What are some of the major periods and movements in British literature?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Some major movements and periods are:

Absurd, literature of the (c. 1930–1970):  Movement similar to surrealism, responding to absurdity of life in wake of death of God.

Aestheticism/decadence/symbolism (c. 1835–1910): A late-19th-century international literary movement favouring "art for art's sake."

Angry Young Men (1950s–1980s): Lower class rebellious young men protesting English class system, stylistically traditional.

Bloomsbury Group (c. 1906–1930s): Modernist writers living in the Bloomsbury section of London.

Elizabethan era (c. 1558–1603): Reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Part of international Renaissance and Reformation.

Gothic (c. 1764–1820): Late-18th-century and early 19th, figuring dramatic and terrifying situations, medievalism, plot and atmosphere over character analysis.

Metaphysical poets (c. 1633–1680): Type of Jacobean poetry using complex and erudite metaphor.

Middle English (c. 1066–1500): Linguistically and stylistically defined as between Anglo-Saxon and modern English.

Modernism (1890s–1940s): International movement featuring radical stylistic innovations and responding to Freud, Marx, and Darwin.

Naturalism/Realism (c. 1865–1900): Featured ordinary characters and details of everyday life.

Neoclassicism (c. 1660–1798): Enlightenment movement featuring balance, symmetry, reason.

Romanticism (c. 1798–1832): Emphasized individual creativity, nature, spontaneity, emotion.

Victorian era (c. 1832–1901): Period between first Reform Bill (1832) and the death of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901).

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial