Alexander Pope and the Traditions of Formal Verse Satire

Alexander Pope and the Traditions of Formal Verse Satire

Howard D. Weinbrot
Copyright Date: 1982
DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7
Pages: 412
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  • Book Info
    Alexander Pope and the Traditions of Formal Verse Satire
    Book Description:

    Ranging over the tradition of verse satire from the Roman poets to their seventeenth- and eighteenth-century imitators in England and France, Howard D. Weinbrot challenges the common view of Alexander Pope as a Horatian satirist in a Horatian age.

    Originally published in 1982.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5737-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.1
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.2
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xviii)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.3
  4. Editorial Notes
    (pp. xix-2)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.4
  5. CHAPTER 1 Horace and Juvenal in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
    (pp. 3-44)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.5

    So john brown writes in the revised version of hisEssay on Satire, Occasion’d by the Death of Mr. Pope(2nd ed., 1746, p. 26). Such recognition of Pope’s eclectic muse was more familiar during the eighteenth than the twentieth century, for his readers then both knew more of their contemporaries’ reactions to Pope as man and poet, and of the several Roman, as well as French and English, satirists Pope gratefully used and surpassed. “Ev’ry Poet’s Pow’r inone” denotes pluralist rather than monist satiric traditions and suggests the complexity of Pope’s achievement as a formal verse satirist.


  6. CHAPTER 2 Roman Modes of Proceeding: Classical Satire and Norms in Government
    (pp. 45-81)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.6

    The major verse satirists had many different and some overlapping traits; one of the latter was a concern with government as a public institution and thus as a legitimate object of praise or, in the majority of cases, blame. In so writing, each satirist also mirrored the perceived political and social health of his city, republic, or empire, and provided variously appropriate models for the needs of later satirists. I shall treat the four, rather than usual three, satirists, since Lucilius’s ghostly presence was felt by his Roman and British offspring.

    In the eighteenth century as in the twentieth, Lucilius’s...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Boileau: “As Horace did before me, so will I”
    (pp. 82-104)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.7

    The satires of Horace, Juvenal, and Persius were well edited and annotated and were propagated through much of seventeenth-century Europe. The dominant British taste was for the sublime Juvenal and obscure Persius, though Horace, once regarded as harsh and biting, was beginning to be thought more elegant and polished than he had seemed under the shadow of the Juvenalian umbrella; by the later seventeenth century his temperate voice had established itself as a clear alternative to Juvenal’s. In France, on the other hand, the process of Horatianizing had begun earlier and lasted longer, so that the primary satiric model was...

  8. CHAPTER 4 British Modes of Proceeding: National Character and Satiric Forms
    (pp. 105-139)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.8

    Classical satires not only offered British writers Horatian, Persian, and Juvenalian modes of proceeding; as Boileau’s example shows, they also allowed mingling of modes that are important for Pope’s satiric art. Each kind was often used and exists in relatively discrete proportions.

    There was a large body of poetry that was designed to recreate the perceived sense of union between poet and society or poet and self that Horace so brilliantly captures. Any brief discussion of these manifold efforts can only be suggestive; however, we can isolate a few shared assumptions of the British (and French) Horatian kind, one of...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Responses to Pope
    (pp. 140-169)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.9

    Many readers in the eighteenth century, as in the twentieth, thought that Pope perfectly captured Horatian wit, style, and tones. In 1735 even Thomas Bentley, Richard’s nephew, unhappily reported the generous words spoken about Pope’s imitations of Horace: “if any body has a mind to taste Horace, they need only readthem. A Cartload of Commentaries will signify nothing without ’em. There’s moreWitin ’em, than in Horace’s Original Sermones.” Joseph Spence had much the same to say, but with more pleasure at the success of his friend’s efforts. InPolymetis(1747) Spence reports that his reading of Pope’s...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Pope’s Epistles to Several Persons: A System of Ethics in the Horatian Way
    (pp. 170-200)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.10

    The horatian satiric poem has identifying marks that are different from most identifying marks of poems by Persius or Juvenal. Isolating Horatian satiric conventions, however, is slightly more difficult than isolating Juvenalian conventions, because Horace wrote both satires and epistles subsumed under the genre of satire. These offspring of common parents chose different methods to reform folly. As Lodovico Dolce observes in 1559, in “the satires it was Horace’s intention to remove the vices from the breasts of men, and in the epistles to plant there the virtues.” This view was repeated many times thereafter and was enshrined in André...

  11. CHAPTER 7 The Mingled Muse: Pope’s First Satire of the Second Book of Horace Imitated
    (pp. 201-239)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.11

    One popular view of Horace’s sophisticated and confident satiric voice was offered by the Abbé Charles Batteux, whose widely known and conveniently unoriginalCourse of the Belles Lettresappeared in English in 1761. Horace’s satire shows “the sentiments of a polite philosopher, who is concerned to see the absurdities of mankind.” He sometimes “diverts himself with” those absurdities and berates them through “general portraits of human life.” If he occasionally becomes particular it is not to offend but “to enliven the subject, and put the moral ... into action.” His characters normally are fictitious: real persons named are those “only...

  12. CHAPTER 8 An Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot: The Education of an Opposition Satirist
    (pp. 240-275)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.12

    Pope’sAn Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot(1735) has been called “the most Horatian of Pope’s original works” and one that shows him “most Horatian when he was being most fully himself.” Such remarks are commonplace in the criticism of this poem, and though something may be said in their defense, more should be said against them.Arbuthnotshows Pope using the different satiric conventions but not, finally, settling upon a grimmer version of Horace, as he does in the earlierFortescue. Instead, he abandons the remnants of Horatian epistolary satire and comments upon his own contemporary world thereby. We recall...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Pope: An Overview of Mingled Satires
    (pp. 276-330)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.13

    I hope that the utility of such a notion as the mingling of satiric conventions is as clear to readers now as, I think, it was to Pope and others in the 1730s. HisEpistles to Several Persons(1731-35) show a Christian, modified, but overwhelmingly Horatian ethic; his more mingledFortescue(1733) significantly increases Juvenalian and, to a lesser degree, Persian elements; hisEpistle to Dr. Arbuthnot(1735) shows the satirist moving through time and apportioning his chronological, political, and satiric youth to Horace, and his more mature, combative, and threatened years to Juvenal and Persius. Not all of Pope’s...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Conclusion
    (pp. 331-364)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.14

    The direction of Pope’s career as a formal verse satirist is from an essentially Horatian ethic epistle likeBurlington(1731), to mingled satire with a variety of Horatian, Juvenalian, and Persian emphases, to the overwhelmingly Juvenalian-Persian elevation and gloom of theEpilogue to the Satires(1738). Both Pope’s poems and his contemporaries’ reception of them indicate that his career was progressively less, not more, of “anImitatio Horatii,” and that Horace’s “place to stand” was progressively less, not more, attractive for him;¹ it was sapped and then replaced by the conventions of Persius and Juvenal, which Pope himself welcomed.


  15. Translations of French Passages
    (pp. 365-372)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.15
  16. Index
    (pp. 373-388)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.16
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 389-389)
    DOI: 10.2307/j.ctt7zvdw7.17