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.
This new volume of Reading Swift assembles 26 lectures delivered at the Seventh Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift in June 2017, testifying to an extraordinary spectrum of research interests in the Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, and his works. Reading Swift follows the tried and tested format of its predecessors, grouping the essays in eight sections: biographical problems; bibliographical and canonical studies; political and religious as well as philosophical, economic, and social issues; poetry; Gulliver’s Travels; and reception studies. The élan vital, which has been such a distinctive feature of Swift scholar-ship in the past thirty-five years, is continuing unabated.
Assembling thirty-five lectures delivered at the Sixth Münster Symposium on Jonathan Swift in June 2011, this new volume of Reading Swift testifies to an extraordinary spectrum of research interests in the Dean of St Patrick’s, Dublin, and his works. As in the successful earlier volumes, the essays have been grouped in eight sections: biographical aspects (W. B. Carnochan, John Irwin Fischer, Clive T. Probyn, Abigail Williams); bibliographical and textual studies (Ian Gadd, James E. May); A Tale of a Tub (J. A. Downie, Gregory Lynall and Marcus Walsh, Michael McKeon); historical and religious issues (Christopher J. Fauske, Christopher Fox, Ian Higgins, Ashley Marshall, Nathalie Zimpfer); Irish vistas (Sabine Baltes, Toby Barnard, Andrew Carpenter, D. W. Hayton, James Ward); poetry (Daniel Cook, Kirsten Juhas, Stephen Karian, Dirk F. Passmann and Hermann J. Real, James Woolley); Gulliver’s Travels (Barbara M. Benedict, Allan Ingram, Ann Cline Kelly, Melinda Alliker Rabb); and reception and adaptation (Gabriella Hartvig, Clement Hawes, Heinz-Joachim Müllenbrock, Tim Parnell, Peter Sabor, Nicholas Seager, Howard D. Weinbrot). Clearly, the élan vital, which has been such a distinctive feature of Swift scholarship in the past thirty years, is continuing unabated.