The Epistolary Form Of Writing

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The epistle in its most basic form is simply a letter, with the epistolary form in the Eighteenth Century being a published letter often from one writer to another. This mode of writing was extremely popular in the Eighteenth Century, taking on different contexts for different purposes. An epistle can be a complex genre of writing. The Epistle can be a collection of poems, a satirical essay, a response to an author’s works or a raging sparring of words. Although quite constraining in format, an epistle addressed to someone, be it explicit or not can capture the minds of many.

The epistle is notably an ancient form of writing, originating in Egypt as early as 1292 BC. However, the scholars of Ancient Greece and Rome made the formulae of
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Horace’s work does indeed showcase his view of literary culture of that time, highlighting the change that is occurring and setting rules and boundaries of writing poetry.

From Ancient Greece to Eighteenth Century England the epistle’s importance still remains. With the Ancients vs Moderns argument being in full effect, this added leverage to the use of the epistle in satire, reproducing the epistolary form as “Greats” before them had also used. The difference between Modern thinkers were in stark contrast to the Neo-Classical thinkers of the time. The Neo-Classical Aesthetic embodied a group of attitudes towards art and human existence. That of order, logic, restraint, accuracy, decorum and correctness was favoured over the Renaissance thinkers that believed imagination, invention, experimentation and mysticism was more important to feature in Literature. The Augustan Age in which Pope, being a central poetic figure at that time had the most famous and well recognised modern epistles written both by him and also aimed at him.

Criticism was increasingly popular in the 18th Century, with enjoyment coming from both the original text and the opinions and responses to the text by others. Of course, Pope perceived some criticism as incorrect and a personal attack on his own being rather than input on his actual body of work. These attacks, however, motivate Alexander Pope further, giving him more material
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