Friday, November 04, 2005

Total Recall

Forty years ago at university I spent four long and turgid lecture periods studying the 18th century poet and essayist Alexander Pope. Amazingly, to this day I can remember every single word of the notes I made at the time.

Pope is best remembered these days for the quotation "A little learning is a dangerous thing." His most famous poem is The Rape Of The Lock. This is a mock heroic tale in which trival events are inflated out of all proportion to their true significance. The poem itself, about a young lady having a lock of her hair cut off, is a five canto epic.

In his many critical essays Pope employed the mock heroic form to belittle and insult his contemporaries. He was a towering figure in English literature, as much feared as he was admired.

Oh, and the lecture notes I memorised at the time. Here they are complete and verbatim:

"Alexander Pope was four foot six inches tall."

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