The Land of Britain: its Nature and Literature

It goes without saying that English literature and culture were influenced by the geographical position, climate and Britain's history.
As for the geographical position, you can't fail to know that the British Isles were formed about 8,000 years ago when the sea level rose and separated these lands from the continent of Europe. The most important landscape division is between lowlands and highlands. The gentle and fertile lowland country, which is closer to the continent of Europe, has always been influenced by it. In the wild and severe highlands old languages and old ways of life had better chances to survive. As far as climate is concerned, it also influenced English literature and culture. Misty, foggy and rainy atmosphere of the British Isles might account for the strong poetic element of the British character and its literature. In English poetry and fiction the greenness of the English countryside, its streams and flowers, moors and lakes are not only described in every detail, but also become part and parcel of the narration. An inquisitive reader will recognize in poems or at the background of novels the rich farmlands, fens and marches of East Anglia, the chalk country of the south of England or the moors of Devon.
Many English authors - William Shakespeare, Jane Austin, Robert Burns and others - reflected in their works the type of the country where they were born or lived. Thus, the knowledge of the author's biography can help us predict the general atmosphere and mood of his or her creative world.
Another very important aspect is Britain's history. We should keep in mind that all the invasions (the Celtic, the Roman, the Anglo-Saxon, the Danish, and the Norman) had a great impact at the formation of the nation. The English are immensely aware of themselves. It is also due to the fact that they are islanders, who are cut off from many European influences by the sea. That is also accounts for a great number of odd characters, both among real people and personages of fiction. (E.g. sir Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister; Mr. Pickwick, the character of a famous novel by Ch. Dickens). Among English authors there were also a lot of original characters who were determined to go their own way, to write as they please.
One of the most prominent features of English literature is its humour, which is different from wit and satire. As for wit and satire, they work outside sympathy and affection. As far as real humour is concerned, it is based partly on sympathy and has much affection in it. When dealing with any national literature, we should answer two most important questions:
1) What does this literature owe to other literatures?
2) What do other literatures owe to this one? In other words, what are its debts and credits?
All the early influences on English literature came from the south, from France and Italy, which headed medieval European culture. Spanish influences came later. The Romantic Age turned to Germany, where this movement first began. In the last years of the 19th century at the beginning of the 20th century up to World War I French realists and Russian novelists influenced English fiction. After World War II American fiction had a strong influence on the younger English novelists. These are the debts of English literature.
As for the credits of English literature, they are very impressive. One of the greatest authors of the world is, undoubtedly, William Shakespeare. Then, the novelists of the 18th century (especially Samuel Richardson) were imitated everywhere. The most influential masters of the Romantic Age were George Gordon Byron in poetry and Walter Scott in fiction. During the middle of the 19th century Charles Dickens was one of the most popular authors of the world.
In the 20th century George Bernard Shaw conquered the theatre practically everywhere. Indeed books by English authors found their way into libraries, theatres and homes all over the world.

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