I am not a formal student of literature. In fact, I've taken exactly one English class since high school, and that was only to impress a girl.
The "long" eighteenth century (starting in the 1660s) was a great time for literature, though. Women were back on the stage, Nell Gwynn was running around with the king of England, the novel was invented, and satire bloomed. The comedy of manners (with character names like Flit and Flounce, the women of the town) came over from continental Europe. Life was good.
Reading: William Wycherley
The Gentleman Dancing-Master
The Country Wife
The Plain Dealer (not to be confused with the Cleveland newspaper of the same title)