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World Literature from 1660
The Enlightenment
Da-da poetry: Kurt Schwitters
Da-da Poetry: Paul Eluard
Wallace Stevens
T.S. Eliot
Beckett: Absurdity
Contemporary/Post Modernism
Doris Lessing
Gabrieal Garcia Marquez
Alain Robbe-Grillet
Leslie Marmion Silko
The Enlightenment
Moliere's Tartuffe
Swift: Gulliver's Travels
Pope: "Essay on Man"
Reading Assignments

 The Enlightenment: The Neo-Classical Age

Augustan Period (1688-1798)

Was the time of the Enlightenment and a shift towards scientific thinking. It was a time of reaction to the chaos of the preceding century. The people were trying to understand everything so they would have a place, so they would fit in. Their attitude was detached and analytical. To them, emotion was a weakness. Reason and scientific thinking controlled everything.

Jefferson's Monticello
This is an example of neoclassical architecture. Note the balance.

The Enlightenment is also known as

The Age of Reason,

The Augustan Age, and

the Neo-Classic Age.

This movement affected and was reflected in literature and the arts as well as social class structures and religion.

Famous participants in the Enlightenment:

  1. France: Voltaire and Rousseau
  2. Russia: Catherine the Great
  3. Germany: Kant
  4. England: Swift, Pope, and Dr. Johnson.
  5. America (the colonies): Franklin and Paine

Women in the movement

      In France, women were part of the intellectual movement through salons, which meant holding an open house to discuss literature, art, and the meaning on life.

      In England, women were not as involved in the movement because the men gathered at coffeehouses for their discussions.

Historical backgrounds of the Enlightenment in England.

The dates of the Enlightenment are generally credited as being 1660-1770, beginning with the Restoration to the British throne of Charles II.

James II became king in 1685, but the birth of a son (James Edward) to this converted Catholic caused Parliament to offer the throne to his oldest daughter Mary and her husband, William of Orange.

William and Mary came to the throne of England in the Bloodless/Glorious Revolution of 1688.

Anne, sister of Mary, came to the throne in 1702. Unfortunately, Anne buried all 17 of her children. Anne is the Female King that Gulliver mentions in Book 4. Anne is also the queen who is being referred to when someone mentions Queen Anne furniture, especially the turning of a table leg.

George I of Hanover, great-grandson of James I through a daughter, came to the throne in 1714.

Catalyst of the Enlightenment:

in England, the movement was a reaction to the excess of the interregnum and religious controversy.


Growth of the reading class

  • lending libraries
  • newspapers
  • journals with essays and chapters of books
  • Copyright Act of 1709 gave writers more controlof their books and profits.


--Many were agnostic or deistic. The agnostic questioned the existence of a divine force while the deist accepted that a divine force put the world in motion but did not believe that there was continued involvement (a depersonalized God).

Characteristics of a Neo-Classic Attitude

  • Aristocratic courtliness
  • -Acting with restraint and dignity
  • Urbane and Cosmopolitan, preferring detachment to enthusiasm
  • -Nonchalance about work to make work appear effortless (such as writing)
  • a feeling that the here and now is best
  • interest in examining with a critical and analytical eye
  • skepticism, a willingness to tolerate all faiths, an avoidance of Evangelicalism and controversy.

Function of Literature

  • to entertain and instruct.