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From Chaucer to Tennyson   By: (1847-1926)

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Juliet Sutherland, Sjaani and PG Distributed Proofreaders

Chautauqua Reading Circle Literature

FROM

CHAUCER TO TENNYSON

WITH TWENTY NINE PORTRAITS

AND

SELECTIONS FROM THIRTY AUTHORS.

BY

HENRY A. BEERS

Professor of English Literature in Yale University .

[Illustration]

PREFACE.

In so brief a history of so rich a literature, the problem is how to get room enough to give, not an adequate impression that is impossible but any impression at all of the subject. To do this I have crowded out every thing but belles lettres . Books in philosophy, history, science, etc., however important in the history of English thought, receive the merest incidental mention, or even no mention at all. Again, I have omitted the literature of the Anglo Saxon period, which is written in a language nearly as hard for a modern Englishman to read as German is, or Dutch. C├Ždmon and Cynewulf are no more a part of English literature than Vergil and Horace are of Italian. I have also left out the vernacular literature of the Scotch before the time of Burns. Up to the date of the union Scotland was a separate kingdom, and its literature had a development independent of the English, though parallel with it.

In dividing the history into periods, I have followed, with some modifications, the divisions made by Mr. Stopford Brooke in his excellent little Primer of English Literature . A short reading course is appended to each chapter.

HENRY A. BEERS.

CONTENTS.

CHAPTER I. FROM THE CONQUEST TO CHAUCER, 1066 1400

CHAPTER II. FROM CHAUCER TO SPENSER, 1400 1599

CHAPTER III. THE AGE OF SHAKSPERE, 1564 1616

CHAPTER IV. THE AGE OF MILTON, 1608 1674

CHAPTER V. FROM THE RESTORATION TO THE DEATH OF POPE, 1660 1744

CHAPTER VI. FROM THE DEATH OF POPE TO THE FRENCH REVOLUTION, 1744 1789

CHAPTER VII. FROM THE FRENCH REVOLUTION TO THE DEATH OF SCOTT, 1789 1832

CHAPTER VIII. FROM THE DEATH OF SCOTT TO THE PRESENT TIME, 1832 1893

APPENDIX

LIST OF PORTRAITS.

WILLIAM SHAKSPERE

GEOFFREY CHAUCER, EDMUND SPENSER, FRANCIS BACON, JOHN MILTON

JOHN DRYDEN, JOSEPH ADDISON, ALEXANDER POPE, JONATHAN SWIFT

SAMUEL JOHNSON, OLIVER GOLDSMITH, WILLIAM COWPER, ROBERT BURNS

WILLIAM WORDSWORTH, GEORGE GORDON BYRON, PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY, JOHN KEATS

ROBERT SOUTHEY, SIR WALTER SCOTT, SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE, THOMAS BABINGTON MACAULAY

THOMAS CARLYLE, JOHN RUSKIN, WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY, CHARLES DICKENS

GEORGE ELIOT (MARY ANN EVANS), JAMES ANTHONY FROUDE, ROBERT BROWNING, ALFRED TENNYSON

The required books of the C.L.S.C. are recommended by a Council of six. It must, however, be understood that recommendation does not involve an approval by the Council, or by any member of it, of every principle or doctrine contained in the book recommended.

CHAPTER I.

FROM THE CONQUEST TO CHAUCER.

1066 1400.

The Norman conquest of England, in the 11th century, made a break in the natural growth of the English language and literature. The Old English or Anglo Saxon had been a purely Germanic speech, with a complicated grammar and a full set of inflections. For three hundred years following the battle of Hastings this native tongue was driven from the king's court and the courts of law, from Parliament, school, and university. During all this time there were two languages spoken in England. Norman French was the birth tongue of the upper classes and English of the lower. When the latter got the better of the struggle, and became, about the middle of the 14th century, the national speech of all England, it was no longer the English of King Alfred. It was a new language, a grammarless tongue, almost wholly stripped of its inflections. It had lost half of its old words, and had filled their places with French equivalents. The Norman lawyers had introduced legal terms; the ladies and courtiers words of dress and courtesy. The knight had imported the vocabulary of war and of the chase. The master builders of the Norman castles and cathedrals contributed technical expressions proper to the architect and the mason... Continue reading book >>




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