RABINDRA BHARTI UNIVERSITY
18th century literature
ROLL NO: RAB/NAS/170140
REGISTRATION NO: 170214 OF 2017-2018
U.G SEMESTER: IV
Novelists in 18th Century
(a) Major Novelists
(b) Minor Novelists
Poets in 18th Century
(a) Major Poets
(b) Minor Poets
Prose writers in 18th Century
Essayists and Non-Fiction Prose writers in 18th Century
Dramatists and Playwrights in 18th Century
The period from 1660—when the English crown was restored as Charles II became king —to 1800 saw the vast transformation of English society and English politics as well as significant developments within English literature. Politically, the era followed nearly two decades of civil unrest and war. The return of the monarchy left many questions unanswered in terms of the king’s power versus that of Parliament. While Charles II largely avoided the conflicts that might have brought the issue to a head, his successor, his brother James II, soon fell into trouble with Parliament in his attempt to strengthen the power of the Catholic Church. In 1688, Parliament deposed James, replacing him with his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband, the Dutch William. In the process, through what has been called the Glorious Revolution, Parliament secured its authority. While James’s son and grandson would threaten this settlement in the 18th century, the Glorious Revolution helped to initiate the modern system of limited monarchical power and led to the passage of England’s Bill of Rights.
In the field of literature, the Restoration and the eighteenth century are often characterized in terms of neoclassicism. While this course will explore neoclassicism in more depth later in this unit, we can outline some of the chief features of neoclassicism here. The classicism in neoclassicism derived from many thinkers’ and authors’ sense that the best models for literature came from the classical era, specifically from the Roman Augustan writers Horace, Virgil, and Ovid. Thus, while most writers of this era strove to make their works conform to nature, as did the preceding writers of the Renaissance and the romantics who followed, they thought that the rules and methods discovered by prior great artists provided the best route for doing so. Underlying that idea was a sense that human nature—and the art that attempted to capture it—was the same across time and space. The rules of art for one era, then, should be the same for any era. In keeping with this more conservative orientation towards literary innovation, English neoclassicism tended to stress balance and restraint and the correct and limited use of figurative language in terms of technique, and the depiction of general cases over the idiosyncratic or unusual in terms of theme and content.
These ideals reiterated a broader philosophical emphasis on the...