Literary Movements:

The major literary movements of the Restoration Period and the 18th Century are:
Alexander Pope
Alexander Pope

  • 1660-1785 : The Neoclassical Period
  • 1660-1790 : Enlightenment
  • 1660-1700 : The Restoration
  • 1700-1745 : The Augustan Age (or Age of Pope)
  • 1745-1785 : The Age of Sensibility (or Age of Johnson)
  • late 18th : Sturm und Drang

Neoclassical Period

- Can be divided into the Restoration period, the Augustan Age, and the Age of Sensibility.
- Historically, this period was a time when the middle class was rising to power and the hierarchy of kings was becoming less significant. Resistance to religious authority also started to arise. Plays, literature, etc. all started becoming much more risque to protest against the Puritan plainness and cover.
- "The biggest differences between the Neoclassical assumptions about reality and those common to our age include
  1. to Neoclassical minds, natural passions aren't necessarily good; natural passions must be subordinated to social needs and strictly controlled.
  2. social needs are more important to Neoclassical society than individual needs. This conflicts with our modern preoccupation with the individual--in our time, the needs of the individual tend to be considered the most important, but this wasn't true in the Neoclassical period.
  3. Neoclassical thinkers believed that man could find meaning in order itself--in the order of nature, social hierarchies, government, religion, even in the order within literary forms."

Pastoral Poetry

- Literature that depicts shephards, both religious and tradition, as above the complex, corrupt way of city life. The revival of this type of work, as it was more popular during the era of Greek rule, came about in the 18th century when arguments broke out between the traditional Neoclassical work and the more "modern" work.
- John Gay was one of the liveliest pastorals of his time, but Alexander Pope, Rene Rapin, and Ambrose Philips were all wrapped up in the movement.


- Thought of as the age of reason, the age of enlightenment was also a time of passion, intense contemplation, and revolutionary zeal. Religion was still a major institution and so was publicized in literature.
- Works characterized by this time are classic in character but reformist in outlook. Some authors started developing a sardonic style during this time period.

The Restoration

- From 1660 to 1700, this period has to deal with restoring monarchy in Europe. Literature is characterized by the triumph of reason and tolerance over religious and political passion. Prose and poetry were the main works to emerge from this time period.
- Commedy of manners also arose during this time and is known as Restoration comedy.

Augustan Age

- Also known as the Age of the Pope this is a movement of the 18th century based on classical ideals, satire, and skepticism.
- Some of the prominent authors are Alexander Pope, Daniel Defoe, and Johnathan Swift. Though the latter two wrote literature which has lasted longer, the age is characterized mostly by Alexander Pope. Both prose and poetry are classified into the Augustan Age based on their relation to his aesthetic principles. Work during this time is "distinguished by its striving for harmony and precision, its urbanity, and its imitation of classical models such as Homer, Cicero, Virgil, and Horace, for example in the work of the minor poet Matthew Prior. In verse, the tight heroic couplet was common, and in prose essay and satire were the predominant forms."

Age of Sensibility

- Northrop Frye dubbed this decade the with such a title because he wished to seperate the poetry of Ossian, Smart, and Blake from those of Pope and Wordsworth. This era focused on sound, not sense; artificiality not naturalness; and free association instead of narrative.
- The poetry was characterized as on going, processual instead of finished at the end like that of the Augustan Age poetry. They were dream-like in nature instead of grounded in reality.

Sturm und Drang

- A German literary movement in the late 18th century it means "Storm and Stress" and was adopted from a play by Friedrich von Klinger. The character of this literature is dramatic and it exalted nature, feeling, and human individualism.
- The movement rejected the ideas of the French Neoclassicism movement.
- Major leaders of the movement were Rousseau and Johann Georg Hamann who believed that faith and what we perceived through the senses were the way to discover the truth of existance. But most of the actual literature was published by Geothe and/or Schiller, usually in conjunction with the Hamann.
- The movement was much inspired by the works of Shakespeare and the poetry of the English poet Edward Young.
- After the movement ran itself out, Geothe and Schiller continued to publish works and became important writers of the new German Classic Literature.

Women's Rise in Literature

- Began in the late 17th century but was not completely accepted until much later in the 18th century. Women were not educated and were not advised to be so. Women such as Fanny Burney grew up in households where they were repremanded for pursuing literary ends. Eventually she published a book under an annonymous name and gained the approval of her father and several other people.
- Elizabeth Carter was raised quite differently. Her father promoted education for her and taught her several languages such as Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French, Italian, Spanish, and German. As she got older she then taught herself Portuguese and Arabic.
- Other women of the time include Lade Mary Wortley Mantagu, Elizabeth Robinson Montagu, Hannah Moore, and Sarah Jennings Churchill.