AD's English Literature : CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUGUSTAN OR CLASSIC AGE: ANALYZING THE KEY POINTS

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE AUGUSTAN OR CLASSIC AGE: ANALYZING THE KEY POINTS


  • The Political Time: The reign of Queen Anne in early 18th-century England is commonly known as Augustan age. During this period, the satirist Jonathan Swift, the poet Alexander Pope, and the essayists Joseph Addison and Sir Richard Steele were among the major literary figures. 
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  • The Style in Motions: Their neoclassical style employed Roman forms, such as the ode, and emphasized common sense, moderation, reason over emotion and elegance over brevity. In the eighteenth century the subjects of study became more numerous and more systematic. And it was the good fortune of England that prose in the age had become a pliant and serviceable medium.  
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  • The Transitional Time: It was a century full of speculation and fierce questioning a century with powerful minds that applied themselves to the problems of the nature of life, and set out solutions which have been the basis of much later thought. It was a century, above all others, when England led Europe in philosophical speculation. The first half of the eighteenth century was remarkable for the rapid social development in England. For the first time they began themselves the task of learning art of living together. In a single generation nearly two thousand public coffeehouses sprang up in London alone. This new social status had a superb effect in polishing men’s words and manners. 
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  • The Emancipation of the Political Parties- By the year 1700 (during the reign of Charles ii) the terms ‘Wing’ party stood for the pre-eminence of personal freedom as opposed the Hanoverian succession, whereas the Tories were Jacobites.
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  • The Spirit of the Age- It was an age of tolerance, moderations, and common-sense.. This age introduced the rule of sweet reasonableness. The way reason was faithful reflected in the literature of the then period, specially in the works of Swift, Steele, Addison and Defoe.
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  • The clubs and coffee-houses- The increased activity in politics led to a great Addison to the number of political clubs and coffeehouse, which became the inspiration to fashionable and public life. In the first number of ‘The Tatler’ Steele announces that the activities of his new journal will be based upon the clubs. “All accounts of Gallantry, Pleasure, and Entertainment shall be under the article of White’s Chocolate-House; poetry under that of Will’s Coffee-House; Learning under the title of Grecian, Foreign  and Domestic News you will have from Saint James’ Coffee-House”.
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  • Periodical and publishing House- In every age we have noted specially the political works, which constitute, according to Matthew Arnold, the glory of English literature. Now for the first time we must chronicle the triumph of English prose. During this reign the law of copy-right (1709) was passed. The freedom of the press was restored in 1682 and large numbers of periodicals appeared and flourished in their in their different fashions. Steele published ‘The Tatler’, The Spectator’ and ‘The Plebeian’ (an early example of the political0 in 1709, 1711 and 1719 respectively. He also published others short-lived periodicals like ‘The Guardian’ (1713), ‘The Englishman (1713), ‘The Reader’ (1714) etc. For the interest of the readers a great many numbers of publishing houses were controlled by Edmund Curl, Jacob Tonson, and John Dunton etc.
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  • The New Morality- The immorality of the Restoration period was absolutely by the new morality of stele, Defoe, Addison, Swift and also others of the then period. Once in the pages of the Spectator, Addison says –“I shall endeavour to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.”


Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert, 
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature
      3. Microsoft Students’ Encarta


2 comments:

  1. Sir, Why was this age called the Augustan Age?

    ReplyDelete
  2. dear parul, thanks for your query :refer to my other post "The reign of Queen Anne in early 18th-century England covering The age of Pope (dated from about the death of Dryden in 1700 to Pope's death in 1744) is called the Augustan Age or the Neoclassical age. The real Augustan Age refers to the era of Augustus, ruler of Rome from 27 bc to ad 14 and it was noted for a number of classical writers, including Horace, Ovid, and Virgil, and it is considered the Golden Age of Latin literature. The Augustan age of English literature employed the same Roman forms, such as the ode, and emphasized common sense, moderation, reason over emotion and elegance over brevity, hence derived the name. @ "http://ardhendude.blogspot.in/2012/08/analysis-and-characteristics-of.html

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