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ENGLISH RENAISSANCE: UTOPIAN IDEAS AND REALITY

LECTURE 03

The miracle plays

2.4.3.The morality plays were allegorical dramas depicting the progress of a single character, representing the whole of mankind, from the cradle to the grave and sometimes beyond. The other dramatis personae might include God and the Devil but usually consisted of personified abstractions, such as the Vices and Virtues, Death, Penance, Mercy, and so forth. The single most impressive piece is undoubtedly Everyman, a superb English rendering of a Dutch play on the subject of the coming of death. Both the mystery and morality plays have been frequently revived and performed in the 20th century.

(1476 – 1576)

3.1. Социально-историческое развитие Англии в XV-XVI вв. Католицизм и Реформация. Возникновение гуманистического движения и его специфика. Английский перевод Библии. Деятельность Уильяма Тиндла.

3.1.1. The English part in the European movement known as humanism also belongs to this time. Humanism encouraged greater care in the study of the literature of classical antiquity and reformed education in such a way as to make literary expression of paramount importance for the cultured person. Literary style, in part modeled on that of the ancients, soon became a self-conscious preoccupation of English poets and prose writers. The most immediate effect of humanism lay, however, in the dissemination of the cultivated, clear, and sensible attitude of its classically educated adherents, who rejected medieval theological misteaching and superstition.

Humanism is an attitude that emphasizes the dignity and worth of the individual. A basic premise of humanism is that people are rational beings who possess within themselves the capacity for truth and goodness. The humanist movement started in Italy, where the late medieval Italian writers Dante, Boccaccio, and Petrarch contributed greatly to the discovery and preservation of classical works. The collection and translation of classical manuscripts became widespread, especially among the higher clergy and nobility. The invention of printing with movable type, around the mid-15th century, gave a further impetus to humanism through the dissemination of editions of the classics.

 

3.1.2. William Tyndale(1492-1536) was an English biblical translator, religious reformer, and writer. Born in Gloucestershire, Tyndale received his master's degree from the University of Oxford. He was ordained and then went to the University of Cambridge. There he determined to translate the Bible from the Greek into English in order to combat corruption in the English church and extend scriptural knowledge among the common people of England. Receiving no support from the bishop of London, however, he traveled to Germany, where he met Martin Luther, espoused Reformation principles, and, in Cologne, began the printing of his English version of the New Testament.

Tyndale's unorthodox translations were vigorously opposed by ecclesiastical authorities in England. Nonetheless, his version of the Bible, together with the earlier translations of the English theologian and religious reformer John Wycliffe, formed the foundation of the Authorized (King James) Version of 1611. Tyndale was the author of a number of tracts upholding the English Reformation, and he was engaged in acrimonious controversy with the English statesman and humanist writer Sir Thomas More. He was taken into custody by imperial representatives in Antwerp and, after 16 months of imprisonment, was tried; on October 6, 1536, Tyndale was strangled and burned at the stake.

3.2. Раннее возрождение. Жизнь и деятельность Томаса Мора; позиция Томаса Мора в религиозной борьбе эпохи.

 

3.2.1. Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) is an English statesman and writer, known for his religious stance against King Henry VIII that cost him his life. More was born in London and educated at the University of Oxford. He studied law after leaving Oxford, but his primary interests were in science, theology, and literature. During his early manhood, he wrote comedies and spent much time in the study of Greek and Latin. At 22, he determined to become a monk. Four years later More gave up this plan, and entered Parliament. One of his first acts was to urge a decrease in a proposed appropriation for King Henry VII. In revenge, the king imprisoned More's father and did not release him until a fine was paid and More himself had withdrawn from public life.

More attracted the attention of King Henry VIII, and served frequently on diplomatic missions to the Low Countries. During this period Henry VIII made More one of his favorites and often sought his company for philosophical conversations. More became Lord Chancellor in 1529; he was the first layman to hold the post. His fortunes changed, however, when he refused to support Henry's request for a divorce from Catherine of Aragon. More was unwilling to sanction any defiance of papal authority. He resigned from the chancellorship and withdrew from public notice. The king resented the attitude of his former friend and had him imprisoned. More was tried the following year; he refused to take an oath of supremacy, asserting that Parliament did not have the right to usurp papal authority in favor of the king. Condemned for his stand, More was decapitated on July 7, 1535. In 1935 he was canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.

 

3.2.2. More is best known for Utopia(1516), a satirical account of life on the fictitious island of Utopia. On this island the interests of the individual are subordinate to those of society at large, all people must do some work, universal education and religious toleration are practiced, and all land is owned in common. These conditions are contrasted with those of English society, to the substantial disadvantage of the latter. Utopia was the forerunner of a series of similar books.

Utopia is a Greek name of More's coining, from ou-topos ("no place"); a pun on eu-topos ("good place") is suggested. More's Utopia describes a pagan and communist city-state in which the institutions and policies are entirely governed by reason. The order and dignity of such a state provided a notable contrast with the unreasonable polity of Christian Europe, divided by self-interest and greed for power and riches.

The description of Utopia is put in the mouth of a mysterious traveler, Raphael Hythloday, in support of his argument that communism is the only cure against egoism in private and public life. Through dialogue More speaks in favor of the mitigation of evil rather than its cure, human nature being fallible. Among the topics discussed by More in Utopia were penology, state-controlled education, religious pluralism, divorce, euthanasia, and women's rights. The resulting demonstration of his learning, invention, and wit established his reputation as one of the foremost Humanists.

Here comes a passage from the book by Thomas More. The narrator, Raphael Hythloday, tells his story. Mind the tone, okay?

 

"In choosing their wives they use a method that would appear to us very absurd and ridiculous, but it is constantly observed among them, and is accounted perfectly consistent with wisdom. Before marriage some grave matron presents the bride naked, whether she is a virgin or a widow, to the bridegroom; and after that some grave man presents the bridegroom naked to the bride. We indeed both laughed at this, and condemned it as very indecent. But they, on the other hand, wondered at the folly of the men of all other nations, who, if they are but to buy a horse of a small value, are so cautious that they will see every part of him, and take off both his saddle and all his other tackle, that there may be no secret ulcer hid under any of them; and that yet in the choice of a wife, on which depends the happiness or unhappiness of the rest of his life, a man should venture upon trust, and only see about a hand's-breadth of the face, all the rest of the body being covered, under which there may lie hid what may be contagious as well as loathsome. All men are not so wise as to choose a woman only for her good qualities; and even wise men consider the body as that which adds not a little to the mind: and it is certain there may be some such deformity covered with the clothes as may totally alienate a man from his wife when it is too late to part from her. If such a thing is discovered after marriage, a man has no remedy but patience. They therefore think it is reasonable that there should be good provision made against such mischievous frauds".

 

Thomas More evidently intended the work as a satire of perfectionist projects for human betterment, but the book was a stinging critique of the misgoverned European states of his time. Translated from Latin into English in 1551, Utopia inspired generations of writers who tried to do the same in their works. Significantly, 20th century literature produced a variety of anti-utopian or dystopian fiction.

3.3. Гуманизм в литературе и искусстве. Историко-литературная роль Томаса Уайета и Генри Серрея.

 

3.3.1. Sir Thomas Wyatt(1503-1542) is an English poet and diplomat, best-remembered for his individualistic poems that deal candidly in everyday speech with the trials of romantic love. He was educated at the University of Cambridge. At 21, he was engaged by Henry VIII to fulfill various offices at home and abroad. Wyatt was in and out of jail—and the king's favor—either for consorting with Anne Boleyn or for quarreling with the duke of Suffolk, and on charges of treason. Wyatt, and his contemporary Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, are credited with introducing the sonnet into English poetry; he translated ten of Petrarch's sonnets, composed original sonnets, and worked in other poetic forms, such as the lyric, song, and rondeau.

Whoso list to hunt, I know where is an hind,

But as for me, alas, I may no more

The vain travail hath wearied me so sore.

I am of them that fathest cometh behind;

Yet may I by no means my wearied mind

Draw from the Deer: but as she fleeth afore,

Fainting I follow. I leave off therefore,

Since in a net I seek to hold the wind.

Who list her hunt, I put him out of doubt,

As well as I may spend his time in vain:

And, graven with diamonds, in letters plain

There is written her fair neck round about:

Noli me tangere, for Ceasar's I am;

I wild for to hold, though I seem tame.

(Translated from Italian by Sir Thomas Wyatt)

3.3.2. Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, (1517—1547), is an English soldier and poet. Quick-tempered and quarrelsome, he made many enemies and was imprisoned several times for misconduct. Arrested with his father on trumped-up charges of treason, he was condemned and executed in 1547. Although not primarily a man of letters, Howard greatly enriched English literature by his introduction of new verse forms. His love poems, like those of his contemporary Sir Thomas Wyatt, show the influence of Italian models. The two share the distinction of having introduced the sonnet to English literature. Howard's translationof the second and third books of the Aeneid by Virgil was written in blank verse of five iambic feet, the first use of this form in English.

 

 

3.4. Елизаветинская эпоха как расцвет национального искусства.

 


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