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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 ...
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 Adventures ...
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 ...

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 ...
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 ...

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 ...

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 ...
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 ...
4 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 ...

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 couple of ...

Nymph of the Grot

Nicholas Penny

13 April 2000
The Culture of the High Renaissance 
by Ingrid Rowland.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £40, February 1999, 0 521 58145 1
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Hypnerotomachia Poliphili 
by Francesco Colonna, translated by Joscelyn Godwin.
Thames and Hudson, 476 pp., £42, November 1999, 0 500 01942 8
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After Raphael: Painting in Central Italy in the 16th Century 
by Marcia Hall.
Cambridge, 349 pp., £45, March 1999, 0 521 48245 3
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... Papal banker Agostino Chigi also colours this book. Chigi is another hero of hers. So, too, is Pope Julius II. Rowland is expert at placing the subjects she studies in relation to each other. A jocular study of the ruins of Rome by ‘Prospettico Melanese depictore’ (‘the Perspectivist’ – or, as she whimsically has it, ‘Mr ...

In an Ocean of Elizabeths

Terry Eagleton: Rochester

22 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 ...

Poetry to Thrill an Oyster

Gregory Woods: Fitz-Greene Halleck

16 November 2000
The American Byron: Homosexuality and the Fall of Fitz-Greene Halleck 
by John W.M. Hallock.
Wisconsin, 226 pp., £14.95, April 2000, 0 299 16804 2
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... borrow music from the Muse of Gray’), his Grayness keeps veering off uneasily into the tones of Alexander Pope (‘And I – a victim to love’s cruel dart,/Went – to the Opera – with a broken heart!’) – in this case, the satirical invasion saves the poem from drowning in its own reserves of treacle. As soon as the lad wakes up we are shown ...

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