Introduction

  • James A. W. Rembert

Abstract

Swift’s satiric and ironic essays, chapters and passages, and his straightforward essays, are more dialectical in style than Swift studies heretofore have shown, dialectical analyses of literature not only having fallen behind rhetorical analyses but indeed being virtually nonexistent. Swift’s style is due a dialectical analysis, and the importance of the dialectical tradition in literature calls for exposition. What here is provided for Swift can be done for any of a number of authors from the period when dialectic was the foundation of university studies and of philosophy and theology, from before the time of Chaucer to the time of Blake. An exploratory exposition would naturally settle on a competitive age of pamphlet warfare, a time when writers were conscious of what they considered the perfection of prose and verse styles in the land, and an age of satire. Dryden, Locke, Steele and others of their period could supply the examples, but Swift best shows the persistent use of dialectic and, as the best satirist, he shows one of the main contentions of this inquiry: that satire, rather than using logic or dialectic, is in fact an adjunct of dialectic, is the child of disputation.

Keywords

Corn Europe Defend Verse Milton 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    C. B. Schmitt, ‘Towards a Reassessment of Renaissance Aristotelianism’, History of Science, 11 (1973) 176.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    E. J. Ashworth, Language and Logic in the Post-Medieval Period (Boston: D. Reidel, 1974) p. ix.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Her reference is to W. Risse, Die Logik der Neuzeit. Band L 1500–1640 (Stuttgart-Bad Connstatt, 1964).Google Scholar
  4. See also W. Risse, Bibliographia Logica. I. 1472–1800 (Hildesheim, 1965).Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    These include N. W. Gilbert, ‘The Early Italian Humanists and Disputation’, Renaissance Studies in Honor of Hans Baron, ed. A. Molho and J. A. Tedeschi, Biblioteca Storica Sansoni, Nuova Serie XLIX (Florence, 1971) pp. 203–26Google Scholar
  6. L. Jardine, ‘Humanism and Dialectic in Sixteenth-Century Cambridge, A Preliminary Investigation’, in Classical Influences on Renaissance Culture, ed. R. R. Bolgar (Cambridge University Press, 1976) pp. 141–55Google Scholar
  7. L. Jardine, ‘Lorenzo Valla and the Intellectual Origins of Humanistic Dialectic’, Journal of the History of Philosophy, 15 (1977) 143–64CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. and A. R. Perreiah, ‘Humanistic Critiques of Scholastic Dialectic’, Sixteenth Century Journal, 13 (1982) 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 5.
    D. W. Jefferson, ‘An Approach to Swift’, Pelican Guide to English Literature, ed. B. Ford, IV From Dryden to Johnson (London: Penguin, 1957) pp. 236, 240.Google Scholar
  10. R. S. Crane seems to have been the first to suggest the significance of textbooks in analysing Swift’s writings in his essay ‘The Houyhnhnms, the Yahoos, and the History of Ideas’, 1st pub. in Reason and the Imagination: Essays in the History of Ideas, 1600–1800, ed. J. R. Mazzeo (New York: Columbia University Press, 1962)Google Scholar
  11. reprinted in R. S. Crane, The Idea of the Humanities and Other Essays, Critical and Historical (University of Chicago Press, 1967) vol. II, pp. 261–82.Google Scholar
  12. For all the valuable and often recognised service of Crane in pointing to the logic Swift studied at Trinity College, few have stated as accurately as J. E. Gill ‘the background which Crane presents seems to this writer to be inadequate’, in ‘Man and Yahoo: Dialectic and Symbolism in Gulliver’s “Voyage to the Country of the Houyhnhnms”’, in The Dress of Words: Essays on Restoration and Eighteenth-Century Literature in Honor of Richmond P. Bond, ed. R. B. White, University of Kansas Library Series no. 42 (1978) p. 89 n. 16.Google Scholar
  13. I. Ehrenpreis in his Mr Swift and His Contemporaries, vol. I of Swift: The Man, His Works, and the Age (London: Methuen, 1962) p. 200, mentions the disputation exercises for the BA degree and the logic textbooks at Trinity College, Dublin; ‘The Rhetoric of Satire’Google Scholar
  14. ch. 3 of J. M. Bullitt, Jonathan Swift and the Anatomy of Satire (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1953), contains useful insights into Swift’s use of logic to gain powerful satiric effect, but the chapter, as its title suggests, has a rhetorical rather than a dialectical emphasis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 6.
    W. B. Carnochan, ‘Swift’s Tale: On Satire, Negation, and the Uses of Irony’, Eighteenth-Century Studies, 5 (1971) 122–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 7.
    Cf. related problems: ‘Deserts of circularity’ in Swift’s satires, noted by R. C. Elliott in ‘Swift’s Satire: Rules of the Game’, ELH, 41 (1974) 413, citing C. Rawson, and Rawson’s later observation, ‘The ironic subversions of the Tale are so universal that they become self-subversions; and the applied appeal to a simplifying authority is itself subverted by that fact’: ‘The Character of Swift’s Satire: Reflections on Swift, Johnson, and Human Restlessness’, in The Character of Swift’s Satire: A Revised Focus, ed. C. Rawson (Newark, N.J.: University of Delaware Press, 1983) p. 65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 8.
    P. H. Wells, ‘The Poetry of Swift: Dialectical Rhetoric and the Humanist Tradition’, unpublished PhD thesis, New York University, 1971Google Scholar
  18. A. B. England, “The Subversion of Logic in Some of Swift’s Poems’, Studies in English Literature, 15 (1975) 409–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. J. Kellerman, ‘Comedy, Satire, Dialectics’, unpublished PhD thesis, State University of New York at Buffalo, 1977 — a focus on Molière’s Misanthrope in terms of comedy, satire and Hegelian dialectics; J. E. Gill, ‘Man and Yahoo’, in Dress of Words, cited above (note 5).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© James A. W. Rembert 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • James A. W. Rembert
    • 1
  1. 1.The CitadelCharlestonUSA

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