• abecedarian poem
a poem having verses beginning with the successive letters
of the alphabet.
• abstract
used as a noun, the term refers to a short summary or
outline of a longer work. As an adjective applied to writing
or literary works. Abstract refers to words or phrases that
name things not knowable through the five senses. Examples of abstracts include the ‘Cliffs Notes’ summaries of
major literary works. Examples of abstract terms or concepts include ‘idea’, ‘guilt’ ‘honesty’ and ‘loyalty’.
• abstract language
words that represent ideas, intangibles and concepts such
as ‘beauty’ and ‘truth’.
• abstract poetry
poetry that aims to use its sounds, textures, rhythms and
rhymes to convey an emotion, instead of relying on the
meanings of words.
• absurd theatre see theatre of the absurd.
• absurdism see theatre of the absurd.
• academic verse
poetry that adheres to the accepted standards and requirements of some kind of ‘school’. Poetry approved, officially,
or unofficially, by a literary establishment.
• acatalectic
a verse having a metrically complete number of syllables in
the final foot.
• accent
1. the emphasis or stress placed on a syllable in poetry.
Traditional poetry commonly uses patterns of accented and
unaccented syllables (known as feet) that create distinct
rhythms. Much modern poetry uses less formal arrangements that create a sense of freedom and spontaneity. The
following line from William Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’:
‘to be or not to be: that is the question’ has five accents, on
the words ‘be’, ‘not’, ‘be’ and ‘that’, and the first syllable of
2. the rhythmically significant stress in the articulation of
words, giving some syllables more relative prominence than
others. In words of two or more syllables, one syllable is
almost invariably stressed more strongly than the other syllables. In words of one syllable, the degree of stress normally depends on their grammatical function; nouns, verbs
and adjectives are usually given more stress than articles or
prepositions. The words in a line of poetry are usually arranged so the accents occur at regular intervals, with the
meter defined by the placement of the accents within the
foot. Accent should not be construed as emphasis.
3. the emphasis, or stress, given to a syllable in pronunciation. Accents can also be used to emphasise a particular
word in a sentence.
• accentual meter
a rhythmic pattern based on a recurring number of accents
or stresses in each line of a poem or section of a poem.
• accentual verse
lines whose rhythm arises from its stressed syllables rather
than from the number of its syllables, or from the length of
time devoted to their sounding. Old English poems such as
Beowulf and Caedmon’s Hymn are accentual. They fall
clearly into two halves, each with two stresses.
• accentual-syllabic verse
the normal system of verse composition in England since the
fourteenth century, in which the meter depends upon counting
both the number of stresses and the total number of syllables
in any given line. An iambic pentameter for example contains
five stressed syllables and a total of ten syllables.
• acephalexis
initial truncation (the dropping of the first, unstressed syllable at the beginning of a line of iambic or anapaestic verse).
• acephalous (Greek ‘headless’)
a line of verse without its expected initial syllable.
• acrostic
1. a poem in which the first letter of each line spells out a
name (downwards).
2. a word, phrase, or passage spelled out vertically by the first
letters of a group of lines in sequence. Sir John Davies’ ‘Hymns
of Astraea’ dedicates 26 acrostic poems to Elizabeth I.
• act
a major section of a play. Acts are divided into varying numbers of shorter scenes. From the ancient times to the nineteenth century, plays were generally constructed of five acts,
but modern works typically consist of one, two, or three
acts. Examples of five-act plays include the works of
Sophocles and Shakespeare, while the plays of Arthur Miller
commonly have a three-act structure. The ends of acts are
typically indicated by lowering the curtain or turning up the
houselights. Playwrights frequently employ acts to accommodate changes in time, setting, characters on stage, or
mood. In many full-length plays, acts are further divided
into scenes, which often mark a point in the action when
the location changes or when a new character enters.
• acto
a one-act Chicano theatre piece developed out of collective
• adonic
a verse consisting of a dactyl followed by a spondee or trochee.
• adynaton
a type of hyperbole in which the exaggeration is magnified
so greatly that it refers to an impossibility, for example, ‘I’d
walk a million miles for one of your smiles’.
• aesthetic movement
a literary belief that art is its own justification and purpose,
advocated in England by Walter Pater and practiced by
Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Charles Swinburne and others.
• aestheticism
a literary and artistic movement of the nineteenth century. Followers of the movement believed that art should not be mixed
with social, political, or moral teaching. The statement ‘art for
art’s sake’ is a good summary of aestheticism. The movement had its roots in France, but it gained widespread importance in England in the last half of the nineteenth century,
where it helped change the Victorian practice of including moral
lessons in literature. Oscar Wilde is one of the best-known
‘aesthetes’ of the late nineteenth century.
• affective fallacy
an error in judging the merits or faults of a work of literature.
The ‘error’ results from stressing the importance of the work’s
effect upon the reader — that is, how it makes a reader
‘feel’ emotionally, what it does as a literary work — instead
of stressing its inner qualities as a created object, or what
it ‘is’. The affective fallacy is evident in Aristotle’s precept
from his ‘Poetics’ that the purpose of tragedy is to evoke
‘fear and pity’ in its spectators. Also known as sympathetic
• afflatus
a creative inspiration, as that of a poet; a divine imparting of
knowledge, thus it is often called divine afflatus.
• Age of Johnson
the period in English literature between 1750 and 1798,
named after the most prominent literary figure of the age,
Samuel Johnson. Works written during this time are noted
for their emphasis on ‘sensibility’ or emotional quality. These
works formed a transition between the rational works of the
Age of Reason, or Neoclassical period and the emphasis
on individual feelings and responses of the Romantic period.
Significant writers during the Age of Johnson included the
novelists Ann Radcliffe and Henry Mackenzie, dramatists
Richard Sheridan and Oliver Goldsmith and poets William
Collins and Thomas Gray. Also known as Age of Sensibility.
• Age of Sensibility see Age of Johnson.
• agrarians
a group of Southern American writers of the 1930s and 1940s
who fostered an economic and cultural program for the
South, based on agriculture, in opposition to the industrial
society of the North. The term can refer to any group that
promotes the value of farm life and agricultural society.
Members of the original Agrarians included John Crowe Ransom, Alien Tate and Robert Penn Warren.
• alazon
a deceiving or self-deceived character in fiction, normally
an object of ridicule in comedy or satire, but often the hero
of a tragedy. In comedy, he most frequently takes the form
of a pedant.
• alcaic verse
a Greek lyrical meter, said to be invented by Alcaeus, a
lyric poet from about 600 B.C. Written in tetrameter, the
greater Alcaic consists of a spondee or iamb, followed by
an iamb plus a long syllable and two dactyls. The lesser
Alcaic, also in tetrameter, consists of two dactylic feet,
followed by two iambic feet.
• alcaics
a four-line Classical stanza named after Alcaeus, a Greek
poet, with a predominantly dactylic meter, imitated by Alfred
lord Tennyson’s poem, Milton.
• Alexandrine
1. an iambic line of twelve syllables, or six feet, usually
with a caesura after the sixth syllable. It is the standard
line in French poetry, comparable to the iambic pentameter
line in English poetry.
2. a metrical line of six feet or twelve syllables (in English),
originally from French heroic verse. Randle Cotgrave, in his
1611 French-English dictionary, explains: ‘Alexandrin. A
verse of 12, or 13 syllables’. In his Essay on Criticism,
Alexander Pope says, ‘A needless Alexandrine ends the
song.That like a wounded snake, drags its slow length along’
(359). Examples include Michael Drayton’s Polyolbion,
Robert Bridges’ Testament of Beauty and the last line of
each stanza in Thomas Hardy’s The Convergence of the
• allegory
1. a narrative technique in which characters representing
things or abstract ideas are used to convey a message or
teach a lesson. Allegory is typically used to teach moral,
ethical, or religious lessons but is sometimes used for satiric or political purposes. Examples of allegorical works
include Edmund Spenser’s ‘The Faerie Queene’ and John
Bunyan’s ‘The Pilgrim’s Progress’.
2. a figurative illustration of truths or generalisations about
human conduct or experience in a narrative or description,
by the use of symbolic fictional figures and actions which
resemble the subject’s properties and circumstances.
• alliteration
a poetic device where the first consonant sounds or any
vowel sounds in words or syllables are repeated.
The following description of the Green Knight from the anonymous ‘Sir Gawain and the Green Knight’ gives an example
of alliteration:
And in guise all of green, the gear and the man:
A roat cut close, that clung to his sides
An a mantle to match, made with a lining
Of furs cut and fitted — the fabric was noble....
• allusion
a reference to a familiar literary or historical person or event,
used to make an idea more easily understood.
For example, describing someone as a ‘Romeo’ makes an
allusion to William Shakespeare’s famous young lover in
‘Romeo and Juliet’.
• ambiguity
allows for two or more simultaneous interpretations of a
word, phrase, action or situation, all of which can be supported by the context of a work. Deliberate ambiguity can
contribute to the effectiveness and richness of a work, for
example, in the open-ended conclusion to Hawthorne’s
Young Goodman Brown. However, unintentional ambiguity
obscures meaning and can confuse readers.
• Amerind literature
the writing and oral traditions of Native Americans. Native
American literature was originally passed on by word of
mouth, so it consisted largely of stories and events that
were easily memorised. Amerind prose is often rhythmic
like poetry because it was recited to the beat of a ceremonial drum. Examples of Amerind literature include the autobiographical ‘Black Elk Speaks’, the works of N. Scott
Momaday, James Welch and Craig Lee Strete and the poetry of Luci Tapahonso.
• amphibrach
a metrical foot consisting of a long or accented syllable
between two short or unaccented syllables.
• amphigouri
a verse composition, which is although apparently coherent, contains no sense or meaning.
• amplification
the use of bare expressions, likely to be ignored or misunderstood by a hearer or reader because of the bluntness.
Emphasis through restatement with additional details.
• anachronism
the placement of an event, person, or thing out of its proper
chronological relationship, sometimes unintentional, but
often deliberate as an exercise of poetic license.
• anaclasis
the substitution of different measures to break up the rhythm.
C. 450-C. 1066
Old English (or AngloSaxon) Period
C. 1066-C.1500
Middle English Period
C. 1500-1660
The Renaissance
Elizabbethan Age
Jacobean Age
Caroline Age
Commonwealth and
Protectorate Period
C. 1660-C. 1800
Neo-classical Period
The Restoration Age
C. 1700-C.1745
The Augustan Age or The
Age of Pope
C. 1745-C. 1798
Age of Sensibility or The
Age of Johnson
C. 1798-C. 1832
Period of the Romantic
Victorian Age
Edwardian Age
Modern Age
1939The Present Age
1. William I [1066-87]
2. William II [1087-1100] .
3. Henry I [1100-35]
4. Stephen [1135-54]
5. Henry II of Anjou [1154-89]
6. Richard I [1189-99]
7. John [1199-1216]
8. Henry III [1219-54]
9. Edward I [1272-1307]
10. Edward II [1307-27]
11. Edward III [1327-77]
12. Richard 11[1377-99]
13. Henry IV [1399-1413]
14. Henry V [1413-22]
15. Henry VI [1422-61]
16. Edward IV [1461-83]
17. Edward V [1483]
18. Richard III [1483-85]
19. Henry VII [1461- 1509]
20. Henry VIII [1509-47]
21. Edward VI [1547-53]
22. Mary [1553-58]
23. Elizabeth I[1558-1603]
24. James I [1603-25]
[Commonwealth [1689-1702]; Protectorate (1653-60)]
25. Charles I (1625-49)
26. Charles II (1660-85
27. James II (1685-88)
28. William and Mary (1689-1702)
29. Anne (1702-14)
30. George I (1714-27)
31. Geroge II (1727-60)
32. George III (1760-1820)
33. Geroge IV (1727-60)
34. William IV (1831-37)
35. Victoria (1837-1901)
36. Edward VII (1901-10)
37. George V (1910-36)
38. Edward VIII (1936)
39. George VI (1936-52)
40. Elizabeth II (1952-)
THE AGE OF CHAUCER (1340-1400)
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400)
The Romaunt of the Rose (1360-65?); The Book of the
Duchesse (1369); The Parlement of Foules; Troilus and
Criseyde (1379-83); The House of Fame (1383-84); The
legend of Good Women (1385-86); The Canterbury Tales
(1386 onward).
William Langland (1330-1386)
The Vision of william Concerning Piers the Plowman (1362
John Gover (?1330-84)
Speculum Meditantis(1378?), Vox Clamantis(1382),
Confessio Amantis(1390)
John Barbour (1320-95)
Sir John Mandeville (died 1372)
Mandeville’s Travels (1356).
John Wycliffe (1320-84)
Wycliffe’s Bible (1380).
Sir Thomats Malory (died 1471)
Le Morte D’ Arthur (1469).
Geoffrey Chaucer(1340-1400)
The Tale of Melibeus, The Parson’s Tale.
James I (1394-1437)
The King’s Quair (1423-1424).
Sir David Lyndsay (1458-1555)
The Dreme(1528), The History of Squyer Meldrum(1549),
The Testment and Compleynt of the Papyngo,(1530), Satyre
of the Thire Estaitis(1540).
Robert Henryson(1430-1506)
Lament for the Makaris (1508), The Testament of cresseid
(1593), Orpheus and Eurydice; Robene and Makyne;
Garmond Qf Gude Ladies.
William Dunbar(?1456-?1513)
The Goldyn Targe (1503), The Dance of the Sevin Deidlie
Synnis (1503-1508), Tua Mariit Women and the Wedo
(1508), Lament for the Makaris (1508).
Gawin Douglas(?1474-1552)
The Palice of Honour (1501),published (1533),King Hart
(first printed 1786).
John Skelton(?1460-1529)
Garlande of laurell (printed 1523),Dirge on Edward Iv, The
Bowge of Court(1499).
John Lydgate(1370-1451)
‘Iroy Book (1412-1420), The Falls of Princes(1430-1438),
The Temple of Glass; The Story of Thebes(1420), London
Thomas Occleve(1368?-1450?)
The Regement of Princes (1411-12), La Male Regle (1406);
The Complaint of Our Lady, Occleve’s Complaint.
Stephen Hawes (?1474-1530)
The Passtyme of Pleasure (1509), The Example of Virtue
(1512), The Conversion of Swerers; A Joyfull Medytacyon.
Alexander Barclay (?1475-1552)
Ship of Fools (1509), Certayne Ecloges (1515).
Reginald Pecock (?1390-?1461)
The Repressor of over-much Blaming of the Clergy (1455),
The Book of Faith (1456).
Willism Caxton (?1422-91)
Recuyell of the Historie of Troye(1471), (?1422-91) Game
and Playe of the the chesse (1475), The Dictes and
Sayengis of the Philosphers (1477).
John Fisher (1459-1535)
Tracts and sermons; The Ways to Perfect Religion.
Hugh Latimer (?1485-1555)
Sermons (1562).
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535)
Utopia (1516); The Lyfe of John Picus (1510), The Historie
of Richard III (1543).
Sir Thomas Elyot (?1478-1535)
The Boke named the Governour (1531), The Doctrine of
Princes (1534)
John Capgrave (1393-1464)
The Chronicle of English History extending to A. D. 1417.
Sir John Fortescue (?1394-?1476)
On the Govenance of England, A Delcaration upon Certain
Wrytinges (1471-73).
John Heywood (?1494-?1580)
The Four p’s (?1545), Play of the Wether (1533), A Play of
Love (1433).
Thomas Norton (1532-84) and T. Sackville (1536-1608)
Gorboduc (1561).
Thomas Preston (1536-1608)
A Lamentable Tragedy mixed full of Mirth Containing the
life of Cambyses, King of Percia (1569).
WIlliam Stevenson
Gammer Gurton’s Needle (1562).
Nicholas Udall (1505-56)
Ralph Roister Doister (written 1553, published 1567)
AGE (1603-1625) THE AGE OF SHAKESPEARE (15581625)
George Gascoigne (?1525-77)
Jocasta Jocasta (1566), Supposes (1566).
Edmund Spenser (1552-99)
The Shepherds Calendar (1579), Mother Hubberd’s Tale
(1591), The Ruins of Rome (1591), Amoretti (1595);
Epithalamion; Colin Clout Comes Home Again (1595), Four
Hymns (1596), Prothalamion (1596), The Faerie Queene
(Book I-III, 1589, IV, 1596).
John Donne (1573-1631)
Satires (1590-1601), The Songs and Sonnets (1590-1601),
The Elegies (1590-1601), Of the Progress of the Soule (1601)
Holy Sonnets (1617).
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-42)
In Tottel’s Miscellany (1557), Included in Songs and
Sonnetts (1557) ed.Tottel.
Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47)
Certain Bokes of Virgiles Aeneis turned into English Meter
(1557)his poems; in Tottle’s Miscellany (1557).
Thomas Sackville (1536-1608)
The Induction (1563), The Complayment of Henry, Duke
of Buckingham, (1563).
George Gascoigne (1534-77)
The Steele Glas, A Satyre (1576)
Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86)
Astrophel and Stella (1591).
Michael Drayton (1563-1631)
The Harmonie of the Church (1591), Englnad’s Heroicall
Epistles (1597), The Baron’s Wars (1603), Polyolbion (1622),
. Nymphida (1627).
Thomas Campion (1567-1620)
A Book of Ayreas (1601), Songs of Mourning (1613), Two
Books of Ayres (1612).
Phineas Fletcher (11582-1650)
The Purple Island, of The Isle of Man (1633).
Giles Fletcher (11588-1623)
Chirst’s Victorie and Triumph (1610).
Samuel Daniel (1562-1619)
Delia (1592), The Complaynt of Rosamond (1592), The Civil
Wars (1595).
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
The Rape of Lucrece (1594), Venus and Adonis (1593). A
Collection of Sonnets, (1609), The Passionate Pilgrim
George Peele (1558-98)
The Araygnement of Paris (1584), The Famous Chronicle
of King Edward the first (1593), The Old Wives’ Tale
(159194). The Love of King David and Fair Bathsabe (1599).
Robert Greene (1558-92)
Alphonsus, King of Aragon (1587), Friar Bacon and Friar
Bungay (1589), Orlando Furioso (1591), The Scottish
Historie of James of Fourth (1592).
Thomas Nashe (1567-1611)
Summer’s Last Will and Testament (1592).
John Lyly (11554-1606)
Alexander and Campasye (1584); Endymission (1591),
Midas (1592), The Woman in the Moon (1597)
Thomas Lodge (1558-1625)
Henry VI (1591-92), The Woundes of Cicil War, Rosalynde,
Euphues Golden Legcie (A Romance) (1590), Scillaes
Metamorphosis (1589).
Thomas Kyd (1558-94)
The Spanish Tragedy (1585), Cornelia (1593), Soliman and
Perseda (1588), First Part of Jernimo (1592).
Christopher Marlowe (1564-93)
Tamberlaine the Great (1587), The Second Part of
Tamberlaine the Great (1588), Edward II (1591), The Jew of
Malta (1589, Docator Faustus (1592), The Tragedy of Dido,
Qween of Carthage (1593). The Massacre of Paris (1593).
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
1. Henry VI (1591-92) 2. Henry VI (1591-92), 3. Henry VI
(1591-92), Richard III (1593), The Comedy of Errors (1593),
Titus Andronicus (1594), The Taming of The Shrew (1594),
Love’s Labour’s Lost (1594), Romeo and Juliet (1594), A
Midsummer Night’s Dream (1595), The Two Gentlemen of
Verona (1595), King John (1595), Richard II (1596) The
Merchant of Venice (1596), Henry IV (1598),Much Ado About
Nothing(1598), Henry V (1599), Julius Caesar (1599),The
Merry Wives of Winsor (1600), As you Like It (1600), Hamlet
(1601), Twelfth Night (1601), Troilus and Cressida (1602),
All’s Well that Ends well (1602), Measure for Measure (1604),
Othello (1604), Macbeth (1605), King Lear (1605), Antony
and Cleopatra (1606), Coriolanus Timon of Athens (1607),
Pericles (1608), Cymbeline (1609), The Winter’s Tale (1610),
The Tempest (1611), Henry VIII (in part) (1613).
Sri Aurobindo (Sri Orobindo) (August 15, 1872-December
5, 1950) was an Indian nationalist, scholar, poet, mystic,
evolutionary philosopher, Yogi and spiritual Guru. After a
short political career in which he became one of the leaders
of the early movement for Indian independence from British
rule, Sri Aurobindo turned to the exploration of the subtle
realms of human existence and, as a consequence, developed a new spiritual path which he termed Integral Yoga.
The Times Literary Supplement wrote of Aurobindo:
“In fact, he is a new type of thinker, one who combines in
his vision the alacrity of the West with the illumination of
the East. To study his writings is to enlarge the boundaries
of one’s knowledge... He is a yogi who writes as though he
were standing among the stars, with the constellations for
his companions”.
The central theme of Sri Aurobindo’s vision is the evolution
of life into a “life divine”. In his own words:
“Man is a transitional being. He is not final. The step from
man to superman is the next approaching achievement in
the earth’s evolution. It is inevitable because it is at once
the intention of the inner spirit and the logic of Nature’s
The principal writings of Sri Aurobindo include: The Life Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Secrets of the Vedas, Essays
on the Gita, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human Unity,
Renaissance in India and other essays, Supramental Manifestation upon Earth, The Future Poetry, Thoughts and Aphorisms, Savitri, several volumes of letters, and the collected
Sri Aurobindo was born Aurobindo Ghose, pronounced and
often written as “Ghosh” (or “Arabindo Ghosh”), in Kolkata
(Calcutta), India, on 15th August, 1872. Aravind means Lotus (pronounced “Aurobindo” in Bengali). His father was Dr
K. D. Ghose and his mother Swarnalata Devi.
Dr. Ghose (who had lived in Britain and studied medicine at
Aberdeen University), was determined that his children
should have an English education free of any Indian influences. He therefore sent the young Aurobindo and his siblings to the Loreto Convent school in Darjeeling. Subsequently, at the age of seven, Aurobindo was taken (along
with his two elder brothers Manmohan and Benoybhusan)
to Manchester, England and placed in the care of a Mr and
Mrs. Drewett—an Anglican clergyman and his wife—who
tutored Aurobindo privately. Mr. Drewert, himself a capable
scholar, grounded Aurobindo so well in Latin that Aurobindo
was able to gain admission into St Paul’s School in London. At St. Paul’s Aurobindo learned Greek and Latin. The
last three years at St Paul’s were spent in reading literature, especially English Poetry. At St. Paul’s he received
the Butterworth Prize for literature, the Bedford Prize for
history and a scholarship to King’s College, Cambridge
University. He returned to India in 1893.
During the First Partition of Bengal from 1905 to 1912, he
became a leader of the group of Indian nationalists known
as the Extremists for their willingness to use violence and
advocate outright independence, a plank more moderate
nationalists had shied away from up to that point. He was
one of the founders of the Jugantar party, an underground
revolutionary outfit. He was the editor of a nationalist Bengali
newspaper Vande Mataram (spelt and pronounced as Bonde
Matorom in the Bengali language) and as a result came
into frequent confrontation with the British Raj. In 1907 he
attended a convention of Indian nationalists where he was
seen as the new leader of that movement.
It was at this point that Rabindranath Tagore paid him a
visit and wrote the lines:
“Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee! O friend, my
country’s friend, O Voice incarnate, free. Of India’s
soul....The fiery messenger that with the lamp of God Hath
come...Rabindranath, O Aurobindo, bows to thee”.
His conversion from political action to spirituality occurred
gradually, first at Vadodara (then Baroda) under the spiritual instruction of a Maharashtrian Yogi called Vishnu
Bhaskar Lele, and second, while awaiting trial as a prisoner in Alipore Central Jail (in Kolkata in the province of
Bengal). Here his study and practice of the teachings of
the Bhagavad Gita led to a number of mystical experiences.
Sri Aurobindo claimed to have been visited in his meditations by the renowned Swami Vivekananda, a Hindu philosopher of great importance to Advaita Vedanta, who guided
Sri Aurobindo in an important aspect of his spiritual practice or yoga. Sri Aurobindo later said that while imprisoned
he saw the convicts, jailers, policemen, the prison bars,
the trees, the judge, the lawyers as different forms of Vishnu
in the spiritual experience of Vasudeva.
The subsequent trial involving Aurobindo was one of the
defining moments in the Indian nationalist movement. There
were 49 accused and 206 witnesses, 400 documents were
filed and 5000 exhibits produced—including bombs, handguns and acid. The English judge, C.P. Beachcroft, turned
out to have been a student with Sri Aurobindo at Cambridge.
The Chief Prosecutor Eardley Norton displayed a loaded
revolver on his briefcase during the trial. The case for Sri
Aurobindo was taken up by Chittaranjan Das who said in
his conclusion to the Judge:
My appeal to you is this, that long after the controversy will
be hushed in silence, long after this turmoil, this agitation
will have ceased, long after he (Sri Aurobindo) is dead and
gone, he will be looked upon as the poet of patriotism, as
the prophet of nationalism and lover of humanity. Long after
he is dead and gone, his words will be echoed and re-echoed, not only in India, but across distant seas and lands.
Therefore, I say that the man in his position is not only
standing before the bar of this Court, but before the bar of
the High Court of History.
The trial (“Alipore Bomb Case, 1908”) lasted for one full
year, but eventually Sri Aurobindo was acquitted. Afterwards
Aurobindo started two new weekly papers: the Karmayogin
in English and the Dharma in Bengali. However, it appeared
that the British government would not tolerate his nationalist program as Lord Minto wrote about him: “/ can only
repeat that he is the most dangerous man we have to reckon
Sought again by the Indian police, he was guided to the
French settlements, and on April 4, 1910 he finally found
refuge with other nationalists in the French colony of
In 1914, after four years of concentrated yoga at Pondicherry
(now Puducherry), Sri Aurobindo launched Arya, a 64 page
monthly review. For the next six and a half years this became the vehicle for most of his most important writings,
which appeared in serialised form. These included The Life
Divine, The Synthesis of Yoga, Essays on The Gita, The
Secret of The Veda, Hymns to the Mystic Fire, The
Upanishads, The Foundations of Indian Culture, War and
Self-determination, The Human Cycle, The Ideal of Human
Unity, and The Future Poetry. Sri Aurobindo however revised some of these works before they were published in
book form.
Somewhat later, he wrote a small book entitled The Mother
which was published in 1928 as a kind of “instruction
manual” for the practice of Integral Yoga. In this short book,
Sri Aurobindo wrote about the Divine Mother, the consciousness and force of the Supreme, and about the “Four great
Aspects of the Mother, four of her leading Powers and Personalities (which) have stood in front in her guidance of the
Universe and her dealings with the terrestrial play...” He
also wrote about the conditions to be fulfilled by the
“Sadhaka” or practitioner of the yoga in order to be receptive to the Mother’s Grace. He explained his view of money
and wealth: “Money is a sign of universal force, and this
force in its manifestation on earth works on the vital and
physical planes and is indispensable to the fullness of outer
life. In its origin and its true action it belongs to the Divine.
But like other powers of the Divine it is delegated here and
in the ignorance of the lower Nature can be usurped for the
uses of the ego or held by Asuric influences and perverted
to their purpose.”
For some time afterwards, Sri Aurobindo’s main literary
output was his voluminous correspondence with his disciples. His letters, most of which were written in the 1930s,
numbered in the several thousands. Many were brief comments made in the margins of his disciple’s notebooks in
answer to their questions and reports of their spiritual practice—others extended to several page carefully composed
explanations of practical aspects of his teachings. These
were later collected and published in book form in three
volumes of Letters on Yoga. In the late 1930s, Sri Aurobindo
resumed work on a poem he had started earlier—he continued to expand and revise this poem for the rest of his life.
It became perhaps his greatest literary achievement, Savitri,
an epic spiritual poem in blank verse of approximately
24,000 lines.
Although Sri Aurobindo wrote most of his material in English, his major works were later translated into a number
of languages, including the Indian languages Hindi, Bengali,
Oriya, Gujarati, Marathi, Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada,
and Malayalam, as well as French, German, Italian, Dutch,
Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, Slovene and Russian. A
large amount of his work in Russian translation is also available online.
Sri Aurobindo’s close spiritual collaborator, Mirra Richard
(b. Alfassa), was known as The Mother. She was born in
Paris on February 21, 1878, to Turkish and Egyptian parents. Involved in the cultural and spiritual life of Paris, she
counted among her friends Alexandra David-Neel. She went
to Pondicherry on March 29, 1914, finally settling there in
1920. Sri Aurobindo considered her his spiritual equal and
collaborator. After November 24, 1926, when Sri Aurobindo
retired into seclusion, he left it to her to plan, run and build
the growing Sri Aurobindo Ashram, the community of disciples that had gathered around them. Some time later when
families with children joined the ashram, she established
and supervised the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of
Education (which, with its pilot experiments in the field of
education, impressed observers like Jawaharlal Nehru).
When Sri Aurobindo died in 1950, the Mother continued
their spiritual work and directed the Ashram and guided
their disciples. In the mid 1960s she started Auroville, an
international township sponsored by UNESCO to further
human unity near the town of Pondicherry, which was to be
a place “where men and women of all countries are able to
live in peace and progressive harmony above all creeds, all
politics and all nationalities.” It was inaugurated in 1968 in
a ceremony in which representatives of 121 nations and all
the states of India placed a handful of their soil in an urn
near the center of the city. Auroville continues to develop
and currently has approximately 1700 members from 35
countries. The Mother also played an active role in the merger
of the French pockets in India and, according to Sri
Aurobindo’s wish, helped to make Pondicherry a seat of
cultural exchange between India and France. The Mother
stayed in Pondicherry until her death on November 17,1973.
Her later years —including her myriad of metaphysical and
occult experiences, and her attempt at the transformation
of her body—are captured in her 13 volume personal log
known as Mother’s Agenda.
One of Sri Aurobindo’s main philosophical achievements
was to introduce the concept of evolution into Vedantic
thought. Samkhya philosophy had already proposed such
a notion centuries earlier, but Aurobindo rejected the materialistic tendencies of both Darwinism and Samkhya, and
proposed an evolution of spirit along with that of matter, and
that the evolution of matter was a result of the former.
He describes the limitation of the Mayavada of Advaita
Vedanta, and solves the problem of the linkage between
the ineffable Brahman or Absolute and the world of multiplicity by positing a transitional hypostasis between the
two, which he called The Supermind. The supermind is the
active principle present in the transcendent Satchidananda;
a unitary mind of which our individual minds and bodies are
minuscule subdivisions.
Sri Aurobindo rejected a major conception of Indian philosophy that says that the World is a Maya (illusion) and
that living as a renunciate was the only way out. He says
that it is possible, not only to transcend human nature but
also to transform it and to live in the world as a free and
evolved human being with a new consciousness and a new
nature which could spontaneously perceive truth of things,
and proceed in all matters on the basis of inner oneness,
love and light.
Sri Aurobindo argues that humankind as an entity is not
the last rung in the evolutionary scale, but can evolve spiritually beyond its current limitations associated with an essential ignorance to a future state of supramental existence. This further evolutionary step would lead to a divine
life on Earth characterized by a supramental or truth-consciousness, and a transformed and divinised life and material form.
There are parallels between Sri Aurobindo’s vision and that
of Teilhard de Chardin.
Geoffrey Chaucer (1340-1400} is one of the greatest poets
of England. He is known as the ‘father of English poetry.’
This does not mean that there was no poetry or poets in
England before him. But before Chaucer there was no
national language; there were merely a number of regional
languages. Chaucer used one of these languages-the East
Midland-and by the force of his genius raised it to the level
of the national language of England. He was, therefore, both
the father of English poetry as well as the father of the
English language. He is the first national poet of England.
There were other poets also such as John Gower and
William Langland. But their poetry is little read and enjoyed
today, while Chaucer continues to be as fresh and enjoyable
as when he lived and wrote.
Chaucer’s chief works are-The Book of the Duchess; The
Parliament of Fowls; The House of Fame; Troilus and
Cresseyde : Legend of Good Women, and The Canterbury
The Canterbury Tales, the greatest work of Chaucer, is a
collection of stories fitted into a general frame-work which
serves to hold them together. A number of pilgrims meet at
the Tabard Inn in Southwark, near Canterbury in England,
where the poet himself is also staying at the time; and as
he too is going on the same pilgrimage, he is easily
persuaded to join the party. One of the favourite places of
pilgrimage is the shrine of St. Thomas a Becket at
Canterbury; and to it these particular pilgrims are bound.
The jolly host of the Tabard Inn, Harry Bailly, gives them
hearty welcome and a good supper and, after they are
satisfied, he makes three proposals: that to pass the time
each member of the party shall tell two tales on the way to
Canterbury, and two on the way back: that he himself shall
be the judge; and that the one who tells the best tale shall
be treated by all the rest to a supper on their return. The
suggestion is warmly welcomed, and The Canterbury Tales
is the result.
All this is explained in the Prologue: after which Chaucer
proceeds to introduce his fellow pilgrims. Though limited to
what we may broadly call the middle classes, the company
is still quite representative of the various ranks and
professions of the time. In his descriptions of the most
prominent of these people, Chaucer’s powers are shown at
their very highest. All the characters are individualised, yet
their thoroughly typical quality makes them representatives
of men and manners in the England of his time.
As according to programme each of the pilgrims was to
have told four stories, the poet’s plan was a very large one.
He lived to complete a small portion only, for the work, as
we have it, is merely a fragment of twenty-four tales. Yet
even as it stands its interest is wonderfully varied, for
Chaucer is guided by a sense of dramatic propriety and so
the tales differ in character as widely as do those by whom
they are told. The tales are not original in theme. Chaucer
takes his raw material from many different sources, and
the range of his reading and his quick eye for anything and
everything which would serve his purposes wherever he found
it, are shown by the fact that he lays all sorts of literature,
learned and popular, Latin, French and Italian, under
contribution. But whatever he borrows he makes entirely
his own, and he remains one of the most delightful story
tellers in verse.
Chaucer has been called the father of English poetry and
E. Albert calls him “The earliest of the great moderns.”
Chaucer stands at the end of the Middle Ages and the
beginning of the modern age. He has been called “The
Morning Star of the Renaissance.” His poetry reflects the
medieval spirit as well as that of the Italian Renaissance
which was making its first influence felt in England in his
age. There can be no greater tribute to his genius than the
fact that, for the next one hundred and fifty years, there
was none to match him and that he is enjoyed with the
same enthusiasm today, despite the lapse of five centuries,
during which time the English language has undergone
radical changes. He stands head and shoulders above his
contemporaries and successors.
(a) His Realism
Chaucer’s modernism is best reflected in his realism. He
reflects the real life of the England of his day. He began his
career with following the tradition of courtly love, allegory
and dream poetry. But he soon discarded these traditions
and turned his eyes to the life and people of his times. In
his Canterbury Tales Chaucer comes to his own. His
Prologue is an epitome of 14th century England. With great
force and realism he has painted the life and people of his
times. His realism is nowhere seen to better advantage
than in the delineation of character. A.C. Ward says,
“Chaucer is the first great painter of character.” With a few
deft touches he brings his characters to life. They are
individuals as well as types. In his twenty-nine pilgrims, all
the different classes, peoples and professions of his time
find a vivid expression. He represents his age not in
fragments but as a whole.
(b) The Renaissance Note
Just as Chaucer rejected the medieval poetic tradition, so
also he broke free from the religious influences of the Middle
Ages. Ecclesiastical ideas and medieval habits of mind were
still the controlling elements in Chaucer’s period, but in
him poetry their sway is broken by the spirit of Italian
Renaissance. He is the “Morning Star of the Renaissance.”
“It is through him that its free, secular spirit first expresses
itself in English poetry.” He loves human nature, including
all its weaknesses, and takes a frank joy in the good things
of life. He takes interest in his follow men, enjoys their
company and is not repelled even by the wicked, the foolish,
and the rascal. He is aware of the corruption in the church,
but nowhere lashes at it fiercely as does Langland, his great
contemporary. His wide sympathy, gentle humanity,
tolerance, etc., make him really the first of the great
(c) His Humour
Chaucer is the first true humorist in English literature. His
humour is the expression of his joy in life and of his wide
sympathy and tolerance. Humour is also present in the
predecessors and contemporaries of Chaucer. But in them
we find only occasional and fitful flashes of humour. Humour
is the life and soul of Chaucer’s works. His humour is manysided and all-pervasive, like that of Shakespeare or Dickens.
His eyes take on a merry twinkle as they fall on folly or
wickedness of human nature. He is a true humorist, for he
has the capacity to laugh even at his own expense. He
never lashes bitterly at folly or vice, but ever looks on and
smiles. He is the first of the great modern humorists of
(d) Chaucer as the Maker of Modern English
Chaucer is the first great national poet of England. By freeing
himself from foreign influences and by using his own native
language as the medium for his art, he became the founder
of modern English poetry. While even in his own age poets
like Gower, used Latin and French, he concentrated his
energies on the development of his native tongue and made
it a fit medium for literary expression. Lowel rightly estimates
Chaucer’s greatness in this respect and says, “He found
English a dialect and left it a language.” While all others
poets of his age were local or provincial, he alone is national.
He imparted to the English language the modern ease,
suppleness, flexibility and smoothness and breathed into it
a high poetic life. He is certainly what Spenser called him,
“The well of English undefiled.” He is the first national poet
of England, for he gave to the people a language, so reformed
and reshaped, as to be a potent instrument for the
expression of thought.
(e) The Modern Note in Chaucer’s Versification
Chaucer is one of the most musical of English poets. His
English looks very difficult at first, but it can easily be
mastered with a little labour and perseverance. He struck a
modern note when he abandoned altogether the Old English
irregular lines and alliteration and adopted the French
method of regular metre and end rhymes. Estimating his
contribution to English verification W.H. Hudson writes,
“Under his influence rhyme gradually displaced alliteration
in English poetry.” He discarded complicated stanza forms
and for the first time, in his verse, achieved that union of
simplicity and freedom which is the characteristic note of
modern English poetry.
“The Heroic Couplet he introduced into English verse; the
Rhyme Royal he invented.” His claim on our gratitude is
two fold: first, for discovering the music that is in English
speech and secondly, for his influence in fixing the East
Midland dialect as the literary language of England.”
(f) The Modernism of Chaucer
Chaucer’s realism, his characterization, his humour, his
rejection of medieval conventions, his zest for life, and last
but not least, his services to the English language and
versification - all entitle him to be called “the earliest of the
great moderns.” When we enter his world we feel entirely at
home as much as we do with Spenser, Shakespeare, or
anyone of the other great luminaries of modern English
literature. Chaucer is a modern who can be enjoyed by us
with perfect ease.
UNIT - 1
1.Who called Chaucer -”The Father of English Poetry?”
(a) Spenser
(b) Sidney
(c) Arnold
(d) None of these
2. The dialect that Chaucer used was...
(a) East Midland
(b) Northern Dialect
(c) Both V and V
(d) None of these
3. The total number of the pilgrims in The Canterbury Tales is...
(a) 29
(b) 30 (c) 31 (d) 39
4.The name of the fictional inn where the pilgrims in
The Canterbury Tales met is...
(a) Tabard
(b) Canterbury
(c) Southwark
(d) None of these
5.What is the reward suggested by Harry Baily, the
host of the pilgrims and judge of the stories, for the
best story told by the Pilgrims?
(a) The best story teller was to .be made the Poet Laureate
(b) The rest of the Pilgrims were to offer a supper.
(c) No reward
(d) None of these
6. Who is Lowea talking about in the following line?
“He found English a dialect and left it a language.”
(a) Shakespeare
(b) Milton
(c) Chaucer
(d) T. S. Eliot
7. Who described Chaucer as “The Well of English
(a) Pope
(b) Dryden
(c) Shakespeare
(d) Spenser
8.What quality of Chaucer does the phrase “The Well
of English Undefiled” refer to?
(a) His diction.
(b) His linguistic competence.
(c) His avoidance of foreign influences.
(d) None of these
9.Who introduced the heroic couplet into English?
(a) Chaucer
(b) Pope
(c) Spenser
(d) None of these
10.Why is Chaucer known as “The earliest of the great
moderns”? Because of his
(a) Realism
(b) Humour
(c) Rejection of Medieval conventions
(d) All the three
11.Why did W.J. Long call Prologue to the Canterbury
Tales, “The Prologue to modern fiction”? Because of
(a) Lack of Poetic Quality
(b) Narrative unity
(c) Formlessness
(d) None of these
12.According to Arnold, what is lacking in Chaucer?
(a) Good Language
(b) High Seriousness
(c) The Touch Stone
(d) The Lyric Quality
13.Who was the poet that lived during the periods of
Edward II, Richard II and Henry IV?
(a) Shakespeare
(b) Lovelace
(c) Spenser
(d) None of these
14.Who was known as Morning Star of Reformation?
(a) John Wycliff
(b) Langland
(c) Pope John Paul
(d) None of these
15.Which is the month in which groups of pilgrims used
to march towards the Canterbury?
(a) January
(b) March
(c) April
(d) None of these
16.Who is the twentieth century poet that alluded to
‘April’ in one of his poems?
(a) W. H. Auden
(b) Ezra pound
(c) W. B. Yeats
(d) T. S. Eliot
17.Arnold’s Judgement of Chaucer is that Chaucer was
(a) A great classic
(b) Not as great as the classisists
(c) As great as the classisists
(d) None of these
18. Lollards are the followers of Protestant and Reformation leader?
(a) John Wycliffe
(b) King Edward
(c) Martin Luther King
(d) Martin Luther
19. Who was the first translator of the Bible into English?
(a) Chaucer
(b) Sir Thomas Malory
(c) John Wycliff
(d) None of these
20. Which version of the Bible did Wycliff make use of
for the translation?
(a) Greek
(b) Latin (c) French
(d) None of these
21. The War of the Roses’took place during...
(a) 1555-85
(b) 1466-95
(c) 1455-85
(d) None of these
22. Why is The War of the Roses’ known by that
(a) Roses were the cause of the War.
(b) The Rose was the national flower of England.
(c) The two rival factions had roses (red and white) as their
(d) None of these
23. Valentine and Proteus are?
(a) The proponents of puritanism.
(b) Originators of the Morality play.
(c) The Gentlemen in the Two Gentlemen of Verona
(d) None of these
24. William Caxton printed History of Troy—the first
book in English in the year...
(a) 1575
(b) 1550
(c) 1440
(d) 1474
25. Who was the first translator of Virgil’s works into
(a) John Dryden
(b) Chaucer
(c) Gawin Douglas
(d) None of these
26. Henry Vaughan was influenced by...
(a) Donne (b) Thomas Carew (c) Crashaw (d) George Herbert
27.Romantic Movement had its antecedents in...
(a) The Poetry of Chaucer
(b) Shakespearean Comedy
(c) The 15th Century ballad
(d) None of these
28.Who wrote the following—”Stone walls do not a
prison make/Nor iron bars a cage.”
(a) Richard Lovelace
(b) Robert Herric
(c) Abraham Cowley
(d) Thomas Carew
29. Who first employed the Blank Verse?
(a) Sackville
(b) Norton
(c) Both a and b’
(d) None of these
30.Who is the proponent of the geocentric theory?
(a) Ptolemy
(b) Copernicus
(c) Galileo
(d) None of these
31.Whom did Legouis criticise as one who writes
“Charming verses on nothing”?
(a) Marvel
(b) John Suckling
(c) John Senlam
(d) Edmund Waller
32. Which poet expressed surprise at his having loved
one woman “Three whole days together?
(a) Suckling
(b) John Donne
(c) D’Avenant
(d) None of these
33. Henry VII, the patron of education came to the
throne in...
(a) 1485
(b) 1414
(c) 1458 (d) None of these
34. Thomas More’s Utopia was published in...
(a) 1551
(b) 1316
(c) 1613
(d) 1516
35. Utopia appeared in English translation in the year...
(a) 1551
(b) 1516
(c) 1515 (d) None of these
36. ...is described as “The true prologue to the Renaissance”.
(a) The Prince
(b) Utopia
(c) Poetics
(d) None of these
37. Cromwell, the dictator, was said to have been influenced by...
(a) Utopia
(b) The Capital
(c) The Prince
(d) None of these
38. Calvin was a...
(a) French Reformer
(b) Literary writer
(c) King of England
(d) None of these
39. Book of Martyrs, which is about the killings by the
Catholic Queen Mary, was written by...
(a) Calvin
(b) George Foxe
(c) Pope
(d) None of these
40. Which of the following Catholic dictator was succeeded by his/her step sister, Elizabeth?
(a) Edward II
(b) Henry IV
(c) Mary
(d) None of these
41.The Kingdom of Nowhere ia the other name of...
(a) Utopia
(b) The Prive
(c) Mort d’Arthur
(d) None of these
42. Match the following works with their writers
(a) Ship of Fools(1) Geoffrey Chaucer
(b) The Parliament
(2)William Dunbar of Fowles
(c) Dance of the Seven (3) John Lydgate Deadly Sinnis
(d) The Temple of Glass (4)Stephen Hawes
(e) The Passetyme of
(5)Alexander Banklony
43. Which of the following wrote plays that are all
(a) Shakespeare
(b) Marlowe
(c) Thomas Dekkar
(d) None of these
44. Who wrote “Donne for not keeping of accent deserved hanging”?
(a) Samuel Johnson
(b) BenJonson
(c) Arnold
(d) T.S. Eliot
45. Who headed the Puritan Government that was
formed after the hanging of Charles I ?
(a) Cromwell
(b) James II
(c) Charles II
(d) None of these
46. Who wrote the following about Milton? “...he is
admirable as Virgil or Dante and in this respect he is
unique among us. None else in English literature possess the like distinction”:
(a) Coleridge
(b) T.S. Eliot
(c) Arnold
(d) None of these
47. Which the following begins with this line?
“If Music be the food of love, play on.”
(a) The Tempest
(b) All is Well that Ends Well
(c) Twelfth Night
(d) None of these
48. Out of the twenty complete and four incomplete
stories of Chaucer, what is common between Tale
ofMelibensand The Parson’s Tale?
(a) These Tales were told by Chaucer himself
(b) They do not figure in The Canterbury Tales
(c) These two are the only tales told in prose
(d) None of these
49. Name the story that Chaucer told during the pilgrimage
(a) Tale of Melibens
(b) The Parson’s Tale
(c) He did not tell a story
(d) None of these
50. Arnold wrote, “With him is born our real poetry”
Who does “him” refer to?
(a) Spenser
(b) Shakespeare
(c) Chaucer
(d) Wordsworth
51.Arnold, in his The Study of Poetry, estimated
Chaucer in terms of
(a) ‘Historical estimation’ (b) ‘Personal estimation
(c) ‘Real estimation’
(d) None of these
52. What does Shakespeare refer to in these lines?
“This royal throne of kings; this sceptred isle This earth
of Majesty, this seat of Mars This other Eden, demi
(a) Denmark
(b) London
(c) England (d) France
53. The hero in Spenser’s Faerie Queene is...
(a) Prince Arthur
(b) Arthur Hallam
(c) Prince Charles
(d) None of these
54. Spenser is known as the ‘Poets’ poet’. Who called
him so?
(a) Matthew Arnold
(b) Sir Philip Sidney
(c) Charles Lamb
(d) Hazlitt
55. In which of his poems did Spenser celebrate his
(a) The Tears of the Muses
(b) Epithalamion
(c) Prothalamion
(d) Amoretti
56.Spenser wrote a poem in honour of his marriage.
Identify it.
(a) Epithalamion
(b) The Faerie Queene
(c) The Ruins of Time
(d) None of these
57. Spenser wrote a preface to The Faerie Queene, in
the form of a letter. Who is this letter addressed to?
(a) John Donne
(b) Sir Walter Ralegh
(c) Sir Thomas Wyatt
(d) Thomas Sackville
58. Prince Arthur, the hero in the Faerie Queene, is to
marry...in the end.
(a) Lady Diana
(b) Hellen of Troy
(c) Gloriana
(d) Elizabeth
59. The Faerie Queene is an allegory. In this poem
Elizabeth is allegorised through the character
(a) Duessa
(b) Archimago
(c) Artegal
(d) Gloriana
60. Spenser wrote an elegy entitled “Astrophel”.
Whom did he commemorate in this elegy?
(a) Chaucer
(b) Sidney
(c) John Donne
(d) None of these