The term "Old English literature" or "Anglo-Saxon literature" refers to literature published in Old English in Anglo-Saxon England during the 7th century and the decades following the Norman Conquest of 1066. Caedmon's Hymn, written in the seventh century, is thought to be the oldest extant poetry in English, according to Bede. He wrote that "Caedmon himself has given us a monument for praise worthy of God." Although modern scholars dispute whether "oldest" can be claimed for any particular work, they generally agree that the amount and variety of early English writing is considerable.
Early English writers include Boniface, who was responsible for translating many works from Latin to English; Byrhtferth, who composed poems on religious topics; and Alcuin, who helped educate the new king, Ethelred the Unready. In addition, some writings attributed to King Alfred are actually translations from Latin. The most famous work is probably The Canterbury Tales, a collection of stories told by traveling pilgrims to Canterbury Cathedral. Written in Middle English, it was probably completed around 1380. This anthology includes accounts of real people who lived in medieval England, as well as fictional characters. It also contains humorous and satirical elements. Geoffrey Chaucer is the most famous writer among today's scholars because he was the first to organize these writings into books. His works include Troilus and Criseyde, which deals with love and loss, and The Canterbury Tales.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has also been useful for historical research, as it preserves a chronology of early English history. The surviving works include poems, biblical translations, homilies, philosophical essays, and legal documents.
Old English was the language of the Angles, a Germanic people who arrived in Britain around 500 AD. It was not yet a literary language, since no written language had yet been developed in England. Instead, scribes made use of Latin, which was the official language of the Roman Empire. During the 11th century, however, monks began writing poems in Old English, which led to its development into a literate language. Old English ceased to be used for everyday purposes after the 13th century, when English replaced it as the language of administration and literature.
After the Norman conquest of 1066, William the Conqueror ordered that English should be the official language of government and law. This led to a surge in interest in English poetry, since officials needed reliable guides on how to write correctly. Many French poets came to England to learn about British culture and customs, which they could then incorporate into their work.
Another factor contributing to the importance of old English literature is the fact that it provides evidence of early English spelling and grammar.
Middle-Eastern literature in Arabic includes both classical literature and early medieval literature. The earliest surviving works, including the Qur'an, have been estimated to be no older than 150 years after the death of Muhammad.
European literature consists primarily of ancient writings in various languages including Greek, Latin, and their descendants. However, some modern scholars include Shakespeare and Milton in this category.
English literature begins with Geoffrey Chaucer in 1387. Although he wrote in Middle English, his work is considered a founding figure for modern English because it introduced many aspects of standard English speech at that time.
Chaucer's influence can also be seen in the work of William Shakespeare and John Milton. These three writers are called the "fathers of English poetry" because of their significant contributions to the development of that genre.
In addition to these early authors, other notable names in English literature include Robert Burton, Daniel Defoe, Edward Gibbon, Samuel Johnson, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot.
Poetry, prose, charms, riddles, maxims, proverbs, and numerous other wisdom sayings comprise Old English literature. It combines pagan traditions, ideas about life, the world, and nature with Christian ideology and moral principles. The works deal with many subjects in depth including warfare, government, law, love, marriage, religion, science, and history.
Old English literature has many characters who struggle with issues such as loyalty, temptation, revenge, and freedom. There are tales of magic and monsters, but also stories of brave warriors and kings. Some poems tell of happy marriages while others describe sad or lonely lives. But whatever the theme, everyone can learn from these writings how to live responsibly and well.
In addition to poetry and prose, Old English literature includes collections of charms, riddles, and maxims that offer advice on living a good life. These forms of expression are very popular in both classical and medieval literature across Europe and the Middle East. They can be found in various texts including books, letters, and songs.
Charms are short verses that ask for help in solving problems. Riddles require readers to figure out what is being said by looking at words and phrases within the context of the sentence. Maxims are brief sentences or statements that contain general advice on living a good life.
The story of English literature begins with the Anglo-Saxon settlers' Germanic tradition. Beowulf is at the helm. This epic poem from the eighth century is written in Anglo-Saxon, which is today more commonly referred to as Old English. Following then, French and Germanic influences struggle for the mainstream position in English literature. The French language has always been popular among the aristocracy while the Germans dominated academia. In between time, British poets produce works in both languages - Shakespeare is the most famous one - but it's not until 17th century that English becomes the official language of the United Kingdom.
Literature is defined as "the art of writing stories that entertain or educate". English literature began with ancient poems, such as those by Homer and Virgil. During the Middle Ages, monks wrote religious tales and legends which later developed into myths. 14th century saw the rise of prose fiction with the publication of Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur. 18th century marks the beginning of modern literature when John Milton publishes Paradise Lost. 19th century is the golden age of literature as many great writers emerge including Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, and Alexander Dumas. 20th century is another golden era with Nobel Prize winners like William Shakespeare, Herman Melville, and Samuel Johnson. Today, English literature is considered one of the foundations of world literature.
English literature contains many different genres including poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and plays.