Nothing to Admire: The Politics of Poetic Satire from Dryden to Merrill by Christopher YuNothing to Admire: The Politics of Poetic Satire from Dryden to Merrill by Christopher Yu

Nothing to Admire: The Politics of Poetic Satire from Dryden to Merrill

byChristopher Yu

Hardcover | November 20, 2003

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Nothing to Admire argues for the persistence of a central tradition of poetic satire in English that extends from Restoration England to present-day America. This tradition is rooted in John Dryden's and Alexander Pope's uses of Augustan metaphor to criticize the abuse of social and politicalpower and to promote an antithetical ideal of satiric authority based on freedom of mind. Because of their commitment to neoclassical conceptions of political virtue, the British Augustans developed a meritocratic cultural ideal grounded in poetic judgment and opposed to the political institutionsand practices of their superiors in birth, wealth, and might. Their Augustanism thus gives a political meaning to the Horatian principle of nil admirari. This book calls the resulting outlook cultural liberalism in order to distinguish it from the classical liberal insistence on private property asthe basis of political liberty, a conviction that arises within the same general period and often stands in adversarial relation to the Augustan mentality. Dryden and Pope's language of political satire supplies the foundation for the later and more radical liberalisms of Lord Byron, W.H. Auden, and James Merrill, each of whom looks back to the Augustan model for the poetic devices he will use to protest the increasingly conformist culture of masssociety. Responding to the banality of this society, the later poets reinvigorate their predecessors' neo-Horatian attitude of skeptical worldliness through iconoclastic comic assaults on the imperial, fascist, heterosexist, and otherwise illiberal impulses of the cultural regimes prevailing duringtheir lifetimes.

About The Author

Christopher Yu has a Ph.D. in English literature from Yale. An independent scholar and writer, he currently resides in Chicago.
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Details & Specs

Title:Nothing to Admire: The Politics of Poetic Satire from Dryden to MerrillFormat:HardcoverDimensions:232 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 0.98 inPublished:November 20, 2003Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195155300

ISBN - 13:9780195155303

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"Christopher Yu's Nothing to Admire makes and expertly supports several large, original, timely claims: that there is an unrecognized main tradition of verse satire--of a satiric mode rather than of any particular satiric genre or genres--in English, extending from the Restoration to thepresent and from England to America; that this tradition is in a special critical and constructive sense an 'Augustan' one, not only where a reader may expect to find something of this sort, mainly in Dryden and Pope and perhaps in Byron and Auden, but also in Merrill; and that this tradition hasthe distinct, peculiar merit of exhibiting how and why poetry bears crucially on liberal promotion of the public good, according to a rediscovered traditional liberalism not possessive but intellectually and morally wise."--Frederick M. Keener, Hofstra University