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date: 16 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the reception of eighteenth-century verse satire in transatlantic criticism of the first half of the twentieth century. Beginning with the revival of interest in Georgian writing and art in literary circles between the wars, it surveys the gradual rehabilitation of eighteenth-century satire from its low Victorian reputation to its major treatment by mid-century New Critics, scholars of rhetoric, and textual editors. In particular, it traces patterns of oscillation in satire’s reception history between moral and formal approaches, suggesting that treatments of satire as a moral art flourished under the special conditions of wartime, but were replaced in subsequent years by less politically charged rhetorical analyses of texts’ internal logic. It concludes by focusing on the sceptical return to moral questions in satire criticism of the 1960s and indicates some problems with reading satire from modern positions of moral relativism.

Keywords: satire, reception, literary criticism, morality, biography, rhetoric

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