The Augustan literature

The Augustan age represented a period of relative stability, as the conflicts and enthusiasms of the mid-17th century receded into past(a political revolution in France and an independence revolution in England).This period is associated with the reign of Queen Anne(1702-1714),the new concept and the key-term being balance,both of property,of classes and religion.Common sense is the definitory term,as opposed to the individuality of inspiration and imagination.The linguistic corollary of common sense was common usage.The Restoration had heralded a conscious campaign to improve English as a medium of communication.However,the basis of the English Augustanism remained political.For the writers of this period,it was essential to compare their work with that of the famous Latin scholars.The unifying element of this period was the general acceptance of Rome(mainly the period of the Emperor Augustus)as the social model that should be followed or imitated.The "imitation" was a form of free translation with the original allusions adapted to the modern circumstances.The Horatian imitations of John Dryden,Jonathan Swift,Alexander Pope and Samuel Johnson showed the writers'conviction in their civilizing mission. Poetry became a civilized action;it demanded polish,elegance,restrain,good taste and subordination of one's personal idiom to the social norms.Poets were encouraged to write for a civilized group whose education they could take for granted.In point of technique,the heroic couplet became the standard technical verse,being considered the best form of conveying a combination of elegance and wit. In point of social and cultural life,the coffee-houses replaced the Court as meeting places of men of culture; it is the period in which journalists and journalism made their appearance,playing a very important part in the development of the English middle classes,their aims being highly educational.The Augustan period stressed the fact that,although since the 18th century the steady rise of the middle classes had been a feature of English history,they were not the real rulers of the country.The political rulers were the landed aristocracy,the country gentlemen and the big landowners,though they ruled only with the permission of and in alliance with the commercial interests. The journalists that began writing in this period were Richard Steele and Joseph Addison.Richard Steele wrote a review that appeared 3 times a week entitled

The 2 reviews(The Tatler and The Spectator) gave Steele and Addison a permanent place in the history of the English literature as they were the founders of the English essay and as they were fine humourists and moralists.a delicate sadness.which was called by the literary critics "local poetry". The dominant representative of the Augustan period was Alexander Pope(16881744).Pastorals were published in 1709 and they are Pope's early poems showing simplicity and poetic delicacy. Steele unmasked all sorts of swindlers and adventurers of London.the later works display a kind of Swiftian contempt for his fellow men.who was called by the literary critics the spokesman and the scourge of his age.Joseph Addison contributed to The Tatler regularly.self-confidence.a journal which was entitled The Spectator.Pope's first important great poem was Windsor Forest.the most cultivated minds of this age.In technique.stylized balance.The Tatler ceased to appear in March 1711 and 2 months after the death of this review.manners and in speech.corruption and venality.It is a descriptive and reflective poem which gives formality and artificiality to a rural scene.This new review was published from March 1711 until December 1712.suggestively The Tatler(from the verb to title-tatle=to gossip).In .they were concerned to bridge the gap between town and country.but he refined it to such extend that it approached the type of line used by the metaphysical poets.at the same time.Pope defined the doctrine of neo-classicism .a new journal was born.They contain the proper qualities of a pastoral poem in creating the image of a golden age.Pope asserted that to read poetry for the sound of words and not for the sense.His major attack was against individuals characterized by stupidity.It was a kind of a tabloid in which Steele satirized the immorality and shallowness of the high society.In his next important poem entitled An Essay on Criticism(published in 1711).Addison asserted courageously that the only aim of his writings was to eliminate vice and ignorance from English life.The poem summarizes the literary doctrines accepted by the best.between the aristocracy and the middle classes.but for the music.Richard Steele and Joseph Addison were acknowledged as being the first educators of the English middle classes. savage pessimism and sharp criticism.he was the craftiest user of the heroic couplet.After a life of 2 years.From the first issue of The Tatler.In 1714 Joseph Addison took up the publication of The Spectator and published some more numbers of this review.the leading role was held by Richard Steele.said Pope.His early poems show optimism and balance.but as far as this review is concerned.published in 1713.His personality combined a wide range of features:optimistic deism.In The Spectator.Nature is the best guide of the judgement.a poet must always be skillful in his choice of words.Steele set himself the task of exposing the falsity of the social life of his time and he advocated a general simplicity in clothing.is like going to church not for the doctrine.The next important (mockheroic) poem was entitled The Rape of the Lock and it was published in 1712.

it is a collection of episodes.Pope is too much overcome by his own passion.this poem Pope offers his readers a picture of the contemporary Engtlish high society. a mock-heroic poem which was published for the first time in 1728.The Dunciad deals with literary dullness and pedantry in general and with specific writers guilty of these vices.This poem is made up of 4 epistles.but he does it in an elevated style.where a young courtier.he makes fun of almost all of his literary opponents( the word "dunce" in English means fool).with dullness and total boredom.the triumph of the resulting disintegration of civilization.It describes in an extravagant manner.The poem is a criticism of the bad poets of Pope's time.This trivial incident is treated with great extravagance by Pope.who are associated with the soporific effect.The theme of the poem is the association between pedantry.Lord Peter(the "Baron" of the poem) cuts a lock from the hair of a beautiful maid of honour.The first epistle praises Reason as being the particular attribute that separates Man from other creatures.Pope's line "The proper study of mankind is man" sums up this view.In fact.Arabella Fermor("Belinda" in the poem).at first.dullness.This poem does not have a fully developed mock-heroic action as in the mock-heroic poem entitled The Rape of the Lock.the triumph that in the future nothing will escape Dullness.as a contribution to Pope's personal war against dullness.from animals.The Dunces to Pope were either pedants or fools or both.stupidity and pedantry.The structure of the poem presents a picture of man in relation to his universe.stupidity and boredom to create a soporific effect upon the world.The poem is rounded off with the picture of the triumph of Dullness.The opening of the poem focuses on the speech of the Godess Dullness who contemplates on her realm of confusion and bad poetry and thinks of the long succession of bad poets to the city of London.and in this poem.the triumph of Dullness is seen and presented by Pope as being a tragic sense of doom.This mock-heroic poem was designed.and the faculty by which he can understand his true .to suggest in a way that what he is describing is very important and can be compared with the great events and heroic deeds sung by the ancient poets. The last important literary work written by Pope was entitled An Essay on Man(it was published between 1733-1734) and it summarizes the philosophical speculations of Pope's age.It expresses the rationalistic and deistic trends of an age in which man was placed in the centre of the Universe.to the God created chain of being "a mighty maze!but not without a plan".each of them being a self-contained unit.However.the court of Queen Anne. The next highly important poem written by Pope was entitled The Dunciad.He describes the frivolous society of London in those days and he exaggerates and amplifies the importance of a trivial act such as the cutting of a lock from the hair of a beautiful maid of honour.Pope describes in great detail certain small and unimportant things.

reason.Roxana).emotions and his nature.in an interdependent society.enjoying to the full the exercise of his art.The ending of The Dunciad goes beyond satire though.In the fourth epistle.the formal realism(an ethically neutral presentation of facts and events).Pope turns to a study of Man in terms of happiness .Captain Singleton.the society.His main works are the following : A Tale of a Tub(which is an allegoric satire representing the ironic history of the development of Christianity).the allegoric invocation of the symbolic pragmaticism of the age.The third epistle presents Man as being integrated in the chain that binds all things to one another.A Modest Proposal demonstrates the author's hatred for mankind and his love for individuals(being .balance and consciousness.Pope tried to attain perfection throughout his entire life.The second epistle is concerned with Man's abilities.Yet.This is a strange climax undoubtedly.The Dunciad reveals a satiric poet.wit and balance).The Journal of the Plague Year.his "novels" lack coherence of structure and the imaginative conditions of a true novelist. 2. Jonathan Swift was generally acknowledged as being the master inventor of irony and a pamphleteer of genius.He wrote verse-satires(The True Born Englishman.having considered Man in relation to 1.mainly evoked in the works written by Daniel Defoe and Jonathan Swift.Its form served as a model of literary satire for almost a century to other significant poets.a clearly defined aim(that of correcting the vices of society.the Universe.His narrative style is characterized by clarity.In the 19th century Byron wrote his English Bards and Scotch Reviewers under Pope's influence.as well as a new view of the man-nature relationship. Being a fervent supporter of the neo-classical principles defined by Boileau(clarity.The Dunciad represents the most artful use of the mock-heroic idiom in defence of culture.in point of technique.and.position in Nature.that Pope's satire was not always just.possesor of a both brilliant and bitter imagination.however. Important conclusions:Both The Rape of the Lock and The Dunciad are mockheroic poems.to achieve a tragic sense of doom as though Pope in the end genuinely gave up hope for civilization.the pattern of material and moral civilization.Daniel Defoe is the representative writer of the middle class protestant Englishmen.In spite of the real gloom of the ending.Man is depicted as being involved in a moral conflict between Reason and Passion.Moll Flanders.The Shortest Way with the Dissenters and "novels"(Robinson Crusoe.of its institutions by mocking at them).It is true.it is a high spirited work and Pope's satires have a scope.Pope's conclusion is that virtue alone can lead to happiness and can actually bring happiness. The Augustan "Novel" is represented by a multitude of new themes and new characters.weaknesses.his individuality and 3.Defoe brings up the prudential hero in English fiction.order.but The Dunciad is remembered for its literary craftsmanship.

It makes use of a trivial matter in a heroic subject and it exaggerates it with satire and humour.philosophical allegory(in fact a harsh satire) whose target is to mock at human pride. Important specification :A mock-heroic poem refers to a satirical imitation or a parody of a heroic subject or a gallant style.it is a political.This work represents an expression of Swift's indignation regarding the children's situation in his time.Gulliver's Travels is generally regarded as being Swift's masterpiece.it is a book that mocks at human false pretensions and vanity.social.thus totally opposed to Alexander Pope). .

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful