Category: Renaissance and Reformation Era

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The Narrow Road to the Deep North

Basho, Japan.1702 Basho, was the pseudonym of Matsuo Munefusa, a Japanese poet, who is considered the master of the Japanese poetic form of haiku. He was the most famous poet of the Edo period in Japan. Basho is also celebrated for his works in the collaborative haikai no renga form. His poetry is internationally renowned, and within Japan many of his poems revered. Born into a lower level samurai family in 1644 in the province of Iga, Basho went through the usual education of one of Japan’s minor nobility and was expected to join the military when old enough. But...

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Poems John Donne

John Donne’s poetry and prose still resonate today with their meditations upon love and death, religion and politics. His poetry, characterized by its intensity, passion word-play, and complexity is still widely read. Well-known as both a writer and important religious figure in the years leading up to the English Civil War, Donne is considered one of the greatest love poets in the English language. He is also noted for his religious verse and treatises and for his sermons, which rank among the best of the 17th century John Donne was born in London in 1572 into a prosperous Roman Catholic...

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Utopia

Thomas More, England 1515 Due to the recent success of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall and its sequel Bring Up The Bodies, there has been a recent re-evaluation of Thomas More. Recent interpretations of More were coloured by Robert Bolt’s play and film A Man For All Seasons, where More is portrayed as the definitive man of conscience. More in refusing to endorse Henry VIII’s divorce of his wife, remains true to himself and unwavering in his beliefs and in doing so condemns himself to death. Mantel, on the other hand, portrays More as an intransigent ideologue, sanctimonious and ruthless, willing...

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The Journey to the West

Wu Cheng En, China. c 1590 Considered to be one of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese Literature (along with The Romance of the Four Kingdoms, The Water Margin and The Dream of the Red Chamber), The Journey to the West was first published around 1590 by an anonymous author. Scholars have settled on the 16th century writer Wu Cheng En as the probable creator or assembler of the novel. In China, the novel is also called Monkey; a title that has been used for a number of film and television adaptations of the story. Very little is known...

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The Era of Reformation and Rennaisance

Thomas a Kempis, Germany, 1418. The Imitation of Christ. Niccolo Macchiavelli, Italy, 1513. The Prince. Thomas More, England, 1516. Utopia. Francois Rabelais. France, 1532. Gargantua and Pantagruel. Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, France, 1580. Essays. Christopher Marlow, England, 1587. Tamburlaine. Wu Cheng-en, China, 1590. The Journey to the West. Francis Bacon, England, 1597. Essays. Miguel de Cervantes, Spain, 1605. Don Quixote. William Shakespeare, England, 1601-1613. Richard III, Hamlet, The Tempest. John Donne, England, 1633. Poems. Rene Descartes, France, 1637. Discourse on Method. Pedro Calderon de la Barca, Spain, 1636. Life is a Dream. Thomas Hobbes, England, 1651. Leviathan. John Milton, England,...

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The Prince

Perhaps the most famous book of the Renaissance is Machiavelli’s The Prince. It remains a standard political science text and has influenced political discourse since its publication in 1531. Machiavelli’s name has also become an adjective – Machiavellian today means using amoral and expedient methods to achieve political goals. Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born in 1469 in San Casciano in Val di Pesa, a village near of the city-state of Florence. He was born into a wealthy family and received a broad classical education and followed his father into the legal profession. At the time of his youth,...