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Evolution of Writing: When the Arts Student Speaks

On the park bench sat two love birds who were supposed to be arch-enemies but were best friends. Mina was in love with the realm of Arts and Kabir was in love with the realm of Science.

Mina: How was your day?

Kabir: It was fabulous. We learned about Evolution today!

Mina: Same pinch! We did too.

Kabir: Uhm, Mina. This is different you know? I am talking about the scientific evolution of our biological selves.

Mina: Everything evolves, it’s not limited to biology. We learned how writing evolved. It was like time traveling through time and seeing different stages.

 Kabir: Writing is easy. I was thinking of giving it go once I am done with my degree. Writing has just changed mediums, there’s not much evolution I see.

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There was a silence, the silence before the storm. Mina mentally gasped at such a derogatory statement towards her beloved field. Her forehead was creased with annoyance. 

Mina: What do you even know about literature? Every now and then when I read something heart wrenching, I go like “WOW”. This is the beauty of writing. Literature has always been like a sole retreat to those who surrender unto words in different forms such as a poem, story, limerick, prose, etc. Literature began as orals to being scribed long after they were created.

She took a deep breath as if preparing to say much more.

Mina. Do you know about one among the first literary pieces composed approximately in 2700 BCE? It is said to be “Epic of Gilgamesh”, sailing right from the cradle of writing. This epic poem comes from the ancient Mesopotamia, dating from the third dynasty of Ur. The infinite play since then has continued with the eastern heritage, the much known Greek era, Rome, Augustus & patronage and much more.

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Kabir: I am not in the mood for a history lesson Mina.

DolceStilNovoMina: Let me finish there’s more to this than history. Uprisings worldwide, have been like a touch point in changing the times of literature and its realms. But are you aware of the 13th-century Italian writings..? The earliest poetry written in the Italian language is written at the court of Frederick II in Sicily. These poets adopted a less flowery style using simple Italian to express emotions of love. Like Dante calls it ‘Dolce Stil Nuovo’ (sweet new style).

From describing king’s glory to a relatable emotion.

Among these frivolous ties of Dante’s work, his epic trilogy speaks about the simple title Commedia (comedy) which reflects that it starts badly and ends well. To this, about 2 or 3 centuries later his admirers call it the ‘Divine Comedy’.

Post this, Renaissance period walked across making their mark of wisdom and great writings with that of the Villon literature. This was at one bound a leap from the mentality of the middle ages to the completely modern sensibility. Better known as the period of Chaucer, this age refers to the revival of ancient classical mythology, culture, literature and also of the human mind. Along with ancient classical mythology in literature, came the Italian influence. It was then that people found delight in the beauty of language. The English language was thus enriched lavishly. Blank verse and sonnets became very popular in the Renaissance period.

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade
Nor lose possession of that fair thou owest;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou growest:
So long as men can breathe or eyes can see,
So long lives this and this gives life to thee.

Kabir stared at Mina, wide-eyed. But she was in her trance, recalling every detail that came to her mind and throwing it at Kabir. 

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Mina: Seldom regarded as the golden age in the history of England, this age of Shakespeare or Elizabeth age comprises of the latter half of the 16th century. It brought progress in almost all the branches of life. Among the most cherished salient features of this era were the Spirit of independence and abundance of output it gave to humanism.

Then came the Dryden age which comprises of the period from 1600 to 1700 called as the Restoration period. This age follows the Puritan Age. People suffered much in this age for they abandoned their decencies and moral value towards life. Hence, the literature of restoration period is deeply influenced by French models. Due to the era, this period was also marked by inmate realism and reflected the interest of man in learning to live with one another. You will see the many early writers have tried to paint a realistic picture of corrupt court and society.

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The Romantic era or the Romantic revival in English Literature falls after the Neo-classical age of the 18t century. Seldom called as the age of Wordsworth, the term Romanticism has been variously defined by different writers. A beautiful era with different characteristics to be renamed as the ‘re-awakening of the Middle age’, has in itself a blend of love for the natural, subjectivity, simplicity of style, variant imagination, and emotion, etc. While on the other hand it was the Victorian age that the novel grew rapidly and the foundation on prose was laid on a surer footing. It had immense foreign influence and a sense of patriotism but still was not as splendid as the Romantic era.

The 20th century is regarded as the Modern era, where there has been a great reshaping of experience and form in the turn of century period, a mood of an experiment which we call the Modernism. This period combined the traditional and the experimental. As a result, the Modern age became the age of complexity and confusion. In the first place, the authors revolted against the trends of the Victorian age and has had an enormous output of books. This age has many such prevalent features because of its uniqueness and the rise of technology. With a new treatment to love and diversity running in its blood, this age bears a note of pessimism and disillusionment.

Mina paused.

Kabir: Are you done?

She was clearly annoyed for interrupted but she decided to give it a break. 

Mina: I have not memorized this if that’s what you were going to ask me next.

Kabir: That’s a lot of information to take in.

Mina: I know. I just gave you a gist of what once used to be. How can you underestimate something you don’t even know about?

Image: [1], [2], [3], [4], [5]

About Sonam Kukreja

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