Essay on Contrasting Neo-Classic and Pre-Romantic Literature

Essay on Contrasting Neo-Classic and Pre-Romantic Literature

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Contrasting Neo-Classic and Pre-Romantic Literature

Neo-classicist writers placed great emphasis on taking a practical approach to life and their writing, focusing often on logic, science, and technology, and preferring not to employ frivolous embellishments or reflect on the abstract. They wanted unadorned fact whereas the romantics favored a more creatively inclined form of expression (Anderson et al. 1). Before the romantics began, however, pre-romanticism edged in slowly, acting as the bridge between an era of unpolluted logic and another defined by emotion.
Pre-romanticism’s presence was actually felt during the same age as neo-classicism, as its contemporary, not its successor, yet still there is an assortment of differences despite their shared environment (Grebanier 325).

Neo-classicism was marked by the matter-of-fact views of the Puritans and often included a certain amount of sententiousness within both poetry and prose. Just as the English Protestants of the seventeenth century regarded luxury as errant and relied on a firm hierarchy, neo-classicists chose to look at the world in a sensible and conservative manner and held a social hierarchy in high esteem (Anderson et al. 690, Literature 571). Moderation and temperance were both fashionable, for they facilitated conformity, which was prized over individual deviation. For example, Alexander Pope’s “The Rape of the Lock” criticizes the absurd overindulgences and frivolity of high society, blatantly suggesting a more practical alternative, all the while framing the satire in the classical allusions that define neo-classicism (Anderson et al. 846).

The age was one of realism and could be described as a mature period of literature, for its contributors were ...

... middle of paper ...

...sical world of yore for years, it comes as no surprise that many were hungry for a literary style that could feel an uncontrolled delight in living, demanding the sensuous and the sensitive over the cold and the unaffected. The repression neo-classicism offered brought about its own demise in the form of literary revolutionaries.


Anderson, George K., Homer A. Watt, and George B. Woods. The Literature of England: An Anthology and A History. Vol. 1. New York: Scott, 1936.

—. The Literature of England: An Anthology and A History. Vol. 2. New York: Scott, 1936.

Bowler, Ellen, et al. “The Romantic Age.” Literature: The British Tradition. Ed. Ellen Bowler et al. Paramount ed. New Jersey: Prentice, 1989.

Grebanier, Bernard D. N. English Literature. Vol. 1. New York: Barron’s, 1948.
—. English Literature. Vol. 2. New York: Barron’s, 1948.

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