Jonathan Swift - G.VERONESE

Jonathan Swift
Gulliver’s Travels
Swift’s Epitaph
Hic depositum est corpus
Hujus Ecclesiae Cathedralis
Ubi saeva indignatio
Cor lacerare nequit
Abi Viator
Et imitare, si poteris
Strenuum pro virili
Libertatis Vindicatorem
Here is laid the Body of
Jonathan Swift
Doctor of Sacred Theology,
Dean of this Cathedral
where fierce Indignation
can no longer injure the
Go forth, Voyager, and
imitate, if you can, this
vigorous Champion of
man’s Liberty
• first recorded in Plato’s Republic
• Socrates, assuming the pose of ignorance or
foolishness, asks seemingly naive and
innocuous questions which gradually
undermine his interlocutor’s case and trap
him into seeing the truth (Socratic irony)
• Roman rhetoricians: a rhetorical figure and a
manner of discourse in which for the most
part the meaning was contrary to the words
• very difficult to define in all its
• however, most forms of irony involve
the perception or awareness of a
discrepancy or incongruity between
words and their meaning, or
between actions and their results, or
between appearance and reality
• imitation of the words, style, attitude,
tone and ideas of an author in such a way
as to make them ridiculous
• Usually achieved by exaggerating certain
features, using more or less the same
technique as the cartoon caricaturist
• a way of speaking or writing that involves
saying the opposite of what you really mean,
in order to make an unkind joke or to show
that you are annoyed
• generally heavier than irony
• a speech or piece of writing which is used to
denounce, abuse, criticize sharply, to express
dislike, disgust, contempt or even hatred
• In Gulliver’s Travels used against the English
• to ‘defamiliarize’ is to make fresh, new,
strange, different what is familiar and
• through it the writer modifies the
reader’s habitual perceptions and draws
attention to hidden or unusual aspects of
enumeratio incongrua
• a list of actions, events, objects, people, all
similar except for one or some, which/who
stand out for their diversity
I am not the least provoked and the sight of a
lawyer, a pickpocket, a colonel, a fool, a lord, a
gambler, a politician, a whoremonger, a
physician, an evidence, a suborner, an attorney,
a traitor, or the like…
scatological associations
• in pathology, ‘scatology’ is a diagnosis by a
study of the faeces
• a term used for literature in which there are
references to urin, excrement and bodily
• a way to say that we must come to terms with
the realities of our body
• a powerful means to deflate pride and
• the Enlightenment culture of eighteenth-century
England tended to view humans optimistically as
noble souls rather than vulgar bodies; Swift’s
emphasis on the common filth of life is a slap in
the face of the philosophers of his day. Thus,
when Gulliver urinates to put out a fire in Lilliput,
or when Brobdingnagian flies defecate on his
meals, or when the scientist in Lagado works to
transform excrement back into food, we are
reminded how very little human reason has to do
with everyday existence. Swift suggests that the
human condition in general is dirtier and lowlier
than we might like to believe it is.
reductio ad absurdum
• first appeared in classical Greek philosophy
• a common form of argument by which one
tries to demonstrate that a statement is true
by showing that a false, or absurd result
follows from its denial
• or that a statement is false by showing that a
false or absurd result follows from its
language inventiveness
• to amuse the readers and
attract their attention
• to achieve verisimilitude
• as a parody of travel literature
• to signal the ‘otherness’ of
those worlds
• «gullible»
• lacks drive, purpose
• often, a mere instrument for conveying
information to the reader
• generally describes without judging
• but involuntary means of criticism of the
situations/people he describes → reactions
undergoes several interesting
from the naïve Englishman to the
experienced but still open-minded world
traveller of the first two voyages
then to the perplexed island-hopper of the
third voyage
finally to the cynical, disillusioned, and
somewhat insane misanthrope of the
fourth voyage

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