The oldest literature monument of the Anglo-Saxon period is old Germanic legend about Beowulf (from the 8th century). This heroic poem is about the strong hero Beowulf.
During the Middle Ages Roman Catholic church was strongly criticised by John Wyclef a professor of Oxford University. With his student he translated the whole Bilbe into English. He influenced Master John Huss and our Hussite movement very much. The end of the Middle Ages and the beginning of Renaissance in literature is marked by Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. It's a brilliant portrait of 30 pilgrims who travel to Canterbury and each tells 4 stories. In this way we are given a picture of the 14th century society.
In 1476 William Caxton introduced printing in England which helped spread literature and philosophy. The Middle ages philosophy was under theological influence, while the Renaissance philosophy turned to Plato and Aristotle philosophy and formed new philosophical learning - humanism. It went hand in hand with interests in education and social reforms.
Sir Thomas More wrote the Utopia, a vision of imaginary island with perfectly organized society.
The greatest personality of English renaissance is William Shakespeare. Between his master piece belong The comedy of errors, Henry VI or Romeo and Juliet. Now, I will talk about tragedy Romeo and Juliet. It is tragedy about love between two young people - Juliet Montec and Romeo Capulet. Their families live in Verona and they don't like together and so they don't grudge them. Julie likes Romeo in so far, that she pretences, that she makes suicide, but Romeo sees that and makes suicide real. It has bad end - it is tragedy. In 18th century, with the development of the society and economy, journalism, novels and drama developed very much. Literature became popular among the middle class and first authors were from these circles.
Jonathan Swift was sharp critic. He was a dean in Dublin. He wrote satirical pamphlets on all unfair events in British society, but his most popular work is Gulliver's Travels.
Daniel Defoe was a politician, traveler and journalist. His most famous work is Robinson Crusoe. Robinson, shipwrecked on island, represents the qualities which middle class needed in capitalist competition to be successful.
Henry Fielding was a journalist and lawyer. He wrote a realistic novel Tom Jones, History of a Foundling.
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