Alexander Pope and His Eighteenth-Century Women Readers

By Claudia N. Thomas | Go to book overview

Introduction: Alexander Pope,
Literary Creativity, and
Eighteenth-Century Women

Alexander Pope's rhetorical constructions of femininity have stimulated recent critical debate. Such studies as Laura Brown's Marxist Alexander Pope (1985) and Ellen Pollak's feminist The Poetics of Sexual Myth: Gender and Ideology in the Verse of Swift and Pope (1985) have analyzed Pope's poems from specific, late twentieth-century points of view. 1 Their perspectives emphasize Pope's role as a spokesperson for his culture, both writers arraigning him for opinions less defensible today than 250 years ago. Pope appears a straightforward misogynist in both studies: according to Brown, he trivialized and commodified women; in Pollak's account, he insulted and oppressed them.

Brown's and Pollak's books have inspired provocative rereadings of Pope and his contemporaries. Ruth Salvaggio's Enlightened Absence (1988), for example, has applied French feminist theory to works by Newton, Swift, Pope, and Anne Finch, although Salvaggio regards the male poets with more pity than anger. 2 All three studies raise questions about the sufficiency of modern insight to elucidate eighteenth-century texts. If Pope was a brutal misogynist, why did contemporary enemies dismiss him as a women's toy, and his writings as a ladies' pastime? If Pope deemed women inconsequential, why did he bother to cultivate a female audience? Why did he sympathize with women's limitations in such poems as "Epistle to Miss Blount, with the Works of Voiture" (1712)? And how did eighteenth-century women readers receive his writings? These questions demand a more extensive and accurate context than current opinions provide.

The women who read and responded to Pope's writings formed a prominent aspect of that context. In "Engendering the Reader: 'Wit and Poetry and Pope' Once More" (1988), Penelope Wilson has advocated a reader-response approach to the sexual politics of Pope's rhetoric. Complaining that few contemporary women readers' responses to Pope survive, Wilson nevertheless argues that the most fruitful area

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Alexander Pope and His Eighteenth-Century Women Readers
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 309

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.