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  1. The English literature of the Middle Ages. Chaucer. “The Canterbury Tales”.

Extending from 1066 to 1485, this period is noted for the extensive influence of French literature on native English forms and themes. By the 14th century, when English again became the chosen language of the ruling classes.

At the beginning of the Middle English Period in literature in writings they continued the old Anglo-Saxon tradition: they mostly wrote religious poems, tents, gospels, poems were written in alliterative form.

English literature of that period was greatly influenced by French literature. In French literature the main genre of the time was chivalry romance (рыцарские романы). These were poems, which mostly described the life of knights. We find a number of romance poems in England in English, however at the beginning of the development of this genre the poems were written mostly in French and in Latin (ballads), towards the end of the Middle English Period there appeared quite a number of them – even some cycles in English.

Another important work of the Late Middle Ages period was a prosaic work – a translation of the Bible, made by John Wiclif and his followers.

J. Chaucer (1340-1380) – a man of genius. He was an outstanding statesman, a man of great courage, wish, irony; he is of course also a writer of genius. He wrote several poems. The greatest of which is the famous poem, a real masterpiece – “The Canterbury tales” (probably after 1387). It is a long poem, which is written in iambic pentameter (пяти-строчный ямб). The language of the poem is quite modern. Originally he wanted to write 32 parts in it, but he managed to write only 24. In the prologue to the poem he describes a group of pilgrims who are on their way to Canterbury who were representative of most of the classes of medieval England. Since there were no cars, they travelled either on foot or on horse. And in order not to feel very dull on their way, they decided to tell stories of their life and other lives. This is an encyclopedia of the life of that time. These narratives range from The Knight's Tale to sometimes indelicate but remarkable tales of low life, and they concern a host of subjects: religious innocence, married chastity, villainous hypocrisy, female volubility—all illumined by great humor. With extraordinary artistry the stories are made to characterize their tellers.Chaucer described all the layers of society. Chaucer’s vocabulary is very rich and picturesque. He used words form different dialects. The situation in the country couldn’t but tell on the linguistic situation in the country, which was three-lingual at that time.

2. Thomas More The "dark" Middle Ages were followed by a time known in art and literature as the Renaissance. The word "renaissance" means "rebirth" in French and was used to denote a phase in the cultural development of Europe between the 14th and 17th centuries. Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance, was born in London in 1478. Thomas More wrote in English and in Latin. The humanists of all European countries communicated in the Latin language, and their best works were written in Latin. His style is simple, colloquial end has an unaffected ease. He came into great favor and made a rapid carrier as a statesmen, at the same time writing works of a political, philosophical and historical character.

The work by which he is best remembered today is "Utopia" which was written in Latin in the year 1516. It has now been translated into all European languages. "Utopia" (which in Greek means "nowhere") is the name of a non-existent island. This work is divided into two books. . Thomas More was the first writer in Europe formulate communist principals as a bases of society. In the first, the author gives a profound and truthful picture of the people"s sufferings and points out the socia1 evils existing, in England at the time. In the second book more presents his ideal of what the future society should be like. “The word "utopia" has become a byword and is used in Modern English to denote an unattainable ideal, usually in social and political matters. But the writer H.G. Wells, who wrote an introduction to the latest edition, said that the use of the word "utopia" was far from More"s essentia1 quality, whose mind abounded in sound, practical ideas. The book is in reality a very unimaginative work.” (Harry Levin, “The Myth of the Golden Age in the Renaissance.” 1969.)

Thomas More"s "Utopia" was the first literary work in which the ideas of Communism appeared. It was highly esteemed by all the humanists of Europe in More"s time and again grew very popular with the socialists of the 19th century. After More, a tendency began in literature to write fantastic novels on social reforms, and many such works appeared in various countries.

3. William Shakespeare is a well-known English poet and play-writer. He organized one of the famous theatres – Globe Theatre. Shakespeare’s Sonets and poem are very popular all over the world.

William Shakespeare was born on the 23rd of April 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon. Father of William Shakespeare, John Shakespeare, was a merchant. He sold leather gloves and was rather successful. He was even going to be become the Head of Stratford-upon-Avon. Shakespeare got his education at local grammar school. There he studied English, Latin, and Greek. Actors often came to Stratford-upon-Avon. S. often admired their performances. When William Shakespeare was 18, he married Ann Heathaway. He had three children: Susan and twins Judith and Hamlet. After some years Shakespeare had to go to London and leave his family. Somebody say that it is because once he killed the dear, which belonged to the judge, others that he decided to connect his life with theatre. When Shakespeare came to London, he connected his life with the theatre. At first he looked after the horses of rich man. Then he started to write plays. His place became popular and were performed in many theatres. By 1590 Shakespeare had become famous at the Berbedge’s theatre. When in 1599 open the Globe theatre Shakespeare became of its owners. When Jakov Stuart became the King of England, the Globe theatre became the “servant” of the King. However, S. did not want to, so in 1612 he returned to Stratford. There he died on the 23rd of April 1616 (on the date of his birthday 52 years later).

Shakespeare`s literary work is usually divided into three periods. The first period of his creative work falls between 1590 and 1600. Shakespeare`s comedies belong to the first period of his creative work. They all are written in his playful manner and in the brilliant poetry that conveys the spectator to Italy. Some of the first plays of the first period are: "Richard 3" (1592), "The comedy of errors" (1592), "Romeo and Juliet" (1594), "Julius Caesar" (1599), "As you like it" (1599), 1600 – "Twelfth night". Shakespeare`s poems are also attributed to the first period, "Venus and Adonis" and "Lucre", and 154 sonnets. "Venus and Adonis" was the first of Shakespeare`s works that came off the press. The second period of Shakespeare`s creative work during from 1600 to 1608. His famous tragedies appeared at this time. In the plays of this period the dramatist reaches his full maturity. He presents great humans problems. His tragedies and historical plays made Shakespeare the greatest humanist of the English Renaissance. Some plays of the second period: 1601 – "Hamlet", 1604 – "Othello" .Shakespeare`s plays of the third period are called the "Romantic dramas". There is no tragic tension in these plays. This period lasted from 1609 till 1612.

It is a usual and reasonable opinion that Shakespeare’s greatness is nowhere more visible than in the series of tragedies--Hamlet, Othello, King Lear (King Lear is widely held as the greatest of Shakespeare’s tragedies; to some, it is the greatest play ever written. King Lear abdicates the British throne, to divide his kingdom among his three daughters in proportion to their professed love of him. His plan misfires when Cordelia, his youngest and favourite daughter, refuses to flatter her father; she is disinherited and banished.  When his youngest and favorite daughter refuses to compete and perform her love for him, he is enraged and disowns her. She remains loyal to him, however, though he slides into madness and his other children betray him) and Macbeth. Julius Caesar, which was written before these, and Antony and Cleopatra and Coriolanus, which were written after, have many links with the four. But, because of their rather strict relationship with the historical materials, they are best dealt with in a group by themselves. Timon of Athens, probably written after the above-named seven plays, shows signs of having been unfinished or abandoned by Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous of his tragedies. Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's early tragedies. The two young title characters fall madly in love, but are the children of feuding houses whose hatred for each other works to a devastating end. The play was immensely popular in Shakespeare's lifetime and is the most enduring of his plays along with Hamlet. Romeo and Juliet is considered one of the archetypal love stories. It has its own splendors but has rarely been considered equal in achievement to the other tragedies of Shakespeare’s maturity.

4. Daniel Defoe, his life and work. “Robinson Crusoe”.

D. Defoe (1660—1731) was a great master of realistic detail. The novel "Robinson Crusoe" was written in 1719. The novel is praise to human labour and the triumph of man over nature.

Daniel Defoe was born in London in 1660, probably in September, third child and first son of James and Mary Defoe. He received a good education, as his father hoped he would become ministers, but Daniel wasnt interested. His family was Dissenters, Presbyterians to be precise, and those sects were being persecuted a bit at this time, so maybe Daniel had the right idea. He was always very tolerant of others religious ideas himself.

His mother died when he was ten, and his father sent him to a boarding school, after which he attended Morisons Academy, as he could not graduate from Oxford or Cambridge without taking an oath of loyalty to the Church of England. He was a very good student, and his teacher, the Reverend Mr. Norton himself, would later show up as a character in some of Daniels fiction. Daniel graduated in 1679, and by then hed pretty much decided against the ministry, though he wrote and spoke in favor of the Dissenters all his lives.

By 1683, Daniel was a successful young merchant, with a storefront in an upscale part of London and no real ideas of becoming a writer at all. On New Years Day, 1684, he married Mary Truffle, an heiress whose dowry amounted to Ј3,7004. Later that year, he joined the army of the rebel Duke of Monmouth, who was attempting to take the throne from James Us. When the rebellion failed, Daniel and many other troops were forced into semi-exile. He traveled around the continent for three years.

Daniel went bankrupt in 1692. He ended up owing over Ј17,000, and though he paid off all but Ј5,000 within ten years, he was never again free of debt. Though he still considered himself a merchant, first and foremost, writing suddenly became a more prominent part of his life. In 1701, he wrote a poem? Called the True-Born Englishman which became the best-selling poem ever at that time. It was so well-known that he signed several of his later works as The True-Born Englishman, and everyone knew exactly what that meant. Still, it was only a pamphlet. He also started taking on a few "unofficial" government jobs, most notably an assignment to Scotland. There was at that time a movement to finally unify England and Scotland, a movement which was misunderstood by the average Scotsman. So Daniel tried to explain things to them.

In 1706, he returned to Scotland and started up a newspaper in Edinburgh called the Post-Maniz, which of course tried to put the still-under-construction unification plans in the best possible light. But Daniel, in his eternal quest for truth, actually bothered to learn about Scotland and its people, a rather unusual thing for that time. He also set up a really impressive intelligence-gathering network. The Act of Union was made official on 1 May 1707, and Daniel was out of one job. But he still had his pamphlets to fall back on, so things were all right.

The history of Robinsons life on the island is a story about creative work of a man, about his courage, his will, creative searching. This is a hymn to labor the source of life. Thanks to his creative work Robinson Crusoe remained a man. This is most remarkable and educative significance of the novel. The novel joined the elements of biographical documentary and adventure novel. The theme of creative labor should be emphasized especially Labor helped Robinson to stay a man in inhuman conditions of his life many years lonely in an island.

Defoe shows the development of his hero. At the beginning of the story we see an inexperienced youth, a rather frivolous boy, who then becomes a strong-willed man.

Robinson Crusoe's most characteristic trait is his optimism. His guiding principle in life become "never say die" and "in trouble to be troubled is to have your troubles doubled". He had confidence in himself and in man. He believed it was within the power of man to overcome all difficulties. Crusoe was an enthusiastic worker and always hoped for the best.

Defoe is a writer of the Enlightenment. He teaches people how to live, he tries to teach what's good and what's bad. His novel "Robinson Crusoe" is not only a work of fiction, an account of adventures, a biography and an educational pamphlet. It is a study of man, a great work showing man in relation to nature and civilization as well as in relation to labour and private property.

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