The Appreciation of the Satiric Arts and the Cultural Influence in Gulliver's Travels

By Yuanna, Xu | Studies in Literature and Language, May 1, 2015 | Go to article overview

The Appreciation of the Satiric Arts and the Cultural Influence in Gulliver's Travels


Yuanna, Xu, Studies in Literature and Language


Abstract

As an outstanding literary giant of the 18th century in British literary history, Jonathan Swift, a famous English novelist, is well known for his flexible use of ironic skills in his works. It is just because of the ironic skills that his representative satiric novel, Gulliver's Travels, has been widely read up to now, leaving readers lost in its endless aftertastes. The essay is intended for appreciating the exquisite ironic skills and accordingly, bringing a supernatural, fantastic world to readers' mind, with the ironic skills ingeniously utilized by Swift. The novel also applies the funny form applied in Pantagruel and Gargantua, by Francois Rabelais, simultaneously influenced by The War between England and France, by Cedicy and Annedy and fully reflects the English culture.

Key words: Satiric arts; Swift; Gulliver's Travels; Cultural influence

INTRODUCTION

Jonathan swift (1667-1745), born in Berlin, Ireland's capital, is a most outstanding satirist, statesman essayist, political pamphleteer, poet and cleric who became dean of St Patrick's Cathedral, in Dublin, in the early 18th century. Representative works include Gulliver's Travels, The Battle of the Books, The Story of a Barrel, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier's Letters, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub . Swift is recognized as the foremost prose satirist in public eyes but his poems are less well known to us. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms. He is also known as the master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles. Swift is also the founder of the radical democracy in the British enlightenment movement.

Jonathan swift, an orphan of a decaying British aristocrat, is haunted by loneliness all his life. His father, a native of England, died in Dublin about 7 months before he was born, leaving him a posthumous child and his mother returned to England. He was committed to his influential uncle, Godwin, a close friend and confidant of John Temple, whose son later employed Swift as his secretary. His uncle shouldered the responsibility to bring him up, during which he entered the well known trinity college in Dublin (named after the "trinity" of the Catholicism), from which he received his B.A. in 1686, and developed his friendship with William Congreve. At the time, becoming the church's ministry was the safest way out for poor children, but his interests lay in history and literature, rather than theology and philosophy, troublesome courses to swift. Swift was studying for his Master's degree when political troubles in Ireland arising from the glorious revolution, forced him in 1688 to leave for England. Fortunately, his unfavorable academic career gave way to his acute intelligence, and he soon stepped into the society to make a living by pen, finally appearing in the political arena as a famous wielder of "Party" newspaper. In the process, he felt that the situation is tantamount to "a literate slave". Soon, he showed us the talent embedded in his incisive and wickedly sharp articles. One of his political articles revealing the corrupt acts of government directly led to the truce of British and French, which some people call "swift's contract". Although he later became the prime minister's crony and the draftsman of the queen's speeches, he was still proud of his poverty. Swift had no official titles and never asked for remuneration for his checking up manuscripts; He was ever angry to return the bonus offered by the prime minister for his writing, declaring not to be a hired writer. The queen and her ministers expelled him out of London eventually for fear of the influence of his popularity and ironic articles. He actively devoted himself to the war of Irish people's struggle for freedom and independence in Dublin, publishing violently aggressive military theories, making the British colonial policies restrained. Swift is deeply loved by the Irish people. …

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