English Literature, from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer

English Literature, from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer

English Literature, from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer

English Literature, from the Norman Conquest to Chaucer

Excerpt

This is the first of two volumes concerning the literary history of England from the Norman Conquest to the time of Elizabeth. It covers particularly the period down to the birth of Chaucer, but deals also with such later productions (romances, tales, legends, and the like) as are written in early mediæval styles. In treating the vernacular literature of this period I have adopted an arrangement which differs from any hitherto followed in a history of Middle English literature, though it is not uncommon in histories of contemporaneous works in Old French--that, namely, of bringing all writings of one kind together and tracing separately the evolution of each type. This method I decided upon, as Chaucer would say, "of ful avysement." After careful deliberateration, it seemed to me to be the one most perspicuous and illuminating, because of the peculiar characteristics of the literary productions of the epoch: as I shall point out again in the Introduction, these are in large part anonymous in composition, impersonal in expression, international in currency, and static in type--wherefore their relations to one another are of a more intimate and persistent character within specific classes than at any later period of European history. Naturally, the second . . .

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