Elizabethan Prose Translation

Elizabethan Prose Translation

Elizabethan Prose Translation

Elizabethan Prose Translation

Excerpt

The history of English prose translation during the sixteenth century is closely associated with the growth of intellectual curiosity promoted by the coming of printed books, which led eventually to the establishing of new principles of learning and the abandonment of medieval philosophy. Between the introduction of printing in 1477 and the settling of a new order of English life some two centuries later, English intellectual outlook underwent a profound change. The period constitutes a bridge linking the frontiers of the medieval and the modern worlds, two main phases of development spanning the long interval between. The first, despite the renascence of learning, was a period of intellectual conservatism. The books disseminated by the new printing-presses, many of them works of translation, encouraged only a reaffirmation of faith in doctrines formulated by medieval philosophers. The second phase was a period of revolution and hesitant definition of new principles, which culminated in the founding of a philosophical order based upon the methods of empirical science. The whole groundwork of man's belief had been transferred from an old to a new authority, and the habits of his life and thought were altered in consequence.

The decisive break with the medieval tradition of thought occurred soon after the end of the sixteenth century, when the philosophy which had supported man's assumptions about himself and his place in the universal scheme of things was seen to be bankrupt. The forerunners of modern science became aware of a new, entirely practical means of acquiring and testing knowledge, which exposed the fallibility of the old system of thought. The publication of Bacon Advancement of Learning in 1605, the first philosophical work of any con-

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