Monday, May 21, 2012

Alexander Pope translated Homer

Alexander Pope
It is the birthday of English poet Alexander Pope (1688), whose translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey helped provide him with sufficient income to make a living totally on his writing. The Iliad was published in six volumes published between 1715 and 1720. He did all the work alone. The Odyssey was published in 24 volumes in 1726, but it was a daunting task and Pope sought the help of two other translators, though he tried to keep that fact a secret. In truth he only translated half of the work. Pope's secret got out and his reputation was tarnished for a time. Pope's work was quite popular in his lifetime but it gained him enemies as well as friends. His 1725 edition of Shakespeare's works earned criticism because he rewrote some of the verses and reduced more than 1,500 lines to footnotes, arguing that they were so bad Shakespeare clearly hadn't written them. Of Pope's own work, An Essay on Criticism (1711) was popular at the time but his most enduring poem is The Rape of the Lock (1712), a satirical verse that pokes fun at the dispute between a beautiful young society woman and a brash young nobleman who snipped off a lock of her hair without permission. The poem was a huge success. It sold 3,000 copies in four days. With his earnings from writing, Pope moved into a fine villa in Twickenham, southwest of London, and built a renowned garden and grotto, complete with trickling spring and camera obscura, an entertaining structure popular in some circles of the day that eventually led to the development of photography.

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