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Alexander Pope: Key figure of English literature

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Published on : 21 May 2019, 09:06 AM
Alexander Pope: Key figure of English literature
 
The poet of Augustan Age, who took pen to purify the society through his sharp blow of mockery, is Alexander Pope. He is best known for his satirical verse and heroic couplet style writings. His quotations stood second after Shakespeare in the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations. 
 
Born in London, May 21st, 1688, Pope`s father was a successful linen merchant in the Strand. Pope could not acquire good academic education because of the Test Act imposed on Catholics at that time. Pope was fascinated by poetry and cherished of becoming a poet from his early childhood. Epic poet Homer, Virgil, and Milton were his ideals. He translated Homer`s Iliad after five years of exertion. He managed to translate Odyssey after four more years. Besides, he also worked on Shakespeare and Horace.
 
In May 1709, Pope`s Pastorals was published and earned him instant fame. It was followed by An Essay on Criticism, published in May 1711, which was equally well received. In 1711, Pope with Tory writers Jonathan Swift, Thomas Parnell, and John Arbuthnot together formed the satirical Scriblerus Club. The aim of the club was to satirize ignorance and pedantry in the form of the fictional scholar Martinus Scriblerus. Members of this club had enough contribution in satirical literature.
 
Pope`s most popular satirical verse `The Rape of the Lock` was first published in 1712. The controversy between the noble people was the main exposure of this work. Through various literary works, he had defeated his opponents with dexterity.  Although there were a number of other important writers like Addison and Swift in the earlier part of the eighteenth century, the Augustan Age of English literature is dubbed as the Age of Pope, because Pope was the dominating figure of that period. He was the only one who devoted himself completely to literature. Moreover, he represented in himself all the main characteristics of his age, and his poetry served as a model to others.
 
Throughout his life, he suffered numerous health problems including Pott`s disease, which deformed his body and stunted his growth. He also suffered from respiratory difficulties, high fevers, inflamed eyes, and abdominal pain. His poor health alienated him from society. His life was not very spectacular or incidental but still, Pope is regarded as one of the world`s great poets of all time.
 
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