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Alexander Pope

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  1. Alexander Pope

  2. Essay on Man is a philosophical poem in heroic couplets, published in 1733 ~1734, with part of a larger poem projected but not completed. • It consists of four epistles addressed to Bolingbroke, and perhaps to some extent inspired by his fragmentary philosophical writings. Its objective is to vindicate the ways of God to man; to prove that the scheme of the universe is the best of all possible schemes, in spite of appearances of evil, and that our failure to see the perfection of the whole is due to our limited vision. “Partial Ⅲ” is “universal Good”,and “self-love and social” are both directed to the same end: “All are but parts of one stupendous whole/Whose body Nature is, and God the soul.” The epistles deal with man's relations to the universe, to himself as an individual, to society, and to happiness. In it Pope also attempts to prove that “Whatever is, is right.”

  3. The Rape of the Lock • The Rape of the Lock is a poem in two cantos. It was published in 1712 and subsequently enlarged to five cantos and thus published in 1714. • Lord Petre has forcibly cut off a lock of Miss Arabella Fermor's hair and the incident gave rise to a quarrel between the families. With the idea of allaying this, Pope treated the subject in a playful mock-heroic poem, on the model of Boileau's Le Lutrin. He presents Belinda at her toilet, a game of ombre, the snipping of the lock while Belinda sips her coffee, the wrath of Belinda and her demand that the lock be restored, the final wafting of the lock, as a new star, to adorn the skies. The poem was published in its original form with Miss Fermor's permission. Pope then expanded the sketch by introducing the machinery of sylphs and gnomes. One of Pope's most brilliant performances, it has also been one of his most popular; Dr Johnson called it “the most attractive of all ludicrous compositions,” in which “New things are made familiar and familiar things are made new.”

  4. Essay on Criticism • Essay on Criticism is a didactic poem in heroic couplets, published anonymously in 1711. It begins with an exposition of the rules of taste and the authority to be attributed to the ancient writers on the subject. The laws by which a critic should be guided are then discussed, and instances are given of critics who have departed from them.

  5. 4. Pope’s contribution • Pope was a representative of the Enlightenment and one of the first to introduce rationalism to England. He thought that the existing social system was the ideal one and sensed the approaching of the rapid moral, political and cultural deterioration. He was quite well aware that commercialization and money-worship were invading all aspects of traditional civilization of reason, classical learning, good taste and public morality. Thus he assumed the role of preserving the traditional civilization and above all, protecting permanent order (political order, social order, aesthetic order, etc.). • With the growth of Romanticism, Pope's poetry was increasingly seen as artificial and he was usually regarded as the poet not of nature but of art. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that a serious attempt was made to rediscover the richness, variety and complexity of the great poet in the Age of Reason and him the master of ration.

  6. 5. Appreciation of Essay on Criticism • The excerpt is taken from the second part of the long poem Essay on Criticism. It demonstrates the danger of “a little learning” and of the self-conceitedness of some people in learning and emphasizes the importance of learning intensively and extensively

  7. Thank you for your attention!