18th-Century British Literature

What follows is a list of the primary texts upon which you will be tested. The purpose of the list is to reduce the amount of material on which you will be asked direct questions to a representative and practical size. It is not to limit the depth and breadth of your reading. Obviously, reading other primary texts, historical studies, and secondary criticism is one of the best ways of preparing to deal effectively with the texts listed here. You are, of course, responsible for a general understanding and appreciation of the genres, themes, and techniques characteristic of the period.

Be familiar with the following themes: sublime, sentimentalism, wit, nature, neoclassicism, Augustanism.

  • Johnson,
    “Life of Milton”
    “Preface to Shakespeare”
    The Vanity of Human Wishes
  • Swift,
    Gulliver's Travels
    Battle of the Books
    Selected poems
  • Addison,
    The Pleasures of the Imagination (also known as Spectators 411-21)
  • Defoe,
    Any one of the three major novels
  • Dryden,
    Religio Laici
    All for Love
    An Essay on Dramatic Poesy
  • Pope,
    Rape of the Lock
    Essay on Criticism
    Essay on Man, Book 1
    The Dunciad, Book 4
    An Epistle to Arbuthnot
    An Epistle to Burlington
  • Thomson,
    “Winter” from The Seasons
  • Congreve,
    The Way of the World
  • Wycherly,
    The Country Wife
  • Goldsmith,
    The Vicar of Wakefield
    The Deserted Village
  • Behn,
    The Rover
  • Sterne,
    Sentimental Journey
  • Burney,
  • Richardson,
  • Fielding,
    Jonathan Wild
  • Smollett,
    Humphrey Clinker
    Roderick Random
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