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Sunday, 22 April 2018

English prose in the middle ages(in the age of chaucer)

Chaucer was a poet and his literary inspiration quickened definitely the expansion of literature in English and Scotland. Of course,his contemporaries,successors and followers were not his equals,but they continued the tradition of English poetry and paved,to some extent,the path for the march of the Renaissance.

But the case was different with English prose.There was no mighty innovator or literary  genius to expand it or provide inspiration to new writerss.As a result,the art of prose writing had no significantly creative advancement since the time of Ancrene Riwle. The learned and scholarly Englishman still preferred Latin as the formal medium,and the English prose style, in such a context, had hardly any scope for growth. As a matter of fact,of the chronicles, compiled during the fifteenth century, barely seven were in English, while nearly twenty four were written in Latin.
english prose in middle age

Moreover,there was the continuation of the same tradition in vernacular prose compositions.As iin old English,didactic llives of the saints were repeatedly rendered into English from Latin.Sermons and homilies had the same old character, containing similar legendary illustrations.The middle and later part of the fourteenth century had
the use of English prose for the rendering of Biblical texts by means of the translation and adaptations of Latin and French originals,with the commentaries and exhaustive treatment of virtues and vices.Then from the last quarter of the century onwards,a variety of prose materials began to appear.There were historical and scientific treaties, allegorical, theological and philosophical arguments and speculation and dialogues.Some interesting prose authors and works are examined briefly below.

There was actually no earnest effort at first to create original literary works in English prose.The prevalent trend,as noted already, was to translate foreign authors. John of Trivia a parish priest and Chaucer's contemporary, translated High Polychronion ,and that proved to be an unhappy enterprise.The translation never seemed adequate enough. 

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