A BRIEF HISTORY OF VARIOUS AGES
DEPARTMENT OF ENGLISH AND OTHER FOREIGN LANGUAGES
The Renaissance is a period in the history of Europe beginning in about 1400, and following the Medieval period.
"Renaissance" is a French word meaning "rebirth". The period is called by this name because at that time, people
started taking an interest in the learning of ancient times, in particular, the learning of Ancient Greece and Rome. The
Renaissance was seen as a "rebirth" of that learning. The Renaissance is often said to be the start of the "modern age".
During the Renaissance, there were many famous artists, many writers and many philosophers. Many people
studied mathematics and different sciences. A person who is clever at a great number of things is sometimes called a
"Renaissance man". Leonardo da Vinci, who was a painter, a scientist, a musician and a philosopher, is the most
famous Renaissance Man.
The Renaissance started in Italy but soon spread across the whole of Europe. In Italy, the time is divided into three
The Early Renaissance.
The High Renaissance
The Late Renaissance which is also called The"Mannerist" period.
NEO CLASSICAL POETS
English poets from 1660 A.D. to 1798 A.D. are generally known as Neoclassical poets. They are so-called because they had great respect for classical writers and
imitated much from them. For them, poetry was an imitation of human life.
Mathew Arnold called 18th century in English Literature as the “age of prose and reason, our excellent and indispensable 18th century”. Thus Neoclassical age is
primarily the “age of prose and reason”.
As compared to poetry, the prose of Neoclassical age developed more. The poetry of the period developed the qualities of prose such as clearness, lucidity, and
beauty of expression.
Dryden was a poet and dramatist of repute, but he was also a great writer of prose. He was the first great modern prose writer and also the first great critic.
Similarly, the Pope was a poet, but we find in his poetry, characteristics of good prose-neatness, lucidity, uniformity, and balance. Mathew Arnold declared that
Dryden and Pope were the classics of prose and not of poetry.
He was a famous poet of his time. The poetry of Dryden can be divided into three parts-
Dryden had a good command of heroic couplets through which he could write excellent satires. The Ode for St. Cecilia’s Day and Alexander’s Feast are his best
During the later years of his life, Dryden translated many classical works of great writers from Greek and Latin. Absolam and Achitophel are great allegorical
satires of Dryden.
He was an Augustan Poet. Pope was physically weak because of his long illness, he wrote Essay on Criticism while he was still young. He made many translating
major works like The Iliad.
His Pastorals and Essay on Criticism are probably the best known of his writings and the scholars recognise him for his command of the heroic couplet.
He was also a great poet of this age. He belonged to a group of poets, who are sometimes called the ‘Churchyard School of Poets’. The Elegy Written in a Country
Churchyard is one of the best poems in English written by Gray.
In this poem, he expresses the sorrowful feelings which arise in his mind on seeing the graves of the poor country people buried near the Church. His ode ‘The
Bard’ is a very sad song.
He is a poet as well as an artist. Most of his poems are mysterious. It is very difficult to understand the meaning of some poems written by him. He was a visionary
poet and never believed in earthly things. His great works are Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience. Of these two poetic works, the second one is darker
and heavier than the first one. It presents the painful realities of life. Here is the summary of all the poems of Blake.
He was a Scottish farmer whose lyrics became famous. He wrote hundreds of songs and lyrics. His love songs included My love is like a red red rose. He had a deep
understanding of animals and love for them. Even a mouse brought a gentle poem from his pen.
Classic literature teaches about life lessons through human history. Classic literature shows that a lot of life's problems have the
same basic patterns. They deliver the same message repeatedly. Thus, classic literature can provide readers with moral messages.
Here are 8 benefits of reading classic literature:
Quality books often contain thought-provoking socio-ethical situations, thus leading to character development (note: I made up
that phrase “socio-ethical,” but I like it, so I’m going with it). It’s not just about becoming a good reader; it’s about becoming a
good person. I’m not making this up. Go read about the study that showed that people who read classics are just better people.
You will not be able to understand references to the classics in other books if you haven’t read them. The literary term for this is
“allusion,” and if you miss them or don’t understand them, you will feel ignorant. This will lower dopamine levels, thus making
you think you don’t like the book you’re reading. You then think you don’t like quality books at all, and bam! you’re a book
rookie forever. All because you didn’t read Huckleberry Finn. It could happen. It does happen. Here’s a huge list of literary
allusions. Test yourself. I’ll wait.
Bibliotherapy is a real thing, and quality books offer quality cathartic experience. As we read of Don Quixote‘s struggles, of Jean
Valjean‘s experiences with injustice, or of the effects of vengeance-seeking on Edmond Dantès (better known as the Count of
Monte Cristo), we see how we can persevere through struggle, overcome injustice, and decide that vengeance is a dish best
served not at all.
Demonstrate gratitude. In South Sudan, the literacy rate is 27% – the lowest in the world. Thirteen countries in the world
have literacy rates below 50%. When we read classics, we demonstrate gratitude for the gift of literacy we’ve been given by using
the gift wisely and deeply.
Get a clear window. Books that reflect lives similar to ours are called “mirrors.” Books that give us a glimpse of a life different
from ours are called “windows.” Classics open up a vista to different worlds, different cultures, and different historical
perspectives. You understand Russia better when you’ve read its literature. I’m white, so I can read Zora Neale
Hurston or Langston Hughes and understand African-American culture better. Literature bridges race, culture, religion, and
It’s good for your mind to read books that have strong ideas, even if you disagree with those ideas. In fact, it’s the best way to
discover the strength and validity of your own ideas. I love this article on why you should read books you hate by Pamela Paul.
It’s a challenge. Challenges are good. You feel good about yourself when you accomplish something that was actually difficult.
Reading The Cat in the Hat is fun, but if you’re a college graduate, you don’t get a big ol’ shot of dopamine when you finish it. On
the other hand, when you finish War and Peace, I don’t care if you have a Ph.D., you feel amazing. It’s a dopamine festival in your
It’s lasting. The books that challenge us are the books that stay with us. I read Middlemarch by George Eliot when I was young.
Later I found out that Goodreads has it listed as a “most difficult novel.” It’s the novel that transformed my outlook on life. Its
closing passage (which I have memorized) has been as comforting to me as a friend. I’ve read literally hundreds of novels, but the
ones that stick with me are the ones many others would consider the “hard” ones.
Restoration Period in English History
Restoration Period in English History
The Restoration Period begins in 1660 A.D., the year in which King Charles-II was
restored to the English Throne.
England, Scotland and Whales were united as Great Britain.
Commercial prosperity and global trade increased for Britain.
James-II quickly suspended the Test Act (sacrament taken in Anglican
Church) for he was a Catholic.
In 1688 A.D., James’ son was born that alarmed the county because they did not
want another Catholic ruler. Secret plans were made to bring a Protestant Ruler.
In 1688 A.D. (same year), William of Orange and his wife landed in England with a
small army and seized power-an event known as the “Glorious/Bloodless
Revolution”. James-II fled to France. There were two main parties in England at
Tories- “Tory” is an Irish word meaning “Irish Rebel”. The Tory party included
those who favoured monarchy and supported the king (Charles-II).
Whigs- “Whig” is a Scottish word meaning “cattle driver”. Whig party included
those who opposed Charles-II and favoured Aristocratic succession for Monarchy.
THE AUGUSTAN AGE
The term 'the Augustan Age' comes from the self-conscious imitation of the
original Augustan writers, Virgil and Horace, by many of the writers of
the period. Specifically, the Augustan Age was the period after the Restoration era
to the death of Alexander Pope
The Augustan Age is called so because generally regarded as a golden age, like
the period of Roman History which had achieved political stability and power as
well a flourishing of the arts. ... Because of the importance that was given to
reason during the Augustan Age, this period is also known as the Age of Reason.
The most representative authors of this era are:
Alexander Pope (21 May 1688 – 30 May 1744), poet
Jonathan Swift 30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745), essayist
The era also saw the development of the novel by authors such as:
Daniel Defoe (c.1659 – 24 April 1731), whose Robinson Crusoe (1719) was published
in more editions than any other works besides Swift's Gulliver's Travels
Samuel Richardson, who wrote the sentimental epistolary novels Pamela (1740–
41) and Clarissa (1747–48)
Henry Fielding, who parodied Richardson in his Shamela (1741), and wrote Joseph
Andrews (1742) and Tom Jones (1749).
THE AGE OF JOHNSON
The Age of Johnson, otherwise called 'the age of transition' roughly
covers the years 1740-1790. By 1745 the brilliant set of writers- Pope,
Addison etc. Who held together the classical idea passed out of sight.
Classicism still continues to rule after the age of Pope. There is no sharp
cleavage in the history of ideas and forms of literature. But with the
passing of the older generation the brilliance and sureness with which
rational spirit was handled, giving a definite character to the first four
decades of the century, had been either weakened or lost. New
inspirations are now welling forth. These are not yet strong enough to
bring about a renovation
Dr. Johnson is the symbol of this survival of classical tradition, that had
been secretly undermined. Nevertheless his works draw vigour from the
new social elements. He represents a temporary fusion of the old and
the new. The works of his contemporaries too show a duality of opposing
inspirations, because these writers were not able to come to a clear
decision. These are the poets of the transition, the harbingers of the
romantic movement. Thomson, Dyer, Cowper, Collins, Gray are the
poets who stand between the two worlds. They are the poets of
Romanticism was a literary movement that rebelled
against the ideologies of classicism, order, reason and
coherence that dominated literature from the mid-1600s
and throughout the Enlightenment in the 1700s. The
Enlightenment (of the Age of Reason) valued Reason over
The Romans borrowed and adapted ideas from
the Greeks as well as the Etruscans. Greek architecture was
one important influence on the Romans. As you remember,
the Greeks built marble temples as homes for their gods. ...
The Romans also used concrete to build huge stadiums like
the Colosseum, where gladiators fought.
GREEK AND ROMAN
The Socratic philosophers in ancient Greece were Socrates, Plato, and
Aristotle. These are some of the most well-known of all Greek
Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274) ...
Aristotle (384–322 BCE) ...
Confucius (551–479 BCE) ...
René Descartes (1596–1650) ...
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 82) ...
Michel Foucault (1926-1984) ...
David Hume (1711–77) ...
Heraclitus. While Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle are usually considered
the founders of modern Western thought, earlier thinkers also
significantly influenced Western civilization. One of the most
interesting of these thinkers was Heraclitus, who was born to a noble
family in Ephesus in about 535 BC.
Alexander Pope (1688–1744) was an English critic, translator, satirist, and
poet who became a principal figurehead of the neoclassical era in
English literature, often known as the Augustan Age.Alexander Pope
was a translator, poet, wit, amateur landscape gardener, and satirist.
A sharp-penned satirist of public figures and their behavior, Pope had
his supporters and detractors. He was friends with Jonathan Swift, Dr.
John Arbuthnot, and John Gay. Pope’s poems include the “Epistle to Dr.
Arbuthnot” and the mock epic “The Rape of the Lock.” To read his work
is to be exposed to the order and wit of the 18th century poetry that
preceded the Romantic poets. Pope primarily used the heroic couplet,
and his lines are immensely quotable; from “An Essay on Criticism”
come famous phrases such as “To err is human; to forgive, divine,” “A
little learning is a dang’rous thing,” and “For fools rush in where angels
fear to tread.”
AN ESSAY ON CRITICISM
"An Essay on Criticism" is a three-part poem in which Alexander Pope shares his thoughts on the
proper rules and etiquette for critics. Critics assail Pope's work, his background, his religion, and his
physical appearance throughout his career. Pope has a lot to say to critics about their common
mistakes and how they could do their job in such a way that intelligently supports the literary process.
Pope explains that both critics and writers should understand the rules for poetry set forth by ancient
Greece and Rome. These rules were based on the laws of nature such as balance, symmetry, and
beauty without ornamentation. To truly "First follow NATURE," writers and their critics must have
good judgment and wit. While it is important for writers to stick to the rules, critics should also
understand that sometimes new approaches are needed for newly developing truths. Exceptions to the
rules are only made for particularly intelligent, witty, and accomplished authors.
Part 2 focuses on critics and lists the many ways that their criticism is ineffective and inappropriate.
Some of the common mistakes include: considering the part and not the whole of the work; paying
attention only to rules and not to content; judging because of metaphor, imagery, style, or other less
relevant qualities of poems; praising works simply because they are new, extreme, foreign, or espouse
certain points of view.
The last part of "An Essay on Criticism" comes from a more positive and encouraging perspective.
Pope explores what makes a great critic. The ideal qualities a critic should possess include integrity,
humility, and courage. The poem closes with an extended tribute to the ancient Greek and Roman
writers, as well as English writers who Pope feels best emulate the ancients. The best critics are
balanced and reflective, considering their words carefully, knowing that they make and break authors'