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Pope: An Essay On Man

3.57  ·  Rating Details  ·  413 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
Kindle Edition, 163 pages
Published (first published January 1st 1734)
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Portrait of Alexander Pope (1688 – 1744) by Jonathan Richardson, ca. 1736

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan;
The proper study of Mankind is Man.

While reading Arthur O. Lovejoy's very interesting Essays in the History of Ideas I finally understood the intellectual context of Alexander Pope's famous philosophical poem, An Essay On Man. Perhaps best known as an author of satirical verses and a most engaging translation of the Iliad,(*) Pope also produced an edition of Shakespeare and venture
Oct 03, 2014 Roya rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pope’s Essay on Man, ironically enough, is not exactly an essay, and it’s not exactly on Man; It’s rather in verse, which might be considered as an attempt to reduce the considerable amount of yawning which happens during reading it, an attempt doomed to failure-at least by universal consensus. Also, Mr. Pope is not exactly laconic when it comes to matters concerning everything but man: from Universe to Society to Happiness to God. The latter, I guess, makes sense considering the special form of ...more
such a shapeshifting work of literature, at times I think, god Pope is just an idealistic show off and I;m really bored, but then he slips in a line or two that I really like, but I felt nothing reading this, probably because he wanted so hard to be such a witty guy that he put no actual humanity in it, almost like he dehumanized himself to talk about humanity, I dont think it worked.
Jul 12, 2016 Keith rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Overall, I agree with Samuel Johnson’s view on Pope’s An Essay on Man:

“The Essay on Man was a work of great labour and long consideration, but certainly not the happiest of Pope's performances. The subject is perhaps not very proper for poetry, and the poet was not sufficiently master of his subject; metaphysical morality was to him a new study, he was proud of his acquisitions, and, supposing himself master of great secrets, was in haste to teach what he had not learned.” (The Life of Pope, 17
Alexander Mackinnon
It is quite difficult to find a better description of man as a species than the one Pope gives in the Epistle II of his Essay on man. He nailed spot on forever. Regardless of how much we learn, how confident we are, how much we claim to trust science, we are never certain, there is always that nagging feeling in the back of our mind and Pope puts it magnificently
Jan 29, 2014 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Pope. Pope is very interesting read, purely because of the history of his life, and he status in England when he wrote this 'Essay'. Essay on man cannot really be called an 'essay' it is a poem. But from Pope's perspective I guess we could say that Pope didn't see Essays as having very strict boundaries(I'd love to try and pass that one by on one of my professors). Even though the writing of 18th century England is something I have a love hate relationship with, this goes more on the Hate side o ...more
Feb 03, 2016 Amylyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There is nothing to say about this beautiful work of art other than you have to read it. When reading this poem I felt as if I was reading something I learned long ago and had since forgotten. Pope rekindled that joyous passion for life, understanding of nature, and the truth of our stay here on this Earth. There is peace in acceptance; there is peace in humbleness.
Jun 29, 2016 Jan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was serious deep thinking. Even though I didn't agree with everything he said, it causes one to think about the state of mankind. Alexander Pope was a Deist, which I personally think causes problems with some of his observations. But he does bring up interesting points to consider, if you believe as he does.
Lady Warly
Mar 20, 2013 Lady Warly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Pope is one of the most important author & poet for his own time and also for us as an English literarture students. In his AN ESSAY ON MAN is about Nature which is the book of God and his criticism on the period of his time - 18th Century-.He deals with "Love,Religion,Society,Moral issues of humanbeing,Great Chain of Beings" etc. It is hard to understand for us as 21th century generation but the subject of this poem is valid,effectual and striking for all times. If you have any interest abo ...more
Nov 28, 2015 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics-read
I read this for my British Literature class. To my knowledge I have never read any of Pope's work before. So it interested me that I found so many familiar sayings/passages in this work. I enjoyed reading it and Pope's take on mans place in the wider universe made me think. I will more than likely read more of this author's work, due to the fact I have really enjoyed what I have read so far.
Jul 25, 2014 Emre rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I cannot define it essay, it is a poem that I read in the Survey of English Literature class. Unlike other works by English writers, I could not enjoy the content. Even now I find it hard to follow the lines which seems to me unexpectedly monotonous. Still worths reading, at the earliest opportunity I will try to re-read it.
Jul 28, 2008 zanra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008, school
Inspired a very eager, very-much-disagreed-with presentation all about how Pope is not actually a deist. Don't propose such at a Catholic University, guys! (Though I remain firm in my convictions.)

The first and only piece of writing from my eighteenth century literature class wherein I highlighted like, every other line.
Aug 18, 2010 Ed rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Picked this up throught for $.90. It has all the long poems--or at least all that I will ever need to read--and will replace a couple of bulkier volumes as I reduce the number of dust catchers on the shelves.

Currently (re)reading "Essay on Criticism" which has long been my favorite work by the little guy.
Merve  Özcan
Mar 20, 2013 Merve Özcan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
1. ve 3. mektubu okudum. Hoca Love is the key dedi, gerisi yok.
Okudum, okumadın değil ama religion, nature ve Love gibi kelimeleri gördüm, sadece onları anladım. Hâlâ Pope neden bahsediyor tam kavramış değlim. Belki bir gün...
Skylar Burris
Sep 15, 2008 Skylar Burris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I'm still boweled over that the man could present a fairly cohesive philosphy on man and a theodicy in rhymed couplets. I don't know why I bothered to highlight, since I turned pretty much the whole thing yellow.
May 04, 2013 Heber rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The poetry, the theology and the moral philosophy are all very elevated and sublime as is the humor and the wit. One of the most enjoyable things I have read all year!!!
Nissa Rachmidwiati
one idiom is enough to describe this beautiful poetic criticism : it hits the bull's eye! :)
Paige Duff
Only read it for school, kind of boring for me. If your into poetry it may be better for you.
Sep 29, 2007 Joel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics, poetry
My 1995 review: "I found the heroic couplets to be extremely monotonous."
Rob Roy
This essay is also in verse, and quite frankly, it gets in the way.
Apr 19, 2010 Howard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mr. Pope is the Dr. Seuss of philosophy.
Jun 04, 2013 Lesliemae rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I feel as though the verse hurts the content.
Jun 04, 2015 Eva rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks-read
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18th Century Enth...: Essay on Man by Alexander Pope 1 2 Oct 19, 2012 05:21AM  
  • The Vanity of Human Wishes
  • Maxims and Reflections
  • A System of Logic, Ratiocinative and Inductive: Being a Connected View of the Principles of Evidence and the Methods of Scientific Investigation
  • Selections from the Canzoniere: And Other Works
  • L'Allegro, Il Penseroso, Comus, and Lycidas
  • Representative Men: Seven Lectures
  • An Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard
  • Ode to the West Wind
  • Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
  • In Memoriam
  • Experimental Researches in Electricity
  • Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciences (On the Shoulders of Giants Series)
  • On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals
  • Michelangelo Life, Letters, and Poetry
  • The Geometry of René Descartes: with a Facsimile of the First Edition
  • Epitome of Copernican Astronomy and Harmonies of the World
  • Principles of Geology
  • Introduction to Positive Philosophy. 1988 Paperback Reprint Ed Paperback
Alexander Pope is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century, best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer. He is the third most frequently quoted writer in the English language, after Shakespeare and Tennyson. Pope was a master of the heroic couplet.
More about Alexander Pope...

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“Act well your part; there all the honour lies.” 141 likes
“Know then thyself, presume not God to scan,
The proper study of mankind is Man.
Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,
A being darkly wise and rudely great:
With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,
With too much weakness for the Stoic's pride,
He hangs between, in doubt to act or rest;
In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast;
In doubt his mind or body to prefer;
Born but to die, and reas'ning but to err;
Alike in ignorance, his reason such,
Whether he thinks too little or too much;
Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;
Still by himself abused or disabused;
Created half to rise, and half to fall;
Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;
Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurl'd;
The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!
Go, wondrous creature! mount where science guides,
Go, measure earth, weigh air, and state the tides;
Instruct the planets in what orbs to run,
Correct old time, and regulate the sun;
Go, soar with Plato to th’ empyreal sphere,
To the first good, first perfect, and first fair;
Or tread the mazy round his followers trod,
And quitting sense call imitating God;
As Eastern priests in giddy circles run,
And turn their heads to imitate the sun.
Go, teach Eternal Wisdom how to rule—
Then drop into thyself, and be a fool!”
More quotes…