Renaissance Literature

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What does the Elizabethan Age refer to? Who were the prominent writers of the time? 

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The Elizabethan Age spanned the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558-1603) and marked a time of great literary innovation. Many consider the Elizabethan Age to be a golden age of literary production.

Writers of the era pulled from Greek and Latin works to inspire new works, such as William Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar. They reimagined the stories of famous figures and incorporated supernatural elements to create revolutionary theatre and literature. Shakespeare alone crafted 27 plays and 154 sonnets that literary scholars dissect and admire to this day.

The Elizabethan Age also included an explosion of romanticism. Elements of mysticism and the supernatural interacted with romantic entanglements; this feature can be seen in multiple works, most notably in A Mid Summer Night's Dream. Beyond Shakespeare, the era included works from Edmund Spencer, Roger Ascham, Sir Philip Sidney, Richard Hooker, Christopher Marlowe, and more.

Spencer's most well-known piece was an epic poem, The Faerie Queen, which created a fantastical allegory of the Tudor dynasty. Marlowe was known best for his tragedies, including Doctor Faustus. Tragedies led to the more subtle genre of tragicomedies which combined these two seemingly contrasting concepts into one poem or performance.

The Elizabethan Age stands proud as a paragon of literary history; it deservedly maintains its status as the most significant period of innovation in literature.

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