December 8th 2019
2.30 – 4.30
Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man:
An Unacknowledged Esoteric Masterpiece
‘All our Knowledge is, Ourselves to Know’.
Pope’s Essay on Man (1733-4) was perhaps the most influential poem of its time, drawing praise from Voltaire, Rousseau, Kant and Hume. However, in our own age it has been repeatedly denigrated by academics although Pope himself regarded the Essay as central to his achievement. Lacking a metaphysical – let alone an esoteric – perspective, the modern materialistic mind spectacularly misses the point of this wonderful elaboration of ‘the Nature and State of Man, with respect to the Universe’.
When it is understood that the poem emerges from an implied dialogue with Pope’s great friend St. John Bolingbroke as they contemplate the poet’s symbolical garden in Twickenham, we can begin to appreciate the profound implications of a work whose raison d’être is to demonstrate the order, balance and love that underpin creation, despite any and all appearances to the contrary.
Peter Brennan was for many years Head of English at The Latymer School, Edmonton, and now teaches freelance for City Lit, the Quakers and other organisations, having compiled over 60 courses, ranging from Chaucer and Shakespeare to Frank O’Hara and Bob Dylan. He has always been concerned to explore the esoteric implications of literature and particularly enjoys working with those seeking self development. Peter has studied Kabbalah in Warren Kenton’s school since 1998 and has begun work on a spiritual history of English poetry.
The talks will start at 2.30pm and end by 4.30 followed by tea and cakes
Parking is free on Sundays.