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Alexander Pope ( – ) is regarded as one of the greatest English poets and the foremost poet the early eighteenth century.
He is best known for his satirical and discursive poetry—to include The Rape of the Lock, The Dunciad, and An Essay on Criticism—as well as for his translation of Homer.
Pope's formal education ended at this time, and from then on he mostly educated himself by reading the works of classical writers such as the satirists Horace and Juvenal, the epic poets Homer and Virgil, as well as English authors such as Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare and John Dryden.
He studied many languages and read works by English, French, Italian, Latin, and Greek poets.
The Rape of the Lock, perhaps the poet's most famous poem, appeared first in 1712, followed by a revised and enlarged version in 1714.
When Lord Petre forcibly snipped off a lock from Miss Arabella Fermor's head (the "Belinda" of the poem), the incident gave rise to a high-society quarrel between the families.
After Shakespeare, Pope is the second most quoted writer in the English language, as per The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, with some of his verses having even become popular idioms in common parlance (e.g., Damning with faint praise). Pope's poetic career testifies to his indomitable spirit in the face of disadvantages, of health and of circumstance.
A kind of poetic manifesto in the vein of Horace's Ars Poetica, the essay was met with enthusiastic attention and won Pope a wider circle of prominent friends, most notably Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, who had recently started collaborating on the influential The Spectator.By now Pope's health was failing, and when told by his physician, on the morning of his death, that he was better, Pope replied: "Here am I, dying of a hundred good symptoms".Alexander Pope was born in London, May 21st, 1688—the year of The Glorious Revolution.With the idea of allaying this, Pope treated the subject in a playful and witty mock-heroic epic.The narrative poem brings into focus the onset of acquisitive individualism and conspicuous consumption, where purchased goods assume dominance over moral agency.