The Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope Complete Critical Guide to Alexander Pope

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  S e r i e s E d i t o r s RICHARD BRADFORD AND JAN JEDRZEJEWSKIAlso available in this series: The Complete Critical Guide to Samuel BeckettDavid Pattie The Complete Critical Guide to Geoffrey ChaucerGillian Rudd The Complete Critical Guide to John MiltonRichard Bradford Forthcoming: The Complete Critical Guide to Robert Browning The Complete Critical Guide to Charles DickensThe Complete Critical Guide to Ben Jonson The Complete Critical Guide to D. H.

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  No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilisedin any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any informationstorage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. British Library Cataloguing in Publication DataA catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication DataBaines, Paul, 1961– The complete critical guide to Alexander Pope / Paul Bainesp.

1. Pope, Alexander, 1688–1744 – Criticism and interpretation. 2. Verse satire, English – History and criticism. I. Title. II. Series

  Each volume in the series offers the reader a comprehensive accountof the featured author’s life, of his or her writing and of the ways in which his or her works have been interpreted by literary critics. In Part II, ‘Work’, the focus is on the author’s most important works, discussed from a non-partisan, literary-historicalperspective; the section provides an account of the works, reflecting a consensus of critical opinion on them, and indicating, where appropriate, areas of controversy.



  R B J J ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am grateful to the Department of English Language and Literature, University ofLiverpool, for a period of teaching remission which enabled me to complete this book. Finally, I would like to thank RichardBradford and Jan Jedrzejewski, the series editors, and Liz Thompson, the development editor, for their help and encouragement throughout the making ofthis book.


  The poem is at once the last expression of a Tory kind of mythology of kingship and an elegy for it, written in therather sombre knowledge that on the death of Anne, whose children all died in infancy, the Act of Succession of 1701 would ensure that Britainwould be ruled by the House of Hanover, sympathetic to the Whig interest, antipathetic to Catholics and with a far more secular turn of mind. As Richard Savage, a friend of Pope’s but rather closer to the scene of Grub Street than he wouldhave cared to admit, describes it (perhaps with assistance from Pope): On the Day the Book was first vended, a Crowd of Authors besieg’d the Shop; Entreaties, Advices, Threats of Law, and Battery, nay Criesof Treaon were all employ’d, to hinder the coming out of the Dunciad:On the other Side, the Booksellers and Hawkers made as great Efforts to procure it.


  But the epistle shows Pope searching for a means of addressing the multivalence of human experience, and social inequalitiesin particular, without entirely being able to rely on the format of the vertical chain of being or the horizontal analogy from physics; in what is largely acatalogue of human errors on the subject of happiness, and a teaching of contempt for material good, Pope begins to quote some of his own earlierformulations in newly problematic contexts. (D, I: 1–3)Everything about this is epic except the word ‘Smithfield’, the London meat market where (as Pope’s note to line 2 tells us) Bartholomew Fair washeld, ‘whose shews, machines, and dramatical entertainments, formerly agreeable only to the taste of the Rabble, were, by the Hero of this poemand others of equal genius, brought to the Theatres of Covent-garden,Lincolns-inn-fields, and the Hay-market, to be the reigning pleasures of the Court and Town’.

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