain, there are also in the poems many dialect words, often of Scandinavian origin, that belonged to northwest England.

Related topic: Elizabethan Age and its Characteristics

Middle English lasted until the 1470s, when the Chancery Standard, a London-based form of English, became widespread and the printing press started to standardize the language. Chaucer is best known today for the Canterbury Tales. This is a collection of stories written in Middle English (mostly in verse, although some are in prose) that are presented as part of a story-telling contest by a group of pilgrims as they travel together from Southwark to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket at Canterbury Cathedral. Chaucer is a significant figure in the development of the legitimacy of the vernacular, Middle English, at a time when the dominant literary languages in England were still French and Latin.

Related topic: Elizabethan Drama Authors Introduction and their works

At this time, literature in England was being written in various languages, including Latin, Norman-French, and English. The multilingual nature of the audience for literature in the 14th century is illustrated by the example of John Gower (c. 1330–1408). A contemporary of William Langland and a personal friend of Chaucer, Gower is remembered primarily for three major works: the Mirroir de l'Omme, Vox Clamantis, and Confessio Amantis, three long poems written in Anglo-Norman, Latin, and Middle English, respectively, that are united by common moral and political themes.

Related topic: Elizabethan Poetry

Historical events:

🠞Beginning of Hundred years’ War
Between England and France
🠞Black Death (1348-1349)
The War of the Roses took place in 

          🠞Peasants’ Revolt (1381)

                                          Related topic:  Elizabethan Prose writers 

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