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Look for Seeing what items qualify for 2-day shipping is easy—they're flagged with the program logo. Featured Shipping Pass Products Household. What is Shipping Pass and how will it make my life easier? A Satire London, : p. McAdam, Jr. In what follows I lay out those doubts, especially among a second group of philosophers and critics, those concerned with the psychology of humour and laughter. Such writers raised troubling questions about what humour was supposed to do and whether laughter was categorically prohibited from producing posi- tive reformative or social outcomes. Such an account of humour and laughter has important consequences for thinking functionally about satire.

For obvious reasons, this was undesirable. But it also hinted at an insidiously anti-so- cial element in human nature, a kind of inborn malevolence in need of careful management. Donald A. Russell, 4 vols Cambridge, Mass. John Morreall Albany, : pp. Hobbes, he Elements of Law Natural and Politic, ed. Laughter and the Limits of Reform box of Superiority heory. And it is incident most to them, that are most conscious of the fewest abilities in themselves; who are forced to keep themselves in their own favour, by observing the imperfections of other men.

And therefore much Laughter at the defects of others, is a signe of Pusillanimity. For of great minds, one of the proper workes is, to help and free others from scorn; and compare themselves onely with the most able. Francis Hutcheson, for instance, rejected the equa- tion of laughter and superiority. Ian Shapiro New Haven, : pt. I, ch. Hutcheson, Relections Upon Laughter Glasgow, : p. Lawrence E. Klein Cambridge, : p. Such a reconceptualisation reduced a once socially divisive and even latently vindictive act down to a mere cognitive pleasure in language.

Such a shift in thinking brings us closer to the emergence of what has been called incongruity theory, which came in large measure to dominate theories of humour from the latter half of the eighteenth century onwards. Moreover, those claiming that humour was fundamentally a pleasure in incongruity 45 Morreall, Comic Relief, pp.

Kant, he Critique of Judgement , ed. Nicholas Walker, trans. James Creed Meredith Oxford, : p. Schopenhauer, he World as Will and Idea ; , trans. Haldane and J. Kemp, 6th edn London, , bk I, sect. Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientiic Postscript , trans. David F. Swenson and Walter Lowrie Princeton, : pp. Laughter and the Limits of Reform often had tremendous diiculty isolating the innocuous element of burlesque from the ridicule implied in our laughter at particular people or even general types.

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Any post-Hobbesian theory of laughter that fails to recognise the perhaps not essential but commonly phthonic element in laughter, especially in laughing at such deeply personal satires, does so in contradistinction. But even this passion for incongruity could lead to intellectual dissipation. Hartley, Observations on Man, 2 vols London, , 1: p. When combatting Hobbes, for instance, incongruity theorists such as James Beattie were labbergasted that such superior laughter could be endorsed by not only an egoist like Bernard Mandeville but also someone like Joseph Addison.

For some, the mistake was not to associate laughter with superiority but to assume that all forms of laughter entailed it. Such derisive laughter, some contended, was nothing more than a subspecies of laughter better known as ridicule. Donald F. Bond, 5 vols Oxford, , 1: pp.

James Strachey, 24 vols [New York, —74]: pp. For many, ridicule and satire went hand in hand. Even Dryden acknowledged this stumbling block. Readers of satire were simply too willing to delight in the ridicule provided rather than the instruction. And yet the complication remained that satire was at best a paradoxical system of criticism and correction, and one in need of constant recalibration and reassessment.

Laughter should have been nothing more than a pleasurable means to a reformative end. Gruner, who argues that aggression undergirds all forms of joking, even puns and riddles, which lead to contests of one-upmanship with winners and losers he Game of Humor: A Comprehensive heory of Why We Laugh New Brunswick, : p. Bate and Albrecht B. Fairclough Cambridge, , I, satire 1.

London, : p. When assessing the relationship between satire and laughter, many writers and critics returned to the question that had been asked for millennia but that satirists had answered at best feebly and wishfully — the same question that Horace had asked but to which, it seemed, the wrong answer was always returned: why are you laughing? Vexing the World: Satire, Laughter, Afect heoretical defences of satire and laughter were for many, however, just that — theo- ries detached from practice. Many satirists and their commentators questioned the eicacy of satire, while philosophers and critics anxiously wrung their hands over the seeming anti-sociality of laughter.

In this inal section, I turn away from norma- tive claims about satiric reformation and turn to readers. Granted, readers were equally implicated in the shady ethics of satire — the pleasure such works produced was more likely to tickle readers with the frisson of scandalous exposure than push them ineluctably towards a high-minded ethics of correction. As I argue below, this miscalibration of reader response might in part be explained by recent psychological research that suggests that the playful cognitive states produced by humour and satire categorically prohibit reformation.

Such a doubtful reading might throw additional cold water on the corrective potential of both satire and laughter.


Yet perhaps there is another way we might think about satiric correction — one more circuitous and less defensive about its capacity for reform. To get at this more optimistic view of satiric reformation, I turn in closing to Jonathan Swift, perhaps the most sceptical of the eighteenth-century satirists. Rethinking the reformative function of satire and the role readers might play is important, for so much eighteenth-century theory openly acknowledges that the pleasure aforded by such works often overwhelmed their instruction.

Even Dryden found himself evaluating satiric works by his afective responses, while acknowledging that such emotional reactions should only serve the higher objective of correction. What should be clear, however, is that that pleasure for Dryden was necessary even if insuicient. Critic after critic argued that instruction was essential but nearly impossible without the utmost delight. Yet such delight in many ways is prohibitive, even precognitive: it is the wave of pleasure upon which the reader is borne, perhaps never to arrive on the shore of instruction.

Rather than being complementary, then, instruction and pleasure were oppo- sitional. As we saw in the last section, laughter could be interpreted as a deeply ugly response, one that belied an anti-social, inborn superiority. John Morreall, for instance, has argued that all laughter, the product of a kind of intellectual play, necessitates cognitive disengagement: we do not think when we laugh. Humour involves cognitive as well as practical disengagement […] he creator of humour puts ideas into our heads not to communicate information, but for the delight those ideas bring.

Hartley, Observations on Man, 2 vols London, , 2: p.

Michael J. According to Apter, humour is a non-serious activity involving play. Importantly, paratelic states engage us cognitively. Many eighteenth- century theorists were anxious to distance laughter from the supposed superiority 73 W. On the Elizabethan association between satire and stage comedy, see Griin, Satire: pp. Kerr and Michael J. Apter Amsterdam, : p. Lindzey and E. Aronson, 2nd edn.

Apter and K. Anthony J. Chapman and Hugh C. Foot Oxford, : p. Laughter and the Limits of Reform that Hobbes had in part ascribed to it. Such a line of argument, if taken at face value, had the tendency to render laughter innocuous: it was only the unexpected comparison of diferences, often merely verbal, that was the source of humour. For Dryden, satire needed to please if it were ever to instruct. Such paratelic states, remember, are ends in themselves: they are present and non-goal-oriented. Rather than working in tandem, as Dryden claimed, pleasure and instruction worked against each other, ighting to produce in a reader opposite frames of mind.

For Dryden, pleasure was a necessary but insuicient condition for instruction; but, as Apter and later researchers have shown, the pleasure produced by humour necessarily precludes instruction by inducing a state of mind contrary to active reformation. Such psycho- logical research in fact seems to correspond with a sceptical line of argument against satire that has been present throughout its entire history, and one that gained intensity as satirists increasingly sought to justify their most scathing and seem- ingly personal works.

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As Dustin Griin has remarked, satiric reductions: 79 15 December , he Spectator: p. Wyer, Jr. We have extended our imagined control of the world and in the process elevated our own status in relation to it. Such pleasures, I suspect, are short-lived and never enjoyed without some partial consciousness that they are delusions.

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For the complexity of the world soon presses in on us again, or a contradictory reduction solicits our attention. We already know what satire was supposed to do; but what did it do in fact? But it was also a pleasure in the decryption of scandal and backstory. Readers hungrily bought such muckraking satires and were equally implicated in the construction of satiric scandal.

Satiric laughter did not reform its victims or readers — it only claimed and sounded like it did. Knox, Essays Moral and Literary, 2 vols London, , 2: p.