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From Renaissance to Modern Literature: Loss of Understanding; Creation of Anxiety

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        The style and rules of the English literature of the Renaissance era are very different from those of modern literature. Those who are unaware of the rules and conventions of the Renaissance era are easily overwhelmed and frustrated when trying to understand works written by writers of the time. Writings of the Renaissance era cause individuals in modern day society to experience anxiety when reading the literature due to the alphagraphics, spelling variations, and conventions used by the authors and printers.

        In the Renaissance era, the alphabet consisted of twenty-four letters unlike the modern day alphabet, which consists of twenty-six letters, which causes confusion to those attempting to comprehend Renaissance writing. The complexities of English literature have developed greatly over the years, especially from the Renaissance to modern day. Present day readers experience anxiety when reading Renaissance writing because certain letters could be used for multiple purposes and had different meanings and pronunciations depending on their placing within the word. Depending on the positioning, the sound that the letter makes could vary. The alphabet of the Renaissance era did not contain the letters “v” or “j”.

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        Ligatures are characters, letters, or types containing two or more letters. Ligatures follow the spatial rule of a letter signifying the state, middle, or end of a word. For example, the “long s” was used at the beginning or middle of a word whereas the “round s” was used at the end of a word. If modern day English was read by readers of the Renaissance era, it would be read differently. The word manslaughter in modern day English would be read as “mans laughter” in the Renaissance era. The round “s” would signal the end of the word, which would be “mans” in this case, and “laughter” would be considered as a separate word. The use of the “long s” (ſ) allowed for the tying together of two words to reduce the type required. An example of this would be the word “show”, which in the Renaissance period, would be written as “ſhow”. The tying together of the “long s” and the “h” in this word allowed for the use of three types instead of four. The ligatures
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Readers of modern literature often have trouble understanding what they are reading and therefore experience anxiety when attempting to comprehend the more complex literature of the Renaissance time period. Renaissance literature had many more rules than modern English literature regarding ligatures and letter placements, spelling variants, conventions and printing. Placement of letters in the Renaissance time created different sounds whereas the modern alphabet contains two more letters to create the same effect. Also, modern English literature contains distinct rules to differentiate between vowels and consonants. Writing was written with fancy ligatures in the Renaissance era in order to enhance its beauty where as effective modern literature is filled with literary devices. Spelling variations from the Renaissance era are much harder to comprehend than those used in modern literature, and cause confusion when trying to understand the context in which the certain spelling is being used. English literature has lost its strength over the years and has been simplified and made easier to comprehend, therefore causing anxiety within people of modern day society attempting to read Renaissance literature.

From Renaissance to Modern Literature:

Loss of Understanding; Creation of Anxiety

Malvinder Garcha

Mrs. Vritsios

ENG 4U0- J

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