Èíîñòðàííûå ÿçûêè

Ïðåäñòàâèòåëè Ðåíåññàíñà (Representatives of the renaissance and thair contribution to the literature)



The Renaissance………………………………………………………….4

Thomas More…………………………………………………………….5

The works of Thomas More……………………………………………...6


Second period of the Renaissance………………………………………..8

Edmund Spenser………………………………………………………….9

The “Fairy Queen”……………………………………………………….11

The development of the drama. The theatres and actors…………………12


Used literature…………………………………………………………….16


      I have heard about the Renaissance not so long ago: last year  when  I
was in 10`th form, but do not think that I  never  knew  about  this  period
earlier. Of course I knew but  I  just  did  not  know  how  is  it  called.
Actually I always had a great interest to unusual  and  pleasantly  sounding
words. So when  I  have  heard  the  word  “renaissance”  my  attention  was
immediately attracted by it. My firs association to this word was  something
magnificent, brilliant and rustling like a woman`s dress of  18`th  century.
Soon I have known that the Renaissance is the period of  English  literature
and art. From that time my wish to know about its place in art was  becoming
stronger and more strongly. I wanted to  know  more  about  this  period  in
English art: when did it start, who were the representatives of this  period
and what did they write, what did they think about. It is  not  all  what  I
wanted to know about but I can not tell you  all  questions  because  I  had
plenty of them.
      Now  I  know  more  about  this  period  of  English  literature   but
nevertheless I still have not calmed down. I have many questions till  today
and I want to clear up this  business.  So  let`s  investigate  this  period
together and find out some new facts…

                               The Renaissance

      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.
      The wave of progress reached the shores of England only  in  the  16th
century. The ideas of the Renaissance came  to  England  together  with  the
ideas of the Reformation (the establishment  of  the  national  Church)  and
were called the “New  Learning”.  Every  year  numbers  of  new  books  were
brought out, and these books were sold openly, but  few  people  could  read
and enjoy them. The universities were lacking  in  teachers  to  spread  the
ideas of modern thought. So, many English scholars began  to  go  to  Italy,
where they learned to understand the ancient classics, and  when  they  came
home they adapted their classical learning to  the  needs  of  the  country.
Grammar schools (primary schools) increased in  number.  The  new  point  of
view passed from the schools to the home and to the market place.
      Many of the  learned  men  in  Italy  came  from  the  great  city  of
Constantinople.  It was besieged and taken by Turks in 1453. All  the  great
libraries and schools in Constantinople had been broken  up  and  destroyed.
The Latin and Greek scholars were driven out of the  city,  glad  to  escape
with their lives and with such books as they could  carry  away  with  them.
Being learned men, many of them found a welcome in the cities and  towns  in
which they stopped.  They began to teach the people how to  read  the  Latin
and Greek books which they had brought with them and  also  taught  them  to
read the Latin and Greek books which were kept in many towns of Europe,  but
which few people at that time were able to read.
      Foreign scholars and artists began to  teach  in  England  during  the
reign of Henry VIII.   In  painting  and  music  the  first  period  of  the
Renaissance was one  of  imitation.   Painting  was  represented  by  German
artist Holbein, and music by Italians and Frenchmen.   With  literature  the
case was different.  The English poets and dramatists  popularized  much  of
the new learning.  The freedom of thought   of  English  humanists  revealed
itself in antifeudal and even  antibourgeois  ideas,  showing  the  life  of
their own people as it really was.  Such a writer was  the  humanist  Thomas

                                 Thomas More

      Thomas More, the first English humanist of the Renaissance,  was  born
in Milk Street, London on February 7, 1478, son Sir John More,  a  prominent
judge.  Educated at Oxford, he could write a most beautiful  Latin.  It  was
not the Latin of the Church but the original  classical  Latin.   At  Oxford
More met a foreign humanist, and made friends with  him.   Erasmus  believed
in the common sense of a  man  and  taught  that  men  ought  to  think  for
themselves, and not merely to  believe  things  to  be  true  because  their
fathers, or the priest had said they were true.  Later,  Thomas  More  wrote
many letters to Erasmus and received many letters from him.
      Thomas More began life as a lawyer.  During the reign of Henry VII  he
became a member of Parliament.  He was an active-minded man and kept a  keen
eye on the events of his  time.   The  rich  landowners  at  the  time  were
concentrating on  sheep-raising  because  it  was  very  profitable.   Small
holders were not allowed to till the soil and were driven off  their  lands.
The  commons  (public  ground)  were  enclosed  and  fields  converted  into
pastures.  The mass of the agricultural population were doomed  to  poverty.
Thomas More set to work to find the reason of this evil.  He was  the  first
great writer on social and political subjects in England.
      Fourteen years after Henry VIII came to  the  throne,  More  was  made
Speaker of the House  of  Commons.   The  Tudor  monarchy  was  an  absolute
monarchy, and Parliament had very little power to resist  the  king.   There
was, however, one matter on which Parliament was very determined.  That  was
the right to vote or to refuse to vote for the money.  Once  when  the  King
wanted money and asked Parliament to  vote  him  800.000,  the  members  sat
silent.  Twice the King’s messengers called, and twice  they  had  to  leave
without an answer.  When Parliament was called together again,  Thomas  More
spoke up and urged that the request be refused. After a  long  discussion  a
sum less then half the amount requested by the King was voted, and that  sum
was to be spread over a period of four years.
      Thomas More was an earnest Catholic, but  he  was  not  liked  by  the
priests and the Pope on account of his writings and  the  ideas  he  taught.
After Henry VIII quarrelled with the Pope he  gathered  around  himself  all
the enemies of the Pope, and so  in  1529  More  was  made  Lord  Chancellor
(highest judge to the House of Lords). He had not wanted  the  post  because
he was as much against the king’s  absolute  power  in  England  as  he  was
against the Pope. More soon fell a victim to the King’s  anger.  He  refused
to swear that he would obey Henry as the head of  the  English  Church,  and
was thrown into the Tower on April  17.  Parliament,  to  please  the  King,
declared More guilty of treason, and he was beheaded in the  Tower  on  July
6, 1535.

                          The Works of Thomas More

      Thomas More wrote in English  and  in  Latin.  The  humanists  of  al1
European countries communicated in the Latin language, and their best  works
were written in Latin. The English writings of Thomas More include:
 . Discussions and political subjects.
 . Biographies.
 . Poetry.
      His style is simple, colloquial end has an unaffected ease.  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.
      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.
      “Utopia” describes a perfect social system built on communist


First book

           While on business in Flanders, the author makes the  acquaintance
of a certain Raphael Hythloday, a sailor who has travelled with  the  famous
explorer Amerigo Vespucci. He has much to tell  about  his  voyages,  Thomas
More, Raphael Hythloday and  a  cardinal  meet  together  in  a  garden  and
discuss many problems. Raphael has been to England  too  and  expresses  his
surprise at  the  cruelty  of  English  laws  and  at  the  poverty  of  the
population. Then they talk about crime in general, and Raphael says:
      “There is another cause of stealing which  I  suppose  is  proper  and
peculiar to you Englishmen alone.”
      “What is that?” asked the Cardinal.
      “Oh, my lord,” said Raphael, “your sheep that used to be so  meek  and
tame and so small eaters, have now become so great  devourers  and  so  wild
that they eat up and swallow down the very men themselves. The peasants  are
driven out of their land. Away they go finding no  place  to  rest  in.  And
when all is spent, what can they do but steal and then be hanged?”

Second Book

      The disastrous state of things in England puts  Raphael  Hythloday  in
mind of a commonwealth (a republic) he has seen on an unknown island  in  an
unknown sea. A description of “Utopia” follows, and Raphael speaks  “of  all
the good laws and orders of this same island.”
      There is no private property in Utopia. The people own  everything  in
common  and  enjoy  complete  economic  equality.  Everyone  cares  for  his
neighbour’s good, and each has a clean and healthy house to live in.  Labour
is the most essential feature of life in Utopia, but no one  is  overworked.
Everybody is engaged in usefu1 work nine  hours  a  day.  After  work,  they
indulge in sport and games and spend much time in  “improving  their  minds”
(learning)-All teaching is free, and the parents do  not  have  to  pay  any
schoo1 fees. (More wrote about things unknown in any country at  that  time,
though they are natural with us in our days.)
      For magistrates the Utopians choose men whom they think to be most fit
to protect the welfare of the population. When  electing  their  government,
the people give their voices secretly. There are few laws and no lawyers  at
all, but these few laws must be strictly obeyed.
      “Virtue,” says Thomas More, “lives according to Nature.” The  greatest
of all pleasures is perfect health. Man must be healthy and wise.
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



      The most significant period of the Renaissance in England falls to the
reign of Queen Elizabeth. England’s success in commerce  brought  prosperity
to the nation and gave a chance to many persons of talent to  develop  their
abilities. Explorers, men of letters, philosophers, poets and famous  actors
and dramatists appeared in rapid succession. The great men of the  so-called
“Elizabethan Era” distinguished  themselves  by  their  activities  in  many
fields and displayed an insatiable thirst for  knowledge.  They  were  often
called “the Elizabethans”, but of course the Queen had no hand in  assisting
them when they began literary work; the poets and dramatists had to push  on
through great difficulties before they became well known.
      Towards the middle of the 16th  century  common  people  were  already
striving for knowledge and the sons of many common citizens managed  to  get
an education. The universities began to breed many learned men  who  refused
to become  churchmen  and  wrote  for  the  stage.  These  were  called  the
“University Wits”, because under the influence of their classical  education
they wrote after Greek and Latin models. Among the  “University  Wits”  were
Christopher Marlowe, Thomas  Sackville,  John  Lyly,  George  Peele,  Robert
Greene, Thomas Kyd and Thomas Nash;  Christopher  Marlowe   being  the  most
distinguished of them. The new method of teaching  classical  literature  at
the universities was to perform Roman plays in Latin,  Later  the  graduates
translated these plays into English and then they wrote plays of their own.
      Some wrote plays for the court, others for the  public  theatres.  But
the plays were not  mere  imitations.  Ancient  literature  had  taught  the
playwrights to seek new forms and to bring in  new  progressive  ideas.  The
new  drama  represented  real  characters  and  real  human  problems  which
satisfied the demands of the  common  people  and  they  expected  ever  new
plays. Under such favourable circumstances there was a sudden  rise  of  the
drama. The great plays were written in verse.
      The  second  period  of  the  Renaissance  was  characterised  by  the
splendour of its poetry.
      Lyrical poetry also became wide-spread in  England.  The  country  was
called a nest of singing birds.  Lyrical  poetry  was  very  emotional.  The
poets introduced blank verse and the Italian sonnet. The sonnet  is  a  poem
consisting of fourteen lines. The lines are divided  into  two  groups:  the
first group of eight lines (the octave), and the second group of  six  lines
(the sestet). The foremost poet of the time was Edmund Spenser. He wrote  in
a new, English, form: the nine-line stanza.

                               EDMUND SPENSER


      Edmund Spenser was  born  in  London  in  1552.   Though  his  parents
descended from a noble House, the family was poor. His  father  was  a  free
journeyman for a merchant’s company. When  Edmund came  of  age  he  entered
the University of Cambridge as a “sizar” (a student who paid  less  for  his
education than others and had to wait on (to serve) the  wealthier  students
at mealtimes).
      Spenser was learned in Hebrew, Greek, Latin and French. His generation
was one of the first to study also their mother tongue seriously.  While  at
college, he acted in the tragedies of the ancient masters and this  inspired
him to write poetry.
      Spenser began his literary work at the age of seventeen. Once a fellow-
student introduced him to the famous Sir Philip Sidney, who  encouraged  him
to write (Sidney was the author of an allegorical romance  in  prose  called
“Arcadia” that had become very popular as light  reading  among  the  court-
ladies of Queen Elizabeth). At the age of  twenty-three,  Spenser  took  his
M.A. (Master of Arts) degree.
      Before returning to London he lived for a while in the  wilderness  of
Lancashire where he fell in love with a “fair widow’s  daughter”.  His  love
was not returned but  he  clung  to  this  early  passion;  she  became  the
Rosalind of his poem the “Shepherd s Calendar”. Spenser’s disappointment  in
love drove him southward - he accepted the invitation of Sir  Philip  Sidney
to visit him at his  estate.  There  he  finished  writing  his  “Shepherd’s
Calendar”. The poem was written in 12 eclogues. “Eclogue” is  a  Greek  word
meaning a poem about ideal shepherd life. Each eclogue is dedicated  to  one
of the months of the year, the whole making up a sort of calendar.
      The publication of this work made Spenser the first poet of  his  day.
His poetry was so musical and colorful that he was called the poet-painter.
      Philip Sidney introduced the poet to  the  illustrious  courtier,  the
Earl of Leicester, who, in his turn,  brought  him  to  the  notice  of  the
Queen. Spenser was given royal favour and appointed as secretary to the  new
Lord-lieutenant of Ireland. Thus he had to leave England for good.
      The suppression  of  Ireland  provoked  many  rebellions  against  the
English. English military governors were sent confiscate the  lands  of  the
rebels and to put English people on them. Spenser was sent to such  a  place
near Cork. He felt an exile in the,  lonely  castle  of  Kilcolman,  yet  he
could not help admiring the, changeful beauty of the place.
      The castle stood by a deep lake into which flowed a river (the Mulla).
Soft woodlands stretched  towards  mountain  ranges  in  the  distance.  The
beauty of his surroundings inspired Spenser to write  his  great  epic  poem
the “Faerie Queen” (“Fairy Queen”), in which Queen Elizabeth is idealized.
      Sir Walter Raleigh who was captain of the Queen’s guard, came to visit
Spenser at Kilcolman. He was greatly delighted with the  poem,  and  Spenser
decided to publish the first three parts. Raleigh and  Spenser  returned  to
England together. At court  Spenser  presented  his  “simple  song”  to  the
Queen. It was published in 1591. The success of  the  poem  was  great.  The
Queen rewarded him with a pension of 50 pounds, but  his  position  remained
unchanged. Poetry was regarded as a noble pastime but not a profession;  and
Edmund Spenser had to go back to Ireland.
      The end of his life was sorrowful. When the next rebellion broke  out,
the insurgents attacked  the  castle  so  suddenly  and  so  furiously  that
Spenser and his wife and  children  had  to  flee  for  their  lives.  Their
youngest child was burnt to death  in  the  blazing  ruins  of  the  castle.
Ruined and heart-broken Spenser went to England  and  there  he  died  in  a
London tavern three months later, in 1599.


      The poem is an allegory representing each court  of  Queen  Elizabeth.
The whole is an interweaving of Greek myths and English legends.
      Spenser planned to divide his epic poem  into  twelve  books.  The  12
books were to tell of the warfare of 12 knights. But only six books  of  the
“Fairy Queen” were finished. The first two books are the best and  the  most
interesting. The allegory is not so clear in the rest.
           Prince Arthur is the hero of  the  poem.  In  a  vision  he  sees
Gloriana, the Fairy Queen. She is so beautiful that he falls  in  love  with
her. Armed by Merlin he sets out to seek her in Fairy Land. She is  supposed
to hold her annual 12-day  feast  during  which  12  adventures  are  to  be
achieved by 12 knights. Each knight represents a certain  virtue:  Holiness,
Temperance,  Friendship,  Justice,  Courtesy,  Constancy,  etc.,  which  are
opposed to Falsehood, Hypocrisy and others in the form of  witches,  wizards
and monsters.
      Spenser imitated antique verse. One of the features  of  those  verses
was the use of “Y” before the past participle, as “Yclad” instead of  “clad”
(“dressed”).  He was the first to use the nine-line stanza.  In  this  verse
each line but the last has 10 syllables, the last  line  has  12  syllables.
The rhymed lines are arranged in the following way: a b a b b c b c c.

      A gentle knight was pricking on the plain,

     Yclad in mighty arms and silver shield,                          b
        Wherein old dints of deep wounds did remain,               a
      The cruel marks of many a bloody field;                        b
     Yet arms till that time did he never wield;                      b
      His angry steed did chide his foamy bit,                        c
      As much disdaining to the curb to yield;                        b
     Full jolly knight he seemed, and fair did sit,                    c
       As one for knightly jousts and fierce encounters fit.        c

                        THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DRAMA

                           THE THEATRES AND ACTORS

First Period

      The development of the drama in England was in close  connection  with
the appearance and development of the theatre.  Since  ancient  times  there
existed in Europe two stages upon which dramatic art  developed.  The  chief
place of performance was the church, and second to it was the  market  place
where clowns played their tricks.
      The church exhibited Bible-stories, called “Mysteries”; they also  had
“Miracles” which were about supernatural events  in  the  lives  of  saints.
Both, the miracles and mysteries were directed by the clergy  and  acted  by
boys of the choir on great holidays. It has become a  tradition  since  then
to have men-actors for heroines on the English stage.

                                Second Period

      Early in the 15th century characters represented human qualities, such
as Mercy, Sin, Justice and Truth, began to be introduced  into  the  miracle
plays. The plays were  called  “Moral  plays”  or  “Moralities”.  They  were
concerned with man’s behaviour in this life. The devil figured in every  ply
and he was the character always able to make the audience laugh.  Moralities
were acted in town halls too.

                                Third Period

      It was about the time of King Henry VIII, when the  Protestants  drove
theatricals out of the church, that acting became a distinct  profession  in
England. Now the actors performed in inncourt yards,  which  were  admirably
suited to dramatic performances consisting as  they  did  of  a  large  open
court surrounded by two galleries. A platform projected into the  middle  of
the yard with dressing rooms at the back, There was planty of standing  room
around the stage, and people came running in crowds as soon  as  they  heard
the trumpets announcing the beginning of a play. To make  the  audience  pay
for its entertainment, the actors  took  advantage  of  the  most  thrilling
moment of the plot: this was the proper time to send the  hat  round  for  a
      The plays gradually changed; moralities now gave way  to  plays  where
historical and actual characters  appeared.  The  popular  clowns  from  the
market-place never disappeared from the stage. They would shove  in  between
the parts of a play and talk the crowds into anything.
      The regular drama from its very beginning was divided into comedy  and
tragedy. Many companies of players had their own dramatists who were  actors
      As  plays  became  more  complicated,  special  playhouses  came  into
existence. The first regular playhouse in London was built in what had  been
the Black friars Monastery where miracle plays  had  been  performed  before
the Reformation. It was built by James Burbage and was called “The  Theatre”
(a Greek word never  used  in  England  before).  Later,  “The  Rose”,  “The
Curtain”, “The Swan” and many other playhouses  appeared.  These  playhouses
did not belong to any company of players. Actors travelled  from  one  place
to another and hired a building for their performances.

                    The actors and their station in life

      During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the laws  against  the  poor  were
very cruel. Peasants who had lost their lands and went from town to town  in
search of work were put into prison as tramps. Actors were often accused  of
being tramps, so trave1ling became impossible.   The  companies  of  players
had to find themselves a patron among the  nobility  and  with  the  aid  of
obtain  rights  to  travel  and  to  perform.   Thus  some  players   called
themselves  “The   Earl   of   Leicester’s   Servants”,   others-“The   Lord
Chamberlain’s Men”, and in 1583 the Queen appointed certain  actors  “Grooms
of the Chamber” All  their  plays  were  censored  lest  there  be  anything
against the Church or the government.
      But the worst enemies of the actors were the Puritans. They  formed  a
religious sect in England which wanted to purity  the  English  Church  from
some forms that the Church retained of roman Catholicism.  The  ideology  of
the Puritans was the ideology of the smaller bourgeoisie who  wished  for  a
“cheaper church” and who hoped they would become rich  one  day  by  careful
living. They led a modest and sober life. These principles, though moral  at
first sight, resulted in a furious attack upon the stage. The  companies  of
players were actually locked out of the City because they thought  acting  a
menace to public morality.
      The big merchants attacked the drama  because  players  and  playgoers
caused them a lot of trouble: the profits on beer  went  to  proprietors  of
the inns and not to the merchants; all sorts of people came  to  town,  such
as gamblers and thieves, during the hot months of the year  the  plague  was
also  spread  strolling  actors.  Often  apprentices  who  were  very   much
exploited by the merchants used to  gather  at  plays  for  the  purpose  of
picking fights with their masters.
      Towards the end of the 16th century we find most of the playhouses far
from the city proper.


      So this is the end of my investigation of the Renaissance.  Of  course
this is not full information about this period of art and I do not  deny  it
— it is too sated with different kind of events and detailes  that  we  will
never remember. Do not forget that the word “renaissance” means “rebirth”  —
the appearance of something new and unordinary.
      The period of the Renaissance has marked by itself the  birth  of  new
directions of art and thoughts. For the first  time  we  can  see  here  the
birth of the real ideas of communism that were declared by Thomas More.  For
the first time we can watch the appearance of  fantastic  novels  on  social
      Great changes were in theatre too. The most  important  fact  is  that
theatres became not only city sightings but and the sightings  of  provinces
that made art accessible almost for everyone.
      So I think that we have known many new and interesting facts from this
period, all important things were said. I hope that  you,  my  reader,  have
read this work with pleasure and without boredom.

                               Used literature

“The World literature” – encyclopedia

“The collection of Spenser`s works”

“Oxford ecyclopedia”


                                 Gymnasium 2

                         THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE

                    Student: Stepanov Michael Leonidovich

                   Teacher: Zolotukhina Lyudmila Alexevna

                                Voronezh 2002

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