Swift's Parody


Jonathan Swift's prose has been discussed extensively as satire, but its major structural element, parody, has not received the attention it deserves. Focusing mainly on works before 1714, and especially on A Tale of a Tub, this study explores Swift's writing primarily as parody. Robert Phiddian follows the constructions and deconstructions of textual authority through the texts on cultural-historical, biographical, and literary-theoretical levels. The historical interest lies in the occasions of the parodies: in their relations with the texts and discourses which they quote and distort, and in the way this process reflects on the generation of cultural authority in late Stuart England. The biographical interest lies in a new way of viewing Swift's early career as a potentially Whiggish intellectual. The theoretical and interpretative interest lies in tracing the play of language and irony through parody.


 Reviews:

"The historical and literary contexts of Swift's early writing are freshly and expertly delineated, and Phiddian has a shrewd eye for illuminating parallel passages in parodic or quasi-parodic relationship." Norman Vance, Times Literary Supplement

"We agree that there is something determinate about the textual conditions of Swift's early prose works that demands analysis....[Phiddian's] attempt to do so is elegant, inventive, and well informed." Eighteenth Century Fiction


 Prizes:

The Richard H. Rodino Prize for 1996