Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
Alexander Pope was born in London in
Pope wrote during what is often called the Augustan Age of English literature (indeed, it is Pope’s career that defines the age). During this time, the nation had recovered from the English Civil Wars and the Glorious Revolution, and the regained sense of political stability led to a resurgence of support for the arts. For this reason, many compared the period to the reign of Augustus in Rome, under whom both Virgil and Horace had found support for their work. The prevailing taste of the day was neoclassical, and
After the publication of The Rape of the Lock, Pope spent many years translating the works of Homer. During the ten years he devoted to this arduous project, he produced very few new poems of his own but refined his taste in literature (and his moral, social, and political opinions) to an incredible degree. When he later recommenced to write original poetry, Pope struck a more serious tone than the one he gave to The Rape of the Lock. These later poems are more severe in their moral judgments and more acid in their satire: Pope’s Essay on Man is a philosophical poem on metaphysics, ethics, and human nature, while in the Dunciad, Pope writes a scathing exposé of the bad writers and pseudo-intellectuals of his day. Pope’s translations of Homer were successful enough to allow him to move to a comfortable villa in Twickenham in Middlesex, England, where he died at the age of 56 in 1744.
Background on The Rape of the Lock
The Rape of the Lock is one of the most famous English-language examples of the mock-epic. Published in its first version in