By Harry Blamires (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of Literary Criticism
The whole pleasure of this book, he avers, 'standeth in two speciall poyntes, in open manslaughter and bold bawdrye; In which book those be counted the noblest Knightes, that do kill most men without any quarrell, and commit fowlest aduoulteries by sutlest shiftes'. After the first book, 'teachyng the brynging up of youth', follows the second, 'teachyng the ready way to the Latin tong', and there is a substantial section headed 'lmitatio', abounding in reference to authors. Ascham's thesis is that 'all languages, both learned and mother tonges, be gotten, and gotten onelie by Imitation' and therefore 'if ye would speake as the best and wisest do, ye must be conversant, where the best and wisest are'.
Its composition was provoked by a situation which appealed to Ascham's humanity and good sense. He was at court one day in December 1563 when news came that a number of scholars had run away from Eton to avoid corporal punishment. The event became a topic of conversation at dinner, and Ascham was one to protest against cruel treatment of schoolboys. On the whole his advice about educating young boys does not rise above the conventional. The most quoted of his opinions is his protest against Malory's Morte D' Arthur.
Both foundations were the work of St Benedict Biscop, a man full of zeal for scholarship who visited Rome on several occasions and collected books for the monastic library at ]arrow. Hence it was that the most celebrated of early English scholars, Bede, spent most of 36 A HISTORY OF LITERARY CRITICISM his time in the cloisters at ]arrow. Bede (673-735) was not only a Biblical scholar but produced works in history and science. Best known is his Ecclesiastical History of the English People, which his thoroughness turned into an essential primary source for the early phase of English history.
A History of Literary Criticism by Harry Blamires (auth.)