The Dunciad in Four Books
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, Sep 25, 2015 - 88 pages
The Three Book Dunciad has an extensive inversion of Virgil's Aeneid, but it also structures itself heavily around a Christological theme. To some degree, this imagery of unholy consecration had been present in Dryden's MacFlecknoe, but Pope's King of Dunces is much more menacing than Thomas Shadwell could ever have been in Dryden's poem. It is not a case of an unworthy man getting praised that spurs the poem, but rather a force of degradation and decadence that motivates it. Pope is not targeting one man, but rather a social decline that he feels is all but irrevocable. Nevertheless, the poem is still a satire and not a lamentation. The top of society (the kings) may be dulled by spectacle and freak shows, but Dulness is only one force. She is at war with the men of wit, and she can be opposed. In the Four Book Dunciad (or Dunciad B), any hope of redemption or reversal is gone, and the poem is even more nihilistic.
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