Jonathan Swift and the Eighteenth Century

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    Political arithmetik: accounting for irony in Swift's "A Modest Proposal"
    (MCB University Press, 1996) Phiddian, Robert Andrew
    Writing as a literary critic and literary historian rather than as a professional or academic accountant, Phiddian proposes to highlight two ways by which accountants might resist the rhetorical power of positive accounting theory to give the impression that it operates with scientific neutrality. First, by attending to satirical modes of writing that use parody to unsettle the assumptions of accounting discourse; secondly, by adopting and illustrating a sceptical mode of interpretation based on a model of blindness and insight very commonly employed in current literary theory.
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    Review of "Swift as Nemesis: Modernity and Its Satirist" by Boyle
    (University of Chicago Press, 2002) Phiddian, Robert Andrew
    Phiddian's review of Frank Boyle's book "Swift as Nemesis" Modernity and Its Satirist" (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000).
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    Have you eaten yet? The reader in "A Modest Proposal"
    (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996) Phiddian, Robert Andrew
    In Swift's "A Modest Proposal", the Proposer discusses recipes for stewed baby. If Swift's plan for the readers was first to trick us into temporary assent to the proposal, and then to follow this with an instructive catharsis when we recognise our error and revise our view of the political situation, it would seem that Defoe was a more skillful parodic ironist than he. The "Modest Proposal" is simply too aggressively alienating to be successful as a hoax, and Phiddian suggests that we should not try to read it that way. The text does not make a serious attempt to lull us into a false sense of security. Rather, it attacks us; everywhere it makes us vulnerable. We are exposed to the vicissitudes of moral choice, stretched between the polar claims to authority made, on the one hand, by the delinquent and lunatic Proposer, and, on the other, by an angry but fugitive Swift. What Phiddian aims to do in this essay is to look carefully at how we readers are positioned in the text and in relation to these polar authorities.