This article examines the nature of Time as an anthropomorphic and emblematic entity in the early sections of A Tale of a Tub, most notably in relation to the “Dedication to Prince Posterity.” While tracing the contextual history (mythic and literary, graphic and emblematic) which bears upon Swift’s representation of the figure of Time, the essay opens up two new and significant contexts for the narrator’s combat with his avowed enemy: firstly, certain visual representations of Time which depict him as a victim of assault, and secondly, a range of references in Swift’s text which draw upon Reformation polemic and represent Time in the role of Catholic antagonist and Antichrist. These allusions not only widen our sense of what the Tale’s narrator believes he is fighting, but show how Swift is drawing together both his ludic reflections on Ancient and Modern learning and his pointed satire on “Abuses in Religion.”
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.