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Warton, Joseph

Joseph Warton, 1722–1800, English critic and poet, brother of Thomas Warton. Educated at Winchester and Oxford, he took holy orders in 1744 and served several cures. He spent an unsuccessful tenure as headmaster at Winchester, resigning in 1793. In London he met Samuel Johnson and became part of Johnson's literary group. His poems show a preference for the primitive over the civilized life. The Enthusiast (1744) and his subsequent volume of odes (1746) are early examples of romantic nature poetry. His chief work was his Essay on the Genius and Writings of Pope (2 vol., 1756 and 1782). Though an admirer of Pope, he criticized the classical tendencies of 18th-century poetry and longed for a revival of imagination and passion. He edited a nine-volume edition of Pope in 1797.

See J. Pittock, The Ascendancy of Taste: The Achievement of Joseph and Thomas Warton (1973).

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