By Professor John Sitter
Comedian and satiric literature from the 1670s to the 1740s is characterised via the allusive and elusive note play of Augustan wit. The arguments of Augustan wit demonstrate preoccupations with the metaphorical size of language so distrusted through Locke and others who observed it as essentially against the rational mode of judgement. John Sitter makes a demanding declare for the significance of wit within the writings of Dryden, Rochester, previous, Berkeley, homosexual, Pope and fast, as an analytic mode in addition to one in all stylistic sophistication. He argues that wit - frequently looked via sleek critics as a old fashioned classification of verbal cleverness - in reality bargains to literary conception a legacy corrective of Romantic and neo-Romantic idealizations of mind's eye. This examine goals immediately to stress the historic specificity of Augustan writing, and to deliver its arguments into discussion with these of our time.
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Extra info for Arguments of Augustan Wit
A knotty point! to which we now proceed. But you are tir'd - I'll tell a tale. " (335-38) This question of whether supernatural ends await the worthless leads in turn all the way back to the opening of the poem, where the mixture of eschatology and epistolary self-mockery is similar. There Pope attributes to Bathurst an amused Epicureanism You hold the word, from Jove to Momus giv'n. That Man was made the standing jest of Heav'n; And Gold but sent to keep the fools in play, For some to heap, and some to throw away while playfully but pointedly advancing his own view that God is more "careful" than the gods: But I, who think more highly of our kind, (And surely, Heav'n and I are of a mind) Opine, that Nature, as in duty bound, Deep hid the shining mischief under ground: But when by Man's audacious labour won, Flam'd forth this rival to, its Sire, the Sun, Then careful Heav'n supply'd two sorts of Man, To squander these, and those to hide agen.
They lack any understanding of the "public," of history, of social and economic relations, and are in this way "fated" to embody the failed individualism of private ends. From the other perspective, as merely private agents they can have no commitment to, no role in, the common good. The progresses invite the 12 The remark is quoted by both Laetitia Pilkington and Lord Orrery; see PW ix. 98. 22 Arguments of Augustan wit viewer to adopt both of these perspectives toward the case studies the characters quickly become.
Epistle ILii, 278-83) William Warburton, who had so eagerly defended Pope from the charges of determinism lodged against An Essay on Man, took the first occasion to comment on this passage as well. "Here our Poet has an opportunity of illustrating his own Philosophy; and thereby giving a much better sense to his Original; and correcting both the naturalism and the fate of Horace, which are covertly conveyed in these words, Scit Genius, natale comes qui temperat astrum / NATURAE DEUS HUMANAE. ) 14 Whether Warburton is right about Pope's intention is always a fair question.