Satire, History, Novel: Narrative Forms, 1665-1815

Satire, History, Novel: Narrative Forms, 1665-1815

Satire, History, Novel: Narrative Forms, 1665-1815

Satire, History, Novel: Narrative Forms, 1665-1815

Synopsis

Narrative satire was one of the dominant literary forms of the 18th century, but it came to be displaced by novelistic and historical forms of narrative. Palmeri (English, U. of Miami) argues that these new forms defined themselves in opposition to satire, but also by appropriating elements of satir

Excerpt

This book seeks to answer the question of what happened to satire after its period of prominence in the early eighteenth century, and to address a series of theoretical questions that follow from the first concerning the history of relations between genres: How and why does a genre that has been dominant fade in importance and give way to other genres? What elements do new, or newly significant, genres share with the earlier one; in what ways do they challenge, disavow, suppress, but also appropriate features of the previous prevailing form? Can shifts in the appeal and usefulness of genres be related to larger shifts in paradigms of cultural understanding? Is it possible to construct a genealogy of genres?

Most critics would agree that narrative satire and formal verse satire were dominant forms in the early eighteenth century, and that by the second half of the century that position was claimed by other forms. Although these are closely related genres, it is also important to distinguish between them. As I have argued in Satire in Narrative, narrative satire sets against each other opposed points of view; it criticizes or parodies both extremes, but typically devotes little or no attention to positions that might mediate or accommodate the differences between them. Rather than building to a strong sense of closure, such satires tend to remain open-ended and not progressive, their oppositions unresolved by either marriage or death. Satiric narratives also tend to employ irony and parody in levelling accepted hierarchies of value, such as high and low, the spiritual and the physical.

The lack of a clear middle ground between opposites is the most distinctive and relevant characteristic of narrative satire for this book; it is notable already in narrative satire of the Renaissance. in the Praise of Folly (1511), the corrupt, worldly foolishness of . . .

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