The Rape of the Lock and Other Major Writings is a collection of Alexander Pope’s greatest works, edited with an introduction by Leo Damrosch in Penguin Classics.
Alexander Pope was the greatest English poet of his age, whose acerbic insights into human nature have entered the language, and whose verse still astonishes with its energy and inventiveness centuries after his death. This new selection of Pope’s work follows the path of his poetic genius over his lifetime. It contains early poems including the masterly mock-epic ‘The Rape of the Lock’, which satirizes a notorious society scandal through glorious heroic couplets, the brilliantly aphoristic ‘An Essay on Criticism’ and excerpts from his translation of the Iliad. Later poems represented include Pope’s ironic adaptations of Horace’s Epistles, Satires and Odes, and the remarkable ‘Dunciad’, a stinging attack on his literary rivals and the mediocrity of Grub Street hacks. Here too are selected prose works and letters from Pope to his contemporaries such as John Gay and Jonathan Swift.
This edition contains a wide-ranging introduction that elucidates Pope’s life, poetic art and contemporary contexts, as well as separate introductions to each piece, a chronology, further reading, a biography and extensive notes.
Alexander Pope (1688-1744) was born in London in 1688, the son of a well-to-do Roman Catholic cloth merchant. In 1709 he launched his career with a set of four pastorals, followed by An Essay on Criticism, Windsor Forest and the mock-epic Rape of the Lock, which cemented his reputation as the greatest poet of the age. Later works included the Dunciad, Epistles to Several Persons and the ambitious Essay on Man.
If you enjoyed The Rape of the Lock, you might like Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, also available in Penguin Classics.