On Satire: 'The Dunciad' by Alexander Pope

Clare Bucknell and Colin Burrow

Nobody hated better than Alexander Pope. Despite his reputation as the quintessentially refined versifier of the early 18th century, he was also a class A, ultra-pure, surreal, visionary mega-hater, and The Dunciad is his monument to the hate he felt for almost all the other writers of his time. Written over fifteen years of burning fury, Pope’s mock-epic tells the story of the Empire of Dullness and its lineage of terrible writers, the Dunces. Unlike other satires featured in this series so far, it makes no effort to hide the identities of its targets. Clare and Colin provide an ABC for understanding this vast and knotty fulmination, and explore the feverish, backstabbing and politically turbulent world in which it was created.

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