Classic Literature: Top 7 Works from the 18th Century

These seven classics, from satirical masterpieces like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Candide” to groundbreaking novels like “Tom Jones” and “Pride and Prejudice,” have left an indelible mark on literature.

The 18th century was a time of transformation in literature, with the emergence of new styles and genres that have left their mark on history. In this article, we explore seven classic works from this era that continue to captivate readers to this day. Let’s dive into the world of these literary masterpieces.

Gulliver’s Travels

  • Author: Jonathan Swift
  • About the Book

“Gulliver’s Travels” is a satirical novel published in 1726. It follows the adventures of Lemuel Gulliver as he travels to fantastical lands inhabited by strange creatures. Throughout his journeys, he encounters the tiny Lilliputians, the giant Brobdingnagians, the rational Houyhnhnms, and the brutish Yahoos.

  • Impact on Literature

Swift’s clever use of satire to critique various aspects of society, politics, and human nature has made “Gulliver’s Travels” a timeless classic. The novel’s imaginative settings and characters have inspired countless adaptations and reimaginings.


  • Author: Voltaire
  • About the Book

“Candide” is a philosophical novel published in 1759, exploring the theme of optimism. The story follows Candide, a young man who is taught by his mentor, Pangloss, that “all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.” Candide’s journey across the world puts this philosophy to the test as he encounters various hardships and misfortunes.

  • Impact on Literature

Voltaire’s satirical approach and sharp wit helped shape the Age of Enlightenment. “Candide” remains an influential work, challenging readers to question societal norms and encouraging them to think critically.

Tom Jones

  • Author: Henry Fielding
  • About the Book

“Tom Jones” is a comic novel published in 1749. The book follows the life of the titular character, a foundling raised by a kind-hearted squire. Tom’s adventurous journey leads him through various social classes, encountering a range of colorful characters and situations.

  • Impact on Literature

Fielding’s innovative narrative style and engaging characterization in “Tom Jones” have made it one of the first English novels in the modern sense. Its exploration of social issues and human nature has had a lasting impact on literature.

The Sorrows of Young Werther

  • Author: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  • About the Book

“The Sorrows of Young Werther” is an epistolary novel published in 1774. The story revolves around the young and sensitive artist Werther, who falls in love with the beautiful and unattainable Charlotte. Unable to cope with the pain of unrequited love, Werther spirals into a deep depression, ultimately leading to a tragic end.

  • Impact on Literature

Goethe’s novel had a profound effect on European literature, popularizing the “Sturm und Drang” movement, which emphasized emotion and individualism. “The Sorrows of Young Werther” became a sensation, with many readers identifying with Werther’s intense emotions and struggles.

Tristram Shandy

  • Author: Laurence Sterne
  • About the Book

“The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman” is an unconventional novel published in nine volumes between 1759 and 1767. The story follows the titular character, Tristram Shandy, as he narrates his life story, starting from his conception. Filled with humorous digressions, witty commentary, and unconventional narrative techniques, the novel is a unique reading experience.

  • Impact on Literature

Sterne’s experimental style and self-aware humor in “Tristram Shandy” have influenced countless writers, making it a seminal work in the development of the modern novel. Its innovative narrative techniques have inspired authors such as James Joyce and Virginia Woolf.


  • Author: Samuel Richardson
  • About the Book

“Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded” is an epistolary novel published in 1740. It tells the story of a young maidservant, Pamela Andrews, who resists the advances of her employer, Mr. B. Through a series of letters, Pamela recounts her experiences, eventually leading to her social ascent and marriage to Mr. B.

  • Impact on Literature

Richardson’s “Pamela” is considered one of the first English novels and pioneered the epistolary form. The novel’s exploration of social class, virtue, and morality had a significant impact on 18th-century literature, paving the way for the rise of the novel as a popular genre.

Pride and Prejudice

  • Author: Jane Austen
  • About the Book

“Pride and Prejudice,” published in 1813, is a romantic novel that revolves around the lives of the Bennet sisters, particularly Elizabeth Bennet, as they navigate love, marriage, and societal expectations. The novel explores themes of social class, morality, and individual growth.

  • Impact on Literature

Austen’s witty prose, memorable characters, and keen observations of society have solidified “Pride and Prejudice” as a beloved classic. Her ability to capture the intricacies of human relationships and emotions continues to resonate with readers, making her works timeless.

The 18th century was a period of literary innovation, giving birth to some of the most influential and enduring works in the history of literature. These seven classics, from satirical masterpieces like “Gulliver’s Travels” and “Candide” to groundbreaking novels like “Tom Jones” and “Pride and Prejudice,” have left an indelible mark on literature and continue to inspire readers around the world.


  1. What are the main themes of 18th-century literature? 18th-century literature often explored themes such as satire, social class, morality, and the human experience.
  2. Why is the 18th century considered a transformative period in literature? This period saw the development of new literary styles and genres, as well as the popularization of the novel as a literary form.
  1. What is the significance of epistolary novels in the 18th century? Epistolary novels, such as “Pamela” and “The Sorrows of Young Werther,” were a popular and innovative form of storytelling that allowed for the exploration of characters’ thoughts and emotions through their letters, providing readers with an intimate perspective on the characters’ lives.
  2. How did the Age of Enlightenment influence literature during the 18th century? The Age of Enlightenment brought about a focus on reason, skepticism, and the questioning of societal norms. This influenced literature by encouraging authors to use satire, wit, and critical thinking in their works, as seen in novels like “Candide” and “Gulliver’s Travels.”
  3. Which authors from the 18th century continue to have a significant impact on literature today? Some of the most influential 18th-century authors include Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, Henry Fielding, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Laurence Sterne, Samuel Richardson, and Jane Austen. Their works have had a lasting impact on literature, inspiring generations of writers and readers alike.

By admin

Spiritual Blogger