Some names of neoclassical writers include Jane Austen, John Bunyan, Daniel Defoe, John Dryden and Henry Fielding. Other well-known neoclassical writers were Ben Johnson, John Milton, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift and Voltaire. Milton, author of "Paradise Lost," is sometimes cited as the most influential neoclassical writer.
Neoclassical writing spans the years 1660 to 1798. It first developed in France and soon became popular in England as well. Neoclassical literature encompasses many genres, including novels, essays, satires and poetry. As a response to the chaos of the previous Renaissance period, neoclassical literature turned towards order and restraint. Its writers favored clarity and simplicity. Rather than inventing new words and phrases, neoclassical writers studied grammar and coveted dictionaries.
Some of the main literary characteristics of the period include an imitation of classical form, a belief that honor comes from reputation, a polite and witty style, a distrust of innovation and a valuing of communication over self-expression. In addition, neoclassical writers strove for ideals of accuracy, logic, order and propriety.
The neoclassical period is divided into three parts: The Restoration Age from 1660 to 1700, the Augustan Age from 1700 to 1750, and the Age of Johnson from 1750 to 1798. In addition to literature, the neoclassical movement also affected visual arts, theater, music and architecture.