By Robert Phiddian

ISBN-10: 0511519087

ISBN-13: 9780511519086

ISBN-10: 052147437X

ISBN-13: 9780521474375

Jonathan Swift's prose has been mentioned widely as satire, yet its significant structural aspect, parody, has now not got the eye it merits. Focusing regularly on works prior to 1714, and particularly on A story of a bathtub, this research explores Swift's writing basically as parody. Robert Phiddian follows the structures and deconstructions of textual authority during the texts on cultural-historical, biographical, and literary-theoretical degrees. The old curiosity lies within the events of the parodies: of their kin with the texts and discourses which they quote and deform, and within the method this method displays at the iteration of cultural authority in overdue Stuart England. The biographical curiosity lies in a brand new manner of viewing Swift's early profession as a very likely Whiggish highbrow. The theoretical and interpretative curiosity lies in tracing the play of language and irony via parody.

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At first he maintains his innocence, looking disgusted (III, xv); he turns proudly to the young woman he loves; as she accepts Poirot’s explanation, he curses the detective and does so in a tone of fine theatrical grandeur. The performance shifts from a one-man show to a drama, and it is the murderer who finally stands centre stage. In Sir Charles’s career up to this point the acting has been very complex. He is always acting – a major figure in the theatre, but still an actor off the stage (3Act, I, i), and is first seen playing the part of the Retired Naval Man, in a style that doesn’t quite convince.

Amongst those who are interested in the investigation are the son of the house, Alexander, and his friend, James Stoddart-West, both of whom find it exciting to partake in a real detective story. The two boys then leave to stay with James’s mother, who (the negligent reader may not fully register) is French. Towards the end of the novel Lady StoddartWest appears at Rutherford Hall; and Lady Stoddart-West is Martine and has nothing to do with the murder. A neat trick on the part of the novelist; a rather strained coincidence; but also a demonstration of a kaleidoscopic world in which people change nationality and status, and in which the change may not be precisely perceived by those who come across them later.

Roger Ackroyd, to mention briefly a well-known example, brings home to the reader how far the reading of literature normally resembles the largely trusting relationship of real conversation. The narrator of this work is not simply self-deluding as are the unreliable narrators of many novels, major and minor, from Wuthering Heights to Bridget Jones; he is deliberately concealing the most important fact in his story, namely that he is himself the murderer. If you can’t trust a narrator who can you trust?

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Swift's Parody by Robert Phiddian


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