Historical Literature

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Date Submitted: 11/19/2012 02:35 AM

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History of literature in English

Possible exam questions:

1) Which traditions influence ‘The Dream of the Rood’

* Culture:

-Christian: the way of thinking, be compassioned, forgiveness, the after-life is very important, non materialism

-Germanic: the warrior code, braveness, vengeance, loyalty, honour, fight for your lord,…

very different from each other

* Literary tradition:

It’s an Anglo-Saxon poem with a dream-vision (=medieval stylistic) in it. The speaker of the poem is telling about his dream (=story in a story). In the dream, a cross/rood is telling his story (=anthropomorphism)

* Germanic influences:

-Kenning (=metaphoric) e.g. earth-house= a grave, voice-bear= a human


-half verses (linked through alliteration)

* Riddle-tradition

* Heroic tradition:

= about the warrior code

Christ is a heroic warrior

the cross sees himself as a failure, a failing warrior, he is very ashamed, he gets decorated

But: even though the cross thinks he’s a failure, he plays an important role in the story. Because he’s talking about Christ and he’s spreading the story.

* Elegiac tradition:

Elements of sadness and focus on death

The death of Christ

* Religious tradition:

It’s about a very important part of the life of Christ: His death

* Oral tradition:

The speaker is addressing to the audience: “Listen,…”

2) What was the importance of Alfred the Great on literature?

He encouraged the production of writing and translating of literature in English.

to unite his kingdoms and his people in the South


About the heroic deeds of a Gaetisch warrior prince named Beowulf

* eponymous here (=his name is title of the poem)

2 parts in his life described

-when he was young + old

Homework: Summary of Beowulf

1) Main figure= Beowulf Who is he? + What are his heroic deeds? + Part young and old

2) Young Beowulf: defeated Grendel + Grendel’s mother

He goes home and becomes king...