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Information about Neoclassicism

Published on January 26, 2009

Author: grlucas



A brief overview of the main ideas of Neoclassicism in Britian, 1660-1780.

Neoclassicism Dr. GErald Lucas

Neoclassicism Is dated from 1660-1780 Also called the “Augustan” period Is a conservative movement Believed that humans were fallen Observed a disparity between the past & the present Exulted the past Saw the present as debased Used satire and irony

Major Ideas Humans are not inherently benevolent or rational Restraint is important True (moral) problems are insoluble Distrust of innovation; reverence for tradition Strong centralized authority is necessary The universe is hierarchical Through God’s mercy, individuals may be saved

Major Ideas (Cont.) Humanity’s chief concern: moral improvement Literature should be moral, not aesthetic Science is unimportant Science is deceptive The physical universe is amoral Reason should be distrusted

Poetry “What oft was thought, but ne’er so well expressed.” Not aiming for originality Traditional genres Universal in appeal Satire emphasized Uses allusion

Poet Should not express an individual personality Rational person speaking to rational people Expresses accepted values Uses the language of civilized people Knows the classics Emphasizes clear communication

Allusion Mythological and religious Provides a contrast between past and present Enriches the meaning and texture Suggests a universality

Satire Ironic literary creation Details the defeat of decency & virtue Laments the triumph of folly or vice Relies heavily on parody, paradox, anti-climax Infused with wit, high-spirit, and vigor Implies that things will continue to get worse

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