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By Robert Huntington Fletcher

Jonathan fast, one other special determine of very combined characteristics, is like Defoe in that he connects the reign of William III with that of his successors and that, according to the spirit of his age, he wrote for the main half no longer for literary yet for useful reasons; in lots of different respects the 2 are generally diversified. quick is without doubt one of the most sensible representatives in English literature of sheer highbrow strength, yet his personality, his goals, his setting, and the situations of his existence denied to him additionally literary fulfillment of the best everlasting value.

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PERIOD III. THE END OF THE MIDDLE AGES. ABOUT 1350 TO ABOUT 1500 34 A History of English Literature romancers, adapting it to their own age, had often more or less fully rationalized it; transforming, for instance, the black river of Death which the original heroes often had to cross on journeys to the Celtic Other World into a rude and forbidding moat about the hostile castle into which the romancers degraded the Other World itself. Countless magic details, however, still remained recalcitrant to such treatment; and they evidently troubled Malory, whose devotion to his story was earnest and sincere.

But all these forms, though they were not altogether without later influence, were very minor affairs, and the real drama of the Middle Ages grew up, without design and by the mere nature of things, from the regular services of the Church. We must try in the first place to realize clearly the conditions under which the church service, the mass, was conducted during all the medieval centuries. We should picture to ourselves congregations of persons for the most part grossly ignorant, of unquestioning though very superficial faith, and of emotions easily aroused to fever heat.

THE MEDIEVAL DRAMA For the sake of clearness we have reserved for a separate chapter the discussion of the drama of the whole medieval period, which, though it did not reach a very high literary level, was one of the most characteristic expressions of the age. It should be emphasized that to no other form does what we have said of the similarity of medieval literature throughout Western Europe apply more closely, so that what we find true of the drama in England would for the most part hold good for the other countries as well.

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