• Project Gutenberg
  • 72,227 free eBooks
  • 15 by Alexander Pope

An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

Book Cover

Read now or download (free!)

Similar books, about this ebook.

  • Privacy policy
  • About Project Gutenberg
  • Terms of Use
  • Contact Information

Academia.edu no longer supports Internet Explorer.

To browse Academia.edu and the wider internet faster and more securely, please take a few seconds to  upgrade your browser .

Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link.

  • We're Hiring!
  • Help Center

paper cover thumbnail


Profile image of Sidre Loğoğlu

2013, Kocaeli University

Immanuel Kant

Related Papers

The AnaChronisT

János Barcsák

This paper discusses Pope’s Essay on Criticism in terms of Derek Attridge’s theory of creativity. It argues that Pope’s text is fundamentally based on the same commitment to the other that Attridge describes as constitutive of the singularity of literature and hence the 300-year-old Essay is a vital text which communicates itself to the present in significant ways. The success of poetry for Pope depends primarily on an appropriate relation to nature and the first chapter of this paper argues that the way Pope describes this relation is very similar to Attridge’s description of the relation to the other. The three subsequent chapters discuss how Pope’s concept of “expression” continues this theme and describes the pitfalls as well as the success of relating to nature as the other. The last two sections discuss the Essay’s treatment of the rules. It is shown that the way the rules are presented in the Essay reflects Pope’s fundamental ethical commitment no less than his concepts of na...

essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

Journal of Narrative and Language Studies

This article contextualizes the eighteenth-century English poet Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism (1711) and his other literary essays in order to elicit Pope's contributions to the neoclassical norm. Exploring the aesthetic interchanges between Pope and his predecessors and contemporaries, I endeavor to show how Pope's poetry and prose have tackled the difficult task of unifying antithetical categories of invention and judgment into the Johnsonian " general nature. "

Pelagia Goulimari

Sanchari Dutta Chowdhury

Pursuit - The Journal of Undergraduate Research at the University of Tennessee

Sierra J Billingslea

This paper is an examination of the intellectual relationship between Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man and the philosophy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. This relationship was accentuated by Crousaz, a Swiss critic, who accused Pope of plagiarizing Leibniz’s misguided philosophy due to the evidence of Leibniz’s Principle of the Best, Principle of Sufficient Reason, and Principle of Continuity found within An Essay on Man. This paper argues that both Leibniz and Popes’ philosophies do not reflect a direct relationship but instead share the spirit of Augustan thought as well as a similar classical upbringing. Crousaz and other critics who criticized the philosophical constructs in the poem, particularly Voltaire, express the drastic social changes that took place around the turn of the century in Europe — a sudden questioning of faith and classical learning brought on by both political changes and natural disaster. In this way, An Essay on Man and the related criticism act as a microcosm of the changing ideals of the Augustan Age as it passed into the Enlightenment.

Narayan Guchhait

Alexander Pope as a conscious artist expresses himself clearly the age of his time. His aim is to explore the subject to the mind rather than heart of the readers. In order to correct the ordinary as well as rational mind Pope has imitated manner of men, their vagueness, obscurity and looseness, activities with enthusiasm and exuberance. However, it is Pope’s true-self to follow nature that is admixture with rational and approved by tradition and quite different from Wordsworth mingled with the external force of human nature and universe. He points out the artifiality of upper class civilized people acquiring the rational principle of human conduct. Absolutism of Pope is observed as in the Representation of Beauty, in the expression of the dress manner, perfect description, the numerical description, sleepy state (the Sylph guarding beautiful ladies, prayer for the acquiring admired lock sorting sylph’s paragon of beauty, numerical sense and the situation). Abstractness of Pope is a...

Dániel Takács

This paper discusses the theory of passions of Alexander Pope (1688–1744) and David Hume (1711–1776). It focusses on two phrases: “ruling passion” by Pope and “predominant inclination” by Hume. This study attempts to demonstrate that Hume used his term with a similar meaning to that of Pope. The importance of the passions in the conduct of human life, according to these authors, involves a sceptical attitude towards the capabilities of reason. This paper attempts to show the manifestations of this attitude in Pope’s satires on human characters and in the characterisation of a false philosopher and philosophy by Hume.

Paul Herman

A brief & breathless review of the development of the philosophy of aesthetics from its founding in 1735 to the beginnings of the 19th century. From Baumgarten to Hegel. How aesthetic theory influences the practice of art & leads to the romantic & existentialist influence I will examine in the following essay.

Reza Mahoozi

In this Article I want to show Kant’s project of enlightenment needs some metaphysical foundations that one of them is Natural Beauty. This is because achieve rational being situation for men, needs independent realm outside Newtonian mechanical nature for free human practices. This realm provided by Reflective Judgment in Natural Beauty. So, natural beauty as a metaphysical foundation of rationality and enlightenment is a necessary element for realization of highest good in mens.


Prashant Bagad

The Enlightenment. Critique, Myth, Utopia. Eds. Charlotta Wolff, Timo Kaitaro & Minna Ahokas

Asko Nivala

Philosophy & Social Criticism

italo testa


Márcio A D Custódio , Tadeu Verza

Milica Jovicevic

Eva Struhal

Choice Reviews Online

Catherine Labio

Martina Domines Veliki

Kyra Marken

Comparative Literature: East & West

Zhuyu Jiang

The Annual International Conference on Languages, Linguistics, Translation and Literature المؤتمر الدولي السنوي حول القضايا الراهنة للغات، علم اللغة، الترجمة و الأدب

Alessandro Prato


IJASS JOURNAL , Diego Orihuela

Lalnunpuia Renthlei

Dr. Sandip Mishra

Continental philosophy review, 2006, 39: 1-34.

philippe huneman

Lumen. A Journal of Catholic Studies

Attilio Rossi


Dr. Firdous Dar

sharifah hajar almahdaly

Palgrave Macmillan

Dirk Michel-Schertges

Journal of Critical Studies in Language and Literature JCSLL

Conceptions of Critique in Modern and Contemporary Philosophy

J. Colin McQuillan

Akadémiai Publishing House, Budapest

Endre Szécsényi , Gabor BOROS , Ferenc Hörcher , Daniel Schmal

Michael W Wilson

John O'Brien

Bálint Gárdos

Margarita Hernández-Laille

Literary Theory & Criticism eJournal

José Angel García Landa


Sebastian Gardner

Ethics in Progress

Ethics in Progress - Research Journal

Shahzeb Shafi

Micky J Kinsella

SSRN Electronic Journal

English Literary History

Claude Willan

Loredana Nicolet

Silvia De Bianchi


  •   We're Hiring!
  •   Help Center
  • Find new research papers in:
  • Health Sciences
  • Earth Sciences
  • Cognitive Science
  • Mathematics
  • Computer Science
  • Academia ©2023
  • Email: [email protected]

Essay On Criticism

Essay On Criticism

  • Author / Uploaded
  • Laura Caprioara

Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism": An Introduction Pope's "Essay on Criticism" is a didactic poem in heroic couplets

Views 819 Downloads 81 File size 157KB

Report DMCA / Copyright

Recommend Stories

Essay on Criticism

Essay on Criticism

The Bright Way Selection of Poetry 1st secondary From From the the Essay Essay on on Criticism Alexander Alexander Pope

18 2 177KB Read more

divergent literary criticism essay

divergent literary criticism essay

Wackwitz 1 Samantha Wackwitz College Comp I pd. 2 Mrs. Cramer November 1, 2016 The Secret Behind Revealing Details Dive

67 1 61KB Read more

On Landscape Criticism and Literary Criticism

On Landscape Criticism and Literary Criticism

The International Centre for Landscape and Language Edith Cowan University Landscapes ISSN 1448-0778 Volume 5 Issue 1 En

32 0 972KB Read more

criticism on contrastive analysis

criticism on contrastive analysis

Critics of CA During the period of 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s contrastive analysis was important for language teachers, le

39 6 96KB Read more

Criticism on EDS _1703029_Shaurabh

Criticism on EDS _1703029_Shaurabh

15 1 300KB Read more


Son, Fritzy Venus A. X-Orange 21st Century Literature of the Philippines and the World 08-20-2019 A Feminist Literar

100 3 378KB Read more


Criticism There are many scholars, especially the Western scholars, have pointed out many bitter criticisms of non-align

109 4 150KB Read more


88 1 15KB Read more


167 8 1MB Read more

Citation preview

Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism": An Introduction Pope's "Essay on Criticism" is a didactic poem in heroic couplets, begun, perhaps, as early as 1705, and published, anonymously, in 1711. The poetic essay was a relatively new genre, and the "Essay" itself was Pope's most ambitious work to that time. It was in part an attempt on Pope's part to identify and refine his own positions as poet and critic, and his response to an ongoing critical debate which centered on the question of whether poetry should be "natural" or written according to predetermined "artificial" rules inherited from the classical past. The poem commences with a discussion of the rules of taste which ought to govern poetry, and which enable a critic to make sound critical judgements. In it Pope comments, too, upon the authority which ought properly to be accorded to the classical authors who dealt with the subject; and concludes (in an apparent attempt to reconcile the opinions of the advocates and opponents of rules) that the rules of the ancients are in fact identical with the rules of Nature: poetry and painting, that is, like religion and morality, actually reflect natural law. The "Essay on Criticism," then, is deliberately ambiguous: Pope seems, on the one hand, to admit that rules are necessary for the production of and criticism of poetry, but he also notes the existence of mysterious, apparently irrational qualities--"Nameless Graces," identified by terms such as "Happiness" and "Lucky Licence"--with which Nature is endowed, and which permit the true poetic genius, possessed of adequate "taste," to appear to transcend those same rules. The critic, of course, if he is to appreciate that genius, must possess similar gifts. True Art, in other words, imitates Nature, and Nature tolerates and indeed encourages felicitous irregularities which are in reality (because Nature and the physical universe are creations of God) aspects of the divine order of things which is eternally beyond human comprehension. 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. We should note, in passing, that in "The Essay on Criticism" Pope is frequently concerned with "wit"--the word occurs once, on average, in every sixteen lines of the poem. What does he mean by it? Pope then proceeds to discuss the laws by which a critic should be guided--insisting, as any good poet would, that critics exist to serve poets, not to attack them. He then provides, by way of example, instances of critics who had erred in one fashion or another. 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. The final section of the poem discusses the moral qualities and virtues inherent in the ideal critic, who is also the ideal man--and who, Pope laments, no longer exists in the degenerate world of the early eighteenth century. Domain: Literature. Genre: Poem, Criticism, Essay, Satire, Treatise. Country: England, Britain, Europe. An Essay on Criticism was first published, anonymously, on 15 May 1711. Pope began writing the poem, however, including drafting and revising it, some two or three years earlier when he was twenty or twenty one years old. It is, in several ways, a young man's poem, albeit an exceptional young man's: it is precocious in its learning; dazzling in the range and inventiveness of its imagery; injunctive in much of its syntax; and remarkably assured in the breadth of material it encompasses. An Essay on Criticism is primarily didactic, conducted according to a broadly argumentative structure, although it contains more than a passing touch of Pope's burgeoning, satiric instinct. Pope described the poem, in a letter to his friend John Caryll, written on 19 July 1711, as “a treatise ... which not one gentleman in three score, even of a liberal education, can understand.” What Pope seems to have meant by this is that the poem is more densely woven and subtly argued than appears at first glance. It is not a “treatise”, however, that offers new critical insights or positions. It is, rather, an attempt to mediate between a wide range of traditional and contemporary critical thought and arrive at an acceptable synthesis of the two. The poem is what its title says it is, an “essai”, or, as Pope calls it towards the end of the poem, a “short Excursion” (738), into a much debated and contentious, topical subject: the role and function of criticism. In An Essay on Criticism Pope attempts to reconcile the contemporary dispute between the proponents of ancient and modern learning. Then, as now, “Critic Learning flourished most in France” (712). French critics had taken the lead in establishing a new aesthetics, and treatises by Bouhours, Boileau, Rapin, Le Bossu and Dacier, dealing with such matters as the imitation of nature and the importance of the rules, dominated the last quarter of the seventeenth century. Pope was widely read in this “modern” criticism, as well, of course, as in the “ancient” criticism that preceded it, especially in Aristotle, Horace, Quintilian and Longinus. In An Essay on Criticism he ranges broadly over this extensive body of writing, although never with the methodical regularity many of the “moderns” displayed, and attempts to come up with an authoritative distillation of the differing critical positions. The poem is the nearest thing in eighteenth-century, English writing to what might be called a neo-classical manifesto, although it is never as categorically expounded as the term implies. It comes closer, perhaps, to being a handbook, or guide, to the critic's and poet's art, very much in the style of Horace's Ars Poetica, or, to take the English models with which the young Pope was especially familiar, the Earl of Roscommon's translation of Horace, The Art Of Poetry, (1680), and John Sheffield's (the Duke of Buckingham's) Essay On Poetry, (1682). It is a http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5312 An Outline of Pope's "Essay on Criticism" Part 1. 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).     The problem: "'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none/ Go just alike, yet each believes his own." Judgments are partial, and true taste is as rare as true genius (9-35). Some critics go astray through false learning, others through envy of wit (19-45). Self-awareness is therefore a crucial quality for a critic (4667): "Be sure yourself and your own reach you know." First solution: "First follow Nature" (68-87). (Nature here means something like "the universe as God created it" or "that which is permanently true.") Second solution: learn the "rules of old," i.e. the precepts of poetry and criticism set down by the classical Greek and Roman authors or deducible from their literature (88-140). Take care, however, not to follow the rules slavishly, but rather "know well each ancient's proper character," especially Homer. One reason to be flexible in applying the rules: there are "beauties yet no precepts can declare." Great writers can break the rules successfully (141180). Modern poets should take care, however, that if they break a rule they should "ne'er transgress its end" (161-169). Part 2. This section identifies the main flaws a critic is prone to, and therefore the greatest obstacles to good criticism.          The biggest pitfall, in criticism as in just about everything else: pride (201-214). Flaw #2: "little learning" (215-232). A little learning makes critics susceptible to pride, by making them think they know more than they do. (Pope is not praising ignorance here; the cure for the pride of little learning is more learning, which teaches the scholar how little he or she knows.) #3: "a love to parts"--i.e. emphasizing one aspect of a poem at the expense of all others (233-383). A critic SHOULD, instead, "read each work of wit/With the same spirit that its author writ"; "Survey the whole" and "regard the writer's end" (233-252). o an absurd example of "a love to parts": for Don Quixote, a poem is no good unless it has a combat in it (267-284). o part #1: conceit (elaborate, clever tropes) (289-304). o part #2: eloquence of language (305-337), as opposed to the ideas the language is supposed to express. One example: archaic language (324-336). o part #3: "numbers," i.e. meter (337-384). Included in the section is a dazzling display of metrical craft--note how the lines exemplify what they're talking about. #4: love of extremes (384-393) #5: liking only "one small sect," e.g. foreign writers, British author, ancients, or moderns, as opposed to approving of merit wherever it is found (394-407). #6:judging authors according to the opinions of others rather than the merit of the work (408-424). E.g.: o judging the name rather than the work (412-413). o worst case: judging the work on the basis of social rank (414-424). #7: conversely, prizing novelty above everything else (424-451). #8: valuing only those works which agree with one's own point of view, are written by member of one's own party, are written by friends, etc. (452-473). Envy plays a big part here, says Pope. arising from the above, some premises: "Be thou the first true merit to defend," even though we cannot expect modern writers to endure as the ancients did (474-493).; don't let yourself succumb to envy (494-525). Be generous: "To err is human, to forgive divine." But DO scourge "provoking crimes" such as obscenity and blasphemy (526555). Here too, however, one must take care not to "mistake an author into vice" (556-559).  http://titan.iwu.edu/~wchapman/britpoet/popeessay.html Alexander Pope by Walter Jackson Bate In the Essay on Criticism (1711), written in 1709 when he was hardly twenty-one, Pope was trying to write a poetical essay which would hold the same important place in English that Boileau's Art Poétique (1674) was holding in French criticism. If it did not quite attain this position, the reason is not that Pope's essay is inferior to Boileau's. It is simply that English writers of any period, including the age of Pope, have a way of refusing to form schools and follow manifestoes. Still, Pope's Essay on Criticism is not only the last but perhaps the most rewarding of the important critical essays in verse modeled on Horace's Art of Poetry. It draws upon the previous verse-essays of Horace, Vida, and Boileau, as well as those of two minor Restoration writers, the Earls of Mulgrave and Roscommon. It also draws upon precepts from the Roman Quintilian and the French critics, Rapin and Le Bossu. Above all, its general tone is kept comparatively liberal and flexible by the influence of Dryden, and, to some extent, of Longinus. The background is broad. This may partly explain why the Essay on Criticism is more comprehensive in what it covers than any of the other Horatian verseessays, including that of Boileau. It also quite equals Boileau in edge of style, and it surpasses him in compactness. The Essay on Criticism is more profitably introduced by a topical summary of its themes than by an analysis of its premises. For its premises and aims are those of the entire neoclassic tradition. And the poem itself is a statement or summary of them rather than an individual argument or analysis. The essay may be described as falling into three parts, with the following subdivisions: I. General qualities needed by the critic (1-200): A. Awareness of his own limitations (46-67). B. Knowledge of Nature in its general forms (68-87). 1. Nature defined (70-79). 2. Need of both wit and judgment to conceive it (80-87). C. Imitation of the Ancients, and the use of rules (88-200). 1. Value of ancient poetry and criticism as models (88-103). 2. Censure of slavish imitation and codified rules (104-117). 3. Need to study the general aims and qualities of the Ancients (118-140). 4. Exceptions to the rules (141-168). II. Particular laws for the critic (201-559): Digression on the need for humility (201-232). A. Consider the work as a total unit (233-252). B. Seek the author's aim (253-266). C. Examples of false critics who mistake the part for the whole (267-383). 1. The pedant who forgets the end and judges by rules (267-288). 2. The critic who judges by imagery and metaphor alone (289-304). 3. The rhetorician who judges by the pomp and color of the diction (305-336). 4. Critics who judge by versification only (337-343). Pope's digression to exemplify "representative meter" (344-383). D. Need for tolerance and for aloofness from extremes of fashion and personal mood (384-559). 1. The fashionable critic: the cults, as ends in themselves, of the foreign (398405), the new (406-423), and the esoteric (424-451). 2. Personal subjectivity and its pitfalls (452-559). III. The ideal character of the critic (560-744): Qualities needed: integrity (562-565), modesty (566-571), tact (572-577), courage (578-583). B. Their opposites (584-630). C. Concluding eulogy of ancient critics as models (643-744). A. The intention of this outline is simply to clarify the topics discussed by Pope. It is by no means intended to attribute an argumentative or reasoned order to the poem. For as Johnson said of Warburton's attempt to discover the order or design of the Essay on Criticism: Almost every poem, consisting of precepts, is so far arbitrary and immethodical, that many of the paragraphs may change place with no apparent inconvenience; for of two and more positions, depending upon some remote or general principle, there is seldom any cogent reason http://www.ourcivilisation.com/smartboard/shop/batewj/pope.htm exposition of prosodic theory Early in the 18th century, Pope affirmed, in his Essay on Criticism (1711), the classic doctrine of imitation. Prosody was to be more nearly onomatopoetic; the movement of sound and metre should represent the actions they carry:'Tis not enough no harshness gives offence, The sound must seem an Echo to the sense: Soft is the strain when Zephyr gently... Essay on Criticsm: - didactic poem in heroic couplets It begins with an exposition of the rules of taste and the authority to be attributed to the ancient writers on the subject. The laws by which a critic should be guided are then discussed, and instances are given of critics who have departed from them. The work is remarkable as having been written when Pope was only 21.

Report "Essay On Criticism"


  1. [DOWNLOAD] ~ An essay on criticism: Written by Mr. Pope. * by Alexander Pope ~ eBook PDF Kindle

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

  2. An essay on criticism, 1711: Pope, Alexander: 9780854172887: Amazon.com: Books

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

  3. An Essay on Criticism

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

  4. 'From An Essay on Criticism' by Alexander Pope

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

  5. An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf

  6. An Essay on Criticism. by Alexander Pope, Esq.

    essay on criticism alexander pope pdf


  1. Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins

  2. Alexander Pope 🗽 #frasesfilosoficas

  3. wiseword Alexander Pope (penyair Inggris abad ke-18)

  4. Unit 5 -Alexander pope

  5. Alexander Pope

  6. Pope Alexander: The Roman Catholic Church #pope #alexander #romancatholicchurch


  1. What Is “Federalist No. 78”?

    The “Federalist No. 78” is an essay written by Alexander Hamilton, explaining his views on the proper structure and role of the judiciary branch in a constitutional democracy. In “Federalist No.

  2. Unlocking Success: How College Admissions Essay Samples Can Help You Stand Out

    Are you a high school student preparing for the next phase of your education? One of the most critical aspects of the college admissions process is crafting a compelling essay that showcases your unique qualities and aspirations.

  3. Who Are the Characters in “The Shakespeare Stealer”?

    The characters in “The Shakespeare Stealer” include Widge, Simon Bass, who also poses as a man named Falconer, Dr. Timothy Bright, Alexander “Sander” Cooke, Julia “Julian” Cogan, William Shakespeare, Nick and Thomas Pope.

  4. Alexander Pope An Essay on Criticism

    Accordingly Pope has interwoven the precepts of both throughout the poem which might more properly have been styled an essay on the Art of Criticism and of

  5. Pope's Essay on criticism

    An Essay on Criticism,. 1. Notes, ..,...,. o .. 23. Page 14. Page 15. MEMOIR OF POPE. Alexander Pope, the Boileauof English Literature, and the most illustrious

  6. Alexander Pope: An Essay on Criticism

    Alexander Pope: An Essay on Criticism. Alexander Pope lived from 1688 to 1744 and was one of the most popular and influential writers of his time. He was

  7. An Essay on Criticism

    An Essay on Criticism. By Alexander Pope. Edited by Jack Lynch. 'Tis hard to say, if greater Want of Skill. Appear in Writing or in Judging ill

  8. An Essay on Criticism (1711) was Pope's first independent work

    categories of writing: Pope often seems to be addressing poets as much as critics. The critical function may well depend on a poetic function: this is after all

  9. An Essay on Criticism by Alexander Pope

    EBook-No. 7409. Release Date, Feb 1, 2005. Copyright Status, Public domain in

  10. Essay On Criticism

    "mistake an author into vice" (556-559). ... and critics who truly understand poetry and follow nature. ... and is only beginning to be

  11. alexander pope: " an essay on criticism"

    This article contextualizes the eighteenth-century English poet Alexander Pope's An Essay on Criticism (1711) and his other literary essays in order to elicit

  12. Pope's Essay on man, and Essay on criticism;

    brain, Alexander Pope for fifty-six years lived a life out of poise with itself. From beginning to end it was body versus mind. From the day of his birth

  13. An Essay on Criticism II

    The hoarse, rough verse should like the torrent roar. When Ajax strives some

  14. Essay On Criticism

    Alexander Pope's "Essay on Criticism": An Introduction Pope's "Essay on Criticism" is a didactic poem in heroic couplets...