A literary movement is a generalterm which is defined by a variety of authors from a particular time period whoshare similar ideas regarding literary works, subjects, approaches, style,content, philosophy, sociological concerns, art, culture and etc. Usually aliterary movement can be considered a reaction to a current literary movement.For example, in England, Romanticism (approximately 1789-1832) was seen as areaction to neoclassical literature (approximately 1660-1789). Even thoughscholars are continually debating the dates and even the “titles” ofthe different movements, it can be said that the dates given are oftenhistorically influenced with significant historical events.
For example thelaunch of Romanticism coincides with the year of the French Revolution, bothindicating new found freedoms and individuality. Some other examples ofliterary movements include Classicism and Neoclassicism. Both of thesemovements, in the arts, historical tradition or aesthetic attitudes aregrounded in the ancient art of Greece and Rome. In the context of convention,classicism denotes either to the art produced in antiquity or to later art,inspired by that antiquity. Likewise Neoclassicism is usually concerned withthe art produced later but is motivated by antiquity or the classics. Hence the terms Classicism and Neoclassicism are oftenused interchangeably. The focus of this paper will be on an in-depth analysisof both Classicism and Neo Classicism as literary movements.
This will includea general definition of both terms, a historical background, characteristics,the figures and works associated with each movement as well as a brief comparativestudy between the two. Historical Background of Classicism andneo-classicism ClassicismClassicism or the classical periodis generally known to have emerged around 500 BC with great classicaldramatists Euripides, Aeschylus, and Sophocles, in addition to the prominentphilosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and finally the schools ofrhetoric, and the rise of Athenian democracy and power. The classical period (sometimes referred to asGreco-Roman or antiquity) belonged to the noble works of ancient Greece andRome.
This old period is considered the golden age for literature and arts. Thefamous writers belonging to this period consist of all the Greek and Romanwriters and philosophers. These included writers like Homer who wrote epicslike the Iliad and Odyssey fame, and the Roman poet Virgil who authored thefamous Aeneid. The Greek philosophers Plato, Socrates and Aristotle alsoassociated themselves with this era. Moreover the Greek playwrights Euripidesand Aristophanes also fit into this poet.
Among the famous influential poets ofthis era included Horace and Ovid. It can be said that all these writers shareda common feature in their works, which is discussing literature that isdistinctive for its balance, order and reasonableness. For example Aristotle’sPoetics played a vital role in describing these features for drama. Othersincluded Horace’s Ars Poetica. With regards to the arts, Classicism isconsidered an imitation of the arts of the ancient Greek and Rome. This genreis considered an inventive genre that has been prevalent throughout a varietyof ages, most prominently in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, hencecontinual imitation of the classical authors is where we get the wordneoclassical. Classicism usually portrays its classical principles in art,literature, architecture, and music, hence artistic excellence and conservatismare elements of classicism.
Moreover, for centuries the study of Greek andLatin as well as the arts of antiquity became major modules of education. Classicismwas first established after the collapse of Byzantium of the Italian Renaissance.The thrive of education following the medieval age as well as the emergence ofknowledge of Europe’s ancient history, led artists to imitate classical art inform, symmetry, balance and an overall sense of order. Furthermore theclassical models were particularly expressed in sculpture, drawing andpainting. Some of the chief artists of the Renaissance classicism include Michelangelo,Raphael, and Correggio. Inthe 16th and 17th century classicism was more formallyregarded and was given a greater gist of artistic discipline. Art and music establishmentsstarted to acquire lessons for the expanding of classical ideals.
The Age ofEnlightenment of the 18th century classicism became a fundamentalcomponent of a formal education. This era’s primary principles of freedom anddemocracy were embedded in classical antiquity, especially the democraticgovernment of ancient Greece. Classicism led to the emergence of neo-classicism,and even though these words can be used interchangeably, they belong todifferent periods; however both movements embody the artistic influence of theancient Greece and Rome. Classicism also inspired the arts of the 19thand 20th centuries. The Greekand Roman classical works exhibit characteristics of order and balance and mostcommonly they embody classical subject matter. Neo-Classicism The Enlightenment is considered to be a time of important invention and development;hence one of major literary movements that is responsible for the establishmentof the Enlightenment is the architectural and artistic movement ofNeoclassicism.
The neoclassicism of the 18th and 19thcentury was one that treasured the ancient Greek and Roman ideals. These ideals which included order, symmetry,and balance were considered by many European generations as the highest pointof artistic excellence. The classics were always a source of inspiration withmany European movements especially in Neoclassicism.The rise of Neoclassicism was the result of several events and movementswithin the Enlightenment.
This includes the expansion, evolution, andredefinition of the European standard classical education. This increased theinfluence and awareness of Greek and Roman art in the studies of the developingartists, which would soon begin to show in their designs. Moreover, the recentarcheological discoveries of Pompeii and Herculaneum also played a vital role.The excavation of these sites revealed massive amounts of newinformation about the Roman’s everyday life, and it astonished thosewho read about or visited these sites. Moreover,the development of commissioned art and architecture and the refinement of theart scholarship also played an important role in the rise of the neoclassicalmovement.
Finally one of the earliest causes for the rise of this movement was areaction to the Baroque and Rococo art style. This art was too busy andornamental; hence it was too trivial for the people, making it a necessity to returnto the harsher and more order of the ideals of antiquity.The Neoclassical movement was a dominant art form which looked back tothe Greek and Roman artists, philosophers, and ideals as the highest point. It influencedand endured many national revolutions and international wars and due to its strengthand balance, perhaps the era was made all the stronger because of the art and architecturethat was the backdrop for the action of the age.