Introduction About Classic And Modern English Literature
English literature is a collection of all the literary works that have been written in English language. These are composed of novels, stories, poems, nonfiction works as well as plays. It has been produced in England and has got its roots from introduction of Old English by Anglo Saxons in the 5th century and continues till present. The work written by Irish and Scottish authors also bears identification with British life. Thus, they are also considered to be a part of English literature. It is as diverse as the varieties as well as the dialects of the English language spoken in the world that have been colonized by the British. There have been a variety of authors in English literature but the works of William Shakespeare hold a paramount position throughout the English speaking population of the world (
The essay focuses on various forms of writing that have been identified by scholars as classical and modern literature. There would be insight about the respective periods as well works done by various authors. It would provide answers to questions like, what kinds of literary works are included as classics and modern works. What were the major styles and tendencies of writing in both the styles?
The term classic is applied to literature of the ancient world of Greece and Rome. It is any such work that has acted as a marrow to human lure and credence. It provides for a thought provoking conversation with authors of English literature. Classic literature expresses an artistic quality related to expressions of life, truth and beauty. The Standard English assignment has always stood for the test of time. It is usually considered to be a representation of the period in which it was written and the works possesses a lasting recognition whose effect can be felt even in present times. In other words, a book that was written in the recent past is not considered to be classic. In this regard, the classic works like Gulliver's Travels written by Jonathan Swift always had a universal appeal. They have been regarded as great works that touch to the very core as the themes are integrated from a variety of backgrounds as well as experiences.
Other works of classic literature like, Emma written by Jane Austin, Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy have always managed to make a connection with writers and great works of English literature. The mentioned works written by prominent literary authors are considered to be timeless and have found a power to relate to the reader of any generation. They possess their own realm and acted as a major foundation to all works belonging to today’s modern era. For example, well known classic of English literature, Jane Eyre has been widely accepted in present times. It also enjoys proper recognition even today. Moreover, the reader finds themselves getting connected to the main character. Though the book has been criticized by many critics still it enjoys a well renounced, famous and prestigious person among the literary circles of English literature (James 5). The challenge with respect to reading classics is that they bring the readers into a horizon more importantly it can be called as a fusion of Horizons. They are not just a text of the past. The requirement in today’s times is to breathe life into these works.
On the other hand, the modern English literature is considered to have begun for the 1900 up till present. It is inclusive of important works written by Yeats, Elliot, Hopkins, Joyce, Woolf, Huxley and Orwell amongst others. After the end of world wars, theses works focused less on politics and more towards social causes and aesthetics. Geoffery Chaucher is considered as a father of modern English literature. He has played a key role in the creation of Vernacular literature. His novel, the Canterbury Tales has been ranked as one of the great epics in the world of English literature (Upham 293).
The modern literature in English has been marked by breaks from traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. They gave place to high levels of experimentation and individualism (Pyre and Dickinson 525). These aspects were heavily discouraged in past works of English literature. The modern literature has given a chance to poets for using the fullest of their imagination. They have stretched the possibilities that were not possible in earlier times. In this regard, works done by Thomas Stearns Eliot is worth mentioning. His poems have been entirely based on modern styles although they bear the blue prints of 17th century metaphysical poets. The Love-song of J. Alfred Prufrock has a seamless style that moves from a very high and formal verse into more conversational and easy styling.
Novelists like, Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, their works have tried to achieve turning of the mind’s eye and have attempted to record working of consciousness. Heming way has adopted an approach to abandon all ornamental and flowery language that was considered as a prominent part of classics. His novels are very blunt and use simple sentences and emotions that are easy to associate with. They also have a tendency to play out right on the surface of things. The works of another author, James Joyce’s Ulysses are worth describing. The chain of events occurring in the novel is felted as if they are happening in the mind. The goal of this author has been to translate the strange pathways of human consciousness (Twying 482).The authors in modern English literature have not focused on looking into outer world. Rather, they have surveyed the inner space of human mind.
It is clear that modern English literature continues to astonish the minds of readers in various unknown ways. This can be via fiction, horror, romance, love, satire or humor. They have changed the manner in which people thought about authors, novelist and poets. They have also managed to bring a change in the manner as to how people perceive truth and reality. The changes have created profound impacts and are not easy to be replaced by new schemas (Upham 293).
Thus, it can be concluded that English literature is a treasure trove that is required to be unearthed. By understanding the modern and classical forms of English literature, it will give a chance to the literature enthusiasts to mull over the legacy of the language. Classic English literature has its origins from ancient Greek and Roman societies and is all about balance and order. Here there has been a requirement to stick at a given set of notions without losing the sense of language. Reading of classics has always been a thought provoking step. There has also been an increased ability to have an insight about personal responses.
On the other hand, modern English literature expresses a complete blend of imagination and powerful emotions. They have managed to bring profound changes in the way readers had a perception about reality via their works. However, both of the forms still have an influence on the present literary works done by others. For example, Yeats has managed to use the conventional forms of lyrics in his literature works. The writer has made it possible to explore the connection present between modern times as well as classical and romantic ideas. Both continue to lure the readers but in a different manner. However, in the modern times the classics have been found to be more difficult to read. But, they still have a capacity to open up the minds of people from a world, which is very different as compared to the present. Both the forms of literature possess the capacity to open different times in front of us (Pyre and Dickinson 525). Both the types of English literature have focused on the fact that no change may take place in human nature but rules of literature are likely to evolve. Moreover, there is also a presence of link between classic and modern forms of literature. Classics have been regarded as a crucial part of modern English writing. The archetypes have established links that have acted as a major foundation of modern literature that is studied in the present times. In this sense, there is a requirement to compare the themes of modern literature to classical literature as it is the truest indication of the human experience.
- James, Stuart. “English Literature and Literature in English: Repackaged and Anthologised by Oxford University Press”. New Library World.
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- Pyre, J. F., and Dickinson Thomas. Students' Handbook of the Facts of English Literature 1910. Kessinger Publishing, 2003.
- Twying, James. Forms of English History in Literature, Landscape, and Architecture. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
- Upham Alfred. The Typical Forms of English Literature; An Introduction to the Historical and Critical Study of Eng. BiblioLife, 2003.