The Emotional Contents of Swift’s saeva indignatio

  • Robert Phiddian
Part of the Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions book series (Palgrave Studies in the History of Emotions)


According to Joseph Carroll’s combative manifesto for a Darwinian approach to literature, ‘Together, anger, contempt, and disgust comprise the main emotional components of satire’.1 Students of satire have done very little to address this statement in the decade since he made it, and not for want of major developments in analysis of these emotions. Anger has long attracted the attention of psychologists, and there is a rapidly developing scholarship on disgust and contempt in their psychological, philosophical, and cultural aspects.2 Perhaps these emotions’ visceral qualities have kept them from attracting much attention among literary scholars of satire. Though satire makes us laugh and is consequently often thought of as a comic activity in the benign realm of humour, it is deeply committed to the mobilisation of essentially negative emotions. They are expressive and affective dimensions of satire rather than the formal aspects that tend to be the focus of literary analysis, but they are essential to an understanding of the cultural and personal function of satires.


Eighteenth Century Public Sphere Virtual Community Norm Violation Press Freedom 
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© Robert Phiddian 2016

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  • Robert Phiddian

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