Western literature essay

Oliver Goldsmith She Stoops to Conquer: Catherine Cooper shows how the themes of She Stoops to Conquer are developed through contrasts, such as between age and youth, city and country, and high and low social class, and finds that behind those superficial contrasts deeper psychological contrasts are being explored.

Western literature essay

See Article History Western literature, history of literatures in the languages of the Indo-European family, along with a small number of other languages whose cultures became closely associated with the West, from ancient times to the present.

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Diverse as they are, European literatures, like European languages, are parts of a common heritage. Literatures in these languages are, however, closely associated with major Western literatures and are often included among them. The common literary heritage is essentially that originating in ancient Greece and Rome.

It was preserved, transformed, and spread by Christianity and thus transmitted to the vernacular languages of the European Continent, the Western Hemisphereand other regions that were settled by Europeans.

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To the present day, this body of writing displays a unity in its main features that sets it apart from the literatures of the rest of the world. Such common characteristics are considered here. For specific information about the major national Western literature essay or literary traditions of the West, see such articles as American literatureEnglish literatureGerman literatureGreek literatureLatin American literatureand Scandinavian literature.

Various other Western literatures—including those in the ArmenianBulgarianEstonianLithuanianand Romanian languages—are also treated in separate entries. Ancient literature The stark fact about ancient Western literature is that the greater part of it has perished.

Western Literature

Some of it had been forgotten before it was possible to commit it to writing; fire, war, and the ravages of time have robbed posterity of most of the rest; and the restitutions that archaeologists and paleographers achieve from time to time are small.

Yet surviving writings in Greek and far more in Latin have included those that on ancient testimony marked the heights reached by the creative imagination and intellect of the ancient world.

Five ancient civilizations—Babylon and Assyria, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the culture of the Israelites in Palestine—each came into contact with one or more of the others. Hebrew culture exerted its greatest literary influence on the West because of the place held by its early writings as the Old Testament of the Christian Bible; and this literature profoundly influenced Western consciousness through translation from about the time of St.

Augustine onward into every vernacular language as well as into Latin. Though influenced by the religious myths of Mesopotamia, Asia Minorand Egypt, Greek literature has no direct literary ancestry and appears self-originated.

Roman writers looked to Greek precept for themes, treatment, and choice of verse and metre. All of the chief kinds of literature —epic, tragedy, comedy, lyric, satirehistory, biographyand prose narrative—were established by the Greeks and Romans, and later developments have for the most part been secondary extensions.

The Greek epic of Homer was the model for the Latin of Virgil; the lyric fragments of Alcaeus and Sappho were echoed in the work of Catullus and Ovid; the history of Thucydides was succeeded by that of Livy and Tacitus; but the tragedy of the great Athenians of the 5th century bc had no worthy counterpart in Roman Seneca nor had the philosophical writings of Plato and Aristotle in those of any ancient Roman, for the practical Romans were not philosophers.

Whereas Greek writers excelled in abstraction, the Romans had an unusually concrete vision and, as their art of portraiture shows, were intensely interested in human individuality. In sum, the work of these writers and others and perhaps especially that of Greek authors expresses the imaginative and moral temper of Western man.

It has helped to create his values and to hand on a tradition to distant generations. Among Roman authors an elevated Stoicism stressing the sense of duty is common to many, from Naevius, Ennius, and Cato to VirgilHoraceand Seneca.

Christianity and the church The establishment of Christianity throughout the territories that had formed the Roman Empire meant that Europe was exposed to and tutored in the systematic approach to life, literature, and religion developed by the early Church Fathers. In the West, the fusion of Christian and classical philosophy formed the basis of the medieval habit of interpreting life symbolically.

AugustinePlatonic and Christian thought were reconciled: Classical literature was invested with this same symbolism; exegetical, or interpretative, methods first applied to the Scriptures were extended as a general principle to classical and secular writings.

The church not only established the purpose of literature but preserved it.

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These monasteries were able to preserve the only classical literature available in the West through times when Europe was being raided by Goths, Vandals, Franks, and, later, Norsemen in succession. The classical Latin authors so preserved and the Latin works that continued to be written predominated over vernacular works throughout most of the period.

Vernacular works and drama The main literary values of the period are found in vernacular works. The pre-Christian literature of Europe belonged to an oral tradition that was reflected in the Poetic Edda and the sagas, or heroic epics, of Iceland, the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf, and the German Song of Hildebrand.

These belonged to a common Germanic alliterative tradition, but all were first recorded by Christian scribes at dates later than the historical events they relate, and the pagan elements they contain were fused with Christian thought and feeling.

The mythology of Icelandic literature was echoed in every Germanic language and clearly stemmed from a common European source. Only the Scandinavian texts, however, give a coherent account of the stories and personalities involved. Numerous ballads in different countries also reflect an earlier native tradition of oral recitation.

Among the best known of the many genres that arose in medieval vernacular literatures were the romance and the courtly love lyric, both of which combined elements from popular oral traditions with those of more scholarly or refined literature and both derived largely from France.

The romance used classical or Arthurian sources in a poetic narrative that replaced the heroic epics of feudal society, such as The Song of Roland, with a chivalrous tale of knightly valour. In the romance, complex themes of love, loyalty, and personal integrity were united with a quest for spiritual truth, an amalgam that was represented in every major western European literature of the time.

Western literature essay

The love lyric has had a similarly heterogeneous background. The precise origins of courtly love are disputed, as is the influence of a popular love poetry tradition; it is clear, however, that the idealized lady and languishing suitor of the poets of southern and northern France were imitated or reinterpreted throughout Europe—in the Sicilian school of Italy, the minnesingers love poets of Germany, and in a Latin verse collection, Carmina Burana.

Medieval drama began in the religious ceremonies that took place in church on important dates in the Christian calendar.

The dramatic quality of the religious service lent itself to elaboration that perhaps first took the form of gestures and mime and later developed into dramatic interpolations on events or figures in the religious service.

This elaboration increased until drama became a secular affair performed on stages or carts in town streets or open spaces.Feb 17,  · Western Civilization In this essay I will be discussing four of the major themes in this course in terms of progress, they will be religion, humanism, individualism and secularism.

I will discuss these concepts within the countries of England, France, and Russia, and show my point of view on each. This change signaled a shift in focus from the supernatural to the human in literature, which would have a profound influence on the Western tradition, particularly after the Middle Ages.

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5 part argumentative essay on. The history of Western Literature encompasses a range of works in many languages from epic poetry to non-linear novels, as well as drama and works of non-fiction While it is difficult, if not impossible to succinctly state what Western Literature is “all about,” the content of Western Literature is as broad and as complex as the various.

"The Bible The Norton Anthology Of Western Literature" Essays and Research Papers. The Bible The Norton Anthology Of Western Literature. This was the first sentence I read in, The Norton Anthology (eighth edition volume one), on Beowulf and I. November 6, T 1W Western Civilization and Greek influence Greece, specifically Athens, was an impetus in the development of Western civilization.

Most importantly, the impact of Greece on Western civilization was culturally due to ingenuous arts and literature, which is now followed pro forma, an avant garde democracy and other empire related revolutions including economics, and by.

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