Renaissance Prose in English Literature: Characteristics & Writers

Essays on Contemporary Issue

  1. Bacon perfected English Essay by following the French Model of Montaigne. He symbolizes the idea of the Renaissance more than anyone else. His diverse interests in various fields can be found in his work Essays (1597).
  2. He raised issues relating to his contemporary age in his works. He wrote Of Revenge criticising the trend of revenge pre-dominant in his age. He says, “Revenge is a kind of wild of justice.”
  3. Richard Hooker wrote one of the first major prose classical in Modern English-Of the Laws of Ecclesiastical Politie published in 1593 and 1597.

Books of Manners

  1. The Courtyer (1561) translated from Castiglione’s Italian describes how the young gentlemen of style should behave.
  2. The Book Named the Governour (1531) by Thomas Elyot and The Gull’s Hernbook (1609) by Thomas Dekker were examples of “How-to” book to cater to all levels of society.
  3. City Comedies were started to be played in English theatres.

Travel Writing

  1. Sir Thomas More’s Utopia (1516) written in Latin is the first Travel Book.
  2. Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Lord of the Flies. Brave New World, Ninteen Eighty Eighty four is the mixture of facts and fantasy in Renaissance travel writing.
  3. Richard Hakluyt was the leading writer of travel writing. He brought to public attention the less known English navigators like a voyage of Hawkins to West Indies.
  4. He supported Raleigh’s (who wrote History of the World <1614>) plan to colonize Virginia in A Discourse Concerning the Western Planting (1584).
  5. Samuel Purchas continued Hakluyt’s work that later became an inspiration for Coleridge (Romantic Poet) to write Xanadu in Kubla Khan.

Controversial Works

  1. Nashe (a University Wit) wrote The Unfortunate Traveller (1594) that offended authority and was thus sentenced life imprisonment.
  2. The Anatomie of Absurditie (1589) and Pierce Penniless (1592) engaged in the religious controversy at that time.
  3. Robert Burns The Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) analyzed human states of mind.