Edited By Mascha Hansen and Jürgen Klein
OUR OWN SERVICE IN THE EMPIRE POPE’S DUNCIAD PREDICTS, Gerald J. Butler
OUR OWN SERVICE IN THE EMPIRE POPE’S DUNCIAD PREDICTS Gerald J. Butler, San Diego State University Lo! thy dread Empire, CHAOS! is restor’d; Light dies before thy uncreating word: Thy hand, great Anarch! lets the curtain fall; And Universal Darkness buries All.1 Has the great Goddess Dulness, whose progress Pope describes in his mock- epic, now, as predicted, conquered the world? “The modern redemption of the Dunciad,” Hugo M. Reichard maintained, “has been in part a demonstration that the poem deals with extant dunceness more than with forgotten dunces,” and he himself went on to show how “Pope associates the spread of bad books with the dynamics of a commercialized society.”2 David Fairer concluded that Pope’s prophesies “are coming closer to us, and it is becoming easier to discern a rela- tionship between a pacifying mass culture (increasingly international in its spread), the growth of mass movements (political, racial or religious), and the concentration of power in the hands of a few charismatic figures (rock stars, re- ligious figureheads or national leaders).”3 Of course, Scriblerus himself called into question the reliability of the Dunciad’s prediction: However, that such is not seriously the judgment of our Poet, but that he conceiveth better hopes from the diligence of our Schools, from the regularity of our Universities, the discernment of our Great men, the encouragement of our Pa- trons, and the genius of our Writers of all kinds, (notwithstanding some few ex- ceptions in each) may plainly be seen from his...
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