· What can we learn from English literature?
· Why aren’t early English literary works easy to read even for native speakers?
· What should be present in all good literature?
· What can we see from the course of development of English literature?
Literature came into existence shortly after the creation of civilization and writing systems. Every culture has produced classic works that have stood the test of time. Whether this be the Bible produced by the Ancient Hebrews, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Greece’s Homer, or the plays of England’s Shakespeare, dubbed the bard, literature tells something about a people and it culture.
English Literature, like all other forms of literature, helps a person understand the cultures that produced it and how the language itself has developed over time. Few English speaking people today would understand or recognize the Old English of Beowulf. Modern speakers would have difficulty understanding the original text of Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, and even Shakespeare’s plays have needed modern language editions. Later authors, such as Charles Dickens and Arthur Conan Doyle, can be read by modern speakers without the need for such interpretations, but even know the language seems quaint.
It should be said that good literature has a moral. Many good works of literature criticize prevailing social mores and such authors make an attempt to point out what the feel people should be doing in their texts. This does not mean that the reader has to agree with the author’s point, but that a moral should be present in all good literature.
The course English literature has taken through the centuries allows us to see how the cultures and values of people have changed. The humorless people who first wrote down Beowulf and the Anglo-Saxon riddles are a far cry from the culture that produced bawdy tales of Chaucer and the many puns that occur in Shakespeare’s plays. Furthermore, by comparing the works of English authors to other English-speaking authors that other countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, show how their cultures diverged from the small island that many of their ancestors came from.
Whether we follow Beowulf’s life, fight for the ideal kingdom of King Arthur, thrill to the powers of logic employed by Sherlock Holmes, or are terrified by the dystopian futures of George Orwell and Aldous Huxley, we learn something about the people who lived during the times when these tales were written from reading their works. It may not be the same details that are most interesting to the archaeologist or historian, but they are the details that show us what people thought about how to live that was important enough to tell us through the written word.
Hebrews – иудей
Beowulf – «Беовульф», древний англосаксонский народно-героический эпос 7-8 в.
mores – нравы, обычаи
riddle - загадка
a far cry from – ничего похожего; большая разница
pun – игра слов, каламбур
diverge – расходиться, отклоняться
dystopian – безысходный, мрачный
· Every culture has works of everlasting value.
· With the course of time it becomes harder to appreciate old works of literature.
· Literature reflects spiritual features of the culture and the time.
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