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The Practice of Satire in England, 1658–1770

Outstanding Academic Title, Choice

In The Practice of Satire in England, 1658–1770, Ashley Marshall explores how satire was conceived and understood by writers and readers of the period. Her account is based on a reading of some 3,000 works, ranging from one-page squibs to novels. The objective is not to recuperate particular minor works but to recover the satiric milieu—to resituate the masterpieces amid the hundreds of other works alongside which they were originally written and read.

The long eighteenth century is generally hailed as the great age of satire, and as such, it has received much critical attention. However, scholars have focused almost exclusively on a small number of canonical works, such as Gulliver’s Travels and The Dunciad, and have not looked for continuity over time. Marshall revises the standard account of eighteenth-century satire, revealing it to be messy, confused, and discontinuous, exhibiting radical and rapid changes over time. The true history of satire in its great age is not a history at all. Rather, it is a collection of episodic little histories.

About the Author

Ashley Marshall is an associate professor of English at the University of Nevada, Reno. She is the author of Swift and History: Politics and the English Past

Reviews

Impressively comprehensive and provocative... This strong and wide-ranging book... earns its authority from the wealth of information it provides... Its determination to expand the range of satirical writing, somewhat in the spirit of Eliot's admonition, is a long-needed redefinition of the scope of the subject... It also offers a considerable enlargement of our knowledge and understanding of a lively and turbulent terrain, whose boundaries are wider and more untidy than we have imagined.

- Times Literary Supplement

Marshall... revolutionizes the study of 18th-century satire. She not only significantly revises accepted definitions of satire but also analyzes and describes vastly greater numbers of satiric works than have previous studies... This original, detailed account of satire during the period will challenge and shape the literary history of satire for decades to come. Essential.

- Choice

So much material is included in The Practice of Satire in England, and its historiographic claims are so striking, that scholars will be discussing this book for some time. Perhaps most admirably, Marshall has put satire, recently a rather neglected genre, firmly back at the center of scholarly attention and debate.

- Nicholas Hudson - Philological Quarterly

The Practice of Satire in England, 1658–1770 is a tremendously ambitious book... at once, monumental and humble—conscious of its own audacity, unfailingly respectful of the scholars whose work is being called into question, yet also confident of its contribution to the advancement of humanistic learning.

- Matthew J. Kinservik - Modern Philology

Endorsements

Marshall is completely in control of her vast materials... Exceptional cases are not her subject; hers is the much broader one of satire across-the-board, whether we call it lampoon or tirade, punitive or educative, merely entertaining or even affectionate; and her subject is one that has never been systematically dealt with.

- Ronald Paulson, Johns Hopkins University, author of The Beautiful, Novel, and Strange: Aesthetics and Heterodoxy

Ashley Marshall wisely sets the great eighteenth-century satirists within the vastly diverse literary contexts of their own and consequent ages. The study is important, persuasive, lively, learned, and a major advance upon scholarship concerning English satiric theory and practice from 1658 to 1770.

- Howard D. Weinbrot, University of Wisconsin, author of Literature, Religion, and the Evolution of Culture, 1660–1780

This is a remarkable work of scholarship: a revaluation of the whole idea and scope of satire as actually produced in the Restoration and eighteenth century. These chapters are notable for their command of this material, their analytical depth, their nuanced reading of the historical character of satire over generational passages of time, and their clear-sighted power of synthesis in putting all this disorderly mass of material before the reader in such vivid form. I do not see how any serious scholarship on satire will be able to proceed henceforth without reference to Marshall's book.

- Thomas Lockwood, University of Washington, coeditor of Henry Fielding: The Critical Heritage

Broadening the notion of satire to include more works, more kinds of works, and a wider range of satirical motives and effects, [Marshall] offers an account of eighteenth-century literature more amenable to contemporary sensibilities than those of previous proponents and detractors of satire.

- Eighteenth-Century Life
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9781421408163 : the-practice-of-satire-in-england-1658-1770-marshall
Hardback
456 Pages
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9781421408170 : the-practice-of-satire-in-england-1658-1770-marshall
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