Unit 0

Literature and thought


Internationally renowned great authors and literary works

  • Thomas Hardy is an English novelist and poet. He was influenced by Romanticism. His most famous works are Far From Madding Crowd, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Tess of the Durbervilles.
  • Charles Dickens is a Victorian novelist. He criticises Victorian society in his works. His famous works are David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Oliver Twist, Great Expectations.
  • J.R.R Tolkien is an English writer, poet, philologist and university professor. He has created some of the most famous fantasy works like Lord Of The Rings, The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. He is known as the father of Fantasy Literature.
  • George Orwell is an English novelist, journalist and critic. He is famous for his dystopian works such as Animal Farm and 1984. Home to Catalonia is also one of his famous books based on his experiences in the Spanish Civil War.
  • J. K. Rowling is an English author best know for writing the Harry Potter fantasy series. It became the best selling book series in history.
  • Jane Austen is an English novelist known for novels like Sense and Sensibility, Emma and Pride & Prejudice. They interpret, critique and comment British landed gentry class at the end of the 18th century.

The importance of Shakespeare and his works in the history of world literature

  • William Shakespeare is known as the greatest writer both in English Literature and world literature. In his lifetime, he wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two long narrative poems. His works have been translated into many languages and his plays are still being performed in many countries. One of the most surprising facts about Shakespeare is that he did not have any proper education. However, he managed to add over 1.700 new words to the English Language. His most famous plays are Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, and Macbeth.

The value and impact of the great characters and works of literature on popular culture and language

  • Shakespeare’s works have influenced popular culture. It is possible to see some quotes, and references on television, in cartoons, in movies or book titles. For example; in Disney cartoons such as Ariel and The Beauty and The Beast, some scenes are taken from Romeo and Juliet, particularly the balcony part. The same example can be seen in Toy Story, the famous animated movie. Another example is Aldous Huxley’s famous book Brave New World. The book title is taken from one of Shakespeare’s plays: The Tempest.
  • Samuel Johnson has created A Dictionary of the English Language which had a big impact on the way dictionaries should be created. His work also had a big impact on the United States of America.
  • King James Bible is an English translation of the Christian Bible. It was sponsored by King James IV and I. It is believed to be one of the most important books in English history because it influences English language and culture.
  • J.R.R Tolkien’s works have reviewed and drew attention back to the fantasy stories. His huge success with the Lord of the Rings series inspired many authors to write a big number of stories following this genre and becoming the world’s top sellers. His stories created a template that is followed by the writers to this day.
  • J.K Rowling and her Harry Potter series had a great impact on the popular culture by bringing kid’s and teenager’s attention to reading. It also started a reading boom in young adult literature and increased the number of pages in the young adult’s literature. This series also helped in merging literature with the pop culture.

The special case of Shakespeare

Shakespeare created a lot of new words and phrases that are used in English:

  • Some of the words created by Shakespeare:
    • Addiction,
    • birthplace,
    • amazement,
    • bedroom.
  • Some of the phrases that are created by Shakespeare:
    • Green-eyed-monster, which comes from The Merchant of Venice and it means Jealousy.
    • Fair play this phrase was used in several of his plays. It means respect for the rules or equal treatment of all concerned.
    • Be-all and end-all phrase was used in Macbeth. It refers to someone or something that is most desired and the best.

Symbolic references of the great literary works in the English language

  • King James Bible is a source of around 257 idioms in the English language:
    • Feet of clay phrase refers to somebody’s weakness.
    • Reap the whirlwind means that every action has its consequences.
  • George Orwell’s works often described regimes that are controlling every aspect of peoples lives. It led to the creation of adjective Orwellian which describes regimes, situations, etc. that are dangerous to freedom of somebody or whole society. It is also used to describe works in Orwell’s style. From Orwell’s works comes also the popular statement from his book 1984 Big Brother is watching you” which refers to totalitarian propaganda where the nation is like a family with the leader being a guardian of it. Another popular statement from G. Orwell that is still present in the culture is “all animals are equal but some are more equal than others” which comes from Animal Farm.



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