2Pope.Neoclassicism - 18TH CENTURY AND ROMANTICISM...

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18 TH CENTURY AND ROMANTICISM NEOCLASSICISM AND THE POETRY OF ALEXANDER POPE The early Enlightenment –(1700 –1744) 1688 – the Glorious Revolution (the Stuarts were finally evicted). This revolution created the conditions out of which the new literature was to spring. The Glorious Revolution meant the triumph of the mercantile interests and of the capitalist – minded of the landed aristocracy. It meant the establishment of a limited monarchy. Literature from then on was to be definitely bourgeois in tone and it was the wider audience of the bourgeoisie whose taste had to be caught. Characteristic outlook of the period: - The idea of a general progress of humanity; - Belief in the power of reason (already fostered by the Renaissance); Locke’s tabula rasa idea – a basis for that belief a possibility for human perfection; - Shaftsbury – the principle of balance or harmony b/n various elements in which reason played a controlling part. Moderation in everything, suspicion of whatever enthusiasm; - Deism: the idea of a religion of reason; God created the world and ordained its laws, but after that had withdrawn from his creation and left it to develop in accordance with these laws. In literature: - the subject of literature: man – the cultivated man of the upper class; - the function of literature: moral teaching through delight; - everything was to be stated as plainly and directly as possible. Poetry of the period: Already during the Restoration, poetry had been docked of its more personal elements, its intimate links with nature, and had centered mainly in satire, in trivial love verse, and typical society and occasional verse, pompous odes in celebration of public events etc. The chief contribution of the Early Enlightenment was the rise of the poetic essay , reflective, philosophical verse and also in the popular pastorals there is a rebirth of nature. Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) The poetry of the Augustans, which is above all the poetry of statement, stands outside the main traditions of English poetry, which has mostly been the poetry of suggestion. Reason: largely the state of language at that time. After the extremes of the metaphysical wit in the 17 th c. the reaction (Royal society) was towards a mathematical precision of statement . To attain this words were deprived of their overtones and associations; metaphors were gained, in their bolder forms at least, as a twisting of language out of its proper norms. The ideal was correctness, perspicuity, and elegance; not to express the inexplicable, not to suggest more than is actually said. What was expected
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This note was uploaded on 12/13/2011 for the course LITERATURE 105 taught by Professor Stevens during the Winter '11 term at Mitchell Community College.

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2Pope.Neoclassicism - 18TH CENTURY AND ROMANTICISM...

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