Tuesday, March 31, 2009

1500 to 1599: Montaigne to Dr. Faustus

Michel de Montaigne. French. 1580/88. Essays. Created the personal, discursive essay. Spirited conversation. From classic stoic to skeptic to affirmation of the possibilities of human nature. Used his own experience to glean lessons. Turned attention from academic learning and intellectual theorizing to man himself.

Michel de Montaigne. French. 1580/88. Essay. “Apology for Raymond Sebond.” Fullest expression of Montaigne’s skeptical philosophy. He asserts the relativity of knowledge. He reacts to the excessive faith in reason of the early Renaissance. Prepared him to search for wisdom based not on intellectual speculation but o his own experience.

Robet Garnier. French. 1582. Play. Bradamante. Combat between the knight Roger and the warrior-maiden Bradamante. Roger’s dilemma is in choosing between love and duty.

Thomas Kyd. British. 1584/89. Play. The Spanish Tragedy. Revenge. Spanish vs. Portuguese. Lures maidens into parts in a play and kills them.

Christopher Marlowe. British. 1587. Play. Tamburlaine the Great. Shepherd becomes bandit and finally king of Persia. In Part I, Tamburlaine is the embodiment of the Renaissance; bold, defiant, eager to explore the possibilities of life. In Part II, his lust for power and his cruelty end in ruin.

Christopher Marlowe. British. 1588. Play. The Tragical History of Dr. Faustus. Yearning for the infinite. Seeker after power through knowledge. One feels sympathy for the boundless longings of the hero.

Monday, March 30, 2009

1500 to 1599: The Lusiad to Astrophel and Stella

Luis de Camoes. Portuguese. 1572. Epic poetry. The Lusiad. Exploits of Vasco de Gama in “discovery of India.” Mythological machinery.

Raphael Holinshed. British. 1577. History. Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. Source of much material in Macbeth, Lear and Cymbeline.

Edmund Spenser. British. 1579. Poetry. The Shepeardes Calender. 12 eclogues, one for each month of the year. Shepherds’ loves and laments.

Sir Philip Sidney. British. 1580/83. Poetry. An Apologie for Poetry. Answer to attack on poetry by the Puritans. Defines as poetry all imaginative writing.

Sir Philip Sidney. British. 1580/84. Poetry. Astrophel and Stella. Sonnet sequence. “Stella” = Penelope Devereux. Astrophel (“star lover”). Greek pun on Sidney’s name.

Friday, March 27, 2009

1500 to 1599: Rabelais, The Ringing Island to Roger Ascham, The Schoolmaster

Francois Rabelais. French. 1562. Fiction. The Ringing Island (Book V of Gargantua and Pantagruel). Transparent satire on the luxurious living of the Roman Catholic clergy.

John Foxe. British. 1563. Nonfiction. The Book of Martyrs (Actes and Monuments of These Later Perilous Days). Twice the size of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall. Emphasizes martyrs during Mary’s reign. Credulous acceptance of stories of martyrdom. Vivid dialogues between persecutors and victims.

William Stevenson. British. 1566. Play. Gammer Gurton’s Needle. Lost needle is found, painfully, in the seat of Hodge’s pants.

Alfonso de Ercilla y Zuniga. Spanish. 1569/90. Poetry. La Araucan. Stubborn resistance of the Chilean Araucanian Indians against the Spanish. The nobility and valor of the Indians and their leaders.

Roger Ascham. British. 1570. Nonfiction. The Schoolmaster. Favors athletics in the curriculum and English prose to English verse.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

1500 to 1599: Tottle's Miscellany to Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex.

Richard Tottel (Publisher). British. 1557. Poetry. Tottel’s Miscellany, includes many poems never before published. Marks the beginning of modern English poetry.

Miscellaneous Authors. British. 1559. Poetry. The Mirror for Magistrates. Fall of great men in English history; 19 tragedies, each narrated in the first person by the ghost of its subject. Fickle fortune and moral flaws in character are responsible for tragic ends.

Margaret of Navarre. French. 1559. Tales. Heptameron. Unfinished. 72 tales. Modeled on the Decameron, but original tales were based on her own experience. Psychological.

Torquato Tasso. Italian. 1559/75. Epic Poem. Jerusalem Delivered. Based on historic events of the First Crusade, 1096-1099. Much intervention by mystical figures. Victory for the Crusaders.

Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton. British. 1561. Play. Gorboduc, or Ferrex and Porrex. First Senecan tragedy in English. First English play in blank verse. Used English historical material. Goboduc and sons Ferrex and Porrex. Porrex kills Ferrex. His mother kills Porrex. The people kill both the king and queen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

1500 to 1599. Institutes of the Christian Religion to La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes

John Calvin. French. 1536. Religion. Institutes of the Christian Religion. Reply to attacks on Protestantism. Guide to Scripture.

Joachim DuBellay. French. 1549. Nonfiction. Defense et illustration de la langue francaise. Defends the French language as a mode of poetic expression against those who wrote in Latin. Embellishes by borrowing from Greek and Latin. Advocates use of archaic, dialectical, technical words and the adoption of poetic forms like the classical ode and the Italian sonnet.

Wu Ch’eng-en. Chinese. 1550. Novel. Journey to the West. Fictionalized adventures of a historical Buddhist priest on quest to India to search for scriptures. He is accompanied by three magical helpers. Monkey is the most famous comic creation in Chinese fiction.

Nicholas Udall. British. 1553. Play. Ralph Roister Doister. Earliest English comedy. Swaggering fellow tries to win rich widow.

Anonymous. Spanish. 1554. Novel. La vida de Lazarillo de Tormes. Autobiography of wily Lazarillo. Experiences with various masters. Ends as town crier of Toledo. Realism and irony.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1500 to 1599: Epistolae... to The Courtier

Anonymous. German. 1515/17. Satire. Epistolae Obscurorum Virorum (Letters of Unknown Men). Satire on Scholasticism.

Ludovico Ariosto. Italian. 1516. Epic Poem. Orlando Furioso (Roland Mad). Charlemagne’s paladins vs. various pagan knights.

Martin Luther. German. 1517. Religion. The Ninety-Five Theses. Condemns selling indulgences. After confession, absolution is dependent on the sinner’s faith and divine grace, not upon the priest.

John Heywood. British. 1520. Interlude. The Four P’s. Debate: Who can tell the biggest lie? The Palmer asserts that he never saw a woman out of temper and wins the prize.

Baldassare Castiglione. Italian. 1528. Courtesy. The Courtier. Four books. Dialogues. The perfect courtier and court lady. The courtier is versatile, but nonchalant. His role is to guide princes in government.

Monday, March 23, 2009

1500 to 1599: "Philip Sparrow" to A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode.

John Skelton. British. 1500. Poetry. “Philip Sparrow.” Humorous elegy for a pet bird. “Philip” is the traditional name for sparrows, derived from the sound of the bird’s chirp.

Anonymous. British. 1500. Play/Allegory. Everyman. Morality play. Everyman receives his summons from Death. Only Good Deeds will accompany him.

Viscount Lisle. British. 1500/50. Letters. The Lisle Letters. Published in 1981. Vivid, comprehensive picture of political and domestic concerns of a high-ranking English family.

Garcia Rodriguez de Montalvo. Spanish. 1508. Romance. Amadis de Gaula. Amadis exemplifies the chivalric ideals of valor, purity and fidelity.

Anonymous. British. 1510. Poem. A Lytell Geste of Robyn Hode. Robin Hood was born in 1160. Known for his courage and skill in archery. Generous and popular.

Friday, March 20, 2009

1400 to 1499: Orlando Innamorato to Robin Hood's Adventures.

Matteo Boiardo. Italian. 1487. Epic poem. Orlando Innamorato (“Roland in Love”). Pagan princess Angelica sows discord in ranks of Charlemagne’s paladins. Tries to render them helpless before the Saracens led by Agramante.

Anonymous. British. 1490. Poetry. “The Nut-Brown Maid.” Maid is wooed, won by a disguised knight who tells her of hardships if she marries him. She stands the test. He is revealed to be a rich earl’s son.

Anonymous. British. 1490. Tales. Robin Hood’s Adventures. Legendary “good” outlaw who protected and supported the poor while he stole from the rich.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

1400 to 1499: Le Morte d'Arthur to "Till Eulenspiegel."

Sir Thomas Malory. British. 1460. Tales. Le Morte d’Arthur. Prose rendition of the legends of King Arthur. Printed by William Caxton. Malory’s purpose: to tell a good story. Some tales are not in the Arthurian tradition. The tone is nostalgic.

Luigi Pulci. Italian. 1470. Poetry. Il Morgante Maggiore (“The Great Morgante.”) Morgante, a giant, aids Charlemagne’s paladin, Orlando.

Anonymous. Medieval. 1481. Fable. “Reynard the Fox.” Cunniing fox vs. physically powerful wolf. Sly wit usually wins.

William Caxton. British. 1483. Compilation. The Golden Legend. Lives of the saints and other ecclesiastical commentaries. One of the most popular books published by Caxton.

Anonymous. German. 1483/1515. Stories. "Till Eulenspiegel." German peasant. Popular in legend as a player of pranks. Brutal tricks and practical jokes. Emphasizes tricks as revenge of a peasant upon townsmen who scorn him as inferior.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

1400 to 1499. "Ali Baba..." "Sinbad." "Magic Carpet."

“Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.” Ali Baba, a woodcutter. sees a band of robbers enter a secret cave by saying, “Open Sesame.” He becomes rich. The robbers try to catch Ali Baba by hiding in jars. They are outwitted by his female slave Morgiana who kills them by pouring boiling oil into the jars where they are hiding. Ali Baba’s brother tries to enter the cave, but forgets the magic words. He is locked inside. He says, “Open Wheat,” etc. He is caught and killed.

“The Seven Voyages of Sinbad.” First Voyage: Island turns out to be a whale; fire wakes up the whale who dives under.

Second Voyage: Desert island. Valley of diamonds. Merchants use meat to stick to diamonds. Eagles swoop down and pick up the meat. The merchants scare the eagles who drop the meat. Sinbad escapes the same way, on a piece of meat carried away by an eagle.

Third Voyage: Encounter with Cyclops.

Fourth Voyage: Marries. Burned with her corpse. Loots the graves of diamonds belonging to the dead and returns home wealthy.

Fifth Voyage: Rocs [large birds] sink ship with huge stones. On desert island, Sinbad throws stones at monkeys who throw coconuts in return. Encounters and kills the Old Man of the Sea, a seemingly harmless man who climbs onto Sinbad’s shoulder and will not climb off.

Sixth Voyage: Visits the island of Serendip (Sri Lanka). Climbs to the top of the mountain where Adam was placed after being expelled from Paradise.

Seventh Voyage: Corsairs sell him into slavery. He shoots elephants and discovers a hill covered with tusks. He is set free.

“Magic Carpet.” King Solomon’s magic carpet. Green silk. Throne and all types of forces placed on it. A canopy of birds screened it from the sun. Traveled.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

1400 to 1499. Arabian Nights' Entertainment to "Tale of the Third Calender."

Anonymous. Persian/Arab. 1450. Tales. The Arabian Nights’ Entertainment. Persian/Indian/Arabian tales. Scheherazade postpones her execution by telling her husband stories without revealing the climax until the following session. Includes Ali Baba; the Calenders; Magic Carpet; Sinbad the Sailor.

“Tales of the Calenders.” Begging order of dervishes founded in 13th century; obliged to be perpetual wanderers.

“Tale of the First Calender.” When his father dies, a prince’s right eye is pulled out by an evil vizier. He becomes a calender and tells his story.

“Tale of the Second Calender.” Robbed, turned into an ape by an evil genius, he is disenchanted by a sultan’s daughter who kills the evil genius, but who dies in the struggle. A spark from the conflict destroys the right eye of the calender. He is kicked out of the kingdom and tells his story.

“Tale of the Third Calender.” A lodestone draws nails from his ship. The king meets ten princes, each with their right eye knocked out. Left in a castle, the king can visit any room but one. He succumbs to temptation and a horse flies him to Baghdad. With a whisk of its tail, the horse knocks out the king’s right eye as it has done with the ten princes who were also guilty of curiosity.

Monday, March 16, 2009

1400 to 1499: The Second Shepherd's Play to Imitation of Christ

Anonymous. British. 1400. Play. The Second Shepherd’s Play. Setting is Jesus’ nativity; sheep thief tries to claim that stolen sheep in the cradle is the wife’s newborn baby.

Paston. British. 1422/1509. Letters. Paston Letters. Letters to and from three generations of the Paston family in Norfolk, England.

Anonymous. British. 1423? Legend. “Dick Whittington and His Cat.” Poor boy contributes cat to ship; king of Morocco has mice trouble and cat eats mice. King pays tremendous sum for cat; owner becomes wealthy and Lord Mayor of London.

King James I of Scotland. British. 1424. Poem. “Kingis Quair.” Written while prisoner in England; laments his fortune; celebrates Lady Jane Beufort whom he married.

Thomas A’Kempis. German. 1426. Religion. Imitation of Christ. Explores inner life, value of contemplation; mystical tone; great influence on Christianity.

Friday, March 13, 2009

1300 to 1399: Canterbury Tales: "Tale of the Melibee" to Parson's Tale."

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Tale of the Melibee.” Forgives his enemies who beat his wife and killed his daughter.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Monk’s Tale.” The falls of illustrious men; examples of reverses of fortune from the Bible, myth and history.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Nun’s Priest’s Tale.” Chaunticleer persuades fox to open his mouth to taunt his pursuers and escapes.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Second Nun’s Tale.” St. Cecilia, struck in the neck three times in her bath, continues to preach and convert for three days before dying.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale.” Canon, an alchemist, dupes a priest who helps him in converting quicksilver and copper to silver; the canon then disappears.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Manciple’s Tale.” The white, sweet-singing crow tells his master of his wife’s infidelity; the master turns it black and raucous.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Parson’s Tale.” Last tale. Long prose sermon on penitence; exposition of the Seven Deadly Sins; ends with Chaucer’s retraction.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

1300 to 1399: Canterbury Tales: "Physician's Tale" to "Tale of Sir Thopas."

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Physician’s Tale.” Judge lusts for Virginia. She accepts her father’s decision to kill her; people revolt, the judge commits suicide.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Pardoner’s Tale.” By stabbing and poison, three revelers find “Death” after plotting to kill each other for a pile of gold.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Shipman’s Tale.” Monk borrows from miserly merchant and sleeps with his wife; he says he repaid wife who says she thought the money was a gift.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Prioress’s Tale.” Christian boy singing hymn to Mary is slain by the Jews. Sings until his body is found and the murderers are hanged.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Tale of Sir Thopas.” Parody of minstrel romances is interrupted by Host. Exemplary knight resolved to love no one but an elf queen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

1300 to 1399: "Summoner's Tale" to "Franklin's Tale."

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Summoner’s Tale.” Sick Thomas donates “gift” to be divided equally among friars; discussion of how to divide the gift, a fart.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Clerk’s Tale.” Response to “Wife of Bath’s Tale”: Patient Griselda. Marquis Walter marries, tests Griselda who submits to extremely harsh conditions.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Merchant’s Tale.” January-May marriage. May sports with a squire in a tree. Blind January’s sight is restored and he sees. May says she restored his sight by struggling with a man in a tree. January believes. Pluto vs. Proserpina. .

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Squire’s Tale.” Medieval romance. Unfinished. Magical ring, brass horse, mirror, sword. Female falcon tells of desertion.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Franklin’s Tale.” Dorgen, Averagus, Aurelius. Rash promise is forgiven.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

1300 to 1399: Canterbury Tales: "Reeve's Tale" to "Friar's Tale."

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Reeve’s Tale.” Young scholars catch the miller cheating on their grain. They swive his wife and daughter and escape.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Cook’s Tale.” Roger the Cook tells of Perkin, an apprentice too fond of dice and women. Unfinished.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Man of Law’s Tale.” Constance represents the extreme degree of resignation. Evil mothers scheme against her. Finally, she is reunited with the king, her husband.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Wife of Bath’s Tale.” What ladies want most is sovereignty over their husbands.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Friar’s Tale.” Friar and the Summoner. A true curse sends the Summoner to Hell.

Monday, March 9, 2009

1300 to 1399: Chaucer, Troilus and Criseyde to the "Miller's Tale"

Chaucer. British. 1385. Poetry. Troilus and Criseyde. Chaucer’s version has considerable individual characterization and humor.

Chaucer. British. 1386. Poetry. The Legend of Good Women. Stories about women who suffered and died because they were faithful in love while the men were treacherous.

Chaucer. British. 1387-1400. Tales. The Canterbury Tales. April pilgrimage to Becket’s shrine. 30 pilgrims. Varying classes, occupations. Two stories going, two coming back. 24 tales completed with prologue. Style matches the teller; interaction of characters. Interludes.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Knight’s Tale.” Palamon, Arcite, and Emily. Arcite wins battle, but dies, leaving Palamon to wed the lady.

Chaucer. Canterbury Tales. “Miller’s Tale.” Nicholas convinces John, the miller, that the second flood is coming. John the miller suspends three tubs from the ceiling. Alison offers her rump for Absolon to kiss. Absolon returns with a red-hot poker, scorches Nicholas’s substitute rump. Nicholas yells for water. John thinks the flood has come, cuts loose his tub, which comes crashing to the ground.

Friday, March 6, 2009

1300 to 1399: The Bruce to Vox Clamanti.

John Barbour. Scot. 1375. Epic Poem. The Bruce. Deeds of Robert Bruce, James Douglas and the struggle for Scottish independence.

John Gower. British. 1378. Poetry. Speculum Meditantis. Contest for men’s souls between the seven vices and the seven virtues. “Mirror of Men” of all classes in contemporary life.

Chaucer. British. 1379. Poetry. The House of Fame. Unfinished. Dream. Capriciousness of Lady Fame. House of Rumor, Gossip; each retelling results in greater falsity.

Chaucer. British. 1382. Poetry. The Parliament of Fowls. Does the lovely lady eagle choose the tercel who loved her longest, the tercel who loved her more truly, or the royal eagle who had Nature’s approval?

John Gower. British. 1382/84. Latin poetry. Vox Clamanti. Vivid description of Tyler’s Rebellion of 1381.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

1300 to 1399: Piers Plowman to The Travels of Sir John Mandeville

William Langland. British. 1362/87. Poetry. Piers Plowman. Langland was a contemporary of Chaucer. Alliterative. Piers, Peter/Jesus urges people to work toward salvation.

Anonymous. Chinese. 1368 (?). Novel. The Golden Lotus. Life and loves of His-men Ch’ing and his six wives. Naturalism. Realistic. Explicit eroticism.

Chaucer. British. 1369. Poetry. The Book of the Duchess. Elegy on the occasion of the death of Blanche, the first wife of John of Gaunt. Narrator reads Halcyon and Ceyx and then dreams. Black Knight laments that he met, married, lived in bliss, and lost in death the most perfect lady.

Pearl Poet. British. 1370. Poetry. Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Alliterative. Beheading game and temptation to adultery. Greatest single Arthurian legend in English.

Sir John Mandeville. French/English. 1371. Travel. The Travels of Sir John Mandeville. Book of travels filled with fictitious marvels.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

1300 to 1399: The Divine Comedy to The Decameron

Dante. Italian. 1321. Poetry. The Divine Comedy. Actually a realistic picture and analysis of every aspect of earthly human life. Allegory of the individual soul’s progress toward God. Progress of political, social mankind toward peace on earth. The day is Good Friday in 1300. Virgil takes Dante through Hell. He ascends the mountain of Purgatory. Beatrice takes him through Paradise to God. Dante goes through Hell to free him of temptation of sin. The purpose of his trip through Purgatory is to purify Dante’s soul of even the capacity for error. The closer to God, the greater the bliss. Purified, Dante is able to gaze on the Trinity.

Boccaccio. Italian. 1340 (?). Romance. Il Filocolo. (“Love’s Labor.”) Travails of lovers Florio and Biancofiore. (French version was Flores and Blanchefleur.) Episodes and digressions, the most famous of which is the Thirteen Questions of Love.

Boccacio. Italian. 1340 (?). Romance. Il Filostrato (“A Man Overwhelmed by Love” Troilus.) Troiolo, Criseida and Pandarus. When Criseida leaves Troiolo, he is stunned by grief. Source for Chaucer’s Troilus and Criseyde.

Anonymous. Chinese. 1350 (?). Novel. Romance of the Three Kingdoms. Historical novel. Endless episodes and stratagems. Personalities of generals and kings.

Boccaccio. Italian. 1351/53. Stories. The Decameron. The year of the Black Death, 1348. Seven ladies and three men escape from the city to the hills of Fiesole. Ten days of stories. 100 anecdotes, fabliaux, folk tales, fairy tales. Bernabo, Isabella, Calandrino, Titus, Gisipus, Griselda.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

1200 to 1299: Summa Theologica to Guy of Warwick

Thomas Aquinas. Medieval. 1265/1274. Philosophy. Summa Theologica. “Summary of All Theology.” Uses the methodology of Aristotelian logic. Systematizes and quotes from works of classical and early Christian thinkers. Evidence for the nature of God and the universe, moral philosophy, and the role of Jesus and the Sacraments. Uses logical argument in matters of reason. Uses revelation through scripture and Church pronouncements.

Jean DeMeun. French. 1275. Poem. Romance of the Rose, Part 2. Part Two is a series of satires against friars, superstitions and glorifying women in courtly love.

Anonymous. England? 1275 (?). Latin collection of tales. Gesta Romanorum (Deeds of the Romans). Popular in the Middle Ages. 100 to 200 tales. Episodes assigned to the reign of a Roman emperor. Little real history. “Moral” or application after each tale, but not a religious work. Chaucer and Shakespeare drew on it.

Dante. Italian. 1293. Poetry. The New Life. Autobiographical narrative of his love for Beatrice which inspired this collection of poems. Meets her only twice, but adores her from afar. Dedicates himself to her after her death. Love for a woman is the first step in the soul’s spiritual progression toward divine love.

1300 to 1399.

Anonymous. British. 1300. Romance. Guy of Warwick. Non-Arthurian hero. Adventures. Married. Adventures again. Hermit. beggar. Reveals identity on deathbed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

1200 to 1299: An Account of My Hut to The Circle of Chalk

Kamo no Chomei. Japanese. 1212. Autobiography. An Account of My Hut. Natural disasters in Kyoto. Life led by the author in hermitage. Impermanence of life. Buddhist tone.

Anonymous. British. 1215. Charter. Magna Carta. Permanently guaranteed that the king’s power must be limited by law. King could not levy taxes without consent of the realm. He could not imprison or deprive of property unless by judgment of peers and the law.

Guillaume de Lorris. French. 1230. Poem. Romance of the Rose, Part 1. An allegory of love.

Sa’Di. Persian. 1258. Poem. Gulistan. Collection of lyrics; moral reflections; witty, sweet; kings, dervishes, contentment, love, youth, old age, social duties. Stories and philosophical sayings. “Rose Garden.”

Anonymous. Chinese. 1259/1368. Play. The Circle of Chalk. Concubine’s lover is murdered by his wife. She blames the murder on the concubine. Whose child? King decrees that baby be placed in circle. Concubine and wife contest for the baby. However, the concubine will not pull on the baby. Therefore, the king awards the baby to the concubine, the real mother.