Arguments of Augustan Wit by Professor John Sitter

By Professor John Sitter

Comedian and satiric literature from the 1670s to the 1740s is characterised by way of the allusive and elusive note play of Augustan wit. The arguments of Augustan wit demonstrate preoccupations with the metaphorical size of language so distrusted via Locke and others who observed it as essentially against the rational mode of judgement. John Sitter makes a hard declare for the significance of wit within the writings of Dryden, Rochester, previous, Berkeley, homosexual, Pope and rapid, as an analytic mode in addition to one in every of stylistic sophistication. He argues that wit - frequently looked through glossy critics as a old fashioned type of verbal cleverness - in reality bargains to literary conception a legacy corrective of Romantic and neo-Romantic idealizations of mind's eye. This research goals instantly to stress the old specificity of Augustan writing, and to convey its arguments into discussion with these of our time.

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Unavoidably given over to invincible ignorance of those Proofs on which others build" (iv. xx. 2). Locke's assurances that, because we are all "short-sighted Creatures" living in a "state of Ignorance," divine benevolence has endowed us with the power of'"standing still" (n. xxi. 50) could not be of much pertinence to Pope's characterological world of "quick whirls" and "shifting eddies" and of even less to Johnson's landscape of mists and restless motion. 20 Locke's emphasis conforms in general to the limited role Pope assigns to reason, and his account of "uneasiness" may have contributed to Pope's description of "love of ease" as often the strongest motive {An Essay on Man, n.

133) with "perhaps," a word underscored in the manuscript and used again when Pope develops the closely related idea that motives are as elusive as the logic of dreams: "Something as dim to our internal view, / Is thus, perhaps, the cause of most we do" {Epistle to Cobham, lines 49-50). Finally and most obviously, there is no making sense of Pope's ethical and political satires if we assume that he was committed to a position leaving no room for individual choice or responsibility. But when all of these things have been recalled, one may well feel that the problem of free will has been elevated rather than eliminated.

In pointing out that one may serve one's self and stay out of legal trouble "by Favour, by Secresy, or by Cunning, although he breaketh almost every Law of God," Swift comes close to defining God politically as the Common Good (PW ix. 157). 12 This sermon at any rate is on what we might call political conscience, or, keeping in mind Swift's definition, political consciousness. Putting it this way is not to separate artificially Swift's theology and politics, either in church or in the fictions.

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