This articles discusses the issue of the miniaturization of epic poetry in the English Neoclassical age. In the English version of the querelle des anciens et des modernes, the reduction of the epic was ridiculed by some satiric writers, such as Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, as a demonstration of the demise of modern taste. The expression "Homer in a nutshell" became tantamount to the absence of a true epic style and content, as is witnessed by some parodies of the ancient epic having the phrase «in a nutshell» in their titles. However, the "little epic" was a reputable literary genre with a long-standing tradition, from the Hellenistic poets to Ovid and Catullus, and then to Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, in England. Moreover, it became the basis for a modern version of epic poetry, the mock-heroic poem, which tried to accommodate the desire to write epic poetry with the distrust of the genre that some critics believed as barbarian. The article considers the conflict between the so-called anti-Homeric paradigms of the neoclassical age and its reverence for the epic form, between its request for realism and its adherence to literary rules, and its precarious resolution in the belittlement of the epic form in the mock-heroic poetry. It contains a reading of Pope's The Rape of the Lock as speciment of the mock-epic poetry in minature.

«In a nutshell». La miniaturizzazione dell’epica e la poesia eroicomica inglese dell’età neoclassica

Flavio Gregori
2020

Abstract

This articles discusses the issue of the miniaturization of epic poetry in the English Neoclassical age. In the English version of the querelle des anciens et des modernes, the reduction of the epic was ridiculed by some satiric writers, such as Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope, as a demonstration of the demise of modern taste. The expression "Homer in a nutshell" became tantamount to the absence of a true epic style and content, as is witnessed by some parodies of the ancient epic having the phrase «in a nutshell» in their titles. However, the "little epic" was a reputable literary genre with a long-standing tradition, from the Hellenistic poets to Ovid and Catullus, and then to Shakespeare, Spenser, and Milton, in England. Moreover, it became the basis for a modern version of epic poetry, the mock-heroic poem, which tried to accommodate the desire to write epic poetry with the distrust of the genre that some critics believed as barbarian. The article considers the conflict between the so-called anti-Homeric paradigms of the neoclassical age and its reverence for the epic form, between its request for realism and its adherence to literary rules, and its precarious resolution in the belittlement of the epic form in the mock-heroic poetry. It contains a reading of Pope's The Rape of the Lock as speciment of the mock-epic poetry in minature.
NS XIII
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3722597
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