Artifice and real life: a survey of Augustan literature
Artifice and real life: a survey
of Augustan literature
The literature of the Augustan Age was
by remarkable output in a variety of genres,
which reflected a growing popular interest in reading.
few schools and
the attendance at these
schools was usually too short and irregular.
Children of the lower classes left school
when they were six or seven
to start work
in factories or in fields.
Another factor which limited the reading public was the high price of books.
Many of these newspapers
published short stories and
novels in serial form.
Women of the upper
classes had more spare time
and led a more sedentary life, therefore they read more.
The belief in the power of reason
and the individual’s trust in his own abilities
found expression in the novel , and in journalism
The largest category of books published in the 18th century, was
Defoe and Richardson for their part combined
religious and secular
interests in their works.
The poetry of the age
was by no means a
The poet’s function was
to provide ‘social’ poetry.
Poetry seldom gave voice to the poet’s personal feelings
and even dissent was to be expressed with detachment
Horace in his
greatly influenced Augustan poets in their search for perfection
and in their rejection of everyday language in favour of poetic diction,
at the beginning of the 18th century,
The Restoration comedy of manners
was replaced by the sentimental comedy
a type of play dealing with everyday problems of family
and marriage in clear
It was only at the end of the Augustan Age
that the truly talented
playwrights of the period,
began to react against the excessive sentimentality in