Interesting Literature

The life of Alexander Pope, told through five interesting pieces of biographical trivia

1. He was known as ‘the Wasp of Twickenham’. Poet Alexander Pope (1688-1744) earned this nickname because of his stinging satirical attacks on the famous people of the age, especially other writers. Pope’s long mock-epic The Dunciad (1728-43) – a sort of comic version of Virgil’s Aeneid that takes dullness rather than war and conquest as its subject – scathingly excoriates virtually anyone Pope didn’t like: the stupid, the tasteless, the incompetent. The seeds of the idea for The Dunciad appear to have been sown in a disagreement over Shakespearean scholarship: Pope’s edition of the works of William Shakespeare had been criticised by Lewis Theobald (who claimed to have ‘discovered’ Shakespeare’s lost play Cardenio).

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