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date: 24 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

‘Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everyone’s face but their own.’ The preface to Swift’s ‘The Battle of the Books’ (1704) articulates a uniquely human paradox of universal error and individual delusion that inspires the genre’s violent attempts to reform by replacing self-love with the painful shock of self-recognition. Evoking both Thersites and Achilles, the monster and the hero, the satirist strives to humble human pride by holding up a beastly mirror, undermining both dominant protocols of representation and standard ethical categories. The reader of satire thus is forced to embrace madmen, monsters, and savage others as herself, at once humbled by and freed from the limits of the human. The liberating potential and visceral power of these inhumanely human texts offer joy in rage and freedom of fellowship with the abject other, while providing no escape from one’s own monstrosity.

Keywords: deformity, monstrosity/monster, Thersites, Achilles, wit, theriophily, savage, human/humanism, misanthropy, gender

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