A really searching study and summary of literary movements in England from ryden to Blake. The author rings the bell on the three classic counts: he is scholarly, he is philosophical, he is critical. Though he uses a Frenchman to interlock and illuminate the Restoration and Augustan Age, his choice is amazingly apt, for Pascal's three orders-of flesh, mind, and charity- not only show ""how the traditional idea of universal Order"" splinters into the ""self-enclosed and self-subsistent orders"", but also how they reflect the contradictions and complexities of modern consciousness today. Thus the book moves into the past and back to the present with considerable penetration and profit. The pessimistic clarity of the satirists (Shaftesbury and Mandeville, Pope and Swift) and the optimistic energy of the comic novelists (Fielding and Sterne) are developed as examples of dialectical resolutions: some trying ""to establish a continuity among all three orders"", others attempting to fuse the ""two in order to overthrow the third"", culminating finally in the Blakean transcendance of the ""real"" over the false: the authority of the imagination and not the authority of institutions. On its own terms, a very nearly faultless work.