Neo-classicism and Pope

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					            Alexander Pope
A classic poet in the English Enlightenment
             Lecture outline
   1.Pope, the person and his main works
   2.Pope’s poetics
      1) term: neo-classicism
      2) term: Enlightenment
      3) distinction between Neo-classicism and
      4) epigrams by Pope
   3.Pope’s position in British literature
   4.Pope’s limitation
Pope’s life and career
             weak and crippled from
             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
           Pope’s Works
           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
 (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.
         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.
Pope’s poetics
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
                   Question 1

   What does Pope criticize in this excerpt?
    Metaphysical poets and their peculiar conceit
    an evidence to prove the marginized position of the
                  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
               Question 3
   In this criticism, what elements dose Pope
     taste; just; fit; true wit
                    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.
         Epigrams by Pope
 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
 The sound must be an echo to the sense.
 True ease in writing comes from art, not
 One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.
             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
 Advocate order, reason, logic, restrained
  emotion, accuracy, good taste and
 Heroic couplet: lines of iambic pentameter
  rhyme in pairs

   “to ridicule all false tastes in learning”
           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.
            Evaluation on Pop
 An enlightener
 A neo-classicist

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.
   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.
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.
   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
     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.
 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
 3. He was a diligent reader.

 4. His style depends upon his
  patience in elaborating his art.
 5. He was at his best in satire and
  epigram (警句).
 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).
Intended for Sir Isaac Newton

                  Who is Isaac Newton?
                  What are his main
                    universal gravitation
                    three laws of motion
                  How will you glorify
                   this scientific giant?
   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
 Read Blake’s poems: Tyger, A Sick Rose
  and Lamb
 Read Burns’ poem: A Red Red Rose

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