Turbulent Times - 17th and 18th Century Writers

SNAPSHOT of the PERIOD

  • The English Civil War pitted the King against Parliament 
  • Industrial and Agricultural Revolutions - led to growth of cities, increased urban poverty and a rise of the middle-class
  • Political revolutions in American and in France led to a revolution in literature

A search for a more rational world began in influence the literature of the time.

  • Satire and Proportion - how to behave became a key question. The question: "What are the standards of conduct derived from reason and not revolution?"  Satire flourished. Remember: Satire ridicules conduct that is not rational, that is out of proportion. 
    • Pope's Rape of the Lock is a mock epic in which a trivial incident is treated as something earth-shaking
    • Swift's Gulliver's Travels  is a study in proportion and the disproportionate things that humans do.
  • The "How-to" Genres began to appear. Literary essays began as a "how-to" genre, teaching rational conduct.