feminist criticism, which give short shrift to authorial intention and humanistic coherence, have not left Pope untouched; nor has that branch of materialist criticism which reads significance into the 'sociology of the text', or the actual forms in which literary works are produced. It will be appropriate therefore to review some main developments in these more specialised fields.
Pope's supposed political allegiances were always a ready handle for his enemies. His name itself offered a convenient opportunity to associate his poetry with Catholic absolutism, as in Pope Alexander's Supremacy and Infallibility Examin'd (1729; see Guerinot 1969:166-70). John Oldmixon's The Catholick Poet (1716) succinctly demolishes Pope's Iliad translation with the charge that 'This Papish dog…has translated HOMER for the Use of the PRETENDER' (Guerinot 1969:40). Such comments as these, so obviously deriving from vested interests, were largely ignored in later reception of Pope's work: the poetry has been taken more or less at its own estimation, as the work of one who attempted to transcend party divisions and speak from a principled independence. More recently, however, political (and politicised) analysis of Pope's oeuvre has become a distinctly animated area of study.
Mack (1969) began the work of reanalysing Pope's later career (1731-43) in political terms. In a volume plentifully illustrated with pictures of Pope's house and garden and satirical and political engravings, Mack sought the 'enabling myth' (vii) of Pope's Horatian stance, his appropriation of Horace's rural virtues of independence, frugality, and hospitality into a focused image in the house and grotto at Twickenham. Finding that 'certain aspects of Pope's abode and life at Twickenham become luminous with implication' (25), Mack describes the way Pope turned a forced exclusion from London into the 'pursuit of politics from the vantage of retirement' (116). 'Twit'nam', as Pope familiarly calls it in Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot, was both a place of retreat and psychological safety, and a sign of his success in overcoming political obstacles. From this platform it was possible to indict Walpole's regime in the Horatian poems [119-30] and revised Dunciad [130-49], to the extent that Pope could figure himself and Walpole as 'mighty opposites', warring for the soul of Britain. The garden and grotto 'supplied a rallying point
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Publication information: Book title: The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope. Contributors: Paul Baines - Author. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 163.
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