What dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things
--from Canto I
FIRST EDITION, containing the FIRST APPEARANCE of Pope's The Rape of the Lock.
"The earliest version of Pope's mock heroic poem The Rape of the Lock, composed in a fortnight during summer 1711, had for nine months been anonymously printed in Bernard Lintot's Miscellany. The masterpiece of Pope's earlier period, The Rape of the Lock (1712, 1714) had its origin in a quarrel between two Catholic families, apparently over the provocative cutting off of a lock of hair by Lord Petre from the head of Arabella Fermor...
"The poem... is far from being a mere social satire in which a trivial quarrel is mocked by being presented in epic terms. Indeed, by the time the poem has been thoughtfully read it is not really clear that the quarrel is trivial. The ‘Heroi-Comical’ in Pope's hands is a volatile mixture: some of its comedy rebounds on the epic conventions that are primarily deployed to mock the foolish and vain. In the shining lock of hair Pope contemplates beauty, reputation, conquest in love and war, anger, humour, and resignation. The political facets of the poem, parts only of the total multi-faceted effect, have recently come more into the light, so that the work has its own angle on historical change. Not only does the poem have many targets, all seen through the prism of Belinda and her lock, but it also has many tones, those of subtle comedy, outright farce, and lofty sadness" (DNB).
Pope sold this 2-canto version to Lintott for 7 pounds in March 1712; in 1714 an expanded 5-canto version was issued.
London: Printed for Bernard Lintott, 1712. Octavo, contemporary paneled calf rebacked. With engraved frontispiece and half-title. Some light marginal worming, light occasional dampstaining (not affecting Pope's verses). A handsome copy.
Price: $4,300 .