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The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing$
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James Noggle

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199642434

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199642434.001.0001

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Taste against Taste in Pope’s Epistle to Burlington

Taste against Taste in Pope’s Epistle to Burlington

(p.40) 1 Taste against Taste in Pope’s Epistle to Burlington
The Temporality of Taste in Eighteenth-Century British Writing

James Noggle

Oxford University Press

How could the Epistle to Burlington by Alexander Pope, a traditionalist appalled by modern corruption, have recourse to the concept of taste, the most commercially tainted, modish concept of his day? The dual temporal character of taste allows Pope to define it to suit his own ideological ends. Pope reconfigures the ‘now’of taste to match a classical past and a vision of a better political and cultural future, recognizing true taste’s evacuation from the degraded modern world. Eccentric and unsustainable in itself, Pope’s version of tasteful immediacy nonetheless establishes what will become a standing option in the aesthetic tradition: a rejection of the present by means of a powerful present feeling, one that gestures towards some other imaginable cultural future.

Keywords:   Alexander Pope, taste, modernity, classicism, Epistle to Burlington

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