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Outlines of English and American Literature
by Long, William J.

The most remarkable feature of the Elizabethan age was its patriotic enthusiasm. This enthusiasm found its best expression on the stage, in the portrayal of life in vigorous action; and dramas were produced in such number and of such quality that the whole period is sometimes called the age of the play. It was a time of poetry rather than of prose, and nearly all of the poetry is characterized by its emotional quality, by youthful freshness of feeling, by quickened imagination, and by an extravagance of language which overflows, even in Shakespeare, in a kind of glorious bombast.

Our study of the literature of the age includes: (1) The outburst of lyric poetry. (2) The life and works of Spenser, second in time of the great English poets. (3) A review of the long history of the drama, from the earliest church spectacle, through miracle, morality, interlude, pageant and masque to the Elizabethan drama. (4) The immediate forerunners of Shakespeare, of whom the most notable was Marlowe. (5) The life and work of Shakespeare. (6) Ben Jonson, the successors of Shakespeare, and the rapid decline of the drama. (7) Elizabethan prose; the appearance of euphuism; Sidney's Apologie for Poetrie; the Authorized Version of the Scriptures; and the life and work of Francis Bacon.

Selections for Reading

Selected lyrics in Manly, English Poetry; Newcomer, Twelve Centuries of English Poetry and Prose; Palgrave, Golden Treasury; Schilling, Elizabethan Lyrics; Ward, English Poets.

Spenser. Selected poems in Temple Classics, Cambridge Poets Series. Selections from The Faery Queen in Standard English Classics and other school editions. (See Texts, in General Bibliography.)

Early Drama. A miracle play, such as Noah, may be read in Manly, Specimens of Pre-Shakespearean Drama (Ginn and Company). Marlowe's plays in Everyman's Library; his Edward II in Holt's English Readings; his Faustus in Temple Dramatists, and in Mermaid Series.

Shakespeare. Several editions of Shakespeare's plays, such as the revised Hudson (Ginn and Company) and the Neilson (Scott) are available. Single plays, such as Julius Caesar, Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, As You Like It, are edited for class use in Standard English Classics, Lake Classics, and various other school series. The Sonnets in Athenĉum Press Series.

Ben Jonson. The Alchemist in Cambridge Poets Series; also in Thayer, Best Elizabethan Plays (Ginn and Company), which includes in one volume plays by Marlowe, Jonson, Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher.

Prose Writers. Selections from Bacon's Essays in Riverside Literature, or Maynard's English Classkcs. The Essays complete in Everyman's Library. Selections from Hooker, Sidney and Lyly in Manly, English Prose, or Craik, English Prose. Ampler selections in Garnett, English Prose from Elizabeth to Victoria (Ginn and Company), which contains in one volume typical works of 33 prose writers from Lyly to Carlyle. Hakluyt's Voyages in Everyman's Library.


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