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Renaissance Era of Literature

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The Renaissance is a well-known period in European culture that lasts for three hundred years between 1300 and 1600 AD. It is one of the most exciting times in human history. A movement that was later called “Renaissance” occurs among the Florentine poets, artists and connoisseurs of antiquity. 

Florence experienced its heyday at the end of 13th till the beginning of 14th centuries. It was called “Athens of Italy.” The leading Italian writers are connected with Florence. Their names are in the early European Renaissance: Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-1375), Francesco Petrarch (1304-1374), and the creator of the Italian literature - Dante Alighieri (1265-1321). These three writers are often called “the three crowns” (tre corone). The language of their works laid the foundation of modern Italian language. In this environment there was a psychological adjustment to the return to ancient traditions.

The sonnets of Francesco Petrarch became the model for lyrical poetry. He is known to be the founder of humanism. Giovanni Boccaccio stood at an almost similar stature as Petrarch. Boccaccio is most noted for writing the Decameron, a series of 100 stories. Dante Alighieri is called the “Father of the Italian language”. His most known epic is Divine Comedy. These three writers, “the three fountains”, made an evaluable contribution to the development of literature. Moreover, they managed to influence people’s minds and extend their cognition.   

The works of the ancient Romans and Greeks influenced Renaissance writers. Modern conclusions were made upon ancient studies. One more known writer in Europe of that period was Niccolo Machiavelli. In the work The Prince he persuaded that Italy could survive under the strong leader. This work became a guidebook for a lot of politicians.

“…Boccaccio's works were a major source of inspiration and plots for many English authors in the Renaissance, including William Shakespeare” (The Renaissance Era). Shakespeare’s works made a lasting impression on later theatre and literature. He is well-known for his plays, sonnets and poems.  One can hardly find a man who has not read Romeo and Juliet.

The Renaissance produced many types of literature. However, there were three main types of literature during the Renaissance: religious works, lyric poetry, and drama. Religious works were mainly written by the clergy. For example, Martin Luther is well-known for his role in the process of Reformation. He was a German monk and professor of theology. His most notable works were: The Ninety-Five Theses, Luther’s Large Catechism and On the Freedom of the Christian.

“…The history of Renaissance lyric poetry begins with innovations in both Latin and Italian verse initiated by Francesco Petrarch (1304–1374) in forms of pastoral eclogue, sonnet and ode” (Lyric Poetry). There were a lot of writers who chose “love” as the main topic of their poems. Such poems are called “love poems”. The most famous of the lyricists were Christopher Marlowe, William Browne and Walter Raleigh.

The most known playwrights of that time were William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.  The theater became very popular in different countries. The growing interest produced the variety of dramatic literature. One of the most popular genres was tragedy and comedy.

The Renaissance is characterized by the return to the canons of classical poetics and rhetoric. It is the time of the release of an artistic creation of the authority of church canons, fostering the cult of individual freedom, intellectual and artistic search. The influence of contemporary Italian culture in varying degrees affected almost all European countries, especially those located in the northern Italy, the Netherlands, France and Germany.

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