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An Essay on Man; Moral Essays and Satires

An Essay on Man; Moral Essays and Satires

Alexander Pope

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Editorial:
Bibliotech Press
Año de edición:
2023
Materia
Poesía
ISBN:
9798888307090
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An Essay on Man is a poem published by Alexander Pope in 1733-1734. It was dedicated to Henry St John, 1st Viscount Bolingbroke, (pronounced ’Bull-en-brook’) hence the opening line: 'Awake, St John...'. It is an effort to rationalize or rather 'vindicate the ways of God to man' (l.16), a variation of John Milton’s claim in the opening lines of Paradise Lost, that he will 'justifie the wayes of God to men' (1.26). It is concerned with the natural order God has decreed for man. Because man cannot know God’s purposes, he cannot complain about his position in the great chain of being (ll.33-34) and must accept that 'Whatever is, is right' (l.292), a theme that was satirized by Voltaire in Candide (1759). More than any other work, it popularized optimistic philosophy throughout England and the rest of Europe.Pope’s Essay on Man and Moral Epistles were designed to be the parts of a system of ethics which he wanted to express in poetry. Moral Epistles has been known under various other names including Ethic Epistles and Moral Essays. ...About the author:Alexander Pope, (born May 21, 1688, London, England-died May 30, 1744, Twickenham, near London), poet and satirist of the English Augustan period, best known for his poems An Essay on Criticism (1711), The Rape of the Lock (1712-14), The Dunciad (1728), and An Essay on Man (1733-34). He is one of the most epigrammatic of all English authors.Pope’s father, a wholesale linen merchant, retired from business in the year of his son’s birth and in 1700 went to live at Binfield in Windsor Forest. The Popes were Roman Catholics, and at Binfield they came to know several neighbouring Catholic families who were to play an important part in the poet’s life. Pope’s religion procured him some lifelong friends, notably the wealthy squire John Caryll (who persuaded him to write The Rape of the Lock, on an incident involving Caryll’s relatives) and Martha Blount, to whom Pope addressed some of the most memorable of his poems and to whom he bequeathed most of his property. But his religion also precluded him from a formal course of education, since Catholics were not admitted to the universities. He was trained at home by Catholic priests for a short time and attended Catholic schools at Twyford, near Winchester, and at Hyde Park Corner, London, but he was mainly self-educated. He was a precocious boy, eagerly reading Latin, Greek, French, and Italian, which he managed to teach himself, and an incessant scribbler, turning out verse upon verse in imitation of the poets he read. The best of these early writings are the 'Ode on Solitude' and a paraphrase of St. Thomas à Kempis, both of which he claimed to have written at age 12. (britannica.com)On its publication, An Essay on Man received great admiration throughout Europe. Voltaire called it 'the most beautiful, the most useful, the most sublime didactic poem ever written in any language'. In 1756 Rousseau wrote to Voltaire admiring the poem and saying that it 'softens my ills and brings me patience'. Kant was fond of the poem and would recite long passages from it to his students.Later however, Voltaire renounced his admiration for Pope’s and Leibniz’s optimism and even wrote a novel, Candide, as a satire on their philosophy of ethics. Rousseau also critiqued the work, questioning 'Pope’s uncritical assumption that there must be an unbroken chain of being all the way from inanimate matter up to God.'The essay, written in heroic couplets, comprises four epistles. Pope began work on it in 1729, and had finished the first three by 1731. They appeared in early 1733, with the fourth epistle published the following year. The poem was originally published anonymously; Pope did not admit authorship until 1735.

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