This article, based on Bakhtinian dialogism, explores the disparity between Nature proposed in Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Criticism on the one hand and his practices of criticisms on the other, a disparity brought about by the use of dialogue and heterogeneous voices. Pope assumes that Nature, the universal and transcendental standard, guides literary creativity and criticism; to understand Nature demands the laborious study of the classics and of the critical rules developed from ancient times by European critics. However, irreconcilable voices are found in Pope’s discourses, which render ridiculous his self-assumed, taken-for-granted unity between Nature and criticism. The heterogeneity of his discourse is demonstrated in three aspects: (1) the ambiguous state of Nature: Popean Nature is never universally accepted, clearly defined, and faithfully practiced, but represents his monologic voice surrounded by many others; (2) the critical rules and tradition: tradition is too polyphonic and heterogeneous to be synthesized in a systematic, monologic discourse, whereas Pope’s imitation of the classics and his endorsement of critical rules display the dialogue between the ancient and modern—the ancient can offer some examples for the modern, while the modern can reinterpret the classics in a new light; (3) Pope’s dialogue with his contemporaries: in the Essay he apparently speaks as an authority, but he also paid painful attention to the response of contemporary readers and would revise his poetry accordingly—with the intention not to follow Nature but to retaliate. Thus, Pope’s criticisms manifest the gist of Bakhtinian dialogism to some extent. Pope’s discourses, incorporating ancient and modern voices, demonstrate the inevitability of polyphony and heterogeneity.
KEYWORDS: Alexander Pope, Mikhail Bakhtin, An Essay on Criticism, dialogism, Nature, tradition
本文借巴克汀(Mikhail Bakhtin)之對話理論 (dialogism),探討波普(Alexander Pope)在其《批評論》 (An Essay on Criticism)中所標榜之「模仿」說。波普認為 創作和批評必須遵循一普遍超然之法則,亦即「天道」 (Nature);而欲明白天道,必須勤奮鑽研傳統經典,以及學 習歐陸批評家自古以來所發展出之批評法則。然而,根據《批 評論》中之論述,以及波普之創作經驗,所謂「模仿古人」 說實則問題重重,矛盾百出。從對話理論之觀點,問題可從 三個層面討論:(一)天道之本質:天道並未如波普所言, 發揮普遍超然之影響力,且波普一生也未遵循之;(二)波 普對傳統之論述:傳統實為一錯綜複雜、充滿異質元素之大 雜燴,不能以單一純粹之系統化理論予以定位;所謂學習傳 統,實際上是今人與古人產生「對話」——不單是古人能提 供今人創作典範,今人亦能重新詮釋古人經典、賦予新的意 義;(三)波普與其當代之對話:波普表面上說話口氣有如 權威,但實際上他並非一言堂式的批評家;他相當重視當代 讀者對其詩作之反應,且常常據以修改自己詩作。波普之「模 仿古人」說,其實某種程度上符合巴克汀之對話論。《批評 論》中揉合古今理論,更印證了「眾聲喧嘩」(polyphony) 和「異質性」(heterogeneity)之必然。