By Hans-Peter Wagner
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Additional resources for A History of British Irish and American Literature
The English libertines, however, imitating French examples, were a minority and certainly not as influential as the Frenchmen they tried to emulate. creatures around him and that man, in order to achieve rectitude and virtue, must respect society and the public. His principal work is Characteristics of Men, Manners, Opinions, and Times (1711, rev. in 1714). 5 Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), English lawyer and philosopher. He formulated the political and ethical theory of utility in his Fragments on Government (1776) and Introduction to Principles of Morals and Legislation (1780 and 1789).
After the end of the Restoration period, the principles of Neoclassicism as exemplified by Pope and Swift ruled the field until well into the second half of the century when sensibility and sentimentality announced Romanticism. Neoclassicism, also called the Augustan Age, derived its rules from antiquity (Aristotle, Horace, Longinus)9 and French Classicism (Boileau)10 considering social conventions more important than individual convictions and seeing reason as superior to emotion. Form often determined content, while the imitation of nature was to reflect an order combining the general, Horace's "dulce et utile" ("sweet and useful"), reason, wit and common sense.
The fashionable Restoration audience wanted wit, humour, and sex, but little else, and the playwrights catered to these narrow tastes. The new theatres brought some changes affecting productions, such as a reduction in size of the platform-stage – which meant less contact between the actors and the audience – and the introduction of women players. The old intimacy of the Elizabethan stage was lost, but the actresses (women's roles were formerly played by boys) introduced a more realistic sexual atmosphere.