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Chapter 3 - Health and Sickness

from Part I - Personal

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 May 2024

Joseph Hone
Affiliation:
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Pat Rogers
Affiliation:
University of South Florida
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Summary

For Swift, sickness and health were personal, moral, and political. This chapter focuses on Swift’s articulation of disgust, in particular the disgust towards the female body that readers encounter in poems such as ‘The Lady’s Dressing Room’ (1732) and ‘A Beautiful Young Nymph going to Bed’ (1734), as well as Gulliver’s revulsion at the monstrous Brobdingnagian breast. Swift depicted a sickeningly dirty world for a culture and class for whom politeness, civility and refinement were associated with cleanliness. In their own disgust and repulsion at Swift’s filthy rudeness, readers resist his satire’s collapse of dichotomies. The moral and the physical converge in his work as antinomies of health and sickness collide with oppositions of purity and filth.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2024

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