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|Title:||Alexander Pope's Pastorals: a Study of Their Genesis and Evolution|
|Authors:||Prest, Vincent Stewart Harry|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>The following study describes the evolution of Alexander Pope's Pastorals from their embryonic state in the earliest extant manuscript of them, the Houghton holograph, to their final resting place in the last authorized version of them, the posthumous 1751 edition of the poet's Works edited by his friend and literary executor, Rev. William Warburton. During this period the four poems -- "Spring", "Summer", "Autumn" and "Winter" -- and the brief critical treatise that accompanied them underwent hundreds of alterations, from single words to entire stanzas. A careful examination of the earliest extant version, in conjunction with a close study of the many changes and additions Pope made during his lifetime, provides a considerable amount of information concerning precisely what Pope endeavours to accomplish in creating this cycle of poems. A xerox copy of the Houghton holograph, together with a diplomatic transcript of it and a list of all subsequent authorized alterations to the text has been included to facilitate the study. Though some of the variants of this holograph have been cited (with varying degrees of accuracy) in previous editions of Pope's poetry, the manuscript itself has never before been reproduced in its entirety.</p> <p>This study concentrates particularly upon the evolution of the Pastorals primarily because a comparison of the final version of any given passage with earlier versions often makes the poet's intentions clearer. Pope himself would seem to have been aware of this fact since he includes a number of variant readings from manuscripts and earlier printed texts in the notes he appends to these poems in the 1736 edition of his Works. Likewise, an examination of the sources of Pope's allusions to other poems in the pastoral tradition -- some though by no means all of which he also records in his 1736 notes -- sheds additional light on the poet's meaning. Though the vast majority of these allusions have been identified by previous scholars, their function in the poems themselves has to date been for the most part, ignored. Yet, as this study demonstrates, these allusions and their contexts form an integral part of the poet's design, frequently providing an oblique, but highly pertinent comment upon what is actually taking place.</p> <p>This study leads ultimately to a new reading of the Pastorals, one that focuses upon the numerous alterations and additions to them between 1704 -- the supposed date of the Houghton holograph which may be regarded as their first limited "edition" -- and 1751. Particular emphasis is placed on the major additions -- the dedicatory stanzas inserted into the first three poems in 1709, the revised version of the prose treatise added in 1717 and the apparatus of notes appended in 1736. For, in each of these Pope would appear to be providing his readers with the necessary direction to comprehend precisely what he is endeavouring to accomplish. To study Pope's creation without reference to these and the other factors previously mentioned is to miss much that is of the utmost importance in them. Only through a reconstruction of their evolution can the Pastorals be fully understood and appreciated.</p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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