Jonathan Swift and the Nature of Modern Violence

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Jonathan Swift's A Tale of a Tub and Gulliver's Travels have been read as participating in a wider debate, the Quarrel of the Ancients and Moderns, and as critiques of the rise of the New Sciences and the study of the "Book of Nature." The essay argues that Swift viewed the Modern preoccupation with nature as emblematic of the desire to return to a pre-cultural state of chaos and violence. Far from being an attempt to step into nature as a way of arriving at empirical truth, thus, these works hint at Swift's notion that the Modern return to nature represented dissolution of human culture. In addition, the essay discusses the afterlife of Swift's notions of the Modern as inherently anti-cultural through the work of Great War poet David Jones and his postwar masterpiece In Parenthesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-162
Number of pages25
JournalCollege Literature
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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