Учебно-методический комплекс дисциплины гсэ. Ф. 1 «Иностранный язык»



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The Church of England or the Anglican Church is a Protestant Church and the official state religion of England (although membership is not, of course, compulsory). The Queen is the Head of the Church of England and she, with the advice of the Prime Minister appoints the senior members of the clergy – the archbishops, bishops and deans.

The Church is divided into two provinces Canterbury and York – each with its own archbishop. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior official in the Church of England. The two provinces are divided into a number of dioceses, each with its own bishop; and the dioceses are further split into parishes . There are 13 250 parishes in England alone, and every parish has its own church with its own priest or vicar. In 1992 women were first permitted to become priests.

The Church of Scotland is recognized as the official religion of Scotland. It is a Protestant Church and is a Presbyterian organization. This means that there is no hierarchy of archbishops and bishops.

The Church of Scotland is governed by its ministries (parish priests) and elders – старшины (elected representatives), all of whom are considered to hold equal rank. Women are allowed to become ministries in the Presbyterian Church.



The Roman Catholic Church. About 10% of the population of Britain are Roman Catholics including more than one-third of the population of Northern Ireland. Recent years have seen attempts to create some form of unity between the Catholic Church and the Church of England, but there are many problems, not least of which is the fact that the Church of England accepted the idea of admitting women to the priesthood, which is totally unacceptable to the Roman Church.

The Free Churches. There are several Protestant churches in Britain which, unlike the churches of England and Scotland, are not officially recognized as state religions. They are called the Free Churches, the most important of which are the Methodists, Baptists, and the United Reform Church. These churches are particularly strong in the old Celtic areas of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and south-west England. Most of them allow women to become ministries.

As well as these churches there are various other Christian communities such as Orthodox and Armenian Christians.



Non-Christian Religions. There are large numbers of Commonwealth citizens in Britain whose ancestors came from such countries as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh . Many of these people are Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. There are also about 400 000 Jews living in Britain – one of the largest Jewish community in Europe.
Лекция 2. Arts in Great Britain
2.1. The arts in society

The ‘arts’ is an ‘umbrella’ term for literature, music, painting, sculpture, crafts, theatre, opera, ballet, film. It usually implies seriousness, so that particular examples of these activities which are regarded as ‘light’ may be referred to simply as ‘entertainment’ instead. The term ‘art’ or ‘fine arts’, is often used to refer to those arts which use space, but not time, for their appreciation (such as painting and sculpture). The word ‘artist’ can sometimes refer to a person working in the fine arts, and sometimes to a person working in any field of the arts.

Britain’s artistic and cultural heritage is one of the richest in the world. The origins of English literature can be traced back to medieval times, while over the centuries Britain has amassed some of the finest collections of works of art of all kind. The performing arts also have a long and distinguished history.

Nevertheless, interest in the arts in Britain used to be largely confined to a small élite. Most British people prefer their sport, their television and videos, and their other free-time activities to anything connected with the arts.

The arts in Britain are met with a mixture of public apathy and private enthusiasm. Publicly, the arts are accepted but not actively encouraged. Government financial support for the arts is one of the lowest of any western country. In schools, subjects such as art and music, tend to be pushed to the side lines. In addition, the arts are not normally given a very high level of publicity. Television programmes on cultural subjects are usually shown late at night. Each summer, many high-quality arts festivals take place around the country, but the vast majority of people do not even know of their existence. London has some of the finest collections of painting and sculpture in the world, but tourist brochures give little space to this aspect of the city. Some British artists have international reputations, and yet most people in Britain don’t ever know their names.

There appears to be a general assumption in Britain that artistic creation is a personal affair, not a social one. It is not something for which society should feel responsible. In Britain hundreds of thousands of people are involved in one or other of the arts, but with a more-or-less amateur or part-time status. Every town in the country has at least one amateur dramatic society, which regularly gives performances. All over the country, thousands of people learn handicrafts (such as pottery) in their free time, and sometimes sell their work in local craft shops. There are thousands of musicians of every kind, performing around the country for very little money and making their own recordings in very difficult circumstances. Some amateur British choirs, such as the Bach Choir of London and King’s College Chapel Choir in Cambridge, are well-known throughout the world.

The main characteristic of British work in the arts is its lack of identification with wider intellectual trends. It is not usually ideologically committed, nor associated with particular political movements. British playwrights and directors, novelists and poets tend to be individualistic, exploring emotions rather than ideas, the personal rather than political. It is quite common for British playwrights and novelists to claim that they just record “what they see” and they do not consciously intend any social or symbolic message. Similarly, British work in the arts also tends to be individualistic within its own field. Artists do not usually consider themselves to belong to this or that ‘movement’. In any field of the arts, even those in which British artists have strong international reputations, it is difficult to identify a ‘British school’.

The style of the arts also tends to be conventional. The avant-garde exists, of course, but, with the possible exception of painting and sculpture, it is not through such work that British artists become famous. In the 1980s, Peter Brook was a highly successful theatre director. But when he occasionally directed avant-garde productions, he staged them in Paris!


2.2. Annual arts festivals

Annual festivals of music and drama are very popular in Britain. Some of them are famous not only in Britain, but all over the world. The most well-known art festivals are:



  • Aldeburgh. Is held every summer in June. Classical music. Relatively informal atmosphere.

  • Edinburgh International Festival. Is held during three weeks in late August and early September. All the performing arts, including avant-garde. More than ten different performances every day around the city. World famous.

  • The Promps (promenade concerts). July – September. London. Classical music. ‘Promps’ is short for ‘promenades’, so-called because most of the seats are taken out of the Albert Hall, where the concerts take place, and the audience stands or walks around instead.

  • Glyndebourne. All summer. Is held in a 16-century country house (Glyndebourne) in a village in Sussex. An annual opera festival. Is attended by rich, upper-class people.

  • Royal National Eisteddfod. July. Wales. Music, poetry and dance from many different countries. Mostly in the form of competition.

  • Glastonbury and Reading. Probably the two most well-established rock music festivals.

  • Bradford and Cambridge. Folk music festivals.

  • International Shakespeare Festival. Is held in the Aldwych Theatre in London. During the festival famous companies from abroad perform Shakespeare’s plays.


2.3. Theatre and cinema

Britain is one of the world’s major centers for theatre, and has a long and rich dramatic tradition. There are many companies based in London and other cities and towns, as well as numerous touring companies which visit theatres, festivals, arts centers and social clubs. Every large town in the country has its theaters. Even small towns often have “repertory” theatres, where different plays are performed for short periods by the same group of professional actors (a repertory company).

Britain has about 300 theatres intended for professional use which can seat between 200 and 2,300 people. Some are privately owned but most are owned municipally. In summer there are also open air theatres. 15 of many London’s theatres are permanently occupied by subsidized companies. These includes:


  • the Royal National Theatre, which stages modern classical plays;

  • the Royal Shakespeare Company, which presents mainly by Shakespeare and his contemporaries as well as some modern work;

  • the English Stage Company at the Royal Court Theatre in Sloane Square, London, which stages the work of many talented new playwrights.

Among the best-known British actors and actresses, who played or play at the West End theatres are Sir Laurence Olivier, Sir John Gielgud, Sir Alec Guinness, Sir Michael Redgrave and his daughter Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Ian McKellen, Dame Judy Dench, Dame Maggie Smith. Many British directors who enjoy international reputation include Sir Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn, Jonathan Miller, Terry Hands. As a rule, the plays are magnificently staged – costumes, dresses, scenery, everything being done on the most lavish scale.

Successful plays can sometimes run without a break for many years. In the second half of the twentieth century, the two longest-running theatrical productions were “The Mousetrap” (from a novel by Agatha Christy) and the comedy “No Sex Please, We’re British”. Both played continuously for more than fifteen years.

Contemporary British playwrights who have received international recognition include:

Harold Pinter – “The Caretaker” and “The Homecoming”; Tom Stoppard“Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead”; Caryl Churchill – “Serious Money”; and Peter Shaffer “Amadeus”.

The musicals of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber have been highly successful in Britain and overseas; well known examples include “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Evita” and “Cats”.

British theatre has such a fine acting tradition that Hollywood is forever raiding its talent for people to star in films. British television does the same thing. Moreover, Broadway, when looking for its next blockbuster musical, pays close attention to London productions. In short, British theatre is much admired. As a consequence, it is something that British actors are proud of. Many of the most well-known television actors, though they might make most of their money in television, continue to see themselves as first and foremost theatre actors.

In contrast, the cinema in Britain is often regarded as not quite part of ‘the art’ at all – it is simply entertainment. Partly for this reason, Britain is unique among the large European countries in giving almost no financial help to its film industry. British film directors often have to go to Hollywood because the resources they need are not available in Britain. As a result, comparatively few films of quality are made in the country.


2.4. Music

People in Britain are interested in a wide range of music, from classical to different forms of rock and pop music.

Classical music in Britain is a minority interest. Few classical musicians, whether British or foreign, become well-known to the general public. Despite this, thousands of British people are dedicated musicians. Seasons of orchestral and choral concerts are promoted every year in many large towns and cities.

The leading symphony orchestras are the London Philharmonic, the London Symphony, the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and many others. There are also chamber orchestras such as the English Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.

Regular seasons of opera and ballet are held at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, London.

While Britain’s classical music performances compared well with top international standards, it is in the field of popular music that Britain achieved a particular pre-eminence. In the 1960s, British artists had a great influence on the development of music in the modern, or ‘pop’ idiom. The Beatles and other British groups were responsible for several innovations which were then adopted by popular musicians in the USA and the rest of the world. These included the writing of words and music by performers themselves, and more active audience participation. Since 1960s, popular music in Britain has been an enormous and profitable industry. The Beatles were awarded the honour of MBE (Members of the British Empire) for their services to British exports. Britain remains at the forefront of pop music.


2.5. Literature

Although the British are comparatively uninterested in formal education, and although they watch a lot of television, they are nonetheless enthusiastic readers.

Many people in the literary world say that British literature lost its way at the end of the twentieth century. A lot of the exciting new literature written in English and published in Britain in recent years has been written by people from outside Britain. The Booker Prize is the most important prize in Britain for a work of fiction. But most of its winners are writers from former British colonies such as Canada, India, Ireland.

Although many of the best ‘serious’ British writers manage to be popular as well as profound, the vast majority of the books that are read in Britain could not be classified as ‘serious’ literature. Britain is the home of what might be called ‘middlebrow’ literature. That is, mid-way between serious, or ‘highbrow’ literature and popular, or ‘pulp’ fiction. For example, the distinctly British genre of detective fiction is regarded as entertainment rather than literature – but it is entertainment for intelligent readers.

There are many British authors, mostly female, who write novels which are sometimes classified as ‘romances’ but which are actually deeper and more serious than that term often implies. The list includes such writers as Daphne Du Maurier, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt and some others. And yet they continued to be read, year after year, by hundreds of thousands of people.

The British publisher which sells more books than any other is Miller & Boon, whose books are simple stories about romance, where she is young and pretty, he is tall, dark and handsome, with a very firm jaw; whatever happens during the story, they end up in each other’s arms – forever.

At the end of the twentieth century, poetry is still popular in Britain. Books of poetry sell in comparatively large numbers. Many poets are asked to do readings of their work on radio and at arts festivals.
2.6. The fine arts

Painting and sculpture are not as widely popular as music in Britain. Small private art galleries, where people might look at paintings with a view to buying them are rare. Nevertheless, London is one of the main centers of international collector’s world. The two major auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s are world-famous.

The major museums in London are British Museum (the national collection of antiquities), the Victoria and Albert Museum, which houses the world’s largest display of the decorative arts, the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. There are numerous other small, specialist museums in London and throughout the rest of the country. Most of major museums publish guides to their collections, pointing out their most highly-prized exhibits, which are often illustrated in the guides.

Art galleries in London which house permanent collections include the National Gallery, the adjoining National Portrait Gallery, and the Tate Britain, which is the nation’s gallery of British art from 1500 to the present day. These galleries also hold special temporary exhibitions. The Hayward Gallery and the Royal Academy put on a series of shows, some of which are extremely popular. The Royal Academy is famous for its annual Summer Exhibition. Outside London there is a Burrell Collection near Glasgow and the Tate Galleries in Liverpool and St Ives. Most major towns and cities have their own museums and art galleries.


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