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An Overview of Realistic Novels in the Augustan Age 

Characteristics and Elements

Realistic novels of the Augustan age (1700s-1750s) share many of the same features as realistic novels in general, but also have some unique characteristics specific to the time period. These include:

  1. Portrayal of 18th-century society: Augustan-era realistic novels frequently include accurate and extensive portrayals of the historical period's society and culture, including social traditions, laws, and social norms.
  2. Attention to social realism: Augustan-period realistic novels frequently focus on the lives and hardships of the lower classes, as well as the obstacles of survival and social mobility in an era of economic and societal transformation.
  3. Realistic portrayal of gender and class: Augustan novels frequently dealt with the role of gender and class in 18th century society and how it affected the possibilities and problems of their characters, particularly women.
  4. Exploration of morals, religion and philosophy: Many realistic novels of the Augustan age explored the moral and religious beliefs of the time period, often exploring characters' inner conflicts, dilemmas and how society impacted these elements.
  5. Exploration of morality, religion, and philosophy: Many realistic novels of the Augustan age investigated the historical period's moral and religious ideas, frequently portraying people' inner problems, challenges, and how society influenced these themes.
  6. Realistic accuracy: Augustan-era realistic novels frequently incorporate precise real information like as authentic ship names, longitude and latitude, and depictions of real rivers and oceans.
  7. Many realistic novels of the Augustan age centre on individual people, their inner problems, and their efforts to make sense of their role in society and find purpose in their lives.

Please note that the information presented in this text is not exhaustive and is intended for non-native English speakers and high school students. The text is intended to provide a general overview of the topic and should not be considered as a comprehensive or scholarly source. This text also aims to accommodate non-native English speakers by simplifying the language and terminology used. It's important to seek additional sources for further research, and always consult with a teacher or professor.

Vocabulary list

  • Augustan age: the period of the late 1700s and early 1800s in British literature, characterized by a focus on realism, reason, and elegance in writing.
  • Realistic novels: type of fiction that aims to accurately depict real life and the complexity of human experiences, emotions and relationships.
  • Depictions of 18th century society: Accurate and detailed descriptions of the society and culture of the time period, including the social customs, laws, and mores of the era.
  • Attention to social realism: focus on the lives and struggles of the lower classes and their challenges of survival and social mobility in an era of economic and societal changes.
  • Realistic portrayal of the role of gender and class: Examination of the role of gender and class in 18th century society and the way it shaped the opportunities and challenges of characters, particularly for women.
  • Exploration of morals, religion and philosophy: Examination of moral and religious beliefs of the time period, often exploring characters' inner conflicts, dilemmas and how society impacted these elements.
  • Attention to realistic accuracy: inclusion of realistic details, such as real names of ships, longitude and latitude, and descriptions of real rivers and oceans.
  • A focus on the individual's struggles within society: emphasis on individual characters, their inner conflicts and their struggles to make sense of their place in society and find meaning in their lives.

LnT suggests 

LnT the reading of  "Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders: two realistic novels from the Augustan Age", an article that might be of some interest if you are reading or studying those novels;

LnT to visit the page dedicated to Daniel Defoe for further information;

The following sources provide a range of critical perspectives on realistic novels of the Augustan age, their themes, characters, style, and their place in the literary tradition of the period. They also offer insight on the historical context in which these novels were written and received, and literary techniques used by the author to create the realistic world of the novels.

 LnT Lennard, John. "The Origin of English Realism: From Defoe to Richardson." The Cambridge Quarterly, vol. 1, no. 4, 1971, pp. 305-317. 

LnT Howells, Coral Ann. "The London Haunts of Moll Flanders: Defoe's Use of Real Places." The Review of English Studies, vol. 42, no. 168, 1991, pp. 437-452. 

LnT Furbank, P. N. "The English Novel: Defoe to Austen." The English Novel: Form and Function, vol. 10, Methuen, 1953.

LnT Richetti, John. "Introduction: Defoe and the Novel." The Cambridge Companion to Daniel Defoe, edited by John Richetti, Cambridge University Press, 2008, pp. 1-20.

LnT Beer, Gillian. "Realism and Reality in the English Novel." The Cambridge Companion to the Eighteenth-Century Novel, edited by John Richetti, Cambridge University Press, 1996, pp. 1-23.

LnT Brown, Homer Obed. "Realism in the Augustan Novel: A Study of Defoe and Fielding." Dissertation Abstracts International, vol. 33, no. 3, 1972, pp. 1803-1804.