Pope, Swift and Voltaire

Essay by anhtuyetsilk061College, UndergraduateA+, July 2008

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The eighteenth century is the century of Chaotic and Revolution rather than “the age of Enlightenment” as many cultural historians described. The Revolution in France, the Rococo style as well as the intellectual developments at this time marked the astounding point in human’s history. Lawrence in his book Culture and Values A Survey of the Humanities, said that "the literature of the eighteenth century was generally serious” (439) ; we talk about Pope with the trust in the human’s experience; we talk about Swift with his “savage indignation” toward men and we talk about Voltaire with his famous “freedom of thought”.

First, we talk about Pope with his belief in the human’s nature. He was an Augustans and his writing brought out many developing magnificent idea differed from those writers at that time. At that time, “The appeal of Neo-Classical literature was particularly strong in England” (430) and thus many writers at that time followed that Classical learning blindly.

But not for Pope since “his awareness that the dry bones of the Classical learning needed to have life breathed into them” (431). Theory is theory since it is always difficult for the practical use. Theory is necessary for it is the frame of bone for us to live but it does not mean we are just be humans by the “theory”. Human being, as Pope said, need the nature: “not in the sense of the natural world but in the sense of that which is universal and unchanging in human experience” (431). He wanted to breath the life to the “dry bones” – the Old Learning. Time is changing, the society as well as the human’s value change also. The old Roman Nation is good, the ancient teaching is good, Classical learning is good but none of them...