Under the influence of the Renaissance English poetry awoke as from a long sleep at the court of Henry VIII.

Authors Avatar by priyankaaguha (student)

INFLUENCE OF RENAISSANCE AND REFORMATION ON ENGLISH LITERATURE AND CULTURE   :         "Renaissance" is a French word which means rebirth, reawakening or revival. In literature the term "Renaissance" is used to denote the revival of ancient classical literature and culture and re-awakening of human mind, after the long sleep in the Medieval Ages, to the glory, wonders and beauty of man's earthly life and nature. The great literary movement, Renaissance began in Italy with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. But its influence was not felt in England till the last years of the fifteenth century when the English scholars who visited Italy at the time came back to England nourished on the Renaissance humanism. The Renaissance, however, had its full blossoming in the Elizabethan period (1551-1603). This late flowering of the Renaissance was due to the religious dissension which swept over England before Elizabeth's accession to the throne.

    The most interesting significant product of the early Renaissance was the translation of Greek and Roman literature. The translators opened for their countrymen a window into the enchanted world of classical antiquity which appeared with all the freshness of a new discovery, the world of the gods and the goddesses of Greece and the great soldiers and statesmen and the Roman Empire. Moreover they brought their readers too into contact with the life and thought of contemporary Europe, and especially of Renaissance Italy. The invention of the printing press placed the translations within the reach of the common people. The translators amassed rich stores of material for the dramatists and poets of the future. Let us now consider the impact of the Renaissance on Elizabethan poetry, drama and prose.

The Renaissance was characterized by certain features:

Humanism:  This is a term derived from Latin ‘humanitas’ used By Cicero to mean the cultural values that liberal education inculcated in man. The study of history, moral, philosophy, poetry etc. comprised the ‘studia humanitatis’ which become part of the curriculum in Italian universities. During the Renaissance man and individual became important and fresh interest was displayed in earthly life. The miserable sinful creature of the Middle Ages was gone, church lost its enormous influence on mankind. The Renaissance man was now attracted to personal glory. Definitely the time had come extol the individual and not the church.

Join now!

The New Classicism: There was an ardent revival in the study of Greek, which brought a dazzling light into many dark places of intellect. The new passion for classical learning, in itself a rich and worthy enthusiasm, became quite a danger to the language. In all branches of literature Greek and Latin usages began to force themselves upon English, with result not wholly beneficial. It said much for the native sturdiness of English that  after a brief and vexed period of transition it threw away the worst effect of this deadening pressure. English did not emerge unscathed from the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay