Taste against Taste in Pope’s <i>Epistle to Burlington</i>

James Noggle

in The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199642434
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738579 | DOI:
Taste against Taste in Pope’s Epistle to Burlington

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How could the Epistle to Burlington by Alexander Pope, a traditionalist appalled by modern corruption, have recourse to the concept of taste, the most commercially tainted, modish concept of his day? The dual temporal character of taste allows Pope to define it to suit his own ideological ends. Pope reconfigures the ‘now’of taste to match a classical past and a vision of a better political and cultural future, recognizing true taste’s evacuation from the degraded modern world. Eccentric and unsustainable in itself, Pope’s version of tasteful immediacy nonetheless establishes what will become a standing option in the aesthetic tradition: a rejection of the present by means of a powerful present feeling, one that gestures towards some other imaginable cultural future.

Keywords: Alexander Pope; taste; modernity; classicism; Epistle to Burlington

Chapter.  11129 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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