Do I agree with Johnson about Dryden and Pope

I have to say i do not agree with with Johnson about Pope. As I learned in class, Pope was sickly when he was younger. However, Johnson totally butchers him for it, say that he is so small and frail that he is more feminine than masculine. I cannot agree with this because it is not Pope’s fault that he was sick, and it is not right of Johnson to bring into the public light about Pope’s private condition. It is Pope’s information to share, not Johnson’s. However, he does say that Pope wrote with certainty, so Johnson does give positive feedback to Pope.

As for Dryden, I could tell that Johnson really enjoyed his works, saying things like “In acquired knowledge the superiority must be allowed to Dryden, whose education was more scholastic…” (Johnson 797), and “The style of Dryden is capricious and varied.” (Johnson 798).

He compares Dryden and Pope to each other, saying one is more wild and care free, the other cautious and timid. With this, however, I do have to agree because from reading them, I got that sense. Johnson did not seem to give much care into what he was writing, such as death , which would have been a pretty iffy topic back in the 17th century. As for Pope, he was more cautious about what he wrote, such as criticizing. Pope never went crazy with his ideas, whereas Dryden rocked the boat a bit more. So, in that sense, I do have to agree with Johnson.

One thought on “Do I agree with Johnson about Dryden and Pope

  1. Yes, the personal stuff about Pope does seem in questionable taste and of questionable value. The whole Lives of the Poets series is like that: a mixture of biography, and criticism. In biography, of course, such details are essential to understanding the character of the subject. I think what is odd for us is to find the two — biography and literary criticism — mixed up together.


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