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Eighteenth Century British Literature

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Jennifer Fichter

on 14 October 2013

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Transcript of Eighteenth Century British Literature

Eighteenth Century British Literature
Restoration Literature (1600-1700)
-Most important forms of writing: verse, comedy, tragedy, heroic plays, satires, and translations of classic works
-Restoration prose was witty, urbane conversation
-Appealed to heroic ideals of love and honor
The British Restoration
-Begins in year 1660 when King Charles II was restored to the throne
- Increasing commercial prosperity and global trade for Britain
-Literacy expanded to the middle classes and some of the poor
-Emerging social ideas that include politeness, sentiment, and sympathy


The Neoclassical Age (Augustan Age)
(1700-1745)
-Prose that blends fact with fiction
-Tried to follow the simple and noble methods of the "classical" writers such as Homer and Dante
-They believed the writing to be more polished, yet without the "sentiment" of the current era
Conditions of Literary Production
-18th century first to sustain a large number of professional authors because of increased literacy rates
-Women widely published

Context of Literary Ideas
-Woman began appearing on stage
-Dogmatism (the acceptance of received religious beliefs) was widely regarded as dangerous
-The major idea of the period was empiricism
-Empiricism: the direct observation of experience, which infers that experience is a reliable source of knowledge
-"sentiment" was the word to describe the social behavior based on instinct
-Extreme importance placed on the private, individual life (thus, the increased literary forms of diaries, letters, and the novel)

-Prominent writers took an active role and utilized the growing popularity of pamphlets, journals, and magazines
-Poetry became polished, witty , and artificial--lacking the fire and feelings of the previous age (consider Shakespeare)
-More interested in the portrayal of actual life and distrusted inspiration and imagination
-Realism and Precision: satire became a widely used form of writing due to the controversies of the age
-Origin and development of the novel
Characteristics:
-Prose occupies the forefront because of the social, political, and religious controversy
The Age of Johnson
(1740-1785)
-The Gothic novel is introduced
-Introduces forbidden themes such as incest, murder, atheism, and sexual desire
-Poetry of this time emphasizes melancholy, isolation, and reflection, in distinction of the intensely social, and satirical verse earlier in the period
-Horace Walpole: one of the pioneers of the genre--wrote The Castle of Otranto
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