18th Century Literature

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18th Century Literature

The 18th century is a period of great literary works. The styles are different throughout the period, but the unity of the work is still present. Much of this period focused on public and general themes, until the Pre- Romantic era when literary works began to focus upon personal expression. 18th century literature can be broken down into three main parts: the Restoration, the Age of Pope, and Pre-Romantics.

The literature of the Restoration period covers a time span from Charles's recovery of the throne to the years until the expulsion of James II in 1688 or until the death of John Dryden in 1700. The literature of the Restoration was characterized by wit and elegance influenced by French classical taste. This period pertained to traditional values and "wit". The Diary of Samuel Pepys written by Samuel Pepys and A Journel of the Plague Years by Daniel Defoe are just a few examples of literary works from the Restoration Period. The Diary of Samuel Pepys is also an example of journalistic fiction. In the excerpts from Pepys' diary, he shows the historical background and culture of the 18th century. The reader is able to understand the values and ethics of the time through the description detailed by Samuel Pepys and the reader is also exposed to the life a man in the 1660's. A Journal of the Plague Year is an example of historical fiction. Defoe uses wide ranges of vivid descriptions including verisimilitudes and imagery, to give the reader a realistic feel of what took place through the eyes of a witness. This literary time period also included works from John Dryden, who used elegance and cleverness in his writings. This period ended about 1700, and enabled a new age of literature.

In literary history, the first half of the 18th century is known as the Age of the Pope. In this age, the writers expressed views of the public and restrained from writing personal topics or expressions. In the Age of the Pope or the...
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