Pope's poetry has, for the most part, been taken on its own terms. Seen as a sophisticated commentary on the attitudes and values of Augustan England, it has been praised for its aesthetic complexity and its universal significance. This book asks us to rethink such a way of understanding Pope. Refusing to accept Pope's version of reality, Laura Brown reads his poems not for what they claim to say, but for what they rationalize away or fail to recognize. She sets out a new basis for defining the significance of his major works, arguing that they are bound up with the two key issues of the age: the interconnected developments of capitalism and imperialism. A close reading of Pope's poetry from Windsor-Forest to The Dunciad shows it to embody the conflicting impulses of early English mercantile capitalism: it is fascinated with the prizes of expansion, yet half aware of the violence that imperialism unleashes.
Editor's Preface v
1 Imperialism and Poetic Form: The Rape of the Lock (1712, 1714, 1717), Windsor-Forest (1713) 6
2 The 'New World' of Augustan Humanism: An Essay on Criticism (1711), An Essay on Man (1733-4) 46
3 The Ideology of Neo-classical Aesthetics: Epistles to Several Persons (1731-5) 94
4 The New Pastoral--Capitalism and Apocalypse: The Dunciad (1728, 1742, 1743) 128