Literary Characteristics of the English Renaissance

Literary Characteristics of the English Renaissance
  • Literature was being written under the influence of Greek Studies – Artists borrowed the Greek and Roman styles of sculpture and architecture. In Renaissance, People expanded their thinking by reading the rediscovered writers rather than what was dictated to them by Roman Church for its own benefit.
  • The University Wits: The university wits were a group of writers (playwrights, poets etc. – earliest professional, secular writers in London. Educated at universities of Oxford and Cambridge – literary elite who ridiculed others. Had a pride in the university training which amounted to arrogance. But also had really valuable ideas and literary methods. Each one of them contributed something to the evolution of the English Drama into the forms in which Shakespeare was to take it up. They followed the classical rules and “Breathed new life into classical models”, hence preparing the way for Shakespeare. Following are writers are known to be in this group:
  • Christopher Marlowe (Central figure. Wrote Dr. Faustus, story of a scholar who sells his soul to devil for worldly enjoyment and unlimited power.)
  • John lyly
  • George Peele
  • Thomas Lodge
  • Robert Greene
  • Thomas Nashe
  • Thomas Kyd
  • Rise of Essay and Prose: Vehicle for information and amusement. Became popular because of the Printing Press. Books on history, travel, adventures, and translations of Italian stories are in a huge amount. English language was being enriched by borrowing from ancient authors and people loved to used it.
  • Poetry: spirit of discovery, enthusiasm, and excitement. A shift from narrative to lyric poetry (observations and feelings of a single speaker). Popularization of the Sonnet form.
  • Famous Poets:
  • Sir Philip Sidney
  • Edmund Spenser
  • William Shakespeare
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