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The Rape of the Lock

By Alexander Pope
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Book Description

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 order. And the flaws of character which even his warmest apologist must admit would on the one hand be explained, if not excused, by circumstances, and on the other more than counterbalanced by the existence of noble qualities to which his assailants seem to have been quite blind.

Table of Contents
  • Pope's The Rape of the Lock
  • and other poems
  • Preface
  • Introduction
    • Chief Dates In Pope's Life
  • The Rape of the Lock
    • An heroi-comical poem
    • Canto I
    • Canto II
    • Canto III
    • Canto IV
    • Canto V
  • An Essay on Criticism
    • Contents
    • An Essay on Criticism
  • An Essay on Man, Epistle I
    • The Design
    • Argument of Epistle I
    • Epistle I
  • Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot
    • Advertisement to the first publication of this Epistle
    • Epistle to Dr Arnuthnot
  • Ode on Solitude
  • The Descent of Dullness
    • from The Dunciad, Book IV.
  • Epitaph on Gay
    • In Westminster Abbey, 1732
  • Notes on The Rape of the Lock
    • Introduction
      • Dedication
      • Canto I
      • Canto II
      • Canto III
      • Canto IV
      • Canto V
  • Notes on An Essay on Criticism
    • Introduction
  • Notes on An Essay on Man, Epistle I
    • Introduction
      • The Design
      • Epistle I
  • An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot
    • Introduction
      • Advertisement
      • Epistle
  • Notes on An Ode on Solitude
  • Notes on The Descent of Dullness
  • Notes on The Epitaph on Gay
  • Appendix
    • The Rape of the Lock: First Edition
    • Canto I
    • Canto II
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