Jonathan Swift and the Arts by Joseph McMinn
Jonathan Swift and the Arts
Author: Joseph McMinn
Title: Jonathan Swift and the Arts
ISBN10: 0874130689
ISBN13: 978-0874130683
Format: .PDF .EPUB .FB2
Pages:
Publisher: Univ of Delaware Pr (July 31, 2010)
Language: English
Size pdf: 1574 kb
Size epub: 1477 kb
Rating: 4.7 ✪
Votes: 526
Category: Literature & Fiction
Subcategory: History & Criticism

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In Swift and the Artsùthe first comprehensive study of Swift and the non-literary artsùJoseph McMinn challenges the widespread view shared by Swift's biographer, Irvin Ehrenpreis, that Swift largely ignored most artistic and cultural activities outside literature. The study presents a systematic, historical account of Swift's engagement with a range of artistic activities in both Ireland and England, principally in the areas of music, gardening, theater, architecture, and painting, and shows how the "sister arts" provoked and inspired a wide range of work in his prose and poetry. Swift's perspective on the arts is essentially sceptical rather than indifferent, satirical rather than earnest, and contrasts strongly with that of his close friend, Alexander Pope, one of the leading virtuosi of the eighteenth century.

Swift is a shrewd and humorous observer of the changing artistic and cultural scene in both Ireland and England, and his views on these changes in public taste are an important, albeit neglected, part of his biography. His correspondence, especially his Journal to Stella, shows us someone very aware of the various arts and of their lively emergence from the enclosed world of the Puritan era. Many of Swift's friends and acquaintances were serious collectors of paintings, sculpture, coins, medals and Swift himself eventually enjoyed an interesting and revealing collection of artistic artifacts, as this study shows.

His satirical response to some of the new fashions and trends in cultural matters, for example with regard to Italian opera and the emergence of "literary gardens," reveals new aspects of his religious and aesthetic values. It also shows that Swift, like many of his contemporaries, regarded some of the arts as "foreign" and therefore unsuitable to the British national character. Such a prejudice with regard to cultural imports sometimes reveals a conservative and puritanical aesthetic in Swift. As Dean of St. Patrick's, Swift was purposeful and dedicated on the question of music as part of the liturgy, and was very aware of the controversies surrounding sacred and secular music. Indeed, Swift's clerical role is shown to be fundamental to his critical discrimination between the comparative virtues of the arts. This book hopes to broaden an understanding of Swift's relationship to Enlightenment thinking about the role of the arts in eighteenth-century society, and to explore how the politics and the theology of his Irish situation determined his unique perspective on the arts. His views on these matters are an important part of Swift's lifelong arguments about the relative virtues of the Ancients and the Moderns.