4. Literature Religion and Art in Europe an Interdisciplinary

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Transcript 4. Literature Religion and Art in Europe an Interdisciplinary

4. Literature Religion and
Art in Europe an
Interdisciplinary Approach
•Ancient world
•Middle Ages
•The Renaissance
•Realism and Naturalism
Chapter 1. Ancient World
The ancient world represents the most
significant area and period of ancient man’s
development. The area is the Mediterranean
Basin. In this place and time ancient man laid
the intellectual and religious foundations of
the modern Western outlook.
The literature of the Ancient world was
written in three languages—Hebrew, Greek,
and Latin.
Chapter 1. Ancient World
The Hebrew achieve little of note in the
military area and their later history was a
bitter and unsuccessful struggle for freedom.
They left no drama nor epic poetry but
religious literature, which was later called
the Old testament.
Chapter 1. Ancient World
Greek literature begins with two masterpieces
the Iliad (Trojan War) and Odyssey (Odysseus),
which were created by Homer.
As a result of the political and economical
development and the great literary achievements in
poetry and drama, the ancient Greek literary
criticism prospered.
The greatest Ancient literary critics are Plato and
Aristotle, who opened the history of Western literary
Chapter 1. Ancient World
The Romans looked to Greek models for
their literature. Romans began to write after
they conquered Greece. The first real example
of a literary work in Latin is a translation of
Homer’s Odyssey.
In spite of the imitation, there were the
finest Roman accomplishments in literature,
as in other aspects of art and life.
Chapter 2. Middle Ages
The period of the Middle Ages
encompasses a thousand years of European
history, distinguished by the heroic-Age society
with Greco-Roman culture and Christian religion.
It began with the collapse of the Roman
Emperor and ended with discovery of the
Western Hemisphere, the consolidation of strong
national states and the break in religions brought
about by the protestant reformation.
Chapter 2. Middle Ages
During the Medieval times, there was no
central government to keep the order. The
only organization that seemed to unite
Europe was the Christian Church.
Christianity took the lead in politics, law,
art and learning for hundreds of years.
Religion shaped people’s lives.
Chapter 2. Middle Ages
The medieval literature can be divided into
three categories---religious writing, romance,
and vernacular writings.
The greatest achievement of religious literature
was made by Italian poet, Dante. His masterpiece,
the Divine Comedy, is the greatest Christian poem
with a profound vision of the Medieval Christian
world. It expresses humanistic ideas which
foreshadowed the spirit of the Renaissance.
Chapter 2. Middle Ages
With regard to romance, the most
well-known are the adventures of King
Arthur and his knights of the round Table.
The vernacular literature of this time
tends to be realistic and satirical. The
greatest works of this kind is Chaucer’s
The Canterbury Tales.
Chapter 3. Renaissance
Against the theology of the Middle Ages
arose the intellectual movement, Renaissance,
which sprang first in Italy in the fourteenth
century and gradually spread all over Europe.
The movement had two striking features.
One was the thirsting curiosity for classical
literature, and the other was the keen interest
in human beauty and human activities, which
is in sharp contrast with Medieval theology.
Chapter 3. Renaissance
Renaissance marks the transition from the
medieval to the modern world. It resulted from
many new facts and forces arising within the old
order of the Medieval Period:
•Hellenistic spirit—human beings are glorious creatures
capable of individual development (perfection)
•The Protestant Reformation
•The introduction of printing, which led to a commercial
market for literature
Chapter 3. Renaissance
•The great economic and political changes leading to
the rise of democracy
• The encouragement of the growing new science.
•The spirit of nationalism and an ambitious
All these made human beings and nature the
results of natural and demonstrable law rather
than a mysterious group of entities subject to
Chapter 3. Renaissance
The peak of it occurred at different times in
different countries, the movement having had its
inception in Italy, where its impact was at first
most visible in the fine arts, while in England, for
instance, it developed later and its main
achievements were in literature, particularly in
dramas (Williams Spears) and poems (John
Chapter 4. Classicism
The Renaissance is romantic in nature, for
it stresses the liberation of the human mind. To
restrain the liberal mind arose a new literary
movement, Classicism, which began in France
in the late 17th century and flourished in other
European countries in the mid-18th century.
Chapter 4. Classicism
As a result of the establishment of the
Monarchy, France had emerged as a national
state with the King.
The King, to weaken the power of the feudal
nobility and strengthen his own power, made
some concessions to the bourgeoisie, who were
new and weak and in need of the help of the
Therefore, the King and the bourgeoisie
worked in combination and wiped out the
feudal rules of separation
Chapter 4. Classicism
To unite the nation in politics demanded an
authoritative literature corresponding with it--that is Classicism.
Classicism places emphasis upon the qualities
of the classical literature:
•Rationalism---elegant and well-proportioned
form, precise idea, true-to-life description and
standardized language.
•Restraint of emotion and passion
Chapter 4. Classicism
•An ability to think logically and to communicate
objectively rather than subjectively.
•Follow the fixed laws and rules drawn from
Greek and Latin works.
These qualities are apparent in the words of
Moliere, the best representative dramatist of
French classical comedies, and of Pope, the
greatest English poet and critic of Classicism.
Chapter 5. Romanticism
As a reaction to the restraints and rules
imposed by classicists, Romanticism came
into being in the late 18th century.
Romanticism is a bourgeois literary
movement and its emergence was closely
connected with the French Revolution, the
European national liberation movement
and the Industrial Revolution:
Chapter 5. Romanticism
In 1789 broke our the French Revolution which
destroyed the feudalism and established the bourgeois
democracy with its slogans of liberty and equality.
Inspired by it, the national liberation movement swept
over Europe and Industrial Revolution arose.
However, Capitalist industrialization brought
sufferings and poverty to the working class. As a
protest against the industrial revolution, writers looked
to the Middle Ages and to direct contact with nature,
wanting to return to the simpler life of the past.
Chapter 5. Romanticism
•Romanticists were discontented with and opposed
to the development of capitalism. They tried to
idealize the life of a non-capitalist society and thus
laid emphasis on subjective idealism and
emotional expression.
•Romanticists had a persistent interest in the
medieval literature, such as epics, ballads, which
were not restricted by various kinds of classical
rules and were characterized by rich imagination,
strong emotion and free expression.
Chapter 5. Romanticism
•Romanticists showed a profound admiration
and love for nature.
•Romanticist were full of moral enthusiasm,
believing ideality.
•Romanticists took interest in the strange and
the mysterious as opposed to common sense.
The leading Romantic writers include Blake,
Wordsworth, Scott, Shelly and Keats in
Chapter 6. Realism
Realism, as a literary movement,
is usually called critical realism,
because it rose as a reaction against
the social reality and the sentimentality
of Romanticism. Realism began in
France in the 1850’s and prevailed in
Europe and the United States until the
early 20th century.
Chapter 6. Realism
The capitalists’ ruthless exploitation and
suppression left the working class in extreme poverty.
As a result, the workers began to fight against the
capitalism, which started in France 1848 and swept
over the other European countries. But for lack of
strong leading nuclear powers, they all failed.
The failure brought about a time of false imagination
and loss of hope (sentimentality of Romanticism), and
the literary men felt the need for a return to what was
plain and real. Therefore, the name Realism was given to
the new movement.
Chapter 6. Realism
• Critical realism was characterized by the
verisimilitude of details derived from observation
and objective description of the representative
character in a typical circumstance.
• The language was usually simple, clear and
direct, and their tone was often sarcastic.
Chapter 6. Realism
• It provided a vivid picture of the capitalist world,
exposed the social contradictions and criticized
the ugliness of the bourgeois world.
• Realists showed profound sympathy for the
common people, but could not find them a
right way out. Their words pointed toward
moral evolution and reform rather than
Chapter 7. Naturalism
Naturalism is a literary movement which is
regarded by many as related to but different from,
Realism. Its founder was Emile Zola, French
Naturalistic writers held that man’s existence is
shaped by heredity and environment over which he
has no control and about which he can exercise
little if any choice.
Chapter 7. Naturalism
Novels and plays in the movement emphasized
the animal nature of man and portrayed characters
engrossed in a helpless brutal struggle for survival
in a cold world.
Unlike realistic writers, naturalists attempted
to achieve fidelity to nature by rejecting idealized
portrayals of life. Realists observed a general
situation and invented incidents which would
make that situation vivid, while naturalists dissect
and analyze the subjects with dispassionate and
scientific accuracy.
Chapter 8. Modernism
Modernism was a complex and diverse
international literary movement, originating at about
the end of the 19th century and reaching its
maturity in the mid 20th
Modernism was rooted in the social upheavals
(Wars, economic crisis) and promoted by the new
ideas and thoughts such as Nietzsche’s philosophy
of subconsciousness, Sigmund Freud’s
psychoanalysis, Bergson’s intuitionism, and
Chapter 8. Modernism
The economic crisis and the great tragedy of
the two world wars shook people’s trust and belief
in the future and values of capitalism. A large group
of writers took up pens to express people’s
frustration and present how people were distorted
and dislocated under the irrational forces of the
modern world.
After 1950s, Modernism began to lose its wail,
but its artistic technique has been still exerting
influence. Therefore, the time between the 1950s
and the present day is generally regarded as the
period of postmodernism,
Chapter 8. Modernism
Modernism is mainly characterized by a
conscious rejection of established rules, traditions
and conventions both in content and in form.
In content, the search for identity is the frequent
common theme. To modernists, the world is an
irrational machine, from whose control man can by
no means escape; man is an indifferent, selfish
animal who is unable to understand each other;
nature is like a horrible prison where man’s freedom
is not allowed. In such a world of chaos, man loses
his identity and doesn’t know where he belongs to.
Chapter 8. Modernism
Therefore, modernists deny rationalism and
science, and stress the importance of instinct and
subconsciousness in literary creation. They are
subjective idealists who concentrate on the “inner
reality” of the character. Their works are tragic,
nihilistic and mysterious.
In form, Modernism is the synonym of revolution.
Not any of the previous periods in history has ever
seen so many experiments in form and style. They
advocate “art for art’s sake”. To them, art should be
separated from life and politics. It serves nothing but
Chapter 8. Modernism