A Short History of English Literature – Ifor Evans

ENoLrsE literatlrre is often described as beginning with Chaucer. This wotrld give England six centuries oflitera. ture. Actually tlere were more than six centuries of Utdature before Chaucer w6 born. The lnodem reader caD make out the generat mtuing of a page of Chaucer without dimculty, but ifhe l@ks at our earliet literatue he 6nds that it reads like a foreign tongue. This is the leason for the neglect olour erly lituature, though today lluch of it can be obrained in translation. The two most importdt *ents in th€ history ofEng. land took plac€ before the Normn Conqu6t. It wa! itr that pdiod that the Argles and SaxoN and Jut€s cane to Dngland in naraudiDg bdds ud nade English history pcsible. Fron all accountr they were rerpectable gentle. men wh€n at home, but they changed their inanners when they were lookhg lor ,r,’nam.

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A Short History of English Literature – Ifor Evans

ENoLrsE literatlrre is often described as beginning with Chaucer. This wotrld give England six centuries oflitera. ture. Actually tlere were more than six centuries of Utdature before Chaucer w6 born. The lnodem reader caD make out the generat mtuing of a page of Chaucer without dimculty, but ifhe l@ks at our earliet literatue he 6nds that it reads like a foreign tongue. This is the leason for the neglect olour erly lituature, though today lluch of it can be obrained in translation. The two most importdt *ents in th€ history ofEng. land took plac€ before the Normn Conqu6t. It wa! itr that pdiod that the Argles and SaxoN and Jut€s cane to Dngland in naraudiDg bdds ud nade English history pcsible. Fron all accountr they were rerpectable gentle. men wh€n at home, but they changed their inanners when they were lookhg lor ,r,’nam. They were heatlen, and the second gr€at w€nt at that time is the eonvenion oftne  Erylislt to Christianity. ID 597 Augustine had come ftom Rome and begun to convert the Jutes in Kent, while about the sa.ine tirne monks from lreland were setting up monasteries in Nofihumbia. Most English poehy in the carly Anglo-Saxon period is associated with th€se two cvenb. Either the stories a.re brought ovd by the invadiDg tribes from their Continental Gmnic homes, or they lhow a kem interest in Bible ltorier, in Chdstianity dd in Chrbtian valud- Literature in the AnSlo-Saxon period was recorded in
maluscripts, and the life of a maDrMipt is a hard one.

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