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the experience of reading in Britain, from 1450 to 1945...

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Alexander Pope


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Michel de Montaigne : essays

" ... [Alexander Pope's surviving books] allow us to be confident about his having read certain works, such as the essays of Montaigne."

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Alexander Pope      Print: Book


John Wilmot Earl of Rochester : poems

"The books in which Pope's annotations, though scanty, are undoubtedly authentic include a copy of the racy poems of the Earl of Rochester in which Pope filled in some of the concealed or deliberately omitted names."

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Alexander Pope      Print: Book


John Dennis : pamphlet attacking Pope's poetry

"Pope collected copies of attacks on his own work, and the notes in these tend understandably to the defensive, as in the occasional sarcastic comment in pamphlets by John Dennis: when Dennis complains ... of a dream temple suspended in air, that it is 'Contrary to Nature, and to the Eternal Laws of Gravitation,' Pope grumbles, 'wch no dream ought to be.'"

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Alexander Pope      


Samuel Johnson : London: A Poem in Imitation of the Third Satire of Juvenal

'After dinner our conversation first turned upon Pope. Johnson said, his characters of men were admirably drawn, those of women not so well. He repeated to us, in his forcible melodious manner, the concluding lines of the "Dunciad". While he was talking loudly in praise of those lines, one of the company ventured to say, "Too fine for such a poem:— a poem on what?" Johnson, (with a disdainful look,) "Why, on [italics] dunces [italics]. It was worth while being a dunce then. Ah, Sir, hadst [italics] thou [italics] lived in those days! It is not worth while being a dunce now, when there are no wits." Bickerstaff observed, as a peculiar circumstance, that Pope's fame was higher when he was alive, than it was then. Johnson said, his Pastorals were poor things, though the versification was fine. He told us, with high satisfaction, the anecdote of Pope's enquiring who was the author of his "London," and saying, he will be soon [italics] deterré [italics]. He observed, that in Dryden's poetry there were passages drawn from a profundity which Pope could never reach. He repeated some fine lines on love, by the former, (which I have now forgotten,) and gave great applause to the character of Zimri. Goldsmith said, that Pope's character of Addison shewed a deep knowledge of the human heart. Johnson said, that the description of the temple, in "The Mourning Bride," was the finest poetical passage he had ever read; he recollected none in Shakspeare equal to it'.

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Alexander Pope      Print: Unknown



'What Pope says of desultory Reading in a Conversation recorded by Spence is very happily expressed: that he was like Boy gathering Flow'rs in the Woods & fieds just as they fell in his way. A nosegay so gather'd is always more brilliant in Colours though less elegant in Scent & Disposition than a Garden one. I read nothing scarcely myself, & what I do is all of that loose kind - My Bouquet has many a Weed in it - & not very large neither'.

Century: 1700-1799     Reader/Listener/Group: Alexander Pope      Print: Book


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