Aveneu Park, Starling, Australia

“At what first brought recognition to his

“At the age of sixteen, Pope wrote
some of his earliest poems that were published in Jacob Tonson’s Poetical
Miscellanies of 1710” (poets.org). This is what first brought recognition to
his name. Not long after this occurred, he wrote “An Essay on Criticism” when
he was just twenty-three years old. The success from “An Essay on Criticism” introduced
Pope to a wider group of friends including John Gay, and Johnathan Swift, who
later became lifelong friends (Butt, John Everett). ‘”Alexander Pope was best
known for his epic poem, “The Rape of the Lock” and his translations of Homer’s
“Iliad”‘ (biography.com). These and many others of his writings made him a
central character in the Neoclassical movement of the early 18th
century (poetryfoundation.com).

Pope believes that the value of literary work depends on its truth to nature
and not whether it is modern or ancient. “Pope’s, “An Essay on Criticism” draws
inspiration from the previous verse-essays of Horace, Vida and Boileau, as well
as those of two minor Restoration writers, the Earls of Mulgrave and Roscommon.
It also draws upon precepts from the Roman Quintilian and the French critics,
Rapin and Le Bossu” (Bate, W.J.). The viewpoints of “An Essay on Criticism” are
aimed at the neoclassic tradition. Pope emphasizes the importance of humility
and studying deeply, particularly studying those poets and critics who truly
understand poetry and follow Nature. In this poem, Pope gives his point of view
on the question that if poetry should be written based on a set of rules
created by artists from the classical period or it be natural. ‘”This essay by
Pope is neoclassical in its premises; in the tradition of Horace and Boileau.
Pope believes that the value of literary work depends not on its being ancient
or modern, but on its being true to Nature… When the poet is asked to follow
Nature, he is actually asked to “stick to the usual, the ordinary, and the commonplace.”‘
He is to portray the world as he sees it”‘(bachelorandmaster). Pope explains
that by taking the ideas of artists from the classical period, a critic has to
judge the text. To be a good critic, one must have honesty, courage, and
modesty. The poem is divided into three sections that cover general qualities
needed by the critic, particular laws for the critic, and the ideal character
of the critic (poetryfoundation.org). This poem was an attempt to identify and
define Pope’s own role as a poet and a critic. His main concern for this piece
of literature is his advice for critics, poets, and artists.

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Pope’s “An Essay on Criticism” opened up many opportunities for his career as a
full time professional English writer.  


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