The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century
1660: Charles II restored to the throne
1688-89: The GloriousRevolution.deposition of James IIand accession of William of Orange
1700: Death of John Dryden
1707: Act of Union unites Scotland and England, which thus became “Great Britain” 1714:Rule by Hanover begins with accession of George I
1744-45: Deaths of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift
1784: Death of Jonathan Swift
Neoclassicism: An Introduction
• Neoclassicism dominated English literature from the Restoration in 1660 until the end of the eighteenth century, when the publication of Lyrical Ballads (1798) by Wordsworth and Coleridge marked the full emergence of Romanticism. • The English Neoclassical movement was predicated upon and derived from both classical and contemporary French models, (see Boileau's L'Art Poetique (1674) and Pope's "Essay on Criticism" (1711) as critical statements of Neoclassical principles) • It embodied a group of attitudes toward art and human existence — ideals of order, logic, restraint, accuracy, "correctness," "restraint," decorum, and so on, • Ideally such principles would enable the practitioners of various arts to imitate or reproduce the structures and themes of Greek or Roman originals.
• Neo-classical period is often divided into three periods:
1. The Restoration Age (1660-1700), in which Milton, Bunyan, and Dryden were the dominant influences; 2.The Augustan Age (1700-1750), in which Pope was the central poetic figure, 3. The Age of Johnson(1750-1798), which was dominated and characterized by Samuel Johnson. It also saw the beginnings of attitudes which, in the context of the development of a cult of Nature, the influence of German romantic thought, religious tendencies like the rise of Methodism, and political events like the American and French revolutions — established the intellectual and emotional foundations of English Romanticism. • According to Neoclassical theorists man was an imperfect being, inherently sinful, whose potential was limited. • They replaced the Renaissance emphasis on the imagination, on invention and experimentation, and on mysticism with an emphasis on order and reason, on restraint, on common sense, and on religious, political, economic and philosophical conservatism. • They maintained that man himself was the most appropriate subject of art, and saw art itself as essentially pragmatic — as valuable because it was somehow useful — and as something which was properly intellectual rather than emotional. • Hence their emphasis on proper subject matter; and hence their attempts to subordinate details to an overall design, to employ in their work concepts like symmetry, proportion, unity, harmony, and grace, which would facilitate the process of delighting, instructing, educating, and correcting the social animal which they believed man to be. • in poetry, the favorite verse form was the rhymed couplet, which reached its greatest sophistication in heroic couplet of Pope: The hungry judges soon the Sentence sign,
And Wretches hang that Jury-men may Dine.
The heroic couplet, lines in iambic pentameter rhymed in pairs, appeared early in English — it was Chaucer's favorite meter — and came into vogue in poetic drama in the seventeenth century, but in the eighteenth century, in the hands of masters like Dryden, Pope, and Johnson, it became for many years the dominant English verse form. In the Neo-classical period the heroic couplet consisted of a couplet of end-stopped lines which formed a short stanza, and substituted for the Greek and Latin heroic hexameter.
Pope and the Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock had its origins in an actual, if trivial, incident in polite society: in 1711, the twenty-one year old Robert, Lord Petre, had, at Binfield,surreptitiously cut a lock of hair from the head of the beautiful Arabella Fermor, whom he had been courting. Arabella...
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