By Professor John Sitter
Comedian and satiric literature from the 1670s to the 1740s is characterised through the allusive and elusive be aware play of Augustan wit. The arguments of Augustan wit show preoccupations with the metaphorical measurement of language so distrusted by means of 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 speedy, as an analytic mode in addition to one in all stylistic sophistication. He argues that wit - frequently seemed through smooth critics as a old fashioned classification of verbal cleverness - in truth deals to literary thought a legacy corrective of Romantic and neo-Romantic idealizations of mind's eye. This examine goals instantaneously to stress the ancient specificity of Augustan writing, and to convey its arguments into discussion with these of our time.
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Extra info for Arguments of Augustan Wit
Pope's Satan frames the progress almost from the beginning: The Dev'l was piqu'd such saintship to behold, And long'd to tempt him like good Job of old: But Satan now is wiser than of yore, And tempts by making rich, not making poor. (349-52) One is likely to read these lines first as mock-heroic jesting. Balaam is no Job. and so forth") in the preceding paragraph, his "worth" as less than his "word," his morality dubious ("constant at Church, and Change"), his generosity invisible ("save farthings to the poor").
The "Fatalist" who has the last and longest word in the debate (lines 231-263) is not a deist but a thoughtful believer: "Or trace your Steps thro the determin'd way / Or from the Christian Principles You stray . . " On the other hand, those who argue for "spontaneous Liberty" by invoking the "inward Power" or "Nature" of the soul overlook its mutability and limitations: By time and Age its Notions are disrang'd By passions short and by temper chang'd Our operations by his Will were wrought And when he gave he Fixt the Pow'r of thought.
Great Three One! O God and Man! Who set those Measures which I dare not Scan; If I have leave to chuse, I beg that choice Guided at least by thy Assistant Voice. If I must pursue a Destin'd way Direct my Footsteps for thou can'st not stray. From dangerous doubts my wandering Soul retrieve I cannot Argue, grant me to believe! Lifeless I lay, Thou wak'st me into Sense; Frailty is mine, and Thine Omnipotence. (267-76) In Prior's end is his beginning, which is the premise that God made and maintains the speaker, who otherwise "must eternally have laid / In Nothings bosom" and would return to the "sad Negation" of preexistence (lines 5—18).