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Lecture 1 Introduction to the course


English Literature An Introduction

Seamus Heaney-----Mid-Term Break
?I sat all morning in the college sick bay
?Counting bells knelling classes to a close. ?At two o’clo

ck our neighbors drove me home. ?In the porch I met my father crying— ?He had always taken funerals in his stride—

?And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
?The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram

? When I came in, and I was embarrassed ? By old men standing up to shake my hand ? And tell me they were ―sorry for my trouble,‖

? Away at school, as my mother held my hand
? In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs. ? At ten o’clock Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest, ? the ambulance arrived ? With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

?Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
?And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him ?For the first time in six weeks. Paler now

?Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
?He lay in the four foot box as in his cot. ?No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. ?A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Questions
? What story does this poem tell? ? Who died in this poem? How old is he/she? ? What’s other people’s reaction towards his/her death? ? What impressed you most in this poem?

Why we read literature?
? a. read for pleasure ? b. reading for relaxation ? c. reading to acquire knowledge.

The Literature of Anglo-Saxon Period (449-1066)

The Anglo-Norman period (1066—1350)
? Norman Conquest of Anglo-Saxon England, under William, Duke of Normandy after the battle of Hastings in 1066, accelerated the development of feudalism in England. ? The middle ages: the dark age (449-16-th century)

William the Conqueror

The Song of Beowulf----England’s national epic
? ? 1) creation time: written in 10-th century 2) plot and theme: -- fight with Grendel -- fight with Grendel’s mother -- fight with fire dragon -- death and funeral

Alliteration (头韵)
“of men was the mildest and most beloved to his kin the kindest, keenest for praise.‖ the Repetition of the same sounds ––usually initial consonants of words or of stressed syllables—in any sequence of neighboring words.

Characteristics of “Beowulf”

? the mixture of pagan elements with Christian coloring. ? the frequent use of metaphors and understatements ? alliteration

Beowulf

? Oldest of the long poems in English ? Composed sometime between 8th and 12th centuries

Grendel

The Adventures of Beowulf

? Let us join Beowulf on his adventure from Geatland to Denmark and back home to Southern Sweden once again.

Beowulf

The Adventures of Beowulf

? Beowulf leaves his home to assist King Hrothgar in Denmark from the monster, Grendel and later Grendel's mother.

Grendel

The Adventures of Beowulf

? After once again returning home to Geatland, King Beowulf will fight his last battle with the Dragon.

Dragon

Literature of the Anglo-Norman Period (1066-1350)

? The literature is remarkable for its bright, romantic tales of love and adventure Romance.

Sir Gawain and The Green Knight

? The two main motifs in the story: a) the test of faith, courage and purity b) the human weakness for self-preservation.

Three major themes ? the matter of France: about Charlemagne and his peers/knights ? the matter of Greece and Rome: ? the matter of Britain: king Arthur and his Round Table knight

Study Questions:
– 1. How is the setting of the tales described? With such a setting, could you predict the general tone of the tales that are to follow? – 2. In your own words, summarize the character of the Knight from the brief introduction in this excerpt. – 3. Without comparison with the translated version, are there words still recognizable to you in the original Middle English version?


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