Introductory Lecture on the Neoclassical Period in English

Neoclassical Age
Neoclassical Age

Neoclassical Period

INTRODUCTION

          The neoclassical age is also called the Augustan age, age of Jonson and restoration age. It was from 1616 to 1798.

  • RESTORATION PERIOD
  • AUGUSTAN PERIOD
  • AGE OF JOHNSON

Dryden, Pope and Johnson were the literary figures of this age.

The neoclassical name itself suggests that classics the literature is. But something new the writer of this age is following classic. Writer means of ancients but with newness.

It also defines that the term ‘classic’ refers to general appliances to writers of the highest rank in any nation. This term applies to the ancient figure of the literature of those greek and Roman writers. The writers who followed their classical way they were also the classical writer of 18 century.

AUGUSTAN AGE

This age is also called the Augustan age. Pope, Addison, Swift, Jonson and burke, the modern parallel to Horace, Virgil, Cicero and other brilliant writers who made Roman literature famous during the region of emperor Augustus.

THE CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS AGE

In this age, prose occupies the front position. It was the age of social, political, religious, literary controversies. So the writers found their place in writing pamphlets, journals and magazines so the readers become more aware of literature. It increased the number of readers. It was the rapid development of prose. Addison wrote essays. It became popular than Swift’s satire.

The main characteristics of this period are realism and precision. They had their position in the poetry of Pope who used heroic couplet and Addison developed these characteristics in his prose.

It was the time of development of satire. It was the result of political controversies. They were different parties who occupied the writers to write about them to influence the people. The Whigs and the Tories were constantly focused to control the government of the country and how the satire developed in the age.

The most important characteristics of this age are origin and the development of the novel. The novel itself means the new literary form got succeeded in time and in the present time also. The masters of novels were Richardson, Fielding, Smollett, Defoe, and others.

While studying the aspects of the literature of this age, we find unity in all writers regarding their works. The writers wrote against Puritanism and the period is marked by the rise of intellectual backless against earlier Puritanism.

THE AGE OF REASON

The classical ideals of moderation which inspired this period. It’s realistically inspiration it focuses on the common sense of society not on individual imagination or thoughts. The religious belief and morality were grounded on reason.

A reason would guide human individuals and society. It should also direct artistic creation. It was not the spontaneous overflow of fading emotions that were controlled unlike the Elizabethan literature.

THE CLUBS AND COFFEE HOUSES

Politicians were necessarily gregarious and increased activity in politics led to a great addition to the number of political clubs and coffee houses. It became the fashion of the public. At the first Steele announced as a matter of the activities of his new journal will be based upon the clubs. Entertainment was in the article of White’s chocolate- house; poetry under that of wills of the coffee house.

THE NEW MORALITY

The past age of neoclassical age was full of morality. So the next age means; the neoclassical age was the reaction again extreme Puritanism. The tone of the writing was like satire or freely describing the situation as it is. This describes the most important characteristics of the age.

MAJOR POETS

Alexander Pope, wrote tolerance verse when he was twelve years old. He was the son of a London tradesman. Because of sweeping laws against the entrance of Catholics into public service, he was shut out from the ordinary career of parliament, the church.

He wrote one of the most epics ‘ the rape of the lock’. His essays are also written in verse form.

MATHEW PRIOR

His first work is a parody of Dryden ’s The Hind and the panther, entitled The Town and Country Mouse 1687. His other works are Alma, The Progress of mind and Solomon on the vanity of the world.

JOHN GAY (1685-1732)

He is remembered for his fables 1727, which is colloquial, easy. His famous play is The Bagger ’s Opera. It contains some pretty songs. Gay mirrors the manners and outward show of his age.

Neoclassical Age
                                                                         Neoclassical Age

SOCIAL THEMES

Neoclassical writers saw themselves, as well as their readers and characters, above all members of society, social institutions or of religion, were so foolish and corrupted. They did not support and limited the literature in the past.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF PROSE

Poetry and drama of this age were developed under French influence. Stress was not laid upon the originality of the idea but upon the value of the form. The prose product of the period was at the highest point.

MAJOR PROSE WRITERS OF THIS AGE AS GIVEN BELOW

  • Jonathan Swift
  • Joseph Addison
  • Richard Steele
  • Daniel Defoe
  • Jonathan Swift

Jonathan Swift was born in 1667 in Dublin. He was poor. The life of Swift was tragedy itself. He is a prominent writer of neoclassical age. His famous works are

  • THE BATTLE OF BOOKS
  • A TALE OF A TUB
  • GULLIVER’S TRAVELS

Conclusion

The neoclassical age is the reaction of its previous age and the characteristics of this age influenced by the social and political conditions. The political movement supported in making of literature. Life was represented by the writers of this age as it is.

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