By Edward Albert
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Extra info for A History of English Literature
The prose of the Ancrene Riwle and of the Katherine Group has at last been accepted for its true value. THE DEVELOPMENT OF STYLE IN POETRY That the poetry of the period under review has developed greatly from the stylistic point of view is clear from a comparison between, say, Lazamon's Brut and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but it is difficult to describe in a few words, precisely, this development. It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that from being ' artleas' the poet becomes the consciout artist.
It appeals with the greatest force to minds which are still unused to abstract thinking; and about the period now under discussion it exactly suited the lay and ecclesiastical mind. Hence we have a flood of poems dealing with Courts of Love, Houses of Fame, Dances of the Seven Deadly 46 Sins, and other symbolical subjects. Especially in the earlier stages of his career, Chaucer himself did not escape the prevailing habit. We shall see that the craze for the allegory was to increase during the next century and later, till it reached its climax in The Faerie Queene.
In his dream Chaucer is carried by an eagle to the House of Fame and watches candidates for fame approach the 35 throne, some being granted their requests and others refused. Though the story is rather drawn-out, and the allegorical significance obscure, it is of special interest because, in the verve and raci-ness of the Eagle, it shows gleams of the genuine Chaucerian humour. In this group is also included The Legend of Good Women, in which Chaucer, starting with the intention of telling nineteen affecting tales of virtuous women of antiquity, finishes with eight accomplished and the ninth only begun.
A History of English Literature by Edward Albert