There are centuries worth of literature that critics can explore. When writing reviews of historical work, it is essential to be aware of the time and place that it was written. Understanding context is the key to this. Each era has its own historical, cultural and societal aspects that need to be considered by reviewers.
This will be the trickiest form of literature to review as it will harder to understand the context. Historians do not know as much about ancient cultures compared to more modern ones. In some cases, limited examples of the written word can give clues. One upside to classical literature is that it has been analyzed by many other critics over the centuries. People can refer back to what others have said about the work to help them with their own review.
In many cases, medieval literature deals with themes of faith. Religion was an essential part of life during this period. It informed how people at the time acted and reacted to their world. This was also a period of frequent warfare. Conflict and violence are common themes in medieval literature. The emergence of the Black Death changed global culture forever. Death and mortality were always on the minds of writers.
The Renaissance was a time of change for literature and culture as a whole. People began to reject dogmatic religious views and embrace other forms of philosophy. This was also a period that saw the invention of the printing press. Written works could now be spread to a broader number of people.
Many of the most beloved classics of western literature were produced during this period. The Victorians were often interested in art from the past. Therefore many novels and poems from this time refer back to others from different eras. This was also a time where criticism itself became more sophisticated.
20th Century Literature
Much like the medieval period, 20th-century literature was primarily dominated by conflict. The First and Second World Wars greatly influenced writers. It also led to the creation of new genres and movements such as surrealism.
Modern books and poems will inevitably be influenced by the rich history of literature. In some ways, this makes them the most challenging works to analyze. However, having a better understanding of the writers who have existed throughout the centuries will greatly help modern critics.