Clark Lawlor
Search for other papers by Clark Lawlor in
Current site
Google Scholar
‘Chaos dark and deep’
Grotesque selves and self-fashioning in Pope’s Dunciad
Abstract only
Log-in for full text

This chapter examines the notion of the eighteenth-century male self, at least in its Augustan formulation and constructed by Alexander Pope in his various Dunciads, as a conflicted entity riven by the discourses of gender, physical norms based on classical precedent, the ever-rising middling orders and consumer mercantile capitalism. It takes its cue both from the theory of Bakhtin’s grotesque and classical bodies, subsequently revised by Stallybrass and White’s now seminal Politics and Poetics of Transgression, and more recent critical notions of the historical specificity of the (medical) body in Pope’s own time, when a shift was occurring from the idea of mechanical body to one more centred around the nervous system. Helen Deutsch has productively discussed Pope’s construction of his own body in terms of deformity - one that Pope self-fashioned to his advantage as far as was possible (Resemblance and Disgrace). Here it is argued that Pope displaces his anxieties (consciously or not) about his own masculinity, poetic productivity and physical legitimacy onto a series of alternative selves, either grotesquely monstrous women, or chaotically effeminate men, most notably his poetic alter ego, the poet laureate Colley Cibber.

  • Collapse
  • Expand

All of MUP's digital content including Open Access books and journals is now available on manchesterhive.



All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 96 17 3
Full Text Views 31 0 0
PDF Downloads 17 1 0