18th century - Twilight of ClassicismThe second half of the 18th century was a complex period in which new trends arose and developed side by side with prevalent classical ones. The age nevertheless still preserved important traditional features, with an emphasis on reason, precision, order, clarity and harmony. Greater attention was now being paid to the problems caused by the industrial revolution. The poor were being regarded with more sympathy and tolerance than in the first half of the century, while interest was increasingly shifting from town to country life. The countryside became the setting for several plays. The theatre did not play a very important role at this time, as the drama was in decline, overshadowed by the increasing popularity of printed works(novels and news papers).The coffee houses still played their role as pivots of public life. Poetry was pervaded by a melancholy tone, often associated with meditation on death.
The “Age of Reason” turned into the “Age of Sensibility”, dominated by sentimentalism. Rationalism and classicism nevertheless resisted; the first one in the format of the essay and second one in the form of poetry, which was still characterized by a poetic diction. Early Romanticism was characterized by the emphasis on individualism and the imagination.