Satire and Sentiment, 1660-1830

Claude Rawson
March 1994

Claude Rawson examines the evolution of satirical writing in the period 1660-1830. In a sequence of linked chapters, some new and others revised substantially from earlier articles, he focuses on English writers from Rochester to Austen, both within a contemporaneous European context and as part of a tradition deriving from classical and sixteenth-century Humanist predecessors (Homer, Virgil, Erasmus, Montaigne) and leading to later writers like Flaubert and Yeats. Within the period 1660-1830 satire moved from an unusually dominant position to a relatively modest one, softened by the cult of ‘sensibility’ or ‘sentiment’. The transition was connected with large social and cultural changes culminating in the French Revolution. Rawson’s method is to concentrate on stress points, on evasions and internal contradictions, and on continuities and discontinuities with earlier and later periods and with literatures and modes of thought outside Britain.