AD's English Literature : Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad: Longest Satirical Work

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alexander Pope’s The Dunciad: Longest Satirical Work

“A wit with dunces, and a dunce with wits.”

The Dunciad (1728; final version 1743) is Alexander Pope’s logiest satirical work. All his merit and defects as a satirist are to be found in this poem. It appeared anonymously in 1728 with Theo bald as hero, and again in 1742 with the addition of a fourth work and with the substitution of Colley Cibber (1671-1757) for the bald as hero. Disliked for Cibber’s extreme conceit, he was satirized by the poet Alexander Pope in The Dunciad (1743), in which he was the main character. 

In The Dunciad Pope hurls the pointed shaft of his satire on contemporary poets, critics and furbishes who have incurred his wrath by just or unjust criticism of his writing, physical weakness, religion, tamely and has to. Pope’s satiric net even takes in the authors’ who were dead and who were yet to be born For he describes at length the reign of poets, past, present and future. The poet was inspired not only by Dryden’s Mac flecknoe but also from the literary influence of Horace and Juvenal.

Alexander Pope
The Dunciad is a brilliant satire, but it arouses in us a sense of pity that a man of such acknowledged poetic power ads pope should stoop to give expression to his mean personal spite and resentment. However, The Dunciad is important as a satiric picture of the deterioration of contemporary literary standards in general. Though the poem shows many flasher of Pope’s genius, there is a common feeling that Pope was highly monastic in branding such man as Theobald who was a great Shakespearean scholar and Bentley, the greatest lyrical scholar of England has never produced as dunces.

Let's answer these Questions: 

1. What is called a satire?
2. Who got the satiric hit in The Dunciad?

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     
     2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature

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