1. The Augustan Age – Background History

1. Historical Background

The Augustan Age has its beginning with the reign of King George I of Hanover, who came to power after the death of Queen Anne Stuart. 

George I was thoroughly (vollkommen) unpopular because of the fact that he wasn’t interested in the country he was ruling. The majority of the English people lived at this time in rural areas, the only bigger city was London.

The Augustan Age is called so because generally regarded as a golden age, like the period of Roman History which had achieved political stability and power as well as a flourishing of the arts.

The society in this age was a materialist society, which was responsive to economic pressure, but yet its political organization was hierarchical, hereditary and privileged. Thus elections were largely controlled by the powerful landowners and politicians who were more interested in bribing for winning their elections than in obtaining the vote of the citizens.

On the other hand, the Eighteenth-century championed individualism, seizing opportunities in the sectors of economy, which provided scope (Möglichkteit) for enterprise and enrichment. Also the fact that the English Right at the time didn’t tolerate interference with private property, demonstrates the extraordinary liberty of this age.

This freedom was also confirmed by the philosophers and the ideology of the time: John Locke, Joseph Adison and others rejected the strict and pessimistic values of Puritanism and a liberal thought affirmed free-will, salvation for all, goodness of mankind and its capacity in progress.

Thus the individuals gained trust in their own powers and capacities, i.e. their reason which made them different from animals. Because of the importance that was given to reason during the Augustan Age,this period is also known as the Age of Reason.

2. The main features of Augustan Literature

The authors of the Augustan Age were mainly interested in ...

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