Analysis and Characteristics of Augustan Age (1700-1750)


“The next Augustan age will dawn on the other side of the Atlantic. There will, perhaps, be a Thucydides at Boston, a Xenophon at New York, and, in time, a Virgil in Mexico, and a Newton at Peru.”
 Horace Walpole (1717 - 1797)
Letter to Sir Horace Mann


The Battle of the Books (1697), a critique over the relative merits of ancient and modern writers
 A Tale of a Tub (1704) ridiculed pretentious pedantry, mainly in literature and religion.
Examiner, the official Tory publication
Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, popularly titled Gulliver's Travels, (1726) criticizing vanity and hypocrisy of contemporary courts, statesmen, and political parties


Essay on Criticism(1711), a brilliant exposition of the canons of taste

The Rape of the Lock (first published 1712; revised edition published 1714), a fanciful and ingenious mock-heroic work based on a true.
Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad was published in six volumes from 1715 to 1720.

The periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator

The Funeral (1701)
The Lying Lover (1703)
The Tender Husband (1705)
The periodicals The Tatler and The Spectator

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. It was relatively a stable and peaceful age in its social and political aspects. The Wars of Spanish Succession (1701-1713) was successful under Duke Marlborough, a Tory Politician the Tories in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714), superseded the Whigs. Another political event was that of English succession. All of Queen Anne’s children died before her so, in 1701, the Act of settlement was passed, by which the succession was settled upon the House of Hanover. It was a victory for the Whig’s. One Queen Anne’s death George I of Hanover ascended the throne. The Tories tried to reborn the Stuarts, but failed. In 1745, in the reign of George II (1727-69), the Tories made a more serious effort, but again failed. Under the Hanover Monarch, the first half of the 18th century was a period of stability and stead growing wealth and prosperity.

During this period, the power of middle classes rose. Never the less political power was concentrated in the hands of the nobility whether Whig or Tory. The period was remarkable for rapid social development in England people learnt the art of living together, while still holding different opinion. To bring about reforms, votes were necessary. So, the people were to be approached with ideas, facts and information. Newspaper was born literature in the form of newspaper, pamphlets; magazines became the chief instrument of the nation’s progress. The political and with pen rather than with sword, Coffee houses and clubs became centre of social life. The men in these places sat for hours, together and discussed the news of the day and other matters. In London, alone more than two thousand coffee houses spring up and the no of private clubs was quite as astonishing. The typical Londoner of the time was still corrupt, rude and vulgar in taste. But the aristocrats were improving themselves materially and intellectually. They sought excellence in out word from, of dress and manners rather than morals. Their culture was artificial. The literature of the period is highly critical of the shallow and artificial behavior of fashionable men and women.

In the age of Alexander Pope, the classical spirit in English literature reached its highest point, and at the same time other forces became manifest. Dryden's poetry had achieved grandeur, amplitude, and sublimity within a particular definition of good taste and good sense and under the tutelage of the Roman and Greek classics. To the poetry of Pope this characterization applies even more stringently. More than any other English poet, he submitted himself to the requirement that the expressive force of poetic genius should issue forth only in a formulation as reasonable, lucid, balanced, compressed, final, and perfect as the power of human reason can make it. Pope did not have Dryden's majesty. Perhaps, given his predilection for correctness of detail, he could not have had it. Also, the readers of succeeding times have concluded that the dictates of reason do not all converge on only one poetic formula, just as the heroic couplet, which Pope brought to final perfection, is not necessarily the most generally suitable of English poetic forms. Nevertheless, the ease, harmony, and grace of Pope's poetic line are still impressive, and his quality of precise but never labored expression of thought remains unequaled.

Nearly every writer of the age wrote on the contemporary religious and political events but with moderation and reason. They use delicate satire. Great literary figures like Addison, Steele, Johnson and Goldsmith educated and civilized the general public by means their writing. It was the poet Goldsmith who first of all designated the early 18th century, the Augustan Age. The literature of the time has the same quality that distinguished the Latin literature of the day of August. These qualities are simple regularity, proportion and finish. According to Hudson, “in both cases men of letters were largely depended upon powerful patterns. In both cases a critical spirit prevails. In both cases, the literature produced by thoroughly artificial society was a literature not of free creative effort and inspiration, but of self-conscious and deliberate art.”             

Ardhendu De


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  2. sir UGC has announced key answers so i have doubt in some answers so solve the III paper.


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