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Oliver D Crisp , Kyle Strobel. Poems intended to be set to music as songs, such as by Thomas Campion , became popular as printed literature was disseminated more widely in households see English Madrigal School. During the reign of Elizabeth I — and then James I —25 , a London-centred culture that was both courtly and popular, produced great poetry and drama. The English playwrights were intrigued by Italian model: a conspicuous community of Italian actors had settled in London.
An Introduction to Religion and Literature
The linguist and lexicographer John Florio — , whose father was Italian, was a royal language tutor at the Court of James I , and a possible friend and influence on William Shakespeare , had brought much of the Italian language and culture to England. He was also the translator of Montaigne into English. Highly popular and influential in its time, The Spanish Tragedy established a new genre in English literature theatre, the revenge play or revenge tragedy.
Jane Lumley — was the first person to translate Euripides into English. Her translation of Iphigeneia at Aulis is the first known dramatic work by a woman in English. William Shakespeare — stands out in this period as a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed.
Shakespeare wrote plays in a variety of genres, including histories , tragedies , comedies and the late romances , or tragicomedies. Shakespeare's career continued during the reign of King James I, and In the early 17th century he wrote the so-called " problem plays ", like Measure for Measure , as well as a number of his best known tragedies , including King Lear and Anthony and Cleopatra.
Less bleak than the tragedies, these four plays are graver in tone than the comedies of the s, but they end with reconciliation and the forgiveness of potentially tragic errors. Other important figures in Elizabethan theatre include Christopher Marlowe — , Thomas Dekker c. Marlowe's subject matter is different from Shakespeare's as it focuses more on the moral drama of the renaissance man than any other thing. His play Doctor Faustus c. Beaumont and Fletcher are less-known, but they may have helped Shakespeare write some of his best dramas, and were popular at the time.
Beaumont's comedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle , satirises the rising middle class and especially the nouveaux riches. After Shakespeare's death, the poet and dramatist Ben Jonson — was the leading literary figure of the Jacobean era. Jonson's aesthetics hark back to the Middle Ages and his characters embody the theory of humours , based on contemporary medical theory, though the stock types of Latin literature were an equal influence.
A popular style of theatre during Jacobean times was the revenge play , which had been popularised earlier in the Elizabethan era by Thomas Kyd —94 , and then subsequently developed by John Webster — in the 17th century. Shakespeare also popularized the English sonnet , which made significant changes to Petrarch 's model.
A collection of by sonnets , dealing with themes such as the passage of time, love, beauty and mortality, were first published in a quarto. Besides Shakespeare the major poets of the early 17th century included the metaphysical poets John Donne — and George Herbert — Influenced by continental Baroque , and taking as his subject matter both Christian mysticism and eroticism, Donne's metaphysical poetry uses unconventional or "unpoetic" figures, such as a compass or a mosquito, to reach surprise effects.
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This was the first ever complete translation of either poem into the English language and it had a profound influence on English literature. Francis Godwin 's The Man in the Moone recounts an imaginary voyage to the moon and is now regarded as the first work of science fiction in English literature. At the Reformation , the translation of liturgy and Bible into vernacular languages provided new literary models. The King James Bible, one of the biggest translation projects in the history of English up to this time, was started in and completed in It represents the culmination of a tradition of Bible translation into English from the original languages that began with the work of William Tyndale previous translations into English had relied on the Vulgate.
It became the standard Bible of the Church of England , and some consider it one of the greatest literary works of all time.
The metaphysical poets continued writing in this period. Both John Donne and George Herbert died after , but there was a second generation of metaphysical poets, consisting of Andrew Marvell — , Thomas Traherne or — and Henry Vaughan — Their style was characterized by wit and metaphysical conceits — far-fetched or unusual similes or metaphors , such as in Andrew Marvell 's comparison of the soul with a drop of dew;  or Donne's description of the effects of absence on lovers to the action of a pair of compasses.
Another important group of poets at this time were the Cavalier poets.
They were an important group of writers, who came from the classes that supported King Charles I during the Wars of the Three Kingdoms — King Charles reigned from and was executed They "were not a formal group, but all were influenced" by Ben Jonson. For example, Robert Herrick was not a courtier, but his style marks him as a Cavalier poet. Cavalier works make use of allegory and classical allusions, and are influence by Latin authors Horace , Cicero , and Ovid. John Milton —74 is one of the greatest English poets, who wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval.
He is generally seen as the last major poet of the English Renaissance, though his major epic poems were written in the Restoration period, including. Paradise Lost Among the important poems Milton wrote during this period are L'Allegro , ; Il Penseroso , ; Comus a masque , ; and Lycidas , His later major works are: Paradise Regained , ; Samson Agonistes , Milton's works reflect deep personal convictions, a passion for freedom and self-determination, and the urgent issues and political turbulence of his day.
Writing in English, Latin, and Italian, he achieved international renown within his lifetime, and his celebrated Areopagitica , written in condemnation of pre-publication censorship, is among history's most influential and impassioned defences of free speech and freedom of the press. William Hayley 's biography called him the "greatest English author",  and he remains generally regarded "as one of the preeminent writers in the English language".
Thomas Urquhart — translation of Rabelais ' Gargantua and Pantagruel into English has been described as "the greatest Scottish translation since Gavin Douglas's Eneados ". The Restoration of the monarchy in launched a fresh start for literature, both in celebration of the new worldly and playful court of the king, and in reaction to it. Theatres in England reopened after having been closed during the protectorship of Oliver Cromwell , Puritanism lost its momentum, and the bawdy " Restoration comedy " became a recognisable genre.
Restoration comedy refers to English comedies written and performed in the Restoration period from to Although other women had translated or written dramas, her translation of Pompey broke new ground as the first rhymed version of a French tragedy in English and the first English play written by a woman to be performed on the professional stage. Aphra Behn one of the women writers dubbed " The fair triumvirate of wit " was a prolific dramatist and one of the first English professional female writers.
Her greatest dramatic success was The Rover Behn's depiction of the character Willmore in The Rover and the witty, poetry-reciting rake Dorimant in George Etherege 's The Man of Mode are seen as a satire on John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester — , an English libertine poet, and a wit of the Restoration court. His contemporary Andrew Marvell described him as "the best English satirist", and he is generally considered to be the most considerable poet and the most learned among the Restoration wits.
He was part of a "mob of gentlemen who wrote with ease",  who continued to produce their poetry in manuscripts, rather than in publication. As a consequence, some of Rochester's work deals with topical concerns, such as satires of courtly affairs in libels , to parodies of the styles of his contemporaries, such as Sir Charles Scroope. He is also notable for his impromptus,  Voltaire , who spoke of Rochester as "the man of genius, the great poet", admired his satire for its "energy and fire" and translated some lines into French to "display the shining imagination his lordship only could boast".
John Dryden — was an English poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright who dominated the literary life of Restoration England to such a point that the period came to be known in literary circles as the Age of Dryden. He established the heroic couplet as a standard form of English poetry by writing successful satires, religious pieces, fables, epigrams, compliments, prologues, and plays with it; he also introduced the alexandrine and triplet into the form. In his poems, translations, and criticism, he established a poetic diction appropriate to the heroic couplet.
Dryden's greatest achievements were in satiric verse in works like the mock-heroic MacFlecknoe Auden referred to him as "the master of the middle style" that was a model for his contemporaries and for much of the 18th century. Though Ben Jonson had been poet laureate to James I in England, this was not then a formal position and the formal title of Poet Laureate , as a royal office, was first conferred by letters patent on John Dryden in The post then became a regular British institution.
Diarists John Evelyn — and Samuel Pepys — depicted everyday London life and the cultural scene of the times. Their works are among the most important primary sources for the Restoration period in England , and consists of eyewitness accounts of many great events, such as the Great Plague of London —5 , and the Great Fire of London Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress is an allegory of personal salvation and a guide to the Christian life.
Bunyan writes about how the individual can prevail against the temptations of mind and body that threaten damnation. The book is written in a straightforward narrative and shows influence from both drama and biography, and yet it also shows an awareness of the grand allegorical tradition found in Edmund Spenser.
The late 17th, early 18th century — in English literature is known as the Augustan Age.