The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy

By Hugh Kenner | Go to book overview

I

Counterfeitable Man

The satirist presses to some provisional conclusion a way of defining man, a way we had thought and contrive to still think plausible, though as long as we still so think the satire will irk us. Roman man is urban man, endowed man, man responsive to the resources of civilization: this is man, he is the enabled animal. Yes, says Juvenal. Enlightened man is sensitive to allay suffering and scrupulous to remove dirt. He makes no pother, things are to be done economically, sensibly. This is man, he is the sensible animal. Yes, says a pamphleteer, and here is my Modest Proposal. Methodical man takes note, and takes stock, and lets no fact escape remark and no premise fail of its consequence. He is attentive to natural forces, indeed to the useful travails of dumb beasts, and knows his place above them, being gifted with speech and reason. This is man, he is the rational animal. Indeed, says a retired seaman from Nottinghamshire, and what is more I could take you to some fine talking horses.

They call themselves Houyhnhnms. They look like horses and they talk like Bertrand Russell. They have no judiciary, and what a lawyer does must be explained to

-17-

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The Counterfeiters: An Historical Comedy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Dedication 5
  • Acknowledgments 7
  • Contents 9
  • Foreword 11
  • I - Counterfeitable Man 17
  • II - The Man of Sense As Buster Keaton 43
  • III - The Counterfeiters 68
  • IV - The Gulliver Game 100
  • V - Countermeasures 143
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