Scientists, philosophers, and political theorists in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries did not limit themselves to formal treatises or learned articles, but also wrote poetry, fi ction, plays, satires, and other imaginative works. Francis Bacon wrote The New Atlantis (published in 1627 after his death), describing an imaginary island called Bensalem where families headed by fathers with absolute power devote themselves to science. Galileo wrote poetry and plays, and attempted to map hell as described by Dante in the Inferno in the same way as cartographers were mapping real landscapes. Montesquieu fi rst gained attention with the witty and satirical Persian Letters (1721), in which two fi ctional Persian aristocrats on a visit to Paris comment on French social life, religious practices, literary skills, and political activities. Diderot wrote novels, including The Nun (1760) and Jacques the Fatalist (1773), along with plays that called for greater realism in staging and acting, a call taken up by later playwrights. These works were often very popular and sold widely, another way in which new scientifi c and philosophical notions were shared. Political events as well as scientifi c and philosophical currents shaped literature. In Germany, the horrors of the Thirty Years War were captured in Hans Jakob von Grimmelshausen’s The Adventurous Simplicissimus (1669) and several sequels. These tell the story of a naïve young man caught up in the horrors of the war; like Candide, Simplicissimus fi nally fi nds peace by retreating from the world. Grimmelshausen’s sympathetic hero, linguistic skills, searing social criticism, and black humor made his works popular with nobles and middle-class readers, though they also commented on his graphic violence. Political developments in seventeenth-century England had direct effects on literature, particularly drama. In the fi rst decades of the seventeenth century, public theatres increasingly offered tragicomedies – serious plays with happy endings – while elaborate masques with stage scenery, lavish costumes, and complex musical scores were performed at court. With the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, the public theatres were closed, though private performances continued, especially of “closet” dramas designed to be read rather than staged. With the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, the theatres opened again, and audiences fl ocked to satirical “comedies of manners” that both criticized and celebrated excessive behavior, and to heroic tragedies with fl owery speeches and violent action. Female parts were increasingly played by women, and particular actors or actresses became wealthy celebrities. English prose fi ction and poetry also refl ected political, social, and economic changes. During the Civil War period, royalist sympathizers masked their praise of kings and nobles in fantasy romances focusing on gallant aristocrats, while ballads and popular poems satirizing rulers and government ministers circulated orally, in manuscript, or as single-page printed broadsheets. Such works continued after the Restoration, though they were sometimes a bit more muted; John Dryden’s political satire Absalom and Achitophel (1681), for example, depicts enemies of the future James II as evil biblical characters. John Milton (1608–74) wrote a number of political works, including an attack on censorship in Areopagitica (1644), a defense of the lawfulness of executing the king in Eikonoklastes (1649), and a condemnation of the imminent restoration of the monarchy in The Ready and Easy Way to Establish a Free Commonwealth (1660). He served as a government offi cial during the period of parliamentary rule – keeping his position after he grew blind – and was imprisoned briefl y after 1660, but was allowed simply to retire from court. Milton’s greatest work is the epic poem Paradise Lost (1667, revised 1674), which addresses basic questions about freedom and evil as it tells the story of creation, Satan’s rebellion against God, and the fall of Adam and Eve. Issues surrounding the slave trade emerge in Oroonoko, or the History of the Royal Slave (1688), by Aphra Behn ( c . 1640–89), the fi rst woman in England to make her living by writing. Behn tells the story of an African prince who leads a slave rebellion in the South American colony of Surinam. Behn had lived in Surinam as a young woman, and used her experiences to provide details about the natural setting and the slave system. Behn and others were gradually creating a new literary form, the novel, which involves a long and complex plot that develops through the thoughts and actions of distinctive characters. Daniel Defoe’s Life and Strange and Surprising Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719) and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels were other early novels that incorporated overseas voyages into their stories, as did Candide . Spanish literature of the seventeenth century – that “Golden Age” in the eyes of literary scholars – is less overtly political than English literature. It includes the hundreds of plays of Lope de Vega, which often blend tragic, romantic, and comic elements. Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600–81) also wrote many plays about noble honor and cloakand- dagger intrigue, but became best known for his more serious works, including about seventy autos sacramentales , allegorical religious dramas on the theme of the Eucharist. These plays were performed during the Feast of Corpus Christi outdoors on wagons or more permanent stages, by troupes of professionals hired by church or city offi cials. In many of his autos sacramentales , Calderón tackles the issue of the limits of human understanding that so concerned Descartes, Locke, and Calvinist theologians; he resolves it by advocating unquestioning obedience to the monarch and intense devotion to the Catholic Church. Not surprisingly, this made Calderón very popular at court, where his plays were staged as costly and elaborate spectacles; after the death of his mistress, he became a priest, and later the royal chaplain. His plays, and those of Lope de Vega, continued to be performed throughout the eighteenth century, although in 1765 church authorities in Madrid forbade Corpus Christi performances as they thought people were attending more for the increasingly bawdy comical interludes than the main devotional play. In France, political themes were portrayed in poetry and drama that emphasized the importance of the will, duty, and honor, a movement often termed “classicism.” Classical poets such as François de Malherbe (1555–1628) wrote clear and forceful lyrics on moral and patriotic subjects, as did the playwright Pierre Corneille (1606–84), whose fearless but remorseless heroes are often taken from Roman history. Jean Racine (1639–99) also adapted Greek and Roman subjects for his tragedies, with larger-thanlife heroes and heroines brought down by passions and internal confl icts they cannot control. Racine used simple and austere language and well-organized plots to drive along the downfall of his characters. He wrote several plays specifi cally for certain actresses or the girls’ school of St. Cyr, and the depth and complexity he gave to the doomed fi gure at their center has made them popular roles for stage actresses ever since. Molière (1622–73), the stage name of Jean Baptiste Poquelin, turned human failings into comedy instead of tragedy in plays that are still widely performed. An actor, theatre manager, and director as well as playwright, Molière favored plots that mocked social pretensions and religious hypocrisy, but in an amusing and good-natured way. Several of his plays, including Tartuffe (1664), were banned by offi cials of the French church, though Molière himself was protected by King Louis XIV and his brother, the duke of Orléans. In the eighteenth century, Enlightenment values often emerge in plays and novels. The German playwright and philosopher Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–81), for example, created characters with which his audience could identify, centering his tragedies and comedies on realistic middle-class people rather than ancient kings or mythical heroes. In his plays and other works, Lessing considers central Enlightenment issues such as the role of reason in religion and the value of toleration; his last and most famous play, Nathan the Wise (1779), argues that the three major western religious traditions – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam – agree more than they differ on moral values and basic teachings. Lessing based the main character in this play on his lifelong friend Moses Mendelssohn. The French playwright Pierre Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais (1732–99) wrote the satirical comedies The Barber of Seville (1775) and The Marriage of Figaro (1784), both of which use the witty, irreverent barber Figaro to satirize aristocratic privilege. Both of these plays became the basis for later operas that are now part of the standard opera repertoire: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro (1786) and Gioacchino Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (1815).