Although Pope's reputation as a poet has never been higher among scholars and academics, changes in our attitudes to the writing of poetry and to traditional literary values and fashions in versification have created barriers between his genius and the general reader. Pope's poetry has to struggle against the assumptions that verse two centuries ago, filled with allusions to forgotten myths and contemporary personalities, can have little to say that is 'relevant'. Professor Gooneratne's study effectively shows how these barriers can be surmounted by the reader, allowing Pope's work to make its impact upon the imagination in its own way, as the expression of a powerful poetic personality which developed over forty years of continuous authorship. Every major poem in the Pope canon is fully and critically discussed, related to social circumstances that governed its composition and considered both as an example of generic writing and as an expression of personal feelings and convictions. Through detailed analysis of Pope's diction and poetic technique, Professor Gooneratne shows how his best and most deeply-felt verse expresses the living values of the Age of Enlightenment and demonstrates how a good writer can simultaneously extend and criticise the standards of his society.
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