Literary Expression

The expansion of education and various religious controversies in the Early Modern period opened many people up to reading and encouraged publication of a variety of works. Scholars rediscovered Classical drama, wrote plays themselves, and presented them to a variety of audiences, which allowed illiterate people to experience literature. For those who could read, the most popular works were religious, but travel writing, pamphlets with scandalous stories, and how-to manuals were also popular. Prose fiction became widespread, exemplified by Cervantes’ Don Quixote and its influence on the Golden Age of Spain. Italian became a literary language, and English playwrights rose to prominence. Across Europe, vernacular literature and drama spread because of the increased use of the printing press and the humanistic encouragement of literary production.