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A History of English Literature.

 

The Britons And The Anglo-Saxons. To A.D. 1066:

The present English race has gradually shaped itself out of several distinct peoples which successively occupied or conquered the island of Great Britain. The earliest one of these peoples which need here be mentioned belonged to the Celtic family and was itself divided into two branches. The Goidels or Gaels were settled in the northern part of the island, which is now Scotland, and were the ancestors of the present Highland Scots. On English literature they exerted little or no influence until a late period. The Britons, from whom the present Welsh are descended, inhabited what is now England and Wales; and they were still further subdivided, like most barbarous peoples, into many tribes which were often at war with one another. Though the Britons were conquered and chiefly supplanted later on by the Anglo-Saxons, enough of them, as we shall see, were spared and intermarried with the victors to transmit something of their racial qualities to the English nation and literature.

THE ROMAN OCCUPATION:

Of the Roman conquest and occupation of Britain, (England and Wales) we need only make brief mention, since it produced virtually no effect on English literature. The fact should not be forgotten that for over three hundred years, from the first century A. D. to the beginning of the fifth, the island was a Roman province, with Latin as the language of the ruling class of Roman immigrants, who introduced Roman civilization and later on Christianity, to the Britons of the towns and plains. But the interest of the Romans in the island was centered on other things than writing, and the great bulk of the Britons themselves seem to have been only superficially affected by the Roman supremacy. At the end of the Roman rule, as at its beginning, they appear divided into mutually jealous tribes, still largely barbarous and primitive.

ANGLO-SAXON POETRY. THE NORTHUMBRIAN PERIOD:

The Anglo-Saxons were for a long time fully occupied with the work of conquest and settlement, and their first literature of any importance, aside from 'Beowulf,' appears at about the time when 'Beowulf' was being put into its present form, namely in the seventh century. This was in the Northern, Anglian, kingdom of Northumbria (Yorkshire and Southern Scotland), which, as we have already said, had then won the political supremacy, and whose monasteries and capital city, York, thanks to the Irish missionaries, had become the chief centers of learning and culture in Western Christian Europe. Still pagan in spirit are certain obscure but, ingenious and skillfully developed riddles in verse, representatives of one form of popular literature only less early than the ballads and charms. There remain also a few pagan lyric poems, which are all not only somber like 'Beowulf' but distinctly elegiac, that is pensively melancholy. They deal with the hard and tragic things in life, the terrible power of ocean and storm, or the inexorableness and dreariness of death, banishment, and the separation of friends. In their frequent tender notes of pathos there may be some influence from the Celtic spirit. The greater part of the literature of the period, however, was Christian, produced in the monasteries or under their influence. The first Christian writer was Caedmon (pronounced Kadmon), who toward the end of the seventh century paraphrased in Anglo-Saxon verse some portions of the Bible. The legend of his divine call is famous.

THE ANGLO-SAXON VERSE-FORM:

The poetic form of 'Beowulf' is that of virtually all Anglo-Saxon poetry down to the tenth century, or indeed to the end, a form which is roughly represented in the present book in a passage of imitative translation two pages below. The verse is unrimed, not arranged in stanzas, and with lines more commonly end-stopped (with distinct pauses at the ends) than is true in good modern poetry. Each line is divided into halves and each half contains two stressed syllables, generally long in quantity. The number of unstressed syllables appears to a modern eye or ear irregular and actually is very unequal, but they are really combined with the stressed ones into 'feet' in accordance with certain definite principles. At least one of the stressed syllables in each half-line must be in alliteration with one in the other half-line; and most often the alliteration includes both stressed syllables in the first halfline and the first stressed syllable in the second, occasionally all four stressed syllables. (All vowels are held to alliterate with each other.) It will be seen therefore that (1) emphatic stress and (2) alliteration are the basal principles of the system. To a present-day reader the verse sounds crude, the more so because of the harshly consonantal character of the Anglo-Saxon language; and in comparison with modern poetry it is undoubtedly unmelodious. But it was worked out on conscious artistic principles, carefully followed; and when chanted, as it was meant to be, to the harp it possessed much power and even beauty of a vigorous sort, to which the pictorial and metaphorical wealth of the Anglo-Saxon poetic vocabulary largely contributed.

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Thomas Gray

 

 

Thomas Gray 1716-71, English poet. He was educated at Eton and Peterhouse, Cambridge. In 1739 he began a grand tour of the Continent with HoraceWalpole . They quarreled in Italy, and Gray returned to England in 1741. He continued his studies at Cambridge, and he remained there for most of his life, living in seclusion, studying Greek, and writing. In 1768 he was made professor of history and modern languages, but he did no real teaching. Although he was reconciled with Walpole, and formed other close relationships in his lifetime, his shy and sensitive disposition was ill adapted to the robust century in which he lived. He was offered the laureateship in 1757 but refused it. His first important poems, written in 1742, include "To Spring," "On a Distant Prospect of Eton College," and a sonnet on the death of his close friend Richard West. After years of revision he finished his great "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" (1751), a meditative poem presenting thoughts conjured up by the sight of a rural graveyard; it is perhaps the most quoted poem in English. In 1757, Walpole published Gray's Pindaric odes, "The Progress of Poesy" and "The Bard." Gray's verse illustrates the evolution of English poetry in the 18th cent.—from the classicism of the 1742 poems to the romantic tendencies of "The Fatal Sisters" and "The Descent of Odin" (1768). He did not write a large amount of poetry. Much of his verse is tinged with melancholy, and even more of it reflects his extensive learning. His letters, which contain much humor, are among the finest in the English language.

Bibliography: See his collected works, ed. by E. Gosse (4 vol., rev. ed. 1902-6; repr. 1968); his correspondence, ed. by P. Toynbee and L. Whibley (1935, repr. 1971); selected letters, ed. by J. W. Krutch (1952); biographies by R. W. Ketton-Cremer (1955), M. Golden (1964), W. P. Jones (1937, repr. 1965); study by A. L. Sells (1980); A. T. McKenzie, Thomas Gray: A Reference Guide (1982).

 

 

 Translation into Portuguese

Thomas Gray 1716-1771, poeta Inglês. Foi educado em Eton e Peterhouse, Cambridge.Em 1739 ele iniciou uma grande turnê pelo continente com Horace Walpole. Eles brigaram na Itália, e Gray voltou para a Inglaterra em 1741. Ele continuou seus estudos em Cambridge, e permanecido lá pela maior parte da sua vida, vivendo em reclusão, estudando grego, por escrito. Em 1768 ele se tornou professor de história e línguas modernas, mas ele não atuou no ensino. Embora ele tenha reconciliado com Walpole, e outras relações fechadas formadas na sua vida, sua timidez e sensíbilidade, foi mal adaptado ao robusto século em que viveu. Ele foi oferecido o Laureado, (que ou aquele que obteve um premio, que se laureou), em 1757, mas recusou. Seus primeiros poemas importantes, escrito em 1742, incluem "A Primavera", "Em uma perspectiva distante de Eton College," e um soneto sobre a morte de seu amigo Richard West. Depois de anos de revisão terminou o seu grande "elegia escrita em um Churchyard Country" (1751), um poema meditativo apresentando pensamentos evocado pela visão de um cemitério rural, é talvez o poema mais citado em Inglês. Em 1757, Walpole publicou Gray's Pindaric odes, "O Progresso da Poesia" e "The Bard". Verso Gray's ilustra a evolução da poesia Inglês na 18 cent. A partir do classicismo de 1742 poemas para as tendências românticas de "The Sisters Fatal" e "The Descent of Odin" (1768). Ele não escreveu uma grande quantidade de poesia. Muita da sua poesia é marcada pela melancolia, e até mesmo mais do que reflecte a sua aprendizagem extensiva. Suas cartas, que contêm muito humor, estão entre os melhores no idioma Inglês.

Bibliografia:

ver suas obras, ed. Por E. Gosse (4 vol., rev. ed. 1902-6; repr. 1968), sua correspondência, ed. Toynbee por P. e L. Whibley (1935 repr. 1971); cartas selecionadas, ed. Por JW Krutch (1952); biografias por RW Ketton-Cremer (1955), Golden M. (1964), WP Jones (1937, repr. 1965), estudo realizado pela AL Sells (1980); AT McKenzie, Thomas Gray: Uma Referência Guide (1982).

 

 

 

 

 

                                              Jacob's Ladder/   William Blake

                                              A Escada de Jacob/ William Blake

William Blake:

 

William Blake was born on November 28, 1757 in London, the third of five children. His father James was a hosier, and could only afford to give William enough schooling to learn the basics of reading and writing, though for a short time he was able to attend a drawing school run by Henry Par.

William worked in his father's shop until his talent for drawing became so obvious that he was apprenticed to engraver James Basire at age 14. He finished his apprenticeship at age 21, and set out to make his living as an engraver.

Blake married Catherine Boucher at age 25, and she worked with him on most of his artistic creations. Together they published a book of Blake's poems and drawings called Songs of Innocence.

Blake engraved the words and pictures on copper plates (a method he claimed he received in a dream), and Catherine coloured the plates and bound the books. Songs of Innocence sold slowly during Blake's lifetime, indeed Blake struggled close to poverty for much of his life.

More successful was a series of copperplate engravings Blake did to illustrate the Book of Job for a new edition of the Old Testament.

Blake did not have a head for business, and he turned down publisher's requests to focus on his own subjects. In his choice of subject Blake was often guided by his gentle, mystical views of Christianity. Songs of Experience (1794) was followed by Milton (1804-1808), and Jerusalem (1804-1820).

In 1800 Blake gained a patron in William Hayley, who commissioned him to illustrate his Life of Cowper, and to create busts of famous poets for his house in Felpham, Suurey.

While at Felpham, Blake was involved in a bizarre episode which could have proven disastrous; he was accused by a drunken soldier of cursing the king, and on this testimony he was brought to trial for treason. The cae against Blake proved flimsy, and he was cleared of the charges.

Blake poured his whole being into his work. The lack of public recognition sent him into a severe depression which lasted from 1810-1817, and even his close friends thought him insane.

Unlike painters like Gainsborough, Blake worked on a small scale; most of his engravings are little more than inches in height, yet the detailed rendering is superb and exact. Blake's work received far more public acclaim after his death, and an excerpt from his poem Milton was set to music, becoming a sort of unofficial Christian anthem of English nationalism in the 20th century.

William Blake died on August 12, 1827, and is buried in an unmarked grave at Bunhill Fields, London.

Edgar Allan Poe  (1809-1849),  the father of the modern mystery, was born in Boston on January 19, 1809.

 

 

 

He was educated in Virginia and England as a child. It was during his later years at West Point that he showed a remarkable propensity for writing prose. As early as the age of 15, he wrote these words in memory of a female acquaintance, "The requiem for the loveliest dead that ever died so young."

Indeed, Edgar Allan Poe's first love was poetry, although he was unable to make a living at it early on, he was able to publish two small volumes during these early years.

Only after becoming an assistant editor at the Southern Literary Messenger in Richmond, Virginia, in 1835 did Poe's literary talents start to blossom. It was at this time in his life that Poe fell in love with his 13-year-old cousin Virginia. Their marriage forced him to find a source of income. When the editor of the Messenger offered employment, Poe eagerly accepted.

During his tenure at the Messenger, Edgar Allan Poe was an editor as well as a contributor. In early 1836, Poe was credited with "between 80 and 90 reviews, six poems, four essays and three stories, not to mention editorials and commentaries." (Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance)

Poe was to work for several publications as both editor and contributor. His career as an editor coincided with his growth as a writer. While working in Philadelphia for Burton's "Gentleman's Magazine" in 1839, Poe's work continued to flourish. At this time in his career he still was not secure financially, but his work was being recognized and praised, which helped greatly in furthering his reputation. During his tenure at Burton's he wrote such macabre tales as "The Fall of the House of Usher," and William Wilson. Tales like these psychological thrillers were to become Poe's trademark.

In 1841, Edgar Allan Poe began working for a man named George Graham, who offered him $800 a year to work for him as an editor. While at Graham's, Poe was preparing his famous work, "The Murders in the Rue Morgue," for publication.

Published in April 1841, this story featured Auguste C. Dupin, the first-ever fictional detective. Poe's "tale of rationation," as he termed it, "inaugurated one of the most popular and entertaining forms of fiction ever conceived." (Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance)

It was during these years in Philadelphia that Poe published such trademark horror tales as "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Pit and The Pendulum."

It wasn't until the 1845 publication of Poe's famous poem "The Raven" that he achieved the true rise to fame that had been denied him until then. The public's reaction to the poem brought Poe to a new level of recognition and "could be compared to that of some uproariously successful hit song today."

In February 1847, Poe's young wife died of consumption. Poe was devastated by her death and penned these words, "Deep in earth my love is lying and I must weep alone."

During the years following Virginia's death, Poe's life was taking a steady turn downward. He suffered through a suicide attempt, several failed romances and engagements, and a largely unsuccessful attempt to resurrect his failing career after a long bout with alcoholism and depression.

Poe died at the age of 40 in October 1849 in Baltimore. Although the exact circumstances of his death remain unknown, it seems clear that his death can be attributed to the effects of alcoholism. A contemporary of Poe's at the time remarked, "This death was almost a suicide, a suicide prepared for a long time." (Edgar A. Poe: Mournful and Never-Ending Remembrance)

Although he lived a short and tragic life, Edgar Allan Poe remains today one of the most-beloved mystery writers in history. His contributions to literature and the mystery genre cannot be underestimated.

 

 

 


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