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Every one values Mr Pope

James Winn, 16 December 1993

Alexander PopeA Critical Edition 
edited by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 706 pp., £11.95, July 1993, 0 19 281346 3
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Essays on Pope 
by Pat Rogers.
Cambridge, 273 pp., £30, September 1993, 0 521 41869 0
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... Alexander Pope’s talent for inspiring enmity is central to his reputation. His contemporary enemies were impressive in quantity and intensity: J.V. Guerinot’s bibliography of Pamphlet Attacks on Alexander Pope (1969) lists over six hundred items, including works in dreadful verse and sputtering prose denouncing Pope’s poetry, religion, morality and body – some illustrated by pictures caricaturing the hunchbacked poet as an ape with a papal tiara ...

Clubs of Quidnuncs

John Mullan, 17 February 2000

The Dunciad in Four Books 
by Alexander Pope, edited by Valerie Rumbold.
Longman, 456 pp., £55, August 1999, 0 582 08924 7
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... spring into life. Inspiration and irritation can appear equally raw. If you want to catch sight of Alexander Pope in the hatching of his satire, and you have a British Library reader’s card, you can call up item C.116.b.1-4, unpromisingly described by the electronic catalogue as ‘A Collection of 24 works, lettered “Libels on ...

No Fear of Fanny

Marilyn Butler, 20 November 1980

Fanny 
by Erica Jong.
Granada, 496 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 246 11427 4
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The Heroine’s Text 
by Nancy Miller.
Columbia, 185 pp., £10, July 1980, 0 231 04910 2
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... paper on him. At the time, Ms Jong came up with a mock epic in heroic couplets in the manner of Pope, and a novella in the style of Henry Fielding. After several volumes of poetry and a runaway success with her bawdy modern picaresque, Fear of Flying, she still likes the challenge of the Clifford assignment. Fanny, being the True History of the ...

Abortion, Alienation, Anomie

Peter Medawar, 2 December 1982

Prejudices: A Philosophical Dictionary 
by Robert Nisbet.
Harvard, 318 pp., £12.25, November 1982, 0 674 70065 1
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... more validly levelled against the naively literal conception of the Great Chain which we find in Alexander Pope and which appears in a passage cited by Nisbet from Arthur Lovejoy: Vast chain of being; which from God began, Natures aetherial, human, angel, man, Beast, bird, fish, insect, what no eye can see, No glass can reach, from Infinite to thee ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: Successive John Murrays, 8 November 2018

... and the book is neither serious history nor stocking-filler. The reader who needs to be told that Alexander Pope was ‘an early 18th-century poet’ cannot be expected to know who ‘dear old Panizzi’ is in the same letter. His is one of many un-glossed names, some of them important. The ‘Owen’ referred to by Joseph Hooker in a letter to Murray ...

Mastering the Art of Understating Your Wealth

Thomas Keymer: The Tonsons, 5 May 2016

The Literary Correspondences of the Tonsons 
edited by Stephen Bernard.
Oxford, 386 pp., £95, March 2015, 978 0 19 870085 2
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... by the Most Eminent Hands, continued for decades and made him an arbiter of modern writing: Alexander Pope made his print debut in the 1709 miscellany, which also contained work by rising names like Anne Finch and Jonathan Swift. His sumptuous editions of classical poets in Latin or English (Catullus, Horace, Juvenal, Lucretius, Ovid, Virgil) cast ...

Had I been born a hero

Helen Deutsch: Female poets of the eighteenth century, 21 September 2006

Eighteenth-Century Women Poets and Their Poetry: Inventing Agency, Inventing Genre 
by Paula Backscheider.
Johns Hopkins, 514 pp., £43.50, January 2006, 0 8018 8169 2
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... poetic canon look like if women were included? Imagine women poets being venerated alongside Alexander Pope, who held that ‘Most Women have no Characters at all,’ or Jonathan Swift, who, at the conclusion of that catalogue of excremental horrors ‘The Lady’s Dressing Room’, has his speaker remark: ‘Should I the Queen of Love ...

In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester, 23 October 2014

Blazing Star: The Life and Times of John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester 
by Alexander Larman.
Head of Zeus, 387 pp., £25, July 2014, 978 1 78185 109 8
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... itself, the nobility is both attractive and alarming. In his biography of the real-life Rochester, Alexander Larman provides a workmanlike account of an improvident life. John Wilmot was born in 1647 on All Fools’ Day. His father, one of Charles II’s most stalwart lieutenants, had fought for the king and fled the field with him after the royalist defeat at ...

Not the man for it

John Bossy: The Death of Girolamo Savonarola, 20 April 2006

Scourge and Fire: Savonarola and Renaissance Italy 
by Lauro Martines.
Cape, 368 pp., £20, March 2006, 0 224 07252 8
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The Burning of the Vanities: Savonarola and the Borgia Pope 
by Desmond Seward.
Sutton, 320 pp., £20, March 2006, 0 7509 2981 2
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... body then burned in what was indeed a public bonfire. His soul had gone aloft, as even his enemy Pope Alexander VI had conceded by sending him a plenary indulgence, but his body was not down below, since the Florentine authorities had taken steps to see that not even what might possibly be his ashes were left lying around for his dévots or dévotes to ...

Blistering Attacks

Claude Rawson, 6 November 1980

The Oxford Book of Satirical Verse 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Oxford, 454 pp., £8.50, September 1980, 0 19 214110 4
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... the reciprocal barbs of Mr Grigson’s contemporaries with the corresponding performances of Pope or Byron. Mr Grigson has modestly left himself out. But his own scatterings of spleen are among the richer moments of an art in decline, and in one or two poems (‘Committed, or Mr Yeats and Mr Logue’, or ‘Birth of Criticism’) he has preserved some ...

Allergic to Depths

Terry Eagleton: Gothic, 18 March 1999

Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin 
by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Fourth Estate, 438 pp., £20, December 1998, 1 85702 498 2
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... fascinating pages). This is clear enough from Davenport-Hines’s inclusion among his Goths of Alexander Pope, the Earl of Shaftesbury and the architect William Kent. The dominant culture of 18th-century England was not averse to a spot of wild irregularity, not least when it came to gardening. Or indeed to the heroic couplet, which combines symmetry ...

State Theatre

Peter Burke, 22 January 1987

The Rome of Alexander VII: 1655-1667 
by Richard Krautheimer.
Princeton, 199 pp., £16.80, November 1985, 9780691040325
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Firearms and Fortifications: Military Architecture and Siege Warfare in 16th-century Siena 
by Simon Pepper and Nicholas Adams.
Chicago, 245 pp., £21.25, October 1986, 0 226 65534 2
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... latest book, which focuses on Rome in the middle of the 17th century, in the age of Bernini and Pope Alexander VII. Written with a marvellous economy and clarity in a prose at once elegant and colloquial, sound in its scholarship, and penetrating in its judgments, stripped bare of superfluities and going straight to essentials, this book is a fine ...

Princes and Poets

Niall Rudd, 4 August 1983

The Augustan Idea in English Literature 
by Howard Erskine-Hill.
Arnold, 379 pp., £33.50, May 1983, 0 7131 6373 9
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Catullus 
by G.P. Goold.
Duckworth, 266 pp., £24, January 1983, 0 7156 1435 5
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Three Classical Poets: Sappho, Catullus and Juvenal 
by Richard Jenkyns.
Duckworth, 242 pp., £24, May 1982, 0 7156 1636 6
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... Particularly notable are the comparison of Donne’s fourth Satire (based on Horace 1.9) with Pope’s ‘The Impertinent’, the interpretation of Jonson’s The Poetaster, the comparison of Huish’s Horatian Ode with that of Marvell, and the discussion of Pope’s poem ‘To Mr Addison’. This combination of ...

I have no books to consult

Stephen Sedley: Lord Mansfield, 22 January 2015

Lord Mansfield: Justice in the Age of Reason 
by Norman Poser.
McGill-Queen’s, 532 pp., £24.99, September 2013, 978 0 7735 4183 2
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... as cabinet member, counsellor and confidant; he knew everyone from Boswell to Blackstone and Pope to Pitt; and at Kenwood in Hampstead he constructed a mansion, designed by Robert Adam, and a park which remain a high point of British design. Norman Poser is not Mansfield’s first biographer, but he is arguably the best so far. The first, John ...

In Praise of Power

Alexander Nagel: Bernini the Ruthless, 3 January 2013

Bernini: His Life and His Rome 
by Franco Mormando.
Chicago, 429 pp., £22.50, December 2011, 978 0 226 53852 5
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... hated him. The harshest criticism came from his mother, who in 1638 wrote an exasperated letter to Pope Urban VIII’s nephew, Cardinal Francesco Barberini. Bernini had got into a murderous rage when he discovered that his lover Costanza Bonarelli had been having an affair with his brother Luigi. After chasing Luigi into St Peter’s and breaking a ...

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