Nothing Classical About Neoclassicism

Edmund Wilson,

Between the Whirlpool and the Rock

“The neo-classicism of Pope and Racine had then more in common with the science of their time than with the classics of Greece and Rome which they thought they were imitating. After all, there is nothing classical, from Boileau’s or Doctor Johnson’s point of view, about Aeschylus or Aristophanes, about Pindar or Catullus. The neo-classicists picked out only, in the ancients, those qualities which were most reasonable and regular; and their productions would certainly have seemed artificial even to Sophocles or Virgil. They had created a new school of their own, a school unlike any school of the past and characteristic of the spirit of their time.”

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