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Alexander Pope A classic poet in the English Enlightenment.

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Presentation on theme: "Alexander Pope A classic poet in the English Enlightenment."— Presentation transcript:

1 Alexander Pope A classic poet in the English Enlightenment

2 Lecture outline 1.Pope, the person and his main worksPope, the person and his main works 2.Pope’s poetics 1) term: neo-classicismneo-classicism 2) term: EnlightenmentEnlightenment 3) distinction between Neo-classicism and Renaissancedistinction between Neo-classicism and Renaissance 4) epigrams by Popeepigrams by Pope 3.Pope’s position in British literaturePope’s position in British literature 4.Pope’s limitationPope’s limitation

3 Pope’s life and career weak and crippled from childhood; Little regular schooling and no university Self-taught with the help of dictionaries and grammar books Widely read and translated Latin, French, Italian and Greek poets

4 Pope’s Works (1) Pastorals (2) Essay on Criticism a didactic poem in heroic couplets (3) The Rape of the Lock the masterpiece, which is worth reading for its description and satire of the dull court life of England of that time Pope’s Works

5 (4) Translations, in heroic couplet The Iliad of Homer The Odyssey of Homer (half-translated) (5)The Works of Shakespeare an edition of Shakespeare’s plays and recognition of Shakespeare’s greatness.

6 Pope’s Works (6) “The Dunciad” “ 愚人志 ” a satirical poem. (7) “Moral Essays” “ 道德论 ” a philosophic poem. (8) “An Essay on Men” “ 人论 ” a philosophic poem.

7 Pope’s poetics

8 Some to conceit alone their taste confine, And glitt’ring thoughts struck out at every line; Pleased with a work where nothing’s just or fit; One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit. Poets like painters, thus, unskill’d to trace That naked Nature and the living grace, With gold and jewels cover every part, And hide with ornaments their want of art. True Wit is Nature to advantage dress’d, What oft was thought, but ne’er so well express’d; from Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism

9 Question 1 What does Pope criticize in this excerpt? Metaphysical poets and their peculiar conceit an evidence to prove the marginized position of the school

10 Question 2 What’s the feature of the end rhyme in this excerpt? What kind of poetic form does the feature indicate? Some to conceit alone their taste confine, And glitt’ring thoughts struck out at every line; Pleased with a work where nothing’s just or fit; One glaring Chaos and wild heap of wit. Heroic couplet: every two iambic pentameter lines have the same end rhyme

11 Question 3 In this criticism, what elements dose Pope uphold? taste; just; fit; true wit

12 Question 4 Is the excerpt a lyric or narrative poem? neither lyric nor narrative it is a didactic (instructive) poem ---a poem aims at imparting information, advice, or some doctrine of morality or philosophy.

13 A little learning is a dangerous thing. For fools rush in where angels fear to tread. To err is human, to forgive, divine. One step broken, the great scale’s destroyed. The sound must be an echo to the sense. True ease in writing comes from art, not chance. One truth is clear, whatever is, is right. Epigrams by Pope

14 Pope’s poetics Function of poetry: to "correct" and enlighten people through poetry; Literature had the power to influence and enrich life, to educate and correct people. Diction: precision of meaning, harmony of language and structure A firm control of the form and flexibility of styles: satiric, philosophic, didactic

15 Advocate order, reason, logic, restrained emotion, accuracy, good taste and decorum Heroic couplet: lines of iambic pentameter rhyme in pairs “to ridicule all false tastes in learning”

16 Pope’s viewpoints Believed in the education of social morality, classic culture and scientific knowledge Used satire to fight against social corruption and debasement Upheld social system as an ideal one, saying: whatever is, is right.

17 Evaluation on Pop An enlightener A neo-classicist

18 1) a progressive intellectual movement 2) flourished in France and swept through the whole Western Europe 3) aims at enlightening the whole world with the light of modern philosophical and artistic ideas; celebrated reason 4) called for a reference to order, reason and rules The 18th century England is known as the Age of Enlightenment or the Age of Reason. Enlightenment

19 Neo-classicists held that all forms of literature were to be modeled after the classical works of the ancient Greek and Roman writers and the contemporary French ones by following some fixed laws and rules. prose precise, direct and flexible; poetry lyrical, epical, didactic, satiric or dramatic; drama the three unities of time, space and action. Neo-classicism

20 Literature in the first half of the 18th century, heavily didactic and moralizing, became a very popular means of public education. The representatives are John Dryden, Alexander Pope, Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and Samuel Johnson. Literature is surely a product of its time, in accordant with the prevailing ideology. To set principles for literary creation, to obey the fixed laws, rules and regulations is a full expression of the ideals of Enlightenment in the 18th century---the age of reason.

21 Compare Neo-classicism with Renaissance. Both of them go back to classics, modeling old Greek and Roman writers, but why they differ a lot? similarities: revival of the classics dissimilarities: at different stages of capitalistic development. in the 16th century, bourgeoisie was at the rising stage; Renaissance paved the way for the liberation of bondage of God-worship in Medieval Age. in the 18th century, bourgeoisie has stepped on the political stage and become ruling class. Rules, laws and regulations were demanded.

22 Workmanship 1. Pope was an outstanding enlightener and the greatest English poet of the classical school in the first half of the 18th century. 2.He became so perfect in using heroic couplet. 3. He was a diligent reader.

23 Workmanship 4. His style depends upon his patience in elaborating his art. 5. He was at his best in satire and epigram ( 警句 ).

24 Limitation 1. He lacked the lyrical gift. 2. He sometimes becomes artificial and obscure (difficult to understand). 3. His satire was not always just, often caused by personal grudge (resent).

25 Example Intended for Sir Isaac Newton Who is Isaac Newton? What are his main achievements? universal gravitation three laws of motion How will you glorify this scientific giant?

26 Intended for Sir Isaac Newton Nature and Nature’s Laws lay hid in Night God said, let Newton be! All was Light. Do you think these two lines are enough for the glorification of Newton? How does the poem achieve the effect of sublimity?

27 Assignment Read Blake’s poems: Tyger, A Sick Rose and Lamb Read Burns’ poem: A Red Red Rose


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