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POPE, ALEXANDER - Research Paper Example

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Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) is one of the best admired writer's in the history of English literature. Unlike Shakespeare who was strictly a poet and a playwright, Pope balanced his writing with more formal notions drawn from educated circles. These were forces in his society, that were not open to him because he was a Catholic and considered an outsider…
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Download file to see previous pages... Indeed, for people with little exposure to the stories, it can be said that Shakespeare himself is doing history even though we do not conventionally read him as a historian. As will be argued in the following, Pope wrote in many genres precisely as an act that intended for us to question the nature or the notion of genre itself. The following will examine his life's works alongside his lifelong concern with genre. Alexander Pope arrived in London in 1705, and was in that early period, a member of the Kit Kat Club. The members of the Kit Kat Club were all writers and included figures of the age, like, William Walsh and Lord Landsdowne [Dennis 200]. While only seventeen at the time that he moved to London, it would not be long before he started to make a mark for himself as a writer. His earliest publications was the Pastorals and An Essay on Criticism which was published second. While his first work did seem receive some praise, it was his work on criticism that first drew significant attention to himself. A well known critic of the time, referred to Pope's “rising genius” in relation to his criticism, but his poetry was his primary or most consuming passion as far as writing goes [Bateson and Joukovsky 154]. As the title itself indicates, a 'pastoral' concerns nature, and the individual struggle or relationship with nature. While his ambitions were to be admired and respected as a great poet, it can be argued that the respect he sought was realized more as a consequence of his early book of criticism, or the publication of An Essay on Criticism which was first published in 1711 [Dennis 249]. Pope was a formalist in the eighteenth century sense of the term. As a writer, he was arguably more concerned with the 'form' of the work than the content. There were incredible transformations occurring in his age in terms of challenges being made to traditional or conventional forms or genres of writing. Poetry, in general, was being redeveloped or experimented on with the aid of odes, ballads, elegies, satire, parodies, song, and finally, lyrical poetry. As with all genres, there are often areas of cross-over, but for Pope, and many of his contemporaries, the inter-mixing of genres can be described as almost an obsession [Sitter 106]. For Pope, this obsession was fueled or furthered by his interest in translation. Moreover, his interest in a wide variety of writing including Shakespeare. With regard to translation, he rendered into Latin some Greek texts or originally, Greek texts, like Homer's Iliad and the Odyssey. Likewise, the Roman or Latin poet Virgil was a constant source of inspiration for him, but in terms of influencing his literary style, but also as someone whose writings embodied ethical or moral virtues that he admired or could identify with. Following the publication of 'An Essay on Criticism', Pope struck a balance between his study of literature and his exposition of it. His focus on those years, was largely directed toward writing poetry even though criticism became an ongoing source of study for him. In 1714, 'The Rape of the Lock' was published and it was for Pope, the most impactful piece that he had produced by this time. The first run or first printing, yielded a sale of over three thousand copies, and when it was reprinted in the following year, the response by the book buying populace ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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