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Introduction: Understanding Satire

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The SatiristSatirical PurposeProblems of Origin and Definition

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... Yet, we […] may sometimes fail to perceive that artifice plays as great a role in this process as fact […]. As occurred in Swift's time, when a purblind Irish bishop proclaimed that he for one did not believe a word of the Travels, today we have critics […] scoffing at Moore's veracity, making lists of his deceits, and wholly misunderstanding his objective of finally promoting more criticism and open enquiry of perceived injustice (Quintero 2007: 4). ...
... As Brean Hammond (2006) states, "Satire is the art of holding up to ridicule an individual, or an institution (such as the Church or the government), or a more abstract entity such as the 'humankind'" (p.369). Satirists usually write out of discontent and indignation, however, as Ruben Quintero (2007) asserts: "with a sense of moral vocation and with a concern in public interest […] The satirist, either explicitly or implicitly, tries to sway us toward an ideal alternative, toward a condition of what the satirist believes should be" (pp.1, 3). Furthermore, some form of attack or ridicule is required in a text for it to be satiric. ...
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The purpose of this essay is to analyse the teaching of literature with a competency-based approach. This is exemplified by means of a thorough study of a poetic duel between two relevant eighteenth-century writers, Jonathan Swift and Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, and more specifically, by means of the satires entitled respectively "The Lady's Dressing Room" (1732) and "The Reason that Induced Dr S[wift] to write a Poem call'd the Lady's Dressing Room" (1734).
... And again (300): "Proportionen zu vertauschen, Verhältnisse umzukehren, den gewöhnlichen Nexus der Dinge zu lösen-das bestimmt den Rang und den Vorzug satirischer Kunstwerke". Similarly Quintero (2007) 3: "Satire cannot function without a standard against which readers can compare its subject. We praise with delight what we admire..., and we censure with indignation the despicable or what causes ill because we have an acquired sense of what the world should or might be ... The satirist, either explicitly or implicitly, tries to sway us toward an ideal alternative, toward a condition of what the satirist believes should be." ...
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Horace in Satire 1.1 stakes out a Callimachean-neoteric identity, typically using ethical themes to double as programmatic statements on aesthetics. The auarus, conversely, as symmetrical counter-image of the satiric speaker, is figured in " counter-aesthetic " categories. Ethical value and " anti-value " are aligned to aesthetics and " counter-aesthetics: " the miser's perversion is tracked in an ironically self-deconstructing " aesthetic " discourse (iuuat, pulchrum, suaue, delectat, gaudere tabellis) and in a number of other gestures that recognizably refract an original poetological reference. The resulting tension humorously punctures his misguided logic and confronts his " parallel universe " with the real world. n Satire 2.3 the street-preacher Stertinius in a reported diatribe excoriates ambition, luxury, avarice and love—a strident, over-the-top sermon, to be sure, but also a thematic index of vices targeted elsewhere by the satirist Horace in his own voice. Greed (auaritia) in particular is a recurrent preoccupation: from the Satires through the Epistles, he dramatizes symptoms, diagnoses causes, and prescribes the therapy of the " middle way " (est modus in rebus…). 1 Satire 1.1 with its famous vignettes of misguided behaviour is Horace's most sustained engagement with auaritia and the psychology of the auarus: it is the key text in his pathology of that vice, and for that reason alone of considerable * Sincere thanks to the journal's editor and anonymous readers for very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. The usual disclaimers apply.
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Chapter
This chapter also focuses on a genre which requires an intertextual response from its audience in order to achieve its ends. Satire requires knowledge of the target of that satire, be that another literal text, a more expansive understanding of ‘text’ as discourse, belief, or idiom, or an individual. Jonson’s satirical play Poetaster is intensely intertextual, presenting Jonson’s ongoing feud with some of his contemporaries in a framework of the production of classical texts by classical writers via its narrative set in the court of the Emperor Augustus. It also instigated an intertextual response, Marston and Dekker’s Satiromastix. As well as investigating the propriety of satire, the text also makes claims for the proper production and use of poetry, all via an intertextual reading.
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Origins: Lucilius Near the beginning of the tenth book of his Institutes, midway through a list of readings recommended for the orator in training, Quintilian, Rome’s most prolific theorist of rhetoric after Cicero, takes a tendentious step towards satire’s terrain by claiming that this particular genre can be accounted “totally ours.” The claim is tendentious because extreme, and true only in a highly qualified sense. For ancient critics had long since sought to establish the genre’s Greek pedigree by tracing its development past its most obvious early practitioners in Republican Rome (Ennius and Lucilius, both of whom wrote in the second century bce) all the way to fifth-century Athens. Claims of satire’s Greek provenience, although they could easily be stretched to an opposite extreme, are defensible and seem to have at least some narrow basis in fact. Horace, writing more than one hundred years before Quintilian, was aware of both extremes. Perhaps to goad those in his audience who adamantly defended the idea that satire sprouted entirely from Roman soil, but perhaps also to mimic those who wanted to believe that any good thing in Roman literature just had to come from the Greeks, Horace went so far as to assert that Lucilius did not a whit more to invent satire than to rework the meters of Greek Old Comedy (“having changed only their meters and rhythms,” mutatis tantum pedibus numerisque, Sermones 1.4.7). © Cambridge University Press 2005 and Cambridge University Press, 2006.
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Although the term "Menippean satire" was never used in antiquity to name a distinct literary genre (the term was coined in the 16th century), it has come to describe a vast body of world literature - from Erasmus and the Humanists to Pabelais and Swift, from "Moby Dick" to "Alice in Wonderland" and "Ulysses". The text is invoked to explain the origins of the modern novel and to categorize forms of prose fiction that are not essentially novelistic. This book charts the history and development of this ancient genre. The author demonstrates its unity as a Greco-Roman phenomenon, describes its different branches, and shows the continuity of the genre into late classical and early Christian times. He also discusses the theories of the genre set forth by Northrop Frye and Mikhail Bakhtin and presents a detailed definition that respects the particularities of classical texts. In chapters on the fragments and testimonia relevant to Menippus and Varro, Relihan shows the specific Greek origins of the genre and its transformation in Roman hands. Subsequent chapters offer readings of Seneca's "Apocolocyntosis", Petronius, Lucian's "Necyomantia and Icaromenippus", Julian's "Symposium", Martianus Capella, Fulgentius's "Mythologies", and Ennodius's so-called "Paraenesis Didascalica". Boethius's "Consolation" is dealt with in the conclusion, which looks ahead to the Menippean satires of the 12th century. Three appendices discuss the relations between Menippean satire and the recently discovered fragments of Greek prosimetric fiction, and offer annotated translations of the text of Ennodius and of Fulgentius's "Prologue".
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The first edition of The Rhetoric of Fiction transformed the criticism of fiction and soon became a classic in the field. One of the most widely used texts in fiction courses, it is a standard reference point in advanced discussions of how fictional form works, how authors make novels accessible, and how readers recreate texts, and its concepts and terms—such as "the implied author," "the postulated reader," and "the unreliable narrator"—have become part of the standard critical lexicon. For this new edition, Wayne C. Booth has written an extensive Afterword in which he clarifies misunderstandings, corrects what he now views as errors, and sets forth his own recent thinking about the rhetoric of fiction. The other new feature is a Supplementary Bibliography, prepared by James Phelan in consultation with the author, which lists the important critical works of the past twenty years—two decades that Booth describes as "the richest in the history of the subject."
Irony and the Ironic
  • D. C. Muecke
Generation of Vipers
  • Philip Wylie
(originally published in Classical Philology [1927] 22, 46–60)
Satire: Modern Essays in Criticism
  • G. L. Hendrickson
Satire: Spirit and Art
  • George A. Test