Neoclassical Literary Period

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Last updated: April 30, 2019
After the humanism and artistic freedom expressed during the Renaissance
attitudes toward literature, art, music, and social roles dramatically changed during this political unrest in Europe (especially England) towards ideals of order, logic, restraint, accuracy, “correctness,” “restraint,” decorum, and so on.

Neoclassical
focus on the Classics of Greece and Rome led to the term

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three distinct parts of the Neoclassical Period
A. Restoration Age (1660-1700)B.

Augustan Age (1700-1750)C. Age of Johnson (1750-1798)

Restoration Age Charles I downfall and successor
was beheaded and the monarchy was replaced by Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. This era of Cromwell’s rule is called the interregnum (a period of time between the reign of one monarch and the next). It was the first and last time England would be ruled by a republican parliament.

Restoration Age restrictions the puritans placed because of the sinful previous catholic lifestyle
Holidays such as Christmas and Easter were suppressed and pastimes such as the theatre and gambling were also banned. However, some forms of art that were thought to be ‘virtuous’, such as opera, were encouraged.

Restoration Age why they idealized classical Roman
During this period, English citizens were trying to put the civil wars and interregnum behind them, so they began to favor the more glorified

Restoration Age King Charles II personifies this age of façades
he professed to support the Church of England, but he was secretly Roman Catholic.

In public he professed loyalty to his childless queen Henrietta, but he privately had a series of mistresses who gave him many illegitimate children.

What leads us to call this era the Restoration Age
restoration of the British Monarchy. The Church of England was restored as the national church, and some legal authority was taken from the monarchy and given to the church. Because of this, Catholic persecution was rampant throughout England, Scotland, and especially in Ireland. Citizens would take the law into their own hands, and government authority was lax.

Two major catastrophes mark this period in the Neoclassical movement
-in 1665, the last great bubonic plague swept through London and southern England, killing an estimated 100,000, 20% of London’s population-Less than one year later, on September 5, 1666, the Great Fire of London

Restoration Age Literature
– John Milton (1608-1674). Milton is author of Paradise Lost, an epic poem in blank verse.

It was originally published in 1667-The poem concerns the Genesis account of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. -Paradise Lost is an example of the most popular form of poetry during the Neoclassical period, blank verse, which is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Author of Paradise Lost
John Milton

Paradise lost was written in
blank verse, which is written in unrhymed iambic pentameter.

During the Restoration age who was openly Catholic?
James II

Restoration Age-James II
was openly Catholic, which led to a short reign. Because of assassination attempts and political pressures, King James fled England in 1688. This change of power is called “the Glorious Revolution” and King James was the last Catholic monarch to ever rule Britain.

“The Glorious Revolution”
Because of assassination attempts and political pressures, King James fled England in 1688.

Restoration rulers after James’s daughter
William and Mary, both Protestants, became joint rulers in 1689.

Augustan Age
under the Act of Union, two of her realms, the kingdoms of England and Scotland, were united as a single sovereign state, the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Augustan Age Ruler
Queen Anne

Augustan Age Authors
Alexander PopeJohnathan Swift

Alexander Pope
1688-1744) was an English poet, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer.

Alexander Pope’s best known work
Essay on Man

Essay on Man
This philosophical essay on rational thought is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God’s purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the “Great Chain of Being” and must accept that “Whatever IS, is RIGHT.”-AP

Johnathan Swift main work
Gulliver Travels

Gulliver Travels
This novel presented two themes to its Neoclassical, rational audience: a satirical view of the state of European government, and of petty differences between religions, and an inquiry into whether men are inherently corrupt or whether they become corrupted by government and fallen religion.

The age of Johnson was centered around
Samuel Johnson

One of Johnson’s most important contributions
was the collection and editing of Modern English’s first dictionary: the precursor to the Oxford English Dictionary

Samuel Johnson’s Poem
The Vanity of Human Wishes

The Vanity of Human Wishes
This poem focuses on human futility and humanity’s quest after greatness but concludes that Christian values are more important to living properly than the pursuit of greatness or success.

Again, this theme echoes the neoclassical attitude of rational thought and decorum rather than artistic freedom and pleasures.

Neoclassical attitude
ational thought and decorum rather than artistic freedom and pleasures.

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