The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems

By Alexander Pope; Thomas Marc Parrott | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

PERHAPS no other great poet in English Literature has been so differently judged at different times as Alexander Pope. Accepted almost on his first appearance as one of the leading poets of the day, he rapidly became recognized as the foremost man of letters of his age. He held this position throughout his life, and for over half a century after his death his works were considered not only as masterpieces, but as the finest models of poetry. With the change of poetic temper that occurred at the beginning of the nineteenth century Pope's fame was overshadowed The romantic poets and critics even raised the question whether Pope was a poet at all. And as his poetical fame diminished, the harsh judgments of his personal character increased. It is almost incredible with what exulting bitterness critics and editors of Pope have tracked out and exposed his petty intrigues, exaggerated his delinquencies, misrepresented his actions, attempted in short to blast his character as a man.

Both as a man and as a poet Pope is sadly in need of a defender to-day. And a defense is by no means impossible. The depreciation of Pope's poetry springs, in the main, from an attempt to measure it by other standards than those which he and his age recognized. The attacks upon his character are due, in large measure, to a misunderstanding of the spirit of the times in which he lived and to a forgetfulness of the special circumstances of his own life. Tried in a fair court by impartial judges Pope as a poet would be awarded a place, if not among the noblest singers, at least high among poets of the second

-ix-

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The Rape of the Lock and Other Poems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • SELECTIONS FROM POPE 1
  • The Rape of the Lock - AN HEROI-COMICAL POEM 3
  • An Essay on Criticism 31
  • An Essay on Man - TO H. ST. JOHN LORD BOLINGBROKE 54
  • Epistle to Dr Arbuthnot 66
  • Notes 83
  • Appendix 145
  • ANNOUNCEMENTS 158
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