16th century Prose writing features

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      More's Utopia and Erasmus Praise of Folly were written in Latin. The second phase of the English Renaissance brought a knowledge of the world to the reader and speaker of English, it meant writings upon all learning in the native tongue in sixteenth century. It meant also translation into English of the wealth of literature previously accessible to the scholars of Latin and Greek languages. The traditions of the Bible also contributed to the great burst of literary creation in England.

Ascham is one of the first great masters of a distinctly native English prose style.
Prose

      Scholars like Thomas Elyot, Roger Ascham and Thomas Wilson wrote original works in English and had a great influence on the spread of the "New Learning" Elyot's book The Governour tells of an enlightened and liberal humanist as a ruler. He employs shrewd allusion and anecdote in clear business like English. Ascham wrote Toxophilus (1545) and The Schoolmaster (1570). Toxophilus is a dialogue on the art of archery and The Schoolmaster tells of a dinner-table discussion in Windsor Castle about some students in Eton. He advocates human pedagogy. He recommends select classical models for the proper moulding of style. Ascham is one of the first great masters of a distinctly native English prose style.

Thomas Wilson's The Art of Rhetoric is a humanistic treatise upon the full education of a man for the full life.

Translations of the Bible led to the Reformation and at the same time laid the foundation of English prose in sixteenth century. Tyndale's translation (1526) of the Greek New Testament is remarkable, clear and accurate. He expressed himself in an idiomatic but poetic style. Coverdale's Bible (1535) from the German and Latin follows the style of Tyndale, particularly in the superb poetry of the psalms. There are Matthew's Bible, The Great Bible, The Geneva Bible, The Bishop's Bible etc. The Authorised Version of 1611 ordered by King James I is the most important translation and has influenced the English writers to a considerable extent.

      Translations, chronicle and history continued and contributed to the flowering of Renaissance literature. Sir Thomas North published his version of Plutarch's Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans, the most famous of all the Tudor translations because Shakespeare was content to employ not only its themes but its very phrases in the Roman plays. Holland's translation of Pliny's Natural History is another book which influenced Shakespeare. Holinshed's Chronicle was the basis for the English historical plays. Richard Hakluyt's Voyages gave the adventures and discoveries of his countrymen and he wrote with strength and beauty.

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