Literate Culture: Pope's Rhetorical Art
University of Delaware Press, 1992 - 187 Seiten
Literate Culture: Pope's Rhetorical Art attempts a reconstruction of the rhetorical sensibility that Pope expected of his eighteenth-century reader and seeks a revision of our own understanding of his poetry as modern readers. More specifically, it examines the rhetorical art of Pope's early poetry by focusing on six major poems published from 1711 to 1729: An Essay on Criticism, Windsor-Forest, The Rape of the Lock, Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady, Eloisa to Abelard, and The Dunciad Variorum. Rhetorical strategies explored in some detail are Pope's use of generic expectations in either traditional "poetic kinds" or in his own metamorphosed versions; underlying structures of argument patterned after classical oratorical models; his methods of appeal through rational argument, character, or emotion; his reliance on personae; and his variations of expressive "transparency" and "opacity" correlating with classical views of formalistic refinement and poetic distance--of "light" and "shadow."
The Dunciad Variorum (1729) roughly divides Pope's poetical career. In 1729 Pope began his serious planning for an opus magnum, which later became his Moral Essays and An Essay on Man, and shortly thereafter he turned his attention to the composition of his Horatian satires. It appears that the satirical muse of his Moral Essays prepared him for the crucial inspiration of his friend Lord Bolingbroke around 1733. The prevailing satirical character of his later poetry, setting apart An Essay on Man, suggests a major shift in rhetorical strategies. Pope's later satires and An Essay on Man have been explored rhetorically to some extent, especially in his satirical use of the persona, but the rhetoric of his earlier poetry in general has been ignored. By focusing on six of his earlier poems this study brings us closer to a more comprehensive description of his rhetorical art.
Rhetorical treatments of his earlier poems have focused primarily on his couplet art, on tropes and figures, often neglecting larger designs generated by his couplets. When we consider his verse paragraphs (rather than couplets) as poetic units, structural elements become visible and we can perceive a paradigmatic relationship between Pope's own design and the rhetorical processes and modes within traditional and metamorphosed genres. This enables us to locate an imaginative center for each poem based on his rhetorical art.
Literate Culture: Pope's Rhetorical Art demonstrates how Pope's rhetoric merges with his poetics, producing a mimetic art that fuses form and content, sound and sense, creating a public poetry seeking to enchant and move his reader. His methods of selecting, combining, shaping, and refracting test the limits of the poetic text--and its intertextuality--by consciously striving to take hold of his reader. Poetry becomes for Pope "a powerful rhetoric" (Kenneth Burke's phrase) if for no other reason than that the triadic relationship of poet, poem, and reader persistently abides. To instruct, delight, or simply impress ideas on his reader, Pope must in some way sustain this relationship. Thus, in each of Pope's poems may be found a unique purpose revealed by its rhetorical methods.
Literate Culture won the University of Delaware Press Award for best manuscript in Eighteenth-Century Studies.
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Rhetoric and Poetics in An Essay on Criticism
Design in WindsorForest
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