Swift and Defoe, a Study in Relationship

Swift and Defoe, a Study in Relationship

Swift and Defoe, a Study in Relationship

Swift and Defoe, a Study in Relationship

Excerpt

The relationship of the two great prose writers of the Age of Anne--the creators of Crusoe and Gulliver--has received surprisingly little examination, and has never been considered in any detail. In the macroscopic view, as in general discussions of the course of modern English prose, they are brought together as ironists, as masters of circumstantial detail in narrative, and as masters of plain and simple prose. Yet this view obscures their great and very important differences. In the critical view of a narrower field, such as that of a biography of Swift or Defoe, the relations of the two, if indeed any reference is made to their relations, arc naturally mentioned only in generalities or obiter dicta, lest attention be diverted from the primary object of study. In the biographies of Defoe, for instance, will be found brief suggestions of personal rivalry, or even feud, between Swift and Defoe; in the biographies of Swift, no such suggestion is to be found. Again, there have been a few fragmentary comments concerning literary debts owed by one writer to the other; but no . . .

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