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14. What I read, when and why I read it

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14. What I read, when and why I read it 1) WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE: William Shakespeare is probably the greatest dramatist of England. He lived and worked in the 16th century, in the period of the Renaissance. The Renaissance humanists played a great role in the development of mankind because they fought against the dogmatism of the Catholic Church. It was the time when people began to believe in their own reason and senses, when the great works of ancient artists and philosophers were admired. England offered a very favourable soil for the Renaissance way of thinking. In this time the Tudor monarchs (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Elizabeth I) were ruling the country and it was a period of stability and prosperity. The Elizabethan period flourished with translations from many languages. Many literary genres developed, e.g. poetry, essays, and, above all – brilliant drama Shakespeare´s works: William Shakespeare wrote tragedies, comedies, historical plays and sonnets (14 line lyric poems -> fixed form). He wrote 34 plays in blank verse without rhymes. All of them are significant thanks to rich language, humour and criticism and in general he broke unities of drama. His most famous comedies are The Merry Wives of Windsor, The Merchant of Venice, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Twelfth Night... Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear and Othello are his best tragedies. His historical plays are for example Richard II, Henry V, Anthony and Cleopatra, etc. A lot of his plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet or The Merchant of Venice were also filmed. There even exists a musical version of The Taming of the Shrewcalled Kiss me, Kate. Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy of love. The story comes from Italy where the two noble families of Verona – the Montagues and the Capulets have been in feud for a long time. They have fights whenever they meet. Romeo, the only son of the Montagues falls in love with Juliet Capulet. Realizing that their love will never be accepted by their families, they get secretly married by Friar Lawrence. Immediately after the wedding, Romeo is unwillingly involved in another duel. He refuses to fight, but after Mercutio, his best friend, is killed, he kills the murderer, Tybalt Capulet. In order to escape punishment, he flees to Mantova. Count Paris loves Juliet and wants to marry her. To escape the marriage, Juliet takes a potion, which enables her to pretend death. Friar Lawrence helps them again: he sends a messenger to Romeo to inform him about Juliet´s sleep, Romeo should come back to Verona and when Juliet wakes up after her long sleep, they will both leave Verona. Unfortunately, his plan does not work. The messenger can´t get to Mantova because of plague. However, Romeo learns about Juliet´s death and hurries to Verona. He kills Paris in a duel and thinking that Juliet is dead, he poisons himself. After awaking, Juliet finds Romeo dead at her side, she kisses Romeo´s poisoned lips and dies too. The families reconcile over the dead bodies of their children. Geoffrey Chaucer: Geoffrey Chaucer (1340 – 1400) is considered to be the father of English poetry because he wrote in English rather than in French or Latin. His Canterbury Tales records the imagined conversations of pilgrims as they journeyed from London to Canterbury. Jonathan Swift: Jonathan Swift (1667 – 1745) uses his black humour and irony in his satirical pamphlets. His most famous work is Gulliver´s Travels, a satire on British society. Daniel Defoe: Daniel Defoe (1660 – 1731) is remembered for his book Robinson Crusoe, which is still one of the most popular books among children. In Moll Flanders, he gives a realistic picture of the life of a prostitute in London. Mary Shelley: Mary Shelley (1797 – 1851) wrote Frankenstein, which is the most well-known of the Gothic novels with the horror genre that we are so familiar with in films and on TV today. Charles Dickens: Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870) wrote novels where heroes and villains were taken from the hustle and bustle of Victorian London (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Great Expectations,Bleak House). Oscar Wilde: Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900) was an Irish writer and poet who had very extravagant and shocking manners and style of dressing. He gave lectures on aestheticism/l’art-pour-l’art = art cannot be moral or immoral, decent or indecent, it can be only beautiful or ugly.All his life he was fighting with bisexuality/homosexuality (at that time illegal). His famous works are e.g. Canterville Ghost or The Picture of Dorian Gray. George Orwell: George Orwell (1903 – 1950) was an English novelist and journalist. His work is marked by clarity, intelligence and wit, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and belief in democratic socialism. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Fourand the allegorical novella Animal Farm, which together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author. 3) OTHER AMERICAN WRITERS: Edgar Allan Poe: Edgar Allan Poe (1809 – 1849) is celebrated as the father of the detective story, a major horror writer and poet. But he was also a man torn by tragic circumstances. His life was as bleak and dramatic as some of his works. He wrote The Raven,The Black Cat,Murders in the Rue Morgue etc. Ernest Hemingway: Ernest Hemingway (1899 – 1961) was an American author and journalist. His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. His well-known books are The Old Man and The Sea or For Whom the Bell Tolls.

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