The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope

By Paul Baines | Go to book overview

satirical ideas, loosely grouped around the figure of an invented learned fool, Martinus Scriblerus, a figure committed to all pedantic and ludicrous abuses (as the Scriblerians saw them) in science, medicine, law, philosophy, and religion. It was from this vigorous exchange of witty ideas that the three greatest satires of the Augustan age were eventually to emerge: Swift's Gulliver's Travels (1726), Pope's The Dunciad (1728), and Gay's the Beggar's Opera (1728). For much of 1714 the club enjoyed the last summer of Tory power with an exuberance set against the failing health of Anne. On 4 March 1714 Pope published a separate edition of The Rape of the Lock, enlarged to five cantos by the enriching addition of a mock-epic card game and some quasi-celestial 'machinery', miniaturised 'sylphs' derived from Rosicrucian lore [65-76, 153, 155-6, 174-5, 177, 181-2]. It sold 3,000 copies in four days, a wild success. Presciently aware of the kind of obsessive Jacobitehunting about to haunt criticism of literature, Pope also issued a spoof Key to the Lock (1715), zealously exposing the poem as a treasonable political allegory [166-8].


(f)

EPIC INTENT

Pope also began work on the decidedly not mock-epic work of translating Homer's Iliad. The design of this work was based on Dryden, who after completing an impressive version of Virgil's Aeneid (1697) had translated the first book of The Iliad. On 23 March 1714 Pope signed an epoch-making contract with Bernard Lintot, the bookseller to whom he had defected. Pope, a merchant's son it should be remembered, realised that he could make better terms with Lintot, anxious to add some class to his list, than with Tonson, who had driven a much harder bargain with Dryden for the Aeneid. Like that translation, Pope's was to be a subscription venture: that is, a number of purchasers would subscribe in advance of publication and would be listed in the prefatory matter to the book. It was a kind of diffused patronage, replacing a nobleman's responsibility to fund publication of a book in return for a fawning dedication with a notion of belonging to a more widespread élite. It meant that the publication costs of especially lavish books, such as the Homer was to be, could be defrayed in advance, but equally it meant that subscribers were being asked to buy something on the grounds of reputation alone; it says something about the esteem in which Pope's relatively modest output to 1714 was held, that he was able to get the venture going at all.

-17-

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The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Editors' Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xi
  • Abbreviations and Referencing xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part I - Life and Contexts 3
  • (A) - A Catholic Childhood 5
  • (B) - Forest Retreats 7
  • (C) - Literary London 10
  • (D) - Kings and Queens 14
  • (E) - Scriblerus 15
  • (F) - Epic Intent 17
  • (G) - Booksellers and Ladies 19
  • (H) - Works and Days 21
  • (I) - Twickenham 23
  • (J) - Shakespeare 26
  • (K) - Epic of Fleet Street 28
  • (L) - System and Satire 32
  • (M) - Horace 35
  • (N) - Letters 38
  • (O) - Laureate in Opposition 40
  • (Q) - The End 44
  • Part II - Work 47
  • (A) - An Essay on Criticism (1711) [Te I:195-326] 49
  • (C) - The Rape of the Lock (1712/1714/1717) [Te Ii:79-212] 65
  • (D) - Eloisa to Abelard (1717) [Te Ii:291-349] 77
  • (E) - Essay on Man (1733-34) [Te Iii:I] 82
  • (F) - Epistles to Several Persons (1731-35) [Te Iii:Ii] 93
  • (G) - Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot (1735) [Te Iv:91-127] 110
  • (H) - Imitations of Horace (1733-40) [Te Iv] 119
  • (I) - The Dunciad (1728-42) [Te V] 130
  • Part III - Criticism 151
  • (A) - Pope and Poetry 153
  • (B) - Politics 163
  • (C) - Gender and Body 171
  • (D) - Pope in Print and Manuscript 189
  • Bibliography 205
  • Index 215
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