Pope and Human Nature

Pope and Human Nature

Pope and Human Nature

Pope and Human Nature

Excerpt

Readers of the preface to my earlier book, On the Poetry of Pope, in its second edition will be prepared for a further book on him from me, but not for the one I have written. All that needs to be said in explanation is that the present book, which is mainly about the material Pope expresses, was originally intended as part of a book designed to enlarge and replace its predecessor, which was mainly about Pope's methods of expression. When, having turned to other fields, I looked at what had been done towards the new book, I saw that it could be enlarged and related to the former, which was then again in print, as a supplement.

A point about the method of the book. I am aware that I have sometimes given quotations so long that they may be thought to weaken the pace of the argument. They make of my book something more like a stained-glass window than a picture. Pope is not so well known, I think, that the quotations are stale, and if they get in the way of the argument, they may be glanced at rather than read, till the reader finds more leisure to attend to them. All told, they amount to an anthology of passages of special interest.

Two other observations. Throughout the book I have given the words 'nature' and 'natural' a capital N when I use them in what I think to be the sense defined on p. 1 below. Conversely I have deprived 'nature' of a capital when in a passage quoted it means merely the material universe. Any annotations of Pope's text are intended to supplement the annotations in the Twickenham edition, which may also be consulted.

Four passages of my book have appeared before: (a) much of Chapter X was published in the Sewanee Review, 1958; (b) Chapters III and XI include, in revised form, much of a lecture, The Moral Poetry of Pope, delivered before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1945,and printed in 1946; (c) Appendixes 1 and 2 include parts of reviews published in the Times Literary Supplement for 30 December 1955 and 1 June 1956. I wish to thank the editors . . .

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