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Digressive Voices in Early Modern English Literature$
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Anne Cotterill

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199261178

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199261178.001.0001

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Epilogue: Wandered too far? Swift's Monstrous Voice

Epilogue: Wandered too far? Swift's Monstrous Voice

(p.278) Epilogue: Wandered too far? Swift's Monstrous Voice
Digressive Voices in Early Modern English Literature

Anne Cotterill (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This epilogue argues that in anger at, yet sensitive mimicry of, the discursive freedom of Dryden and other ‘moderns’ in the marketplace, Swift's A Tale of a Tub (1704) heightens the self-authorizing voice of digression into a monster of fragment and miscellany. Swift understood the danger of digressiveness to the straight line of narrative and logic, to traditional lines of authority and hierarchy. He angrily conflates Dryden's liberties in his digressive prefaces and the laureate's claims in his late work for an alternate family of fathers and sons based on textual offspring, an exclusive genealogy of fathers and heirs, with the iconoclastic religious and sexual liberties of sectarian zealots and with the digressing, orphaned sons of the allegory. The digression becomes synonymous with the Hack's chaotic writing voice, a mind disconnected from any body — disinherited from the parent narrative of the ancients and in permanent exile of modernity on the popular page.

Keywords:   Jonathan Swift, moderns, digression, miscellany, Dryden, genealogy, allegory, zealots, A Tale of a Tub

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