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The Neoclassical period

When you think of the Neoclassical period, the following concepts should to
come to mind.

The Restoration
The Enlightenment
The Scientific Revolution Empiricism
Ancient Rome and Greece
Augustan Poets
Development of the novel
Alexander Pope (The Rape of
the Lock)

The term Classicism is applied 1) to the literatures of ancient Greece and

Rome, and 2) to the later seventeenth century and early eighteenth century
because the writers of that period composed literature according to a set of
fixed rules and critical theories which, as they believed, were those followed
by ancient authors. The term Neoclassicism refers exclusively to the latter.
It is a renewed interest in the production of the ancient Greek and Roman
Ancient Rome and Greece:
Why do you need to recall them?
Because the Neoclassical writers followed the structures and style of those
who wrote during the golden age of the Roman and Greek Empires; namely:
Virgil, Homer, Hesiod, etc.
The Restoration period (1660-1700) Why is it important?

Because it was the period during which most significant changes were
made concerning the power of both the monarch and Parliament. (For
details you can consult the timeline in the Prezi presentation).

Because John Dryden wrote his poems and provided a model for the
writers who would follow. He placed special emphasis on decorum,
i.e. what was elegant, fit, and right.
Because the Anglican Church became much stronger in detriment of
other religions. Catholics and Protestant Dissenters were banned from
public and ministerial office, and universities.

Augustan poets (1700-1745)

What you need to remember:
a) Why they gave themselves such name;
b) Their literary standards;
c) That Alexander Pope was one of the most prolific writers of
the time;
d) That the readership was increasing;
e) That there was no censorship only in 1737 did Parliament
pass a law on the censorship of plays to be performed on
All the information is on the Prezi.
The Enlightenment
The revolutionary ideas of the thinkers of this movement influenced
significantly the lives and works of the writers of the latter part of the
Neoclassical period: the so called Age of Sensibility or Transition Period.
Around 1750, the word "sentiment" evolved to describe social behavior
based in instinctual feeling. Sentiment, and the related notions of sensibility
and sympathy, all contributed to a growing sense of the desirability of public
philanthropy and social reforms (such as charities for orphans).
Interesting question for you to reflect upon (Im still trying to work
it out myself, thats why Im not including the answer; but I believe
it is very important that we try to make associations between the
contents we deal with):
In what way do you think that the events that took place in
England before, during and after the Commonwealth and the
Protectorate influenced the work of thinkers like Hobbes and
Locke? Revolution
The Scientific
This has to do mainly with the breakthroughs that took place in science in
this time, the development of the Scientific Method, and of the philosophy of
Dogmatism, or the acceptance of received religious beliefs, was widely
regarded as dangerous.
Charles II approved the Royal Society for London for the Improving of
Natural Knowledge (1662). The Royal Society revolutionized the scientific
method and the dispersal of knowledge.

The specialized modern "scientist" did not exist; Royal Society members
studied natural history (the collection and description of facts of nature),
natural philosophy (study of the causes of what happens in nature), and
natural religion (study of nature as a book written by God).
As a consequence of these ideas more importance was placed on the
private, individual life and experience, this is evident in literary forms such
as diaries, letters, and the novel.

The development of the novel

The Transition Period (1745-1798) was marked not only by a growing
democratic spirit in life and literature, but also by an increasing
dissatisfaction with the classical standard of reason as the only true test of
human behaviour. Gradually they became convinced that by suppressing
their natural feelings, and appealing only to cold, formal logic, they were
missing much that was fine and inspiring. Hence they began to give freer
scope to such emotions as pity and tenderness, and talked about the
language of the heart.
Hand in hand with the reaction against the cold rationalism of the classicists
went a growing distaste for the hard-and-fast rules imposed upon poetry by
Pope and his followers.
During this period people began to appreciate the architecture and literature
of the Middle Ages, often referred to as Gothic. The Gothic romances,
portraying romantic and often sentimental characters (knights and fair
ladies) against a setting of gloomy castles, moldering dungeons, and ghostly
apparitions, gained importance. Yet, as the English society became better
educated and, consequently, the reading public increased, a new type of
literature developed. The newly educated public desired literature better
suited to their tastes and dealing with people more like themselves. As
usually happens, their desires were met by literary men, who are always on
the alert to give the public what it wants. The result was the modern
realistic novel, which began as a narrative written for readers of the lower
classes and depending for its appeal upon thrilling plot or romantic setting
so much as upon characters taken from the real life.

Alexander Pope
Although much has been said about this author, you can consult the
following website for his biography:
If you are curious, on that website you will also be able to explore his poems
and see in what way his being an outsider permeated his work.

The Rape of the Lock

What you need to remember:

-That its a mock-epic with a satirical effect (he

uses a dignified genre to narrate a trivial
- That its written in heroic couplet (iambic
pentameter: 5 feet per line: 1
foot=unstressed-stressed syllables.
- That it was based on true events: you should
know what the conflict was and why he
decided to write about it.
- That Pope included typical elements of the
epic in his poem: a) The supernatural
b) Invocation of the muses
c) Battles
d) A journey to the underworld (The
Cave of Spleen)
- The most satirical part is where the lock ends
up if you want to know more, read it and we
can discuss it whenever you want.