A Guide to The Enlightenment Literature

The Enlightenment is also known as the age of reason. It was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 18th century that saw the rise of concepts such as reason, liberty, and the scientific method.

Enlightenment literature encompassed various genres including essays, novels, plays, poetry, and philosophical treatises.

Prominent figures of Enlightenment literature include philosophers such as Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Denis Diderot, and Immanuel Kant, as well as writers like Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and John Locke.

Characteristics of the Enlightenment

These are some of the most important characteristics of the enlightenment period

  1. The Enlightenment era is known as the age of reason.
  2. The reason was seen as the primary source of authority.
  3. The targets of examination were the government and religious figures.
  4. Many prominent writers during this period were deists.
  5. The Enlightenment Era is also known as the Golden Age of Satire.
  6. There is an emphasis on the scientific method and along with increased questioning of religious orthodoxy
  7. Enlightenment Authors promote advanced ideals such as the separation of church and state and a constitutional government.
  8. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the Church.
  9. Many Enlightenment writers and thinkers had backgrounds in the sciences.
  10. Enlightenment scholars sought to curtail the political power of organized religion and thereby prevent another age of intolerant religious war.
  11. Humanism: Celebration of human potential, dignity, and rights.

Intellectuals of the Enlightenment

These are some of the most important Enlightenment intellectuals

Voltaire was a deist, he  held mixed views of the Abrahamic religions but had a favorable view of Hinduism, he wrote  the Dictionnaire philosophique (1764) and Questions sur les Miracles (1765)

David Hume was a Scottish philosopher, historian, economist, and essayist, who is best known today for his highly influential system of philosophical empiricism, skepticism, and naturalism. He is the author of  The Natural History of Religion (1757) and Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1779)

Jean-Jacques Rousseau was a Francophone Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer of the 18th century. His political philosophy influenced the Enlightenment in France and across Europe. He wrote The Social Contract, and Principles of Political Right

Rene Descartes was a French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the “Father of Liberalism”

Digging Deeper

Learn more about other literary movements by checking these other posts:

  1. A Guide to Renaissance Literature
  2. A Guide to Postmodernism in Literature
  3. A Guide to Modernism in Literature
  4. A Guide to the Beat Generation in Literature
  5. The Beginner’s Guide to Realism in Literature
  6. A Guide to Naturalism in Literature
  7. A Guide to the Bloomsbury Group in Literature
  8. A Guide to Existentialism in Literature
  9. A Guide to Transcendentalism in Literature
  10. A Guide to the Victorian Period Literature
  11. A Guide to Romanticism in Literature
  12. A Guide to The Enlightenment Literature
  13. A guide to Medieval Literature
Manuel Campos, English Professor

Manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English