The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope

By Paul Baines | Go to book overview

eyes of deconstruction. Analysing the oppositional stance of the poetic voice and its uses of the couplet form of binary opposition to establish truth and identity by negating otherness and falsehood ('The strong antipathy of good to bad'), Atkins contends that Pope's differentiations are always contaminated by elements of similarity and that Pope's negated victims have a habit of showing up in supposedly purified areas of self-presentation.

It is possible to find contradiction in Pope without completely demolishing his credentials. Nicholson (1994) describes the various trials the Scriblerians (especially Pope) had in negotiating the new opportunities for investment and monetary manipulation afforded by the development of banking and the stock market: all were in theory opposed to a system which appeared to allow for fraud and delusion on a grand scale, and which appeared to reconstruct the way individuals conceived of themselves and their agency in new and anti-social directions; yet all were investors to some degree, who sought monetary profit from the rise of capitalism. Similar kinds of 'simultaneous' meaning, sometimes figuring as contradiction, have informed gender-based criticism, to which we now turn.


(c)

GENDER AND BODY

'In Sappho touch the Failing of the Sex'

Pope grew up in a closely-protected environment in which women (mother, aunt, nurse) to some extent dominated. Though unmarried, and probably mostly celibate, Pope embraced a kind of Restoration rakish culture in his early poems and letters [10-12]. Though always conscious that his unusual frame reduced his sexual chances, he had significant quasi-romances with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and the Blount sisters; the friendships with Lady Mary and Teresa went badly awry, but Martha Blount was still a close friend in his last years, and was the major beneficiary of his will. He was close to many other women of noble rank. The mysterious 'Amica' appears to have invented a romance with Pope on the basis of his poetry [19-20, 44]. Female friends were often the named recipients of his poems (they were also the recipients of some of his most carefully self-implicating letters): as well as The Rape of the Lock and Epistle to a Lady, we have the 'Epistle to Miss Blount, with the works of Voiture', and 'Epistle to Miss Blount, on her leaving the Town, after the Coronation'; 'To Belinda on the

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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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