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Saturday, 16 May 2020

Neo-Classicism Literature in the Eighteenth Century.

Neo-classicism in English literature, much manifested actually after the restoration and in the early decades of the eighteenth century, is found to depend on several factors.

In the first place, the poetry of the age, as already indicated, marks a new movement from the romanticism of the renaissance to the social and rational outlook of classicism. The age seems to reject extravagant fancies and accept solid intellectualism. Thought,wit and other intellectual qualities seem to be the domineering forces in place of imagination and impulsiveness, so much noticeable in renaissance.

In the second place.The literature of this age is found to follow, rather imitate, as indicated, the great latin masters. The literary model or pattern, set up in the new age, belonged to the tradition of the critical and satirical writings of the augustan age of rome, as interpreted elaborately in renaissance criticism. the literary rules and principles, laid down by the classical masters of ancient Greece, settled in the completed form by the latin authors of the time of augustus and interpreted and emphasized by the renaissance scholars seem to have been scrupulously observed and the literary temper is echoed, as faithfully as possible, in new literature. so the English neo-classicists are found inspired to Christian themselves as the augustan authors.

The mark of neo-classicism is evident in the predominance of satirical literature. The satirical and didactic tone of Horace and the satirical writings of juvenal are found imitated and represented, as faithfully as possible, with the interpenetration of wit and fun to the maximum extent. The main poetical authors of the age ---the grand literary masters of the time --dryden and pope are great satirists --who have established the satire as a potent literary type.

In another respect, the new literary age expresses its indebtedness to classical literature. This is the correctness as also simplicity of style.Pope is particularly a correct poet all through. There is found nothing in his verse which is technically defective or metrically improper. His great predecessor dryden is also found immensely attentive to the correctness in style is definitely an important feature of neo-classical literature. along with this strong inclination to correctness, there are the distinct marks of clearness, plainness and directness in neo-classical English literature, as evident in its eminent framers, dryden and pope.

There is yet another important feature of this new classical literature. This is the sociological ideal which is strongly propagated. Poetry is found here social and realistic, rather then personal and emotional. Dryden, pope and other eminent writers of the age are found to have taken immense interest in their society and made an analytical, sincere, though critical and satirical, survey of their age and society in their works .

Poetry, no doubt, seems to have lost its spontaneity in the rigid effort to follow classicism. Elizabethan freedom from restrictions was withdraw, and literature was made servile to mere formulary and literary technology. In such a context, literary originality was bound to suffer. That is distinctly evident in neo-classical literature. This literature remains rich in intellectual gifts, in the flash of wit, in the depth of humour and in the penetrative effect of satire. It has also become a store -house of social sketches, personal views, critical invectives, intellectual pursuits and moral ideals.

Of course, the literary production of the neo-classical authors of English have not demonstrated sufficiently their worth and quality to claim the dignity of the classical masters. the situation and the temper of the age are found basically different from those of the augustan age in roman literature. The highly artistic excellence, which the roman masters could  have attained, appears far beyond the range of thoughts and conceptions of the English literary men of the time who wished to be classical in their attainments, but did not master sufficiently the technique to become so.Dryden and pope are,no doubt, great poets and their literary achievements bear out their classical  inspiration and creative potency. But most literary men of the age are found to lack their literary genius, and their literary productions sadly betray their failure to imitate and preserve a great literary tradition of great past.

Neo-classical literature in English, though rich in intellectualism, is found to lack that naturalness which is necessary to the lasting expansion of literature. In fact,most neo-classical English authors appear to degenerate into artificiality and fail to live up to the great tradition of English literary men,particularly the English poets of the golden past of the elizabethan age. But even when all is said in criticism, this neo-classical literature remains outstanding in several specific qualities. First,it has a lively and real social account that is both entertaining and thought -provoking. Second, antithesis and rapidity mark its metrical pattern. The former aids to its satiric  strength and the latter,its narrative power. Finally, as mentioned already, there is the complete correctness in neo-classical English  poetry.

In this connection, it is to be noted that the neo-classical literature of English is not absolutely free from romanticism. Ever the great satirist seem to have some content with romanticism. pope,the great English satirist, is found to have expressed his love for natural beauty in his first well known work --the pastorals. Again, his two other poems elisa to Abelard and verses to the memory of an unfortunate lady,which we're greatly admired in his age, are of passion and feeling,so strongly prevalent in romantic literature. The are some other works, like john gay's  'The shepherd's week' and oliver goldsmith's 'The traveller and the deserted village" to show the growing dimension of the romantic spirit in the neo-classical age.in fact, the age is found closely followed by the revival of the romantic spirit by the transitional poets of the later period of the eighteenth century.

Neo-classical poetry, however, bears out definite distinctions  from romantic poetry, flourishing before and after. In the first place, neo-classical poetry is always plain, direct, often pointed and aphoristic and never vague, merely suggestive, obscure or mystical. The statement here is all sharp and straight, polished and bright. But this is not so with the great romantics whose poetry is mostly imaginative, mystical and even suggestive and symbolic. There is a sort of transcendental feeling as opposed to the stark,common place,social reality of new classical poetry.

In the second place, neo-classical poetry is descriptive and even narrative. This is based on the observation and understanding of man in society. Romantic poetry, on the other hand, is reflective and philosophic and studies man in the perspective  of his place in the universe and nature.
Neo-Classicism Literature in  Eighteenth Century.

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