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Literature in the Restoration Age

The literature of Restoration Age was characterized by a sense of break with the past, a decisive reaction against Puritan models and was a period of innovations. This change in the poetic form found its pacesetters in Ben Jonson and Nicolas Boileau, the former following Classical standards and the latter setting the basis of Neoclassicism. The complexity of the verse and the metaphysical conceits disappeared in favor of classical simplicity and conciseness of expression. The “wit”, that in metaphysical poetry required the poets to be both sensitive and clever by making unconventional metaphors arranged in a creative way to strike surprise in the reader, now consisted in the exercise of reason and the main object of interest became the real world. Moreover, the Restoration poetry was satiric, often as a reaction against Puritanism. The lyrical tradition of the Cavalier Poets of the Puritan Age was continued by the Court Wits, a group of young aristocratic poets who, influenced by a shallow society were following ideals of urbanity and elegance.

For what concerns the prose, during the Restoration Age there was a flourishing of rationalist philosophers, such as John Locke who for example believed that human knowledge was to be gained by individual experience, of scientific studies, for example with Isaac Newton, and of diarists, for example with John Evelyn who provided insights into people’s daily life. The new style was simple, direct and concise.

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