Alexander Pope Essay On Criticism Summary

Alexander Pope Essay On Criticism Summary-75
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.The truth of human nature is to be found in common humanity, not in any eccentricity. The proper object of imitation is the fundamental form of reality for Pope and the basic rule of art is to “follow nature” – “nature methodized.This essay by Pope is neoclassical in its premises; in the tradition of Horace and Boileau.

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.The truth of human nature is to be found in common humanity, not in any eccentricity. The proper object of imitation is the fundamental form of reality for Pope and the basic rule of art is to “follow nature” – “nature methodized.This essay by Pope is neoclassical in its premises; in the tradition of Horace and Boileau.

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Published in 1711, this poetic essay was a venture to identify and define his own role as a poet and a critic.

He strongly puts his ideas on the ongoing question of if poetry should be natural or written as per the predetermined artificial rules set by the classical poets.

We should note, in passing, that in "The Essay on Criticism" Pope is frequently concerned with "wit" — the word occurs once, on average, in every sixteen lines of the poem. Pope then proceeds to discuss the laws by which a critic should be guided — insisting, as any good poet would, that critics exist to serve poets, not to attack them.

He then provides, by way of example, instances of critics who had erred in one fashion or another.

To be good critic, one should have courage, modesty and honesty.

Decorum, for Pope, is the proper balance between expression and sound of content and form and it comes under versification.

Pope’s primary concern in this essay is his advice mainly for critics, and secondarily for artists or poets.

Pope claims that artists possess genius whereas critics possess taste (classical taste developed by classical artist).

What, in Pope's opinion (here as elsewhere in his work) is the deadliest critical sin — a sin which is itself a reflection of a greater sin?

All of his erring critics, each in their own way, betray the same fatal flaw.

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