The English Civil Wars had profound effects on eighteenth-century literature, yet the manifestations of those effects often are indirect. This essay argues that works by Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe displace the trauma of that internal conflict – a conflict that destroyed bodies and beliefs – onto fictions that at first appear not to be about war. Readings of texts including Gulliver’s Travels, The Drapier’s Letters, The Journal of the Plague Year, and Robinson Crusoe are framed by first-hand accounts of military experiences during the Wars, such as preparing, fighting, and surviving battle or siege, and by concepts such as sovereignty, the state of exception, and bare life. Civil war raised fundamental questions about the value of life, epitomized in the practice of granting no quarter. Both Swift and Defoe find ways to examine the political and moral dilemma of who is empowered to decide if a life is worth living.
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.