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Thread: Dryden and Alexander Pope.

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    Registered User Amylian's Avatar
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    Dryden and Alexander Pope.

    Hey guys,

    Well, we've been studying 'The Restoration Period' for about 2 weeks now and a question had been thrown during one of the lectures. It was about the differences between Dryden and Alexander Pope as they both were Satirists.

    I have got some points on what differentiate between the two and suggestions and points would help and be appreciated.

    Well, Dryden is said to have set the fashion of the Restoration Period. He wrote satires on based on events happened at the time and always serious. Anyway, the only thing I can think of is that both of them are poets, but Pope usessuch trivial events to describe, or rather redicule society at the time, while Dryden uses references from the Bible to form a satire in order to visualize what is on his mind.

    People, please, if you have any point or suggestion regarding those poets, I will be more than glad to read it....


    Regards,
    Amylian.

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Dryden had a better visual immagination, Pope had a better wit and command of language. Pope, like Donne, had virtually no visual imagination, and instead relies primarily on rhetoric and parody, to be funny, and "moral" rather than imaginative.

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    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    instead relies primarily on rhetoric and parody, to be funny, and "moral" rather than imaginative.
    Which seems rather counterproductive to the very nature of poetry, does it not? I'm not the biggest fan of these neo-classicists.

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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Me neither, but Pope was the better rhetorician (I would say probably top 5) in the Language, which I think his reputation relies on. We seem to all want to judge him under Romantic and post-romantic concepts of poetry, and our obsession with poetry as the "spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings", yet poetry before Wordsworth, to me at least, doesn't really seem to define itself like that. Pope is just the extreme of the school of Jonson, and its collision with the English civil war.

    But anyway, yeah, he's rather boring to read. I don't think many outside of 18th century specialty read him too much, yet still there is a surprisingly large chunk in both The Norton Anthology of literature, and of poetry taken up by him. I can't help but feel one of the editors was a 18th century specialist - the amount of room given to the poetry of Johnson, Swift, and Pope is enormous.

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    Alea iacta est. mortalterror's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBI View Post
    Me neither, but Pope was the better rhetorician (I would say probably top 5) in the Language, which I think his reputation relies on.
    As a lover of rhetoric, I'm trying to figure out who the other four are. 1)Shakespeare, 2)Milton, 3)Bacon, 4)? You have to admit he stands in pretty good company. Maybe there might be something to this rhetoric thing.
    "So-Crates: The only true wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." "That's us, dude!"- Bill and Ted
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    Bibliophile JBI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mortalterror View Post
    As a lover of rhetoric, I'm trying to figure out who the other four are. 1)Shakespeare, 2)Milton, 3)Bacon, 4)? You have to admit he stands in pretty good company. Maybe there might be something to this rhetoric thing.
    That actually is a very interesting point, one which I find incredibly difficult to answer. Certainly those are, in terms of literature writers - the question then falls on why do I react so well to those, and not so well to Pope, despite that he is their, or almost their equal. Certainly I think the couplets perhaps have something to do with it, but I sense something more, since he certainly is the best with the couplets, besides perhaps Dryden. Why then such reluctance?

    If I were to guess for my own dislike, perhaps I would have to look at the absurdity of the genre he wrote in. Perhaps when it comes to drama, the using a high mimetic tone, such heightened rhetoric works, but when it comes to parody, and satire, it sounds ridiculous, or perhaps better, monotonous. The rhyme couldn't have helped - couplet overkill doesn't really ever work. It is very difficult, I would think, to write them today, and not get laughed at. If one wrote in pentameter, perhaps one may get laughed at, but certainly not to the extent that they would be laughed at writing in closed couplets.

    Perhaps satire can only last so long? Perhaps funniness of that kind doesn't last, with the change of cultures? Perhaps, the Dunciad can't work because the books it talks about have already disappeared? Who knows - it is troubling to think such things. It always makes one ask what is the true limitation of comedy - how long could anything funny stay funny? I think dark humor stays funny longer, assuming it is not of the post-modern kind, but of the Grave Digging scene in Hamlet - that I think can't lose its funny, or the Door Knocking Scene in Macbeth. But somehow, the cutting of the Lock, and the absurdity doesn't seem to do it for me.


    Who knows - it could be something else entirely - it could be that narrative in general fell out after the Renaissance, in poetry that is, in terms of what people read. I think it is safe to say that the average medium poetry reader, that is someone not obsessed, but who knows a lot, and likes poetry, and has something interesting to say about it, I think they would probably focus something like Greeks and Romans, associating more with the Greeks, and Greek thought, then look at the Renaissance through primarily Shakespeare, then perhaps Spenser, and then going to Donne, and perhaps Marvell, though probably for a few poems, and then Milton, then straight on to Wordsworth, and go down like that. I think the lyric perspective we got from Wordsworth has still infected our sensibilities. I think the reliance on the Symbol as the primary poetic instrument in modern time has also contributed to it. But I can only guess? Certainly lyric and pathetic is more popular now than comic, or ironic. I think the general population of poetry is prompted perhaps by a sort of sensitivity of personality, which clashes perhaps with such poetry.

    I can't even seem to justify an answer to myself - certainly such high rhetoric has its purpose, and has its appeal, yet on the other hand I can't see myself liking it. Even Maroni, who perhaps is Pope's Italian equivalent, I can't seem to appreciate. I can't help thinking to myself of Mannerist painting when thinking of Pope. Though I think St. Lukes would probably argue he is closer to Baroque painting.
    Last edited by JBI; 03-14-2009 at 10:25 PM.

  7. #7
    Asa Nisi Masa mayneverhave's Avatar
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    I understand the power of Pope's rhetoric. I believe mortal described individual lines in his poetry as being like individual jewels among a diamond bracelet, or something to that effect. However, rhetoric alone is not an end to poetry. It is a vehicle to reach greater truths, principles, whatever the case may be.

    As JBI is saying, what is left once the satirist has succeeded in his task. Although he criticises, imitates, and mocks, what has the satirist said beyond that? What does he point to?

    That being said, I enjoy some of Pope's verse, such as the pastoral "Ode to Solitude", which apparently was written at a very young age.

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