The Dunciad in Four Books

September 17, 2009

Editor Valerie Rumbold

Edition Revised first

Publisher Pearson

Pages 456

Price £14.99

ISBN 9781408204160

Alexander Pope wasn’t known as “the little wasp of Twickenham” for nothing. During the last 15 years of his life, he extensively revised, updated, and annotated successive editions of this enormously complex, caustic poem that bitchslaps anyone who ever looked at Pope the wrong way. (If you sense that there was something a bit meta- and self-mythologising about Pope’s enterprise, you get the point.) Indispensible for Pope scholars, Valerie Rumbold’s volume is impressive and relatively affordable. This version should succeed James Sutherland’s dated and out-of-print Twickenham Dunciad as the definitive edition of a poem that is nothing if not a study in invective and obsession.

Who is it for? Specialists. Decidedly not for dunces!

Presentation Perfect. Although the text is (by necessity) overdressed, modern commentary (which often covers the bottom half of the page) is clearly distinguished from Pope’s poem and from his own extensive apparatus.

Would you recommend it? Heartily!

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