I have just finished reading a large selection of Alexander Pope's letters in a lovely little hardback published by OUP forty or fifty years ago. It's strange, when you love a poet, to read his letters and find them so uninspiring, so sugar-coated – even petty-minded at times. No grand ideas discussed, no spark, no real depth of humanity, only polite conversation, literary chit-chat and whining about poor health.
Perhaps Pope saved all his best thoughts for his poems and didn't give too much importance to letter-writing. Or perhaps he didn't have much to say in prose, as he led a fairly uneventful life and rarely left his Twickenham house.
The only interesting letters for me were the ones he wrote to Jonathan Swift and John Gay, not so much because of what he said in them but because they cast some light on his friendship with these two authors.
As I was returning this book, I spotted Martin Amis's Money on display, so I grabbed it and it's going to be my next read.