By Harry M. Solomon
First released in 1733-1734, An Essay on guy, Alexander Pope’s best-known philosophical poem, used to be hugely praised by way of a lot of Pope’s ecu contemporaries, together with Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant, and Hume. The poem, divided into 4 Epistles, bargains with the character of guy and his position within the universe, guy as someone, guy in society, and guy in pursuit of happiness.Voltaire known as An Essay on guy “the most lovely, most dear, such a lot chic didactic poem” within the English language, yet what was once previously considered as the top of 18th-century poetry now languishes principally unread or misinterpret as a old fashioned interval piece. by contrast, Harold Bloom lately defined the Essay as a “poetic catastrophe” of “absurd theodicy.” The Rape of the textual content deconstructs the historical past of feedback for An Essay on guy to account for and to opposite over 200 years of deformation and trivialization of Pope’s textual content by means of literary critics, philosophers, and historians of rules. After displaying why the commonplaces in regards to the Essay inscribed in Pope scholarship are suspect as a result of the mutual and abiding hostility of logocentric and aesthetic traditions of misreading, Solomon rebuts the objections made to Pope’s “philosophy” in a chain of chapters demonstrating extra acceptable concepts for analyzing Pope’s character, tone, method, argument, and figurality. Cumulatively the chapters symbolize a discourse paintings of “middle-state” educational Skepticism that Pope shared along with his admirers.Although the characterization of Pope’s discourse international within the Rape of the textual content has implications for Pope and for 18th-century scholarship past the Essay on guy, it additionally has implications for studying all philosophical poetry. Solomon contends that feedback of the Essay on guy is simply an severe instance of the deformation that happens commonly whilst literary critics or thinker interpret philosophical poetry, and within the ultimate bankruptcy he demands a “naturalization” of philosophical poetry as a style because the priceless therapy to our current willful blindness.