Voltaire called it "the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language." Rousseau rhapsodized about its intellectual consolations. Kant recited long passages of it from memory during his lectures. And Adam Smith and David Hume drew inspiration from it in their writings. This was Alexander Pope's Essay on Man (1733–34), a masterpiece of philosophical poetry, one of the most important and controversial works of the Enlightenment, and one of the most widely read, imitated, and discussed poems of eighteenth-century Europe and America. This volume, which presents the first major new edition of the poem in more than fifty years, introduces this essential work to a new generation of readers, recapturing the excitement and illuminating the debates it provoked from the moment of its publication.
Echoing Milton's purpose in Paradise Lost, Pope says his aim in An Essay on Man is to "vindicate the ways of God to man"—to explain the existence of evil and explore man's place in the universe. In a comprehensive introduction, Tom Jones describes the poem as an investigation of the fundamental question of how people should behave in a world they experience as chaotic, but which they suspect to be orderly from some higher point of view. The introduction provides a thorough discussion of the poem's attitudes, themes, composition, context, and reception, and reassesses the work's place in history. Extensive annotations to the text explain references and allusions.
The result is the most accessible, informative, and reader-friendly edition of the poem in decades and an invaluable book for students and scholars of eighteenth-century literature and thought.
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A hideous crime is committed at a fashionable London society gathering. The victim is the beautiful, innocent Belinda, her attacker is the dastardly Baron, and his weapon of choice is a pair of scissors...
Pope's mock-epic is the sharp and witty tale of the most famous bad hair day in the history of literature.
Alexander Pope was born on May 21st, 1688 into a Catholic family in London.
His education was affected by the then recent Test Acts, which upheld the status of the Church of England and banned Catholics from teaching. In effect this meant his formal education was over by the age of 12 but Pope was to immerse himself in classical literature and languages and too, in effect, educate himself.
From this age too he also suffered from numerous health problems including Pott’s disease, a type of tuberculosis, which resulted in a stunted, deformed body. Only to grow to a height of 4’ 6”, with a severe hunchback and complicated further by respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes and abdominal pain all of which served to further isolate him, initially, from society.
However his talent was evident to all. Best known for his satirical verse, his translations of Homer and the use of the heroic couplet, he is the second-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare.
With the publication of Pastorals in 1709 followed by An Essay on Criticism in 1711 and his most famous work The Rape of the Lock in 1712, Pope became not only famous but wealthy.
His translations of the Iliad and the Odyssey further enhanced both reputation and purse. His engagement to produce an opulent new edition of Shakespeare met with a mixed reception. Pope attempted to "regularise" Shakespeare's metre and rewrote some of his verse and cut 1500 lines, that Pope considered to be beneath the Bard’s standard, to mere footnotes.
Alexander Pope died on May 30th, 1744 at his villa at Twickenham (where he created his famous grotto and gardens) and was buried in the nave of the nearby Church of England Church - St Mary the Virgin.
Over the years and centuries since his death Pope’s work has been in and out of favour but with this distance he is now truly recognised as one of England’s greatest poets.
This volume comes to you from Portable Poetry, a specialized imprint from Deadtree Publishing. Our range is large and growing and covers single poets, themes, and many compilations.