Reference > Cambridge History > From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift > Swift > What he lacks
  Swift a Master of Style and of Satire  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IX. From Steele and Addison to Pope and Swift.

IV. Swift.

§ 26. What he lacks.


Swift was a master satirist, and his irony was deadly. He was the greatest among the writers of his time, if we judge them by the standard of sheer power of mind; yet, with some few exceptions, his works are now little read. Order, rule, sobriety—these are the principles he set before him when he wrote, and they form the basis of his views on life, politics and religion. Sincerity is never wanting, however much it is cloaked with humour; but we look in vain for lofty ideals or for the prophetic touch which has marked the bearers of the greatest names in our literature. That which is spiritual was strangely absent in Swift. He inveighs against folly and evil; but he seems to have no hope for the world. He is too often found scorning the pettiness of his fellow-creatures, as in Lilliput, or describing with loathing the coarseness of human nature, as in Brobdingnag. Satire and denunciation alone are unsatisfying, and the satirist must, in the end, take a lower place than the creative writer.   73

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Swift a Master of Style and of Satire  
 
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