classic english literature

classic english literature

Exploring the Timeless Appeal of Classic English Literature

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1. Introduction to Classic English Literature

Yet assets of this kind, however fascinating they may be from another angle, are effectively accidental, derived from properties deeply rooted in a culture historically confined to an offshore island. They are only one half of the matter I am proposing to approach by musing generally on the timeless appeal of classic English literature and in two specific axes. These I propose to name ‘life’ and ‘landscape’ – the life of the mind or the human heart (which for a host of social, political, religious, and ideological reasons we have come to consider largely absorbed and subsumed under the life of politics) and the human delight in the relief of nature, which provides a dimension to human existence without thought, effort, or worldly concern.

Exploring the timeless appeal of classic English literature must involve some speculation about why so many people the world over respond so enthusiastically to it. After all, by now there are many other literatures in English, each with its own distinguishing features. In addition, as has occasionally been noted, the canon of classic English literature contains many works of striking strangeness whose reception may reasonably be thought to baffle persons not possessing, say, the double perspective commended by a specific kind of Christian art theory that makes it possible to appreciate the fabulous monsters in medieval English iconography or a deep philological knowledge that permits an understanding of the tonal qualities of a line in Sir Gawain and the Green Knight that cannot be captured in a modern translation.

2. Key Themes and Characteristics of Classic English Literature

Philology is the first element of classic English literature. Philology studies the time period, making, and changes of the languages. English literature, by nature, is one of the philological branches inside English. While other English philological disciplines deal with the study of the language, its changes, its usage, and its place and function in history, English literature deals with the literature in English. Classic English literatures reveal the traces of place and time. These literary elements are the times in which they are created, the emotions that created them, hopes, dreams, and judgments and by themselves. These elements of classic literatures promise a journey back in time.

Numerous books and articles have been written about English literature. Many scholars have carried out extensive studies on different aspects of it. Discussions have been conducted; definitions have been made, and a number of books have been included in every new definition. However, the basic elements of classic English literature can be found in almost all the studies. Most of the studies agree on a number of basic elements such as the philological characteristics of English literature, its place and function in history, narrative elements, poetry elements, fiction and nonfiction, themes, universal appeal, period and the parameters of English literature, significance and significance of English literature, the writing formats of authors, and the general classification of the literature.

3. Notable Authors and Works in Classic English Literature

Geoffrey Chaucer was a versatile writer. He composed The Canterbury Tales, a group of verse tales that brought together the diverse secular flavors of his times, in addition to the major poetic narrative, The Legend of Good Women; short consummately crafted lyrics; translations and adaptations of major Latin and French literary works, including the Roman de la Rose and Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy; and a complex, philosophical prose work, The Treatise on the Astrolobe, for his ten-year-old son, Lewis. His willingness to confront every aspect of existence—no matter how outrageous, cool, or passionate—disarmed the defenses of his readers, drawing them into the warm fold of reason and tolerance as they rode with the group of pilgrims on their way to the martyred St. Thomas à Becket’s shrine in Canterbury.

Notable authors and works in classic English literature. The literature produced in England is as rich and distinctive as the people and the land whose stories it has told. Originally a part of the oral tradition, folk and courtly literature began to be written down and disseminated in the form we recognize today during the High Middle Ages. By the end of the sixteenth century, the English were publishing original works of edgy humor, metaphoric beauty, and political intrigue that they could claim as homegrown. Genius welled up from the hearts and minds of a relatively few extraordinary authors such as Chaucer, Sir Thomas More, Sir Thomas Wyatt, William Tyndale, Sir Philip Sidney, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and, by the end of the sixteenth century, William Shakespeare.

4. Impact and Influence of Classic English Literature on Modern Writing and Culture

Classic English literature is regarded by many as outstanding in its ideas and its language. These books often have a lasting appeal, and authors such as Austen, Orwell, Joyce, and Dickens continue to be enjoyed by readers today. Many great modern writers, such as Naomi Wolf, Will Self, and Tariq Ali, have written new books about classic works. They argue that these novels may be fiction, but they still have important things to tell us about the world we live in. Classic works of fiction put forward serious ideas and suggest useful insights into society (then, and now) and into human behavior and relationships. Published reviews of these works often support this view. As Philip Collins recently wrote in the Time Literary Supplement: “In determining the political and moral context of human response to real conditions of life as it is lived, classics of literature are the repository of essential truth.”

Cultural heritage is often associated only with statues, traditions, language, and other values of national importance, while “small” nations with important achievements influence cultural heritage. One of such achievements of small nations is English literature, which can be considered as world literature. Writers such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Emily Bronte, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, Arthur Conan Doyle, J. R. R. Tolkien, James Joyce, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Robert Louis Stevenson, John Milton, Thomas Mallory, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and D. H. Lawrence have been recognized as having significant contributions to the establishment of universal values and influence.

5. The Relevance and Enduring Value of Classic English Literature in the 21st Century

Two of the most important and eternal truths in contemporary literature are surely love and war. Although the custom of war may often change, the fact of a state of war in one part of the world is almost chronic, leaving a terrible trail that is part of human nature. The plays and poems of the ages contain poems of love in nobility and tenderness, heartbreaking, ridiculous, and romantic expressions, from the autocratic majestic society of the Renaissance nobility to the confusion and vitality of today’s urban British life. In the midst of reality, literature without a shadow of scandal is able to provide an outlet and charm, a world that can be easily lost. However, in the dramatization of the beautiful, truthful sentiments and the noble disasters that have illuminated British drama, the reader, like the co-author, gains perspective and learns to better understand the human spirit in a very intimate way.

The key to understanding why classic English literature has endured, having persisted through centuries and more frequent changes in values and beliefs than in any other period, is the profound universal appeal of the subjects, themes, and characters. Most of the problems, subjects, society’s fears, social classes, and types of characters that were created and depicted in Elizabethan and Victorian England remain the same in our society. Maybe it is because they touch our very human nature that these aspects of literature are timeless and consistent. Men, as they are throughout life, are as full of love, dread, hatred, and quarrels, fear of life and imaginings, as when the first cave man left his record in the form of scratches on the walls of his cave in his fight for survival against his neighbor. Indeed, possibly the problems raised in these plays, some absurd and some tragic, have even greater significance today due to the profound international problems of today.

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