Written in 1727, The Art of Sinking in Poetry was one of Alexander Pope’s contributions to the literary output of the legendary Scriblerus club – a circle of writers dedicated to mocking what they perceived as a culture of mediocrity and false learning prevalent in the arts and sciences of their day.
Taking the form of an ironic guide to writing bad verse, Pope’s tongue-in-cheek essay is wickedly funny in its lampooning of various pompous poetasters, as well as being essential reading for any budding writer wishing to avoid sinking to the unintentionally ridiculous, and instead to reach for the sublime.
'This attractive edition makes the audacity of Pope's critical wit and his mastery of poetic technique accessible to a modern audience... Those interested in poetic practice or pursuing Pope's career from An Essay in Criticism
to The Rape of the Lock
to The Dunciad
will find it an essential companion.' The Times Literary Supplement
'As the sublime was becoming fashionable, Alexander Pope produced a brilliant guide to this tendency, his Art of Sinking in Poetry
. It was a compendium of the failed sublimities of other poets, many of them contemporaries, and it introduced the word ‘bathos’ to the English language.' The Guardian
'Hilariously vicious... At a time when more is being published in the English language than ever before, the re-publication of this 18th-century essay is timely.' The Guardian
Read an excerpt from The Art of Sinking in Poetry