An Introduction to English Medieval Literature

An Introduction to English Medieval Literature

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An Introduction to English Medieval Literature

An Introduction to English Medieval Literature

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Excerpt

The recent abundance of reprints and translations marks a second approach toward the recovery of the middle age. While the previous generation of historians was dispelling the legendary darkness of this dark age, the critics turned the connotation of Gothic from pity to praise. Pity for the middle age became so antiquated that enthusiasts ventured even to demand worship instead. What remained for our time was more exact appreciation through an increasing availability of medieval literature. To the widely interesting body of literature now at hand in English I have tried here to furnish a students' guide. This book is not for scholars. They are provided already. What seemed to be lacking was such a brief manual as should open the main literary significances to students not specially trained. Therefore, though the discussion necessarily includes works written in Latin and Old French, and relies, of course, on foreign as well as English scholarship, the citations and the suggestions for further study are generally limited to works accessible in English. What I have thus tried to provide is, not a substitute for close study, but an introduction.

Meantime even a general survey of English medieval literature corrects perspective. The larger literary interests and habits of the time, even when some of them are discerned through translations, open the way for truer appreciation of later interests. For the comprehension of later, more complex forms also, the best preparation is study of the earlier and simpler forms. To this end I have made . . .

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