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The Rape of the Lock (Vintage Classics) [Paperback]

Alexander Pope , Aubrey Beardsley , Sophie Gee
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
RRP: 4.99
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Book Description

2 Aug 2007 Vintage Classics


A hideous crime is committed at a fashionable London society gathering. The victim is the beautiful, innocent Belinda, her attacker is the dastardly Baron, and his weapon of choice is a pair of scissors...

Pope's mock-epic is the sharp and witty tale of the most famous bad hair day in the history of literature.

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The Rape of the Lock (Vintage Classics) + Gulliver's Travels (Wordsworth Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Classics (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099511525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099511526
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 13.2 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 83,636 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Brilliant... triumphant. Never has so great a poem emerged from so trivial a cause" (Peter Ackroyd)

"One of the jewels of the Augustan age" (Sunday Times)

Book Description

'[It is] a whimsical piece of work...a sort of writing very like tickling' Alexander Pope

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining 2 Mar 2013
By Eloise
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a required text for my university course, but I thoroughly enjoyed it as a poem. Very readable, and still relevant to modern society, despite cutting satire of eighteenth century London. The Vintage Classics edition contains beautiful illustrations and nice cover art.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant example of the mock heroic genre 24 Aug 2001
By A Customer
"The Rape of the Lock" (1714) is a major contribution to a long, on-going series of literary games played with tone and structure. Wherever the great epic poets of Greece and Rome have been prized a sort of reflex has generated parodial imitations. The language of Homer's "Odyssey" and "Iliad" and the "Aeneid" of Virgil is so serious about humanity and its destiny that it virtually defies the reader to remember that human life is as much concerned with very small things as it is with gods and men and the course of history. The Europe of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries could boast a wealth of writers quick to join the game of writing a mock epic. Italy's Alessandro Tassoni, for instance, wrote "La Secchia Rapita" (1622), in which the people of Bologna and Modena go to war over the theft of a bucket, squabbling in a mixture of heroic discourse and dialect. Similarly, the French Jacques Boileau produced "Le Lutrin" (1674) which relates the tale of a provincial quarrel over the position of a church lectern. In "An Essay on Criticism" (1711), Alexander Pope took a swipe at both Boileau and France when he wrote, 'The Rules, a Nation born to serve, obeys, /And Boileau still in Right of Horace sways'. If Boileau was France's Horace then, for Voltaire, "The Rape of the Lock" positioned Pope as 'the English Boileau'.
The subject of "The Rape of the Lock" was supplied by a contemporary cause célèbre. Lord Petre, a young Roman Catholic peer, had cut a lock of hair from Arabella Fermour. This apparently trivial act on the part of the zealous suitor caused dissention between their families and the Catholic establishment to which they, and Alexander Pope himself, belonged.
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3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Belindramatic! 4 Oct 2000
By A Customer
This poem, by Pope, should be classed amongst the 'greats' of English literature. Although the story is not immediately obvious, and Pope's patronising attitude towards women may be thought offensive in the modern day, his jokey tone and mocking of heroic actions make for a great piece of poetry.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Phew, what a bore. 11 Oct 2013
By WolfyUK
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Perhaps I'm just too dull to appreciate his writing, but it just seems pretty words strung together, not in any particularly attractive to read way, about a very unexciting, boring, trivial event. Ok, maybe it is just sad to think that perhaps this event was actually considered important at the time in this self centred and self important pompous society! I don't know. Just my HO.

Really, I suppose what I'm saying is- I'm not saying it's rubbish, it's just that I don't understand or get what's supposed to be good about it!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate "mock epic" 6 Aug 2003
By bixodoido - Published on
This poem serves two purposes. First, Pope wrote it in response to an upper-class quarrel over an event at a party in which a young girl had her hair cut. The incident itself was petty and stupid, but the families of the parties involved were taking it very seriously. Pope, then, wrote this poem in epic form (the most grand of poetic forms) to show the absurdity of the matter, and thus reconcile the offender and offended.
That is the first function of this poem. Even though the incident is long forgotten, the poem is still very funny. But there is a greater purpose to this poem--it was written like an epic. It contains several epic elements--an epic battle (at the card game), the invocation of muses and gods, the epic quest (to cut the hair), and several literary devices, such as epic-length similes and catalogs. This is what makes this poem so great, and what serves as a testimony to Pope's remarkable genius for wit and satire.
Pope was, in my opinion, one of the greatest English poets, certainly the greatest satirist. This is one of his greatest works, and it is short enough to read over and over again without investing too much time.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliantly written with wit, style, and a flair for detail. 16 July 1998
By Kate Gombrich - Published on
This is a highly intelligent book on one of the finest poems by the eighteenth century's most celebrated poet. Brilliantly written with wit, style, and a flair for interesting detail, Wall's book includes textual information and a wealth of carefully selected secondary material that makes this "one-stop shopping" for anyone interested in the work or indeed in the period. Because of its combination of lively writing and scholarly erudition, I would recommend Wall's book for a wide variety of interest and knowledge levels. Wonderful Bedford series idea and terrific book.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The way literature should be done! 10 Jun 2004
By "jcbondservant" - Published on
This review should be taken seriously considering I didn't really like "The Rape of the Lock" and still give this book 5 stars!
"History is not a vacuum," one of my university history professors always told us. Neither is literature for that matter! This book examines the mock-epic poem "Rape of the Lock" in its social, literary, and historical contexts. The poem takes up a small portion of the book, and the rest is made up of diary entries, letters, essays, newspapers, etc. that help to explain the culture surrounding Pope. The city of London, clothes, card games, coffee, makeup, social norms, and countless other things are discussed in very readable and enjoyable ways in order to make "The Rape of the Lock" truly come alive.
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny! 11 Mar 2012
By M. N. - Published on
My version of the poem had a great introduction which explained what inspired the poem, which was a huge bonus for me! Alexander Pope's poem however was easy enough for me to understand, which I greatly appreciate. I particularly loved the description of the women being dressed at the end of the first canto. There was something so profound in the statement that the women take praise for looking good when it isn't them that look good - it was those that dressed them. Granted, I suspect that most women don't have someone dressing them these days; however, today women are so covered in makeup, and with the prevalence of plastic surgery and botox, I'm not sure that we really are making ourselves look good anymore, it's something else.

Regardless, the poem was actually quite wonderful. Funny, quirky, and clever - overall I loved it! It amused me how he instilled this sense of impending doom and horror into a comedic poem about a woman's hair being cut off as a prank at a party. Knowing the back-story was tremendously helpful in this regard, it I had not known that it was written in response to a prank played at a party, I would have greatly misunderstood the poem.
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