Alexander Pope Essay On Criticism Summary

Alexander Pope Essay On Criticism Summary-63
Pope notes Virgil’s discovery that to imitate Homer is also to imitate nature. His nature is the combination of two elements society (human nature) and rules of classical artists-“nature is methodized”.

Only God, the infinite intellect, the purely rational being, can appreciate the harmony of the universe, but the intelligent and educated critic can appreciate poetic harmonies which echo those in nature.

Because his intellect and his reason are limited, however, and because his opinions are inevitably subjective, he finds it helpful or necessary to employ rules which are interpretations of the ancient principles of nature to guide him — though he should never be totally dependent upon them.

By taking the ideas of classical artists, a critic has to judge the text.

Artist can’t go beyond his intention, he is limited within his desires.

Now, it is not necessary to go to nature again because to follow the classical artist is to go to the nature.

So, sources of art are society and ancient artists.

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.

This section offers general principles of good criticism (and of poetry--since criticism for Pope means determining the merit of a work rather than its meaning, understanding the principles of good criticism means understanding the rules for good poetry and vice versa).

Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism is an ambitious work of art written in heroic couplet.


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