[ History of English
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Glossary of Literary Theory
A term used to describe the classicism that dominated English literature
from the Restoration to the late eighteenth century. Modeling itself on
the literature of ancient Greece and Rome, neoclassicism exalts the virtues
of proportion, unity, harmony, grace, decorum, taste, manners, and restraint.
It values realism and reason over imagination and emotion, mobilizing a
utilitarian language of common sense, conventional imagery, and accurate
diction. Wit and satire flourished in this period, as did the ode and verse
written in heroic couplets. The theater featured heroic drama, written
in verse, and comedies of manners, written in prose.
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