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CLASSICISM (1660-1798)

CLASSICISM (1660-1798)

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CLASSICISM (1660-1798)

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  1. A “throwback” to classic culture and classic thought (Greeks and Romans). CLASSICISM (1660-1798)


  3. Classicists believed: nature and human nature could be understood by reason and thought. Classicists believed that “nature was, a self-contained machine, like a watch, whose laws of operation could be rationally understood.”

  4. REASON OVER IMAGINATION • Classicism attached much more importance to reason than imagination because imagination could not be explained by their laws. To them, “the imagination, though essential to literature, had to be restrained by reason and common sense.” • This is not to say that Classicist writing was unimaginative. It is to say that reason was valued over imagination.


  6. MORE ON CLASSICIST PHILOSOPHY • Society is good because it is organized; nature is bad because it is disorganized (though note that Classicists believed nature could be understood). • Society takes priority over the individual.

  7. HOW ABOUT ANOTHER CLASSICIST PHILOSOPHY…? Man is inherently bad; he needs to be restrained. Society is the tool by which to restrain man because it’s organized and rational.

  8. SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT CLASSICIST LITERATURE… • Classicists thought that it was literature’s function to show the everyday values of humanity and the laws of human existence. Their idea was that “classicism upheld tradition, often to the point of resisting change, because tradition seemed a reliable testing ground for those laws.” • The 18th. Century was “The Age of Reason” governed by reason and not by emotions.

  9. Doctrines of theclassicalschool in Englishliterature • Poetry should be composed according to fixed rules (Form is more important than content; the way a thig is said is more important than what is said). • Poetry should be witty and clever rather than emotional. • Verse form was the heroic couplet. • Poetry should use a special vocabulary.

  10. A new movementappeared… • In the middle of the 18th. Century. • It was called “The Age of Transition”. • Emotions came back to play. Life was becoming too formal, too hedged by rules and restrictions

  11. MORE ON CLASSICIST LITERATURE… • There should be clarity, order, and balance. • Styles and Genres used: • Satire • Poetry • Essays • Letters, diaries, biographies. • Novels

  12. Key authors

  13. ALEXANDER POPE (1688-1744) • English essayist, critic, satirist, and one of the greatest poets of Enlightenment. • wrote his first verses at the age of 12. • His breakthrough work, AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM (1711), appeared when he was twenty-three. It included the famous line "a little learning is a dangerous thing." • His physical defects made him an easy target for heartless mockery, but he was also considered a leading literary critic and the epitome of English Neoclassicism.

  14. Pope's "Essay on Criticism" • is a didactic poem in heroic couplets, begun, perhaps, as early as 1705, and published, anonymously, in 1711. • The poetic essay was a relatively new genre, and the "Essay" itself was Pope's most ambitious work to that time. • It was in part an attempt on Pope's part to identify and refine his own positions as poet and critic, and his response to an ongoing critical debate which centered on the question of whether poetry should be "natural" or written according to predetermined "artificial" rules inherited from the classical past.

  15. John dryden (1631-1700) • Alexander’s Feast Or The Power of Musicis An Ode in Honor of St. Cecilia’s Day. • It is, in fact, Dryden’s second poem in honor of this saint, the patron saint of music and, according to tradition, the inventor of the pipe organ. • Therefore, the poem is not merely a tribute to the saint, but also a poem about the power of music. • It has been set to music three times, the third and definitive setting that of George Frideric Handel.

  16. Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) • was an Irish author and journalist. • was the Dean of St. Patrick's Cathedral (Dublin) from 1713. • was the foremost prose satirist in English language. • became insane in his last years, but until his death he was known as Dublin's foremost citizen. • His most famous works is Gulliver's Travels (1726), where the stories of Gulliver's experiences among dwarfs and giants are best known.

  17. Gulliver´s Travels • Gulliver goes on four separate voyages in Gulliver's Travels. • Each journey is preceded by a storm. • All four voyages bring new perspectives to Gulliver's life and new opportunities for satirizing the ways of England.

  18. DANIEL DEFOE (1661-1731) • was an English writer, journalist, and pamphleteer. • gained enduring fame for his novel Robinson Crusoe. • is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel, as he helped to popularise the form in Britain, and is even referred to by some as one of the founders of the English novel. • wrote more than five hundred books, pamphlets, and journals on various topics (including politics, crime, religion, marriage, psychology and the supernatural). • He was also a pioneer of economic journalism.

  19. ROBINSON CRUSOE • Robinson Crusoe is a fictional autobiography of the title character, an English castaway who spends 28 years on a remote tropical island, encountering natives, captives, and mutineers before being rescued. • The story was most likely influenced by the real-life events of Alexander Selkirk, a Scottish castaway who lived more than four years on the Pacific island that was called Más a Tierra (in 1966 its name became Robinson Crusoe Island), Chile."