Alexander Pope: The Critical Heritage

By John Barnard | Go to book overview

Preface

Critics of Pope's work have always found it difficult to separate the man from the poet. It is a confusion most apparent in Pope's lifetime. His critics, like his own satires, were dominated by the Augustan interest in personality. In England, the often hectic interest in Pope's character and writings was fed by a rapid accumulation of pamphlets and other trivia. Well over two hundred separate pamphlets for and against Pope were published between 1711 and 1744, the year of his death. To these publications must be added the frequent outbreaks of journalistic warfare, as well as a multiplicity of comments in letters and diaries. On the Continent, a stream of translations quickly spread Pope's fame, creating further detractors and supporters, who made their own substantial addition to eighteenth-century criticism of Pope.

The great difficulty in selecting from this mass of material was to balance the conflicting demands of criticism, literary history, and biography. Most of Pope's contemporaries were too close to their subject to see the larger issues clearly, if they could see them at all, and most of them are of little critical stature. In choosing passages from criticism written in Pope's lifetime, I have attempted to show its effect upon Pope's development as well as the critical positions taken. Much of this ephemeral material is now hard to come by, even with the publication of J.V. Guerinot's Pamphlet Attacks on Alexander Pope 1711-1744 (1969). Consequently, Pope's own comments on poetry, though throwing more light on his work than any other contemporary critic, have been largely omitted since they are easily available.

A few pamphlets and poems from both sides are given in their entirety, but most of the documents are extracted from larger works. Private letters and informal comments are an important subsidiary source of information. Substantial passages are taken from John Dennis's frequently shrewd but always one-sided attacks, and from Joseph Spence's sympathetic critique of The Odyssey. The criticism written after Pope's death is of a much higher standard than the first phase, and gives a valuable index of the development of eighteenth-century critical thinking. The publication of the second volume of Joseph Warton's Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope in 1782

-xv-

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Alexander Pope: The Critical Heritage
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface v
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Contents vii
  • Abbreviations xiv
  • Preface xv
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Note on the Text 39
  • Part I - Contemporary Criticism 41
  • General Reactions 43
  • Pastorals 59
  • An Essay on Criticism 71
  • Messiah, a Sacred Eclogue 87
  • Windsor Forest 89
  • The Rape of the Lock 93
  • Iliad 114
  • A Roman Catholick Version of the First Psalm 139
  • Eloisa to Abelard 140
  • Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady 143
  • Epitaph on John Hewet and Sarah Drew in the Churchyard at Stanton Harcourt 144
  • General Reactions 147
  • Odyssey 164
  • The Dunciad 208
  • The Dunciad Variorum 219
  • General Reactions 236
  • 'Ethick Epistles' (An Abandoned Project) 263
  • Moral Essays Iv: Epistle to Burlington, of Taste 265
  • Moral Essays Iii: to Allen Lord Bathurst, of the Use of Riches 268
  • Imitations of Horace, Satire Ii. I 269
  • An Essay on Man 278
  • Epitaph on Mr. Gay in Westminster Abbey 317
  • Imitations of Horace: Serm. I. II (Sober Advice from Horace) 319
  • An Epistle from Mr. Pope to Dr. Arbuthnot 329
  • Epilogue to the Satires: Dialogue II 331
  • The New Dunciad: As It Was Found in the Year 1741 333
  • The Dunciad in Four Books 342
  • A Final Tribute 346
  • Part II - Later Criticism 351
  • Appendix A 529
  • Appendix B 532
  • Bibliography 537
  • Index 539
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