Neoclassical Age

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The 18th century is a distinguishing period in British literature. It is a timeline in which classical literary conventions in terms of the literary techniques in different genres are revived. After the Renaissance--a period of exploration and expansiveness--came a reaction in the direction of order and restraint. Generally speaking, this reaction developed in France in the mid-seventeenth century and in England thirty years later; and it dominated European literature until the last part of the eighteenth century. It is a period where counterfeiting and façades are very important; in some ways the country was trying to act like the Interregnum and English civil wars had not happened, and there is both a willful suppression of the immediate past and a glorification of the more distant, classical Roman past--which is why it is called the Neoclassical period. Neoclassical writers, such as Samuel Johnson, Moliere and Alexander Pope, sought clear, precise language. They standardized spelling and grammar, shifted away from the complex metaphors employed by Shakespeare and simplified literary structures. Neoclassical writers often adopted a rigid view toward society. Although Renaissance writers were fascinated by rebels and the Romantics later idealized them, neoclassical writers felt that the individual should conform to social norms. Although society was probably corrupt, individual views could not stand against the truths found in the consensus of society.

Principals of Neoclassic Age in Alexander Pope’s “essay on man” There are many concepts regarding literary criticism that are instantiated in the first part of Pope’s Essay: the problem of bad writing and criticism, and the greater danger of the latter to the public; the rarity of genius and taste in poets and critics respectively; the impairing of the capacity of critical judgment by unsound education; the causes for the multitude of literary critics (those who can’t write,...
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