In England literary consciousness had its beginning in the middle ages, and this book, originally published in 1943, describes and illustrates the first phases of the growth of a tradition of criticism. It does not confine itself to writers whose interest was in the vernacular, for there was a larger European movement of which English criticism was a part. It embodied much of the ancient teaching, but it shows recurring efforts to arrive at the nature and art of poetry; it provides a key to contemporary literature and is of great help in understanding what really happened at the 16th Century Renaissance.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction 2. The Medieval Inheritance 3. Early Grammarians: Bede and Alcuin 4. The Dawn of Humanism: John of Salisbury 5. Medieval Poetics: Geoffrey of Vinsauf and John of Garland 6. Check and Counter-Check to Literary Studies: John of Garland, Robert Grosseteste, Roger Bacon and Richard of Bury 7. Native Literary Problems: The Owl and the Nightingale, Wiclif, Chaucer 8. Native Literary Problems (continued): Caxton, Hawes, Skelton 9. Conclusion Appendix: Summary of Medieval poetic (Geoffrey of Vinsauf).
J. W. H. Atkins was a Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge and Emeritus Professor of English Language and Literature, University of Aberystwyth