The Poetry of Pope’s Dunciad
by John E. Sitter
University of Minnesota Press, 1972
Paper: 978-0-8166-6049-0


The Poetry of Pope's Dunciad was first published in 1972. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

Alexander Pope's last and longest poem, the Dunciad, is also his most difficult. Attempting to provide the kind of "second reading" that Pope himself felt the work needed, Professor Sitter approaches the poem as an enduring artistic achievement rather than occasional satire (as has been the case in most previous studies). Pope recognized the complexity of the Dunciad when he wrote to a friend, a year after its initial publication, that "the poem itself will bear a second reading, or (to express myself more justly and modestly) will be better borne at the second than the first reading." It is this poetic complexity which the present study helps to clarify.

Professor Sitter considers the imagery, structure, and conception of the poem. In the first chapter, which is almost exclusively critical, he analyzes patterns of imagery and metaphor as they occur throughout the four books of the poem. In the second chapter he considers Pope's poetic practice and irony against the larger background of eighteenth-century ideas of epic and heroic poetry. In the third and final chapter he compares the Dunciad with Pope's much earlier poem The Temple of Fortune.Here he defines the iconographic mode and allegorical form of the Dunciad and places the poem in the context of Pope's sometimes unclassical concern for "visionary" poetry. There are a bibliography and notes.

The study is concerned mainly with the finished version of the Dunciad which was published in 1743, the edition which, as Professor Sitter explains, Pope regarded as authoritative. Earlier versions were published in 1728 and 1729.

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