Swift, the Church, and Religion: The Sermons, the Tale, and the Critics

In: Reading Swift
Marcus Walsh University of Liverpool

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Focusing on the sermons and A Tale of a Tub, this essay argues that certain recent critical arguments for religious heterodoxy, or self-contradiction, in Swift’s writings are inappropriately influenced by modern political, social, and religious views, by a lack of attention to Swift’s informing contexts, and by modern hermeneutic assumptions and methods. Swift’s writings, ironic and indirect (the Tale) as well as non-ironic and direct (the sermons), are like other literary works essentially determinate though complex and plural in meaning at the local, propositional, level. Larger-scale understandings of these works need to be consistent with those local meanings. Modern allegations of the heterodoxy or conflicted nature of the sermons and Tale may be refuted by attention to their determinate propositional meanings.

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Reading Swift

Papers from The Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift


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