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History of English Literature, Volume 1

Medieval and Renaissance Literature to 1625

Franco Marucci

History of English Literature is a comprehensive, eight-volume survey of English literature from the Middle Ages to the early twenty-first century. This reference work provides insightful and often revisionary readings of core texts in the English literary canon. Richly informative analyses are framed by the biographical, historical and intellectual context for each author.

Volume 1 begins by discussing Anglo-Saxon literature before focusing on the three major Middle English poets of the late fourteenth century: Gower, Langland and Chaucer. It then engages with the sixteenth-century prose romances of Sidney, the epic and lyrical poetry of Spenser, and Donne’s love and religious poems. Full coverage is devoted to the legendary fifty-year blossoming of the Elizabethan theatre (excluding Shakespeare, the object of Volume 2), from Kyd and Marlowe up to Jonson, Webster, Middleton, Ford and Shirley. The final part addresses the sixteenth-century prose works of Lyly, Greene and Nashe, homiletics by Hooker and others, and Elizabethan travel literature and historiography.

CONTENTS: The Formation of a National Literature - Placing Old English literature in the canon - English history to 1066 - Bede - Old English poetry - Beowulf - The Middle English Period - English history from 1066 to 1485 - Genres and «matters» - The Arthurian romances: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Wace, Layamon - Ricardian literature - The influence of the Roman de la Rose - Pearl and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight - Gower - Langland - Chaucer - The English Chaucerians: Hoccleve, Lydgate, Hawes - Barclay - Skelton - Fifteenth-century Scottish literature - The Scottish Chaucerians: Douglas, Henryson, Dunbar – Lyndsay - Popular ballads and lyrics - Medieval drama - Fifteenth-century prose - The Paston Letters - Caxton - Malory - The Sixteenth Century - England under the Tudors - The English Reformation - English humanism and the Renaissance - More - Conduct books - The Miscellanies - Wyatt – Surrey - The Mirror for Magistrates - Gascoigne - Other minor poets - Elizabethan Catholic poets - Sidney - Greville - Spenser - Ralegh, Wotton - Thomas Campion - Drayton – Daniel - Other sonneteers and pastoral poets - Davies and Davies of Hereford - Hall – Donne - Puttenham - The Elizabethan Theatre - Tudor masques and interludes - Elizabethan drama: An overview - The incunabula - Udall - Bale - Gorboduc - Cambyses - Arden of Feversham - Kyd - Peele - Marlowe - Marston - Chapman - Jonson - Tourneur - Webster - Dekker - Middleton - Beaumont and Fletcher - Massinger - Ford - Thomas Heywood - Shirley -The Beginnings of Narrative Prose - The first eclectic writers – Lyly - Lodge - Greene - Nashe - Deloney - The Marprelate Tracts - Hooker - Travel literature and historical compilations.