Talk:Alexander Pope

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Untitled[edit]

I changed this: "He was the last major poet to write in traditional rhyming couplets; he developed the heroic couplet beyond that of any previous poet, and essentially exhausted its usefulness for later poets." There's room for disagreement about who's major, but I'd count Keats (Lamia) and Frost ("The Bear", "A Considerable Speck", "The Egg and the Machine", "The Onset", "The Tuft of Flowers"). I don't know whether the current version is true. Does anyone have any information on use of the heroic couplet before and after Pope? —JerryFriedman 20:08, 6 Dec 2004 (UTC)

140.180.165.138, thanks for your valuable additions today and a happy new year! Could you please try to formulate the opening sentence more neutrally and encyclopedically, though? Or attribute it, or something. I've provisionally tamed the POV (what about Blake?), but I'm sure you can do it better.--Bishonen | Talk 05:16, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Just a small change to point up the fact that Cibber replaced Theobald as the 'hero' of the Dunciad rather than simply being "added to the list of dunces". aldiboronti 17:48, 3 Jan 2005

  • Yep. Anybody wants to see fuller accounts of this, please compare newly refurbished articles The Dunciad and Colley Cibber. Thanks, aldiboronti!--Bishonen | Talk 19:14, 3 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The notion that Pope was "educated mostly outside "normal" schools and colleges as a result of the penal laws that were in force at the time to uphold the status of the established Church of England." seems anachronistic - it would not have been unusual in that period to have not gone to school. Certainly a catholic family would have made education outside the school system more likely, but I am not sure this comment adds much. --AYArktos 10:57, 31 Mar 2005 (UTC)

It's not "anachronistic", it's completely accurate.--Folantin 07:05, 23 May 2006 (UTC)

Date of birth[edit]

Hello, your article is very good and it helped me to write an essay for university about Pope. But in a German introduction to English Literature I found that his birthday was on the 22th May. So I need to change this. I would also like to add something about his interest into landscape gardening. (unsigned comment by user Daniela Wecker on 9 May)


That's not so sure. Other sites tell he was born on the 21st. Should see... (unsigned comment by IP 212.194.59.142 20 May)

when was his birthday?[edit]

anonymous edited this and other articles saying Pope was born on the 21st instead of the 22nd. I changed it back based on this source, among others. -Lethe | Talk 03:24, May 23, 2005 (UTC)

It is given as the 21st in the online version of Encyclopædia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9060837, as well as the printed edition. I would think that in this case the modern Britannica is probably more reliable than the 1905 edition of The Life of Pope by Samuel Johnson, but I may be wrong. ~ Kalki 00:06, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

According to the definitive biography by Maynard Mack, Pope was born at 6.45 pm on May 21, 1688.--Folantin 11:46, 22 May 2006 (UTC)

I have the original copy of POETICAL WORKS OF ALEXANDER POPE, ESQ - THE LIFE OF THE AURTOR, BY DR. JOHNSON from 1830 and the first paragraph states:

"ALEXANDER POPE was born in London, May 22, 1688, of parents whose rank or station was never ascertained; we are informed that they were of "gentle blood;" that his father was of a family of which the Earl of Downe was the head; and that his mother was the daughter of William Turner, Esq. of York, who had likewise three sons, one of whom had the honour of being killed, and the other of dying, in the service of Charles the First: the third was made a general officer in Spain, from whom the sister inherited what sequestrations and forfeitures had left in the family.

How has this information been accurately discredited by later authors?I already forgot 18:54, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

The New Student's Reference Work was published annually in the 1910s by F. E. Compton and Company in Chicago, Illinois. wikisource The text below is an OCR text that has yet to be proofread.I already forgot 20:30, 13 August 2006 (UTC)

"Pope, Alexander, English poet, was born at London, May 21, 1688, his father being a Roman Catholic and a man of means. Although Pope's early education was irregular and unsystematic, his father retiring from business soon after the son's birth, his application to study must have been close, for even in his juvenile poems are traces of profound thought. In 1711 Pope published his Essay on Criticism, which placed him at once in the front rank of the literary men of his day; and in 1712 appeared the Rape of the Lock, the most imaginative of his poems. Soon after appeared his translation of Homer's Iliad, which brought a fortune of $30,000. (See HOMER). A translation of the Odyssey followed a few years later, and in 1728 he issued the third volume of The Dunciad. The Essay on Man, published in 1734, is a didactic poem, and, although almost wholly deficient in the imaginative quality, is a masterpiece of wit and versification. Pope's command of terse and smooth expression is at its highest here; and it has been well said that this poem contains more familiar quotations than any other poem of equal length in the English language. Pope died at Twickenham, near London, May 30, 1744, leaving behind him a literary fame that has suffered no eclipse in over a century and a half."

Connecticut, automobile pioneer[edit]

Looks like there was another notable person who went with this name. Quote "They have a lovely example: in 1915 the people of Hertford, Connecticut, erected a memorial to a local automobile pioneer called Alexander Pope (not the poet)." [1]

Dissent[edit]

I'm sorry to be cranky, but this article is pretty insufficient for a poet as significant as Shakespeare or Wordsworth. As a poet, it's possible that no one in English matched him for technical skill. As a person, he has an extremely interesting life. As an historical person only is he less interesting than someone like Wordsworth. To have his Pastorals skipped over (see Augustan poetry), to miss out on what each of the Moral Epistles were, to not mention the imitations of Horace and Virgil, to make Rape of the Lock a quick mention, it all goes against my own interests. Unfortunately, it has been an age since I've read Maynard Mack's biography, but I surely hope that someone passing by this article with Mack fresh in his or her head, or someone with an interest in this article's state and has access to a U. library and can go read Mack (and Aubrey Williams's critical work on Pope), can incrementally build this up. I'd love to see Pope's article be a Featured Article, or at least FA quality. Geogre 4 July 2005 14:18 (UTC) (No, this is not on my list.)

Aye. It would make a nice excuse to visit the local library on a sunny Saturday afternoon! --Ardonik.talk()* 05:07, August 24, 2005 (UTC)
Yeah, I know it annoys me when I see an article on something I sort of know about, but not quite enough, that could really be improved. But you should do what you can to better it - a little goes a long way on these kinds of things, I find. john k 06:40, 24 August 2005 (UTC)

Hello, agreeing with Geogre, I think this article should mention something of the Pope v. Curll lawsuit, which apparently is "a foundational case in English and American copyright law" (so says Mark Rose, in _Authors and Owners_, Harvard University Press, 1993, p.60)? There are 3 scholarly works on this by James McLaverty, and they sound very interesting, colorful, important, etc. See: James McLaverty, "The First Printing and Publication of Pope's Letters", Library 6th ser. 2 1980.

I've added a great deal of information to this article from Mack (though there's still much that could be in there: Lady Mary and Curll, for instance). Apologies to whoever wrote the "Politics" section; I've tried to incorporate it into the biography itself. Pope's politics aren't always clear-cut (he was a Catholic and he often had to keep his cards close to his chest, according to Mack). Hope these revisions help improve this article a bit. Pope deserves decent treatment. --Folantin 15:01, 11 June 2006 (UTC)

Diana[edit]

Who is Diana? Her name is mentioned in the image but is linked to disambiguation page.

Clarified as of February 28. I redirected the link to Diana (mythology), the page on the Roman goddess. ~e.o.t.d~ 06:31, 6 March 2006 (UTC)

Freemasons[edit]

Hi. I'd just like to query the link to Famous Freemasons at the foot of Pope's page. As far as I'm aware Pope was never a Freemason, and in fact they join the parade of dunces in The Dunciad. I've seen this assertion before and the Freemasons are notorious for gathering as many historical figures into their rolls as they can, with little or no evidence. I'd like to remove the link but I just thought I'd sound out opinion first.

I googled, but on at least the first few pages all the assertions that Pope was a freemason appear to be on masonic websites. I'd like better evidence than that.--Guinevere50 19:37, 14 July 2007 (UTC)

There is no verifiable evidence that Pope was a freemason. It is documented that he (or at least someone by his name) attended a meeting. That does not in fact mean he was a member of the freemasons. I am again removing the sentence in this article which proclaims Pope to be a Freemason until definitive evidence presents itself that he was.-Schlier22 (talk) 00:55, 30 March 2008 (UTC)

There is ample evidence that he was a freemason. In fact, there is an essay that is largely devoted to the subject. Please read Alexander Pope and Freemasonry: A discursive essay. I will revert this removal of information only once more before taking it to RfC. Celarnor Talk to me 02:19, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
Also, it should be noted that he is the author of The Universal Prayer, which is used by the freemasons. Celarnor Talk to me 02:25, 30 March 2008 (UTC)
If he was a freemason... How could he also be a practising Catholic? just curious. Alveolate (talk) 16:39, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

I believe the prerequisite for Freemasonry is that you believe in a divine architect of the universe, which one is up to the individual.--Septemberfourth476 (talk) 11:02, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

I am puzzled by the phrase, "Alexander Pope became a Freemason (a mortal sin in the Catholic Church)." Does this mean it was a mortal sin then, or it still is a mortal sin? Should there not be a citation for this, eg a Papal bull number? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Alanobrien (talkcontribs) 10:48, 15 June 2009 (UTC)

Final word on the matter[edit]

According to the definitive biography by Maynard Mack (Alexander Pope: A Life, Yale University Press, 1985 pages 437-440), Pope became a Freemason in 1730, eight years before membership was prohibited by the Catholic Church. The illustration on page 439 shows Pope's name on the membership list of the Goat Tavern Lodge. How important Pope's Freemasonry was to his work and how much room it should be given in a brief article like this is another matter. My guess is, not much. This article seems to have gone backwards over the last two years. I suggest anyone trying to revise it should use Mack rather than outdated 19th-century biographies that happen to be online. --Folantin (talk) 10:55, 15 August 2009 (UTC)

The papal bull prohibiting membership wasn't issued until 1738, Pope's name appears on 1723 list and a 1730 list. A photograph of the latter is included in Maynard Mack's definitive biography. SEMTEX85 (talk) 18:24, 22 July 2012 (UTC)

External link[edit]

Hi, I would like to add an external link to the World of Biography entry to this article. Does anybody have any objections? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Jameswatt (talkcontribs) 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Note: This user has added similar requests to link to biographies hosted on the same site to about 50 different articles. Although I believe that these requests were made in good faith, adding the links to all of the articles would be spamming. In addition, the biographies tend to be not very insightful and/or minimally informative, and the webpages contain Google AdSense links.
A fuller explanation of my own opinion on these links can be found here, if anyone wishes to read it.
Hbackman 23:19, 14 April 2006 (UTC)

Characters and Observations Mystery?[edit]

I am hoping that someone will be able to flesh out my Pope-related article, Characters and Observations. It's about an anonymous handwritten manuscript of aphorisms discovered in the late 1920s. Pope probably owned it, since his name is on the cover, but I wonder if anyone since has determined if he actually wrote it? Thanks in advance. The Sanity Inspector 22:37, 10 December 2006 (UTC)

'most quoted'[edit]

I've spotted rather a serious contradiction: in the first paragraph of Samuel Johnson's Wikipedia entry, you'll find this claim: 'Dr Johnson is the most quoted English writer after Shakespeare'. It doesn't at all square with the assertion of this article that Pope 'is the third most frequently quoted writer in the English language, after Shakespeare and Tennyson.' Now it seems to me that 'Johnson' has a better source for this, because it is checkable (though I haven't bothered), whereas here we just have a book title and no page number. The mistake could merely be down to sloppy use of the word 'writer': perhaps 'poet' was meant in the Dictionary which this article cites. Can anyone look it up?

The 'most quoted' in this article refers to the most quoted in the Oxford dictionary of quotations. The article should probably change to say 'most quoted in the oxford dictionary of quotations', like the article for Tennyson does.-AlexCatlin (talk) 00:26, 6 January 2008 (UTC)

== Literary Legacy ==

I'm pretty sure that this section is plagiarized from the introduction to the Oxford edition of Pope's Major Works. I don't have it in front of me, and I don't mean that it is verbatim plagiarized. I simply mean that the content of this section seem strangely close to the language. If this is the case, please change the section or add references. ----strau345---- —Preceding unsigned comment added by Strau345 (talkcontribs) 06:09, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

The Wikipedia page on Tennyson says Tennyson is the ninth-most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, contradicting the Pope article. 99.157.72.34 (talk) 20:07, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

"citation needed"[edit]

The article begins with this clause in alleged need of a citation,

Alexander Pope is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century ...

I think this fact is abundantly clear to anyone with knowledge of the traditional English literary canon, so much so that a citation would be mere pedantry. As such I have removed the citation needed markup. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.193.20.152 (talk) 21:37, 23 March 2008 (UTC)

I believe any encyclopedic statement of fact requires a citation, regardless of how common knowledge of the fact is among certain groups.--68.222.26.206 (talk) 20:44, 8 April 2008 (UTC)
Have a look at The Cambridge Companion to Alexander Pope. The inner cover reads "Alexander Pope was the greatest poet of his age and the dominant influence on eighteenth-century British poetry." Celarnor Talk to me 20:49, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

"Pastorals"[edit]

I just removed both links to the pastorals, because neither went to the right article, and the right article doesn't exist, as far as I could tell. The first went to a page on biblical pastorals, and the second to the literary genre of the pastoral, but neither to Pope's pastorals. If somebody can find the right article, or wants to write it, be my guest. AdjectiveAnimal (talk) 23:51, 8 September 2008 (UTC)

Great article[edit]

This is really a high quality article from what I can tell. The only problem I think is that it is a bit on the short side, especially compared to a lot of the articles on Romantic/Transcendentalist poets. I'm hardly qualified to do it, but I do think this article could only get better if it were lengthened. I liked the way it was structured and worded, but it does read a LOT like a research paper, and I'm not sure if that's good or not. 68.2.55.131 (talk) 19:20, 3 January 2009 (UTC)

A. Pope in Pop Culture[edit]

I'd like to propose that we add a section to this article for references to Alexander Pope in popular culture. This is a common section on many Wikipedia entries and I think that it's valid here. The only reference I'm aware of comes from the film "The Da Vinci Code" which refers to him. Are there any reasons why it is not reasonable to add this section? (Fooglmog (talk) 00:46, 25 March 2009 (UTC))

  • The article already has a section on Pope's literary legacy. A list of cultural references would reveal nothing more about the article's subject. The article already makes it clear that Pope is a popular and influential poet, so the fact that his work has influenced popular culture is neither remarkable nor interesting. See Wikipedia:Trivia sections and Wikipedia:"In popular culture" articles for guidance. Ycdkwm (talk) 08:24, 31 March 2009 (UTC)

New files[edit]

Recently several new images of Alexander Pope (below) were uploaded. One was a higher res version of the lead image, which I've replaced. If you're interested in any of the others and think they would be a useful addition, please feel free to any of them. Dcoetzee 21:52, 30 March 2009 (UTC)

Pope and Homer[edit]

This section is pretty much all garbled nonsense. It is, I believe, better to have none of it than all this ambiguous and misleading gobbledygook. If nobody raises any objections here, in a couple of days I'm going to remove it but for a couple of sentences.--Septemberfourth476 (talk) 02:11, 16 April 2009 (UTC)


I did it anyway.--Septemberfourth476 (talk) 02:48, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Good work. I've continued to try to improve the article by doing the following things:

  • Rearranged and renamed the sections so that they follow the rough chronology of his literary career
  • Deleted the long list of his works stuck in the middle of the article, as there is already a list of his major works, and the long list was unsourced and contained some entries which looked of questionable significance
  • Deleted many of the attempts at critical commentary in the sections on Pope's poems. It would be a good idea to give synopses of Pope's works, but simplistic statements about 'Pope's intentions' or the 'meaning' of the poems are worse than worthless.

(I will continue to work on this article in a few days, but will not have time before then.) Ycdkwm (talk) 08:16, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Great stuff! I'll give you a hand but also can't start properly til after the weekend.--Septemberfourth476 (talk) 10:12, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Heroic couplets[edit]

The article currently says: "At the time the poem was published, the heroic couplet style (in which it was written) was a moderately new genre of poetry". This seems an overstatement - the link tells us that it dates back to Chaucer, though certainly Dryden had made major use of it not that long before Pope. Anybody think this ought to be edited? Guinevere50 (talk) 00:24, 31 October 2009 (UTC)

Copy and paste job[edit]

In an effort to clean up the article, I find that most of it is lifted whole in 2006 from The Works of Alexander Pope. The last two sections of the article are from elsewhere. Seems we must strip it and start again. Thoughts? Span (talk) 16:30, 11 April 2011 (UTC)

Re the above, I have taken out the sections of the article copied verbatim from The Iliad (Mobi Classics) MobileReference Ltd ISBN 1607784203 and The Works of Alexander Pope MobileReference Ltd ISBN 1607785269. Span (talk) 23:43, 2 May 2011 (UTC)
You have this backwards. MobileReference is in the business of aggregating content from public domain and freely licensed sources, including large swathes of Wikipedia. Unless you can establish conclusively that text in Wikipedia was first added after the first publication of any corresponding text in a MobileReference publication, you should assume it's the latter that was lifted from the former.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 03:24, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Do you suggest reinstating all the text, then? Span (talk) 20:24, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Certainly. The amount of text removed was massive and there haven't been a lot of subsequent edits, so it shouldn't take too much effort to restore the removed text, as long as it's done fairly soon.
David Wilson (talk · cont) 22:21, 8 May 2011 (UTC)
Sure. I put up the question here nearly a month ago with no replies. I removed text that appeared verbatim in two books. I didn't know books were published solely using copied Wikipedia text. I have replaced the article copy. Span (talk) 22:30, 8 May 2011 (UTC)

Congratulations...[edit]

...on totally butchering this article. This is the first time I've looked at it for three years and what a mess it is now. It wasn't a perfect article but it was a good basis for expansion. Whoever decided it would be a great idea to completely destroy the chronological order wants shooting. You've made me split my infinitives, it's that bad. --Folantin (talk) 19:50, 29 January 2012 (UTC)

Oh, and the criticism section is just great now. It was always a bit underdeveloped, but the way to improve it was not to remove Dr. Johnson (I can't believe I'm writing this), William Empson and even the negative - but exceptionally famous - comments of Matthew Arnold. Still, I understand that stuff is merely "historic" (i.e. before the "modern era" began in the 1980s) and at least we have some sterling criticism from contemporary geniuses to compensate. I reckon the current version of this article must have been written by the ghost of Colley Cibber dictating via the medium of Derek Acorah. Revenge at last!--Folantin (talk) 20:22, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Perhaps you could restore the content which has been deleted from the criticism section? I suppose it was probably removed because it was unsourced, but it shouldn't be too hard to find good references for the critical reception of Pope's work. Matthew Arnold's 'classic of our prose' comment is mentioned in the Literature Online source, so you wouldn't even need to find an additional reference for that. NotFromUtrecht (talk) 20:41, 29 January 2012 (UTC)
Why does the English WP have so little to say about one of the greatest English poets? I never cease to be amazed at the disappearance or even non-appearance of editors capable of doing something useful with articles like this. Where is everyone? McCnut (talk) 02:51, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
Quite frankly, I don't even know where to start when the paltry lead is preoccupied with the frequency with which he is quoted and fails to mention Pope was a--if not the--central literary figure of the Age of Reason. VєсrumЬа TALK 03:57, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
I imagine the editors are too busy complaining to have time to make any descent contributions. Span (talk) 12:08, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
I think the where is everyone question is valid. There are very few editors working on lit related pages these days, and writing about lit is labor intensive. If and when I get a chance, I'll have a look here. If an earlier version is better than this, why not revert to the better version? It's easier to cite a well-written section than to undertake a full rewrite. Truthkeeper (talk) 13:36, 4 March 2012 (UTC)
@Spangle, unfortunately, yes. Arguing over the Soviet legacy takes up most of my Wikitime. In fairness, some of the most contentious topics are the best opportunities for research (race and intelligence being another such area of interest), so not a personal loss, but certainly a loss where the creation of content is concerned. Off topic, maybe I can start us off on an improved lead. VєсrumЬа TALK 15:17, 4 March 2012 (UTC)

Request for account of dealings with Lady Mary Wortley Montagu from an IP editor[edit]

The following was added to the article:

"I don't know how to edit wikipedia or provide a well written article but I think there should be some mention of Pope's relationship with, and sussequent attacks of, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu somewhere in this article." --- 143.117.227.236 (Request transcribed without comment by Chiswick Chap (talk) 19:06, 7 May 2012 (UTC))

Usage in popular culture[edit]

a short note, but perhaps there should be a "popular culture" section of the article.

For example, he is mentioned frequently in Bradburry's Fahrenheit 451, with significant meaning- if more examples could be found, it may be useful to add. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 199.249.227.170 (talk) 14:24, 28 October 2013 (UTC)