Romanzo moderno inglese: Swift, Defoe, Richardson e Fielding

Autori del romanzo moderno inglese e le relative opere: Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Samuel Richardson e Henry Fielding (4 pagine formato pdf)

Appunto di gaiagallino


Jonathan Swift.

This work written by Swift is considered by some critics a novel, by some other it isn’t. The purpose of Swift is to show the corruption of the society and he does it writing a parody of the genre of the travel literature. The book is divided into four books, in which we can find a fight between rationality and animality:
In the first book Lemuel Gulliver, a ship surgeon, begins by describing his shipwreck on the island of Lilliput. In this case Gulliver embodies animality and the Lilliputians, whose king is however cruel, embody rationality.
2. In the second book Gulliver sets sail for India, but he is set ashore by his crew on an unknown land where the inhabitants are giants. In this case Gulliver embodies rationality and the giants, whose king is however good and wise, embody animality.
3. In the third book, that contains lots of disgusting details, he has the opportunity to visit a floating island, where he meets philosophers and scientist, who spend their lives in speculations and absurd research, without achieving any particular results. This is a clear attack to the Royal Society, that according to Swift is interested only in trivial matters.
4. In the fourth book, on his next voyage, he is set ashore, as the result of a mutiny, in a country inhabited by a race of intelligent horses, who are served by a disgusting and degenerate race of beasts in the shape of men. In this case Gulliver embodies animality and the horses embody rationality, even if they can’t feel emotion. The critic Northrop Frye includes Gulliver’s Travels in the latter category (anatomy) together with the work of Erasmus and Voltaire.


Daniel Defoe was born in London. His father was a nonconformist merchant belonging to an independent Protestant sect which did not accept the authority of the State Church. Educated at a college for Dissenters, Defoe chose to go into business and became a merchant. He travelled for two or three years in Europe on business and, when back in England, opened a haberdasher’s shop, married and became involved in politics. He took part in a failed rebellion against the election of the Catholic King James II, but was able to escape punishment and he joined the army of William of Orange. But his long neglected business took a turn for the worse and Defoe went bankrupt. He managed to pay back most of his debts but, faced with the need to make up the money lost, he ventured into many other activities (he was a journalist and then he wrote poems, poetry and fictions), winning popularity and even William III’s friendship. With the accession to the throne of Queen Anne, a supporter of the State Church, he lost the favor of the court.