This essay puts Yale critic and cofounder of the New Criticism William K. Wimsatt into the balance with the most influential poet of eighteenth-century England, Alexander Pope. A scholar-collector with a lifelong penchant for Pope’s poetry and iconography, Wimsatt molds his influential theoretical paradoxes of abstract particularity after the uniquely embodied poet who made himself inseparable from his art. The elusive power of style connects universal truth to worldly materiality for both writers, giving theoretical abstraction a human likeness.
“True Wit is Nature”: Wimsatt, Pope, and the Power of Style
Helen Deutsch is Professor of English and Director of the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies and William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA. She has been writing about Alexander Pope for the entirety of her adult life and is now at work on a book on Jonathan Swift and Edward Said.
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Helen Deutsch; “True Wit is Nature”: Wimsatt, Pope, and the Power of Style. Representations 8 May 2020; 150 (1): 91–119. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2020.150.1.91
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