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text 2018-06-08 08:23
5 Best Authors in English Literature’s History after Shakespeare

There’s no exaggeration in saying that William Shakespeare was the greatest of all times as far as being gifted in the genre of English literature is concerned. He was the one who set the table for the later authors and poets to eat their food on. He popularized literature beyond the concept of being used simply as a mode of communication and means of keeping records – he introduced the entertainment and philosophical parts of the literature to the common.

There are no second thoughts to this – Shakespeare was the greatest of all times. But who are the next best names in English literature? I have compiled a list of 5 authors that according to me are the best in the field of English literature. I decided to do this after I had to do my essay on literature during my papers last semester. And if you need any help in literature, you can seek it from the best essay writing service. Let’s see if you agree or not:

  1. Geoffrey Chaucer: Considered as the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer still is considered one of the best after Shakespeare. He used to write in a style that was very close to a derivative of Anglo-Saxon language. The language he used was not very different from that used in Beowulf, the epic. He was one of the most influential writers (read poets) in the history of English literature. Some of the most notable works of Chaucer are – The Book of the Duchess, The Canterbury Tales, The House of fame, and many others.

  1. Charles Dickens: Widely regarded as the most descriptive author in the history of English literature, Charles Dickens had a gift. He could make the reader glide with him throughout the prose. His writings were as good as a film going on in front of your eyes – he was that magical. The characters from his novel have become immortal. Such was the pull that he created towards the characters and towards the English culture. He weaved the words to create imageries in the minds of the readers. Some of the most celebrated of his works are – Great Expectations, Hard Times, A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby.

  1. John Donne: Considered as the pioneer of the metaphysical writing style, John Donne was one of the most influential poets in the history. He is most popular in the history for the use of metaphors in his poems. The way he framed and portrayed incidents in his works is what made him famous. There are very less poets who could achieve that level of flexibility in the use of literary tools in their writings. Some of the most notable works of John Donne are – Holy Sonnets, The Flea, The Good Morrow, Death be Not Proud, and The Dream.

  1. Samuel Taylor Coleridge: Coleridge can be counted as one of the flag bearers of the romantic era of English literature. He is famous for his beautiful wreaths of lyrics that he weaved, and painted a larger than life picture of something as trivial and mundane as a bird. He was the master of personification, simile, and metaphors. Some of his immortally famous works are – The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Lyrical Ballads, and Kubla Khan.

  1. John Milton: One of the most celebrated poets in the history of English Literature is John Milton. The very flavour of contrast that his works bring to the Bible is the source of food for thought for some very famous philosophers. ‘Paradise Lost’ was, is, and will be the greatest poem in English literature.
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review 2017-09-06 11:00
A Young Woman’s Flight: The Adventure of the Black Lady by Aphra Behn
The Adventure of the Black Lady, and the Lucky Mistake (Dodo Press) - Aphra Behn

The English prose novel as we know it today is an amazingly recent invention. Its rise began only in the seventeenth century thanks to writers like Daniel Defoe (c.1660-1731), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745)… and Aphra Behn (1640-1689) whose work was rediscovered only in the early twentieth century (»»» read my author’s portrait). Although in her time Aphra Behn was first of all a renowned playwright, she also wrote several novels in her later years. By modern standards, however, these novels are hardly more than novelettes or even short stories.  One of these little known prose works from the pen of the first Englishwoman who was able make her living as a writer is The Adventure of the Black Lady first published in 1684. It’s the story of a young woman called Bellamora who has come from Hampshire to Covent Garden in the hope to find refuge and help with a cousin of hers.

 

In her story Aphra Behn skilfully portrays Bellamora as a very naïve and foolish young woman who got herself into serious trouble and sees her only chance in flight. Both her parents are dead and she left her uncle’s estate pretending to visit a recently married cousin living not far away, while in reality she headed for town right away and with the intention to hide for a while in the “populous and public place” where she had another relation who would surly help her out. When Bellamora arrives in Covent Garden, however, she finds that her cousin doesn’t live there anymore and, even worse, that nobody there seems ever to have heard of her. Understandably, the young woman is desperate and uncertain what to do. The author makes her wander aimlessly through the parish in a hired coach and ask people if they know her cousin and her whereabouts. And surprise, surprise, an impoverished gentlewoman who lets lodgings for a living tells Bellamora that her cousin and her husband have been living with her for more than a year, but that they went out and she didn’t expect them back before the night. Greatly relieved Bellamora asks to be allowed to wait for the couple and, trusting as she is, she soon pours out her sorrowful heart to the friendly gentlewoman. When the Lady and her husband return at last, Bellamora is again plunged into despair because she isn’t her cousin after all. Luck would have it, though, that the Lady is an old acquaintance whom Bellamora doesn’t recognise at first, but who recalls the young woman at once and bids her welcome. And again Bellamora pours out her heart and this time she reveals the whole truth to the almost stranger, namely that she is eight months pregnant and fled from the advances of the child’s father whom she doesn’t want to marry for fear that after the wedding he will love her no longer. As befits a romantic “novel” of the time, with a few other lucky – and unlikely – twists brought about by both the gentlewoman and the Lady who is not the sought for cousin, Aphra Behn drives Bellamora’s story towards a happy ending.

 

Instead of the dodo press book that contains also a novelette titled The Lucky Mistake, I read the free web edition of The Adventure of the Black Lady published by eBooks@Adelaide and found it an entertaining and very quick read about Romantic love and the desperation of a fallen young woman in England of the Restoration. Although Ernest A. Baker included it in his 1905 collection of The Novels of Mrs. Aphra Behn, it’s really a short story filling no more than a couple of pages. If it weren’t for the spelling and some peculiarities of language, the story would feel very modern almost like historical fiction written in the twentieth or twenty-first centuries. I warmly recommend it!

 

The Adventure of the Black Lady, and the Lucky Mistake (Dodo Press) - Aphra Behn 

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review 2017-03-26 06:07
An Inside Job
The Moonstone - Wilkie Collins

I had no idea that this book existed until my bookclub decided to make it the book of the month. In fact I had never heard of Wilkie Collins until this book was mentioned in passing. As it turns out (or at least according to some of the members of my bookclub) Wilkie lived under the shadow of Charles Dickens. In fact Wilkie and Dickens were good friends, that is until they had a falling out, and Dickens went out of his way to trash the works of Wilkie (and vice versa – I guess we can work out who won). I'm not really all that sure of any of the details beyond that, namely because I can't be bothered looking it up, even though this statement seems to be based upon a rumour that I heard from another person. The other thing about Wilkins, and this book in particular, was that I had some trouble finding it in a bookshop and ended up having to order it in, only to wander into a secondhand bookshop a week later to see a copy of this book, and Woman in White sitting on the shelf – it always happens like that.

 

So, the Moonstone is about this huge diamond that is stolen from India and finds its way to England and into the possession of a wealthy young lady (who inherited it from her uncle, who had originally stolen it from India). On her eighteenth birthday party she proudly wears it, but later that night it goes missing, and suddenly the mystery as to what happened to the diamond and who stole it begins. However, unlike most detective stories that I have read, where the mystery is pretty much solved within 24 to 48 hours of it happening, it isn't and everybody goes home. However, a year later the hunt for the diamond begins again in ernst and the mystery is eventually solved, though not as we would expect it to be solved.

 

Apparently The Moonstone is the first ever detective novel, though there was a discussion as to whether Wilkie or Poe were the first to write in this specific style of genre (apparently Poe was first, but because his story was a short story Wilkie is attributed to having the first full length novel). However the interesting thing is that it doesn't necessarily set the standard for how the genre developed in the future, though as I have said numerous times in the past, the detective novel, or even crime fiction, isn't a genre that really catches my attention. I have tried to read Agatha Christie, and despite really enjoying And Then There Were None I wasn't able to get into any of the other novels of hers that I read (though I'll probably try a couple more but I am not rushing out to do so). As for Doyle, as I have also previously mentioned, while at first I really enjoyed Sherlock Holmes, as the series dragged on I become less and less enthralled with the character and the stories.

 

The thing is that in my mind the idea of the detective fiction is that it is a game between the author and the reader to see if they can actually solve the problem before everything is revealed at the end, however my Dad, who is an avid reader of the genre, suggests that this generally isn't the case. For instance the Butler never, ever actually does it, and if he does it is generally considered to be so clichéd that the book is tossed into the recycling bin before anybody else can pick it up and have their intelligence insulted. As for Agatha Christie, my Dad suggests that her conclusions are so contrived that it is almost impossible to work it out (for instance in one of the books it turned out that everybody did it, though I still hold to my theory that Miss Marple is the real criminal, it is just that she is so clever at being able to throw the scent off the trail and pin the crime onto somebody else that she is never ever suspected, let alone caught).

 

Mind you, when I read a detective novel I generally give up trying to solve the problem pretty quickly, namely because that isn't the reason why I read – if I wanted to solve problems I would go and try debugging computer programs, or even write my own, or have an extended session on Duolingo – to me novels aren't designed to solve problems, but rather to open up one's mind to other possibilities, and to explore these possibilities through sites like Goodreads, or even my own blog. The other thing is that I suspect this style of detective fiction is rather new and wasn't the way that the original authors of the genre intended it to be.

 

The other thing about The Moonstone is that it was surprisingly amusing, which also baffled me because I never considered classical literature to actually be funny. Mind you, they probably are quite amusing, it is just that the style of humour, and the subtle references, are something that we generally wouldn't understand. Okay, I have known, and even done so myself, people who have burst out laughing at the plays of Aristophanes, and I also note that we have a few Roman comedies available, however it seems as if for quite a while most pieces of literature were actually quite serious, but then again we do have Shakespeare so I guess I am just talking rubbish again.

 

The really amusing thing about this book was the character who swore by the book Robinson Crusoe, which I have to admit does have a tendency to poke fun at those of us who happen to be religious. In fact sometimes I wonder myself at the absurdity of putting one's faith in the writings of a group of people that lived thousands of years ago. In fact a lot of people completely write off the writings of the ancients in that as far as they are concerned, if it was written over a thousand years ago then it has absolutely no application to the world today. Personally, I would disagree, though I guess the whole idea of basing one's life around Robinson Crusoe is that there is a difference between somebody who simply blindly follows a religious text, and those who go out of their way to completely debunk the text only to discover that no matter how hard they try the text stands up to scrutiny. Mind you, this does eventually come down to the way that you go about debunking the text.

 

As for basing your life around Robinson Crusoe, well, I'm sure it is possible, but I'm not really going to give it a try. Maybe I'll just stick with Mr Men (though I hope I haven't lost the one that I thought I put in my bag this morning).

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1938970519
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review SPOILER ALERT! 2017-02-14 08:54
Birth of the Boy Book
Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson,Patrick Scott

Despite this book being the progenitor of pretty much all of the pirate books of the 20th Century, as well as being an influence of many of the adventure and 'boys' books that came afterwards, I found this book rather dull. Maybe it has a lot to do with my lack of enthusiasm for 19th Century English novels (which does not include [author:Jules Verne], since he is French). In fact, I can't really think of any 19th Century English novels that I would actually jump up and say 'this is brilliant'. Personally, I really don't know what it is that makes me find much of the literature of the 19th Century boring, but generally I do (though I probably should make a note of the fact that Stevenson is actually a Scot).

 

Anyway, this is a story of a boy, Jim Hawkins, who stumbles across a treasure map and then goes and shows it to a mutual acquaintance, Dr Liversey. Together they hire a crew and go and look for the treasure on Treasure Island. However, while they are hiring a crew, they bring on board a cook, Long John Silver, who then goes and hires the rest of the crew. As it turns out, Long John was the cook on the ship of Captain Flint, the pirate who buried the treasure originally, and the crew he hires were all pirates on that same vessel. So, when they arrive at Treasure Island, Long John and his men take over the ship, and those still loyal to Hawkins and Liversey, manage to escape. However, to cut a long story short (not that Treasure Island is really all that long), they outsmart the pirates, get the treasure, and all return to England happy men.

 

Now, this was Stevenson's first novel, he wrote travel narratives before that, but this book was his first foray into the realm of the imagination. Further, his adventure into this realm pretty much changed the scene of the novel ever since, and many of the 'boys books' of the 20th Century can all look back to Stevenson for inspiration. It is not that Stevenson wrote the first adventure novel. Such stories have been floating around for eons. What Stevenson did is that he constructed it so that that appealed to the modern reader. Not only is it supposed to be exciting (I didn't find it all that exciting) but it was also short and easy to read. It is aimed at a young audience, though many adults have read and come to appreciate it (me not being among them).

 

Now, the best character in the book by far is Long John Silver. I always expected him to be a pirate captain, but he is much more sneakier than that. The fact that he escapes at the end of the book goes a long way to show this character's shrewdness. However, he also has a sense of morality (one which almost gets him killed). When he had captured Hawkins, the other pirates wanted to kill him, but Silver intervenes (and in the process almost gets himself killed). Silver, while being the man with the plan, demonstrates that it is not easy to take charge of a gang of pirates. He planned on taking over the ship, but the pirates ended up jumping the gun, as they do most of the way through the book, which in the end sows the seeds of their failure.

 

However, the character that I found the most out of place would have been Jim Hawkins. He is a seven year old boy who is looking after his sick mother after his father dies, and he simply runs off on an adventure to find a lost treasure. Granted, one could argue that he went off after the treasure to support his mother, but considering the time it takes to travel, and the fact that the adventure would take at least a year, if he is lucky, then it really makes no sense. However, this is a 'boys' book which means that the character is one way to appeal to boys.

 

The other interesting thing is to notice all of the pirate jargon and paraphernalia in this book. Phrases such as 'pieces of eight' and 'shiver me timbers' as well as the Jolly Roger, all find their birthplace in this book. While I may consider the book, and the story, somewhat dull, one cannot help but admire the influence that Stevenson's writing has had upon the literary world.

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/220453075
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review 2016-12-19 12:29
King Arthur's Death - Anonymous,Brian Stone

You certainly have to love the occasional lyric poetry, especially when it is about the end of everybody’s favourite legendary English king, Arthur Pendragon. Actually, I’m not sure if that is actually his last name, though it seems that this guy, and the legend that surrounds him, is much like Robin Hood – he may have existed, he may not have, but a huge legend has arisen around them while there doesn’t actually seem to be any consistency in these legends. In fact, this particular book contains two contrasting versions of his death, though the common feature is that he was killed by Mordred (though whether Mordred was his son or not is also up in the air because one of them suggests that he is, while the other suggests that he is just naughty lord).

 

Anyway, these two poems contain literally everything, and it is no wonder that the story of Arthur has been picked up by so many authors and film makers, and the stories that come out of it are vastly different in nature. For instance there was a film from the eighties called Excalibur which focused much more on the fantasy elements, with Excalibur, Merlin, and a tragic end as he searched for the holy grail. Another version (named King Arthur), was set during the times when the Romans pulled out of England, and Arthur was basically a Knight from the other side of the empire and was fighting to stop the Picts from overrunning the England.

 

There was also this book I remember called The Mists of Avalon, which I remember seeing as a kid, but never getting around to reading it, probably because upon looking at it I came to the conclusion that it was the thickest book ever written – in fact it was huge. Mind you, there are probably much, much thicker books these days, but that one still sits in my mind as being pretty thick. Oh, and we cannot forget to mention this all time classic.

 

As I previously mentioned there are two versions of the story, both of them dealing with Arthur’s death, so there is no mention of Merlin, nor of the sword, nor of the Lady in the Lake (or the test to remove the sword from the stone). In fact both stories seem to eschew the fantasy elements and come across much more historical. Anyway, the first story deals with Arthur going on conquests across Europe and coming to blows with the Emperor of Rome. He eventually defeats the emperor, however discovers that back in England Mordred has taken the throne for himself. Mind you, after going to war with Rome, Arthur has actually lost a lot of men, but with the handful of men he does have he returns to England, confronts Mordred’s much larger army, and defeats Mordred while dying in the process.

 

There are a couple of things that come out of this story, one of them being the plot where the King is abroad and the person keeping the throne warm decides to name himself as king. This is something that has happened a number of times in history, but the one event that comes to mind is that of Richard II (of which I have written two blog posts, the second being here). Mind you, I would hardly equate Arthur with Richard, particularly since if it wasn’t for Shakespeare’s play he would probably be little more than a footnote in history – Arthur is a legend. Mind you, it is noticeable that both die, because we can’t have Mordred defeating Arthur and giving us an evil laughter and riding off into the sunset. Mind you, even in Shakespeare’s tragedies the bad guy eventually gets it in the neck. In a way it seems as if you simply cannot have a situation where the bad guy wins, and the good guy simply cannot come back and eventually win the day – it is almost as if it is anathema in literature.

 

The other thing is how Arthur pretty much conquers Europe. This is taken directly out of History of the Kings of Britain, and seems to attribute the barbarian invasions of Rome to being an invasion let by Arthur. Mind you, Monmouth puts Arthur around 700 AD, which is sometime after Rome collapsed, but it is interesting how we have no record of any legendary king carving out a huge empire in Europe. However, it should also be noted that this is one of those empires that exists only on the personality of a single man, and it appears that after his death the kingdom pretty much disintegrates. Another thing that I have noticed is that Bede seems to have a gap in his Ecclesiastical history right around the time Monmouth has Arthur appear. That’s not to say that I am suggesting Arthur existed because, other than Charlemagne, there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of a king establishing an Empire on the Continent, especially one where the throne was in England.

 

Mind you, this whole thing reeks of nationalism, yet it is interesting that England did have an identity as far back as the 10th century. Monmouth also suggested that two English Kings were responsible for crossing the channel in around 400 bc, conquering Europe, crossing the Alps, and sacking Rome. Obviously what is happening here is a medieval version of ‘Fake News’, though it is probably better described as being ‘fake history’ (though the Romans seems to have a lot of problems with this fake history) – this is history that really has no substance to it, and no archaeological support. Mind you, writers of history back in those days really didn’t take the academic and scientific approach that we do today (though all history is still tainted by opinion), but rather wrote from the legends that were in vogue.

 

The second story is pretty much the same (that is about how Arthur died), however it’s focus is more on the love affair between Lancelot and Guenevere. In fact, this affair could be considered one of the greatest affairs in literature (okay, there are probably others, but I really have no interest in stories about love affairs – I would call them forbidden love but it sounds so clichéd – still, something that you can’t have always seems much more desirable than something that you can). Whereas the first story has a lot more action and large scale battles, this one has a lot more intrigue where people are being killed, and then the murder is being covered up, and there is adultery, poisonings, duels, and finally King Arthur’s death.

 

In a way this is an incredibly painful episode to watch because we all know how it is going to end – badly – especially since Lancelot is one of Arthur’s most trusted knights. However, this episode is set mostly in the court of Camelot, and doesn’t even have any mention of wars and expeditions to foreign lands. Actually, come to think of it there is always the story of David and Bathsheba in the Bible – that’s a pretty well known love affair, but I digress. Anyway, it seems as if the story of Arthur is a story of betrayal, with his wife and best friend having hanky panky behind his back, and Mordred going off and stealing his throne (and dying in the process).

 

Anyway, before I finish off, I probably should end with this cartoon, especially considering the state of politics these days:

 

System of Government

Source: www.goodreads.com/review/show/1834226533
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