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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In this chapter, Peter Robinson identifies the edge where satire most sharply cuts and where, simultaneously, it may stop being satire. Responding to remarks of Jackson Bate’s on Johnson as a satirist manqué, an analysis of ‘On the Death of Dr. Robert Levet’ and other poems explores varieties of ways in which mortality in a Christian context displaces grounds for judgement, yet occasions criticism of literary pretension, the limits of friendship, and self-interest in the professional care of others. By contrast, a passage from Dryden’s ‘An Ode, on the Death of Mr. Henry Purcell’ rebukes the musician’s rivals so as to underline his loss to the world. Yet such a rebuke is edgeless to the extent that the rivalry it pinpoints has been nullified by the greater man’s demise. Thus, among relevant post-mortem and other effects here is the role death plays as a satirist of the impulse to satire.

Keywords: satire, Dryden, Pope, Johnson, Levet, Horace, Christianity, talents, judgement, poetic techniques

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