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Chapter 3 - Keeping Up Appearances

Satire Between Preservation and Reformation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  19 January 2022

Shane Herron
Affiliation:
Flinders University of South Australia
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Summary

This chapter argues that Swiftian irony functions in a way similar to the Whiggish model of political revolution: both function “to preserve and to reform,” and both create new commitments based on challenging, revising, and criticizing existing institutions. Swift’s satire functions first and foremost, of course, to highlight weaknesses, defects, and corruptions in its objects; but, in a gesture reminiscent of Burkean conservatism and Rorty’s irony, his parody also serves as a means of preserving while reforming the satirized object, coopting its genuinely admirable qualities and opening up new spaces for indulgence and play. Burke makes explicit a model of ironic politics implicit in Swift’s Tale: political institutions are contestable primarily because they are an ongoing, unfinished project. Each generation must recognize this limitation and adapt institutions to their own needs.

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Irony and Earnestness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
Dimensions of Satire and Solemnity
, pp. 85 - 108
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • Keeping Up Appearances
  • Shane Herron, Flinders University of South Australia
  • Book: Irony and Earnestness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • Online publication: 19 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108993227.004
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

  • Keeping Up Appearances
  • Shane Herron, Flinders University of South Australia
  • Book: Irony and Earnestness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • Online publication: 19 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108993227.004
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Keeping Up Appearances
  • Shane Herron, Flinders University of South Australia
  • Book: Irony and Earnestness in Eighteenth-Century Literature
  • Online publication: 19 January 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108993227.004
Available formats
×