FREE ELECTRONIC LIBRARY - Abstract, dissertation, book

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

«Pedro Javier Pardo García Universidad de Salamanca pardo Abstract The paper discusses a series of 18th-century works which may be included ...»

-- [ Page 1 ] --

Satire on Learning and the Type of the Pedant

in Eighteenth-Century Literature

Pedro Javier Pardo García

Universidad de Salamanca



The paper discusses a series of 18th-century works which may be included in a genre

sometimes referred to as ‘satire on learning’, and, more specifically, which feature a

particular character type—the pedant. The genre has not received much critical

attention, so the paper will simply attempt to build a corpus of works integrating that genre—which, hopefully, may be expanded by later research and contributions to the topic—by establishing a series of links among them. In carrying out this task, this paper will (1) focus on the existence of English, French and Spanish works which testify to the European dimension of the genre and to a shared critical conception of learning as pedantry. It will then (2) draw a composite portrait of the central figure, the pedant (also called virtuoso, learned wit, erudite dunce), who gives unity to the works themselves and to the genre as a whole. It will finally (3) suggest lines of research which may render the topic interesting and fruitful.

The so-called tradition of learned wit has been studied in English literature because of its relation and contribution to major works and authors, basically Sterne’s Tristram Shandy but also some of Swift’s and Pope’s masterpieces.1 As a comparison of these books with their learned sources makes clear, a distinction should be drawn within this larger tradition between genuine works of erudite lore such as Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) or Thomas Browne’s Vulgar Errors (1646), to name but two of the most outstanding and widely known exemplars, and works such as those by Swift, Pope or Sterne, which draw their themes and materials from that tradition but use them for satiric purposes. This second kind of works can be considered to be something more articulated and specific than a tradition, that is to say, a genre, which has been occasionally referred to as satire on learning, since it is basically a critique of erudition and abuses in learning, featuring for this purpose a particular character type, that of the pedant (sometimes called virtuoso) and certain themes and forms associated with this type.

This genre of satire on learning is not restricted to eighteenth-century English literature: there are some interesting—even if minor or half-forgotten—examples of it in eighteenth-century European literature outside Britain. In this European context, however, the genre has not received, to my knowledge, much critical attention. So, at the initial stage of research on the topic that these remarks are intended to illustrate, it may not be irrelevant to build an expanded and international corpus of works by establishing a series of links among them. These links are founded on a textual—and not contextual—basis. In other words, they are documented through an examination of certain texts in different languages and the features which recur in them, through relations of affinity and analogy which point to—but do not necessarily imply—actual contact or influence, and not through a demonstration of these latter. In fact we may be confronted by one of those cases in which coincidences are explained by similarities in separate or even independent © Edicions i Publicacions de la Universitat de Barcelona intellectual and cultural climates, by historical and literary processes that are not bound by particular national frontiers, rather than by rapports de fait. These are the cases which allow comparative literature to transcend these rapports de fait as its only legitimate basis, perhaps to the regret of some traditionalists.

In carrying out this task, this paper will (1) focus on the existence of English, French and Spanish works which testify to the European dimension of the genre and to a shared critical conception of learning as pedantry. It will then (2) draw a composite portrait of the central figure, the pedant, virtuoso, learned wit, or erudite dunce, who gives unity to the works themselves and to the genre as a whole, and it will demonstrate his indebtedness to the Quixotic figure. And, it will finally (3) suggest lines of research which may render the topic interesting and fruitful, it will hint how this genre may be explored through a comparative approach which should highlight its supranational dimension and permanence through different periods and ages, and at the same time underscore the differences arising from different contexts, both temporal and spatial.

1. Eighteenth-Century Pedantry Pedantry and abuses of learning seem to be a characteristic eighteenth-century disease, or at least a characteristic eighteenth-century literary topic, although their literary ancestors must unquestionably be sought in Rabelais and Cervantes, and there are also some seventeenth-century predecessors.2 (Of course the possibility that the authors drew on certain real-life models of the time, not very different from the ones we can still spot among us in university departments, seminars and conferences, cannot be altogether discarded.) This efflorescence of pedantry in the eighteenth century is made clear by a brief overview of eighteenth-century works dealing with this topic, many of them featuring Quixotes of learning.

(a) The most universal and accomplished Quixotic pedant is of course Walter Shandy in Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1760-1767), but, antedating Sterne, there are other minor or less-known works which make use of this figure to carry out their satire on learning. In England the most significant predecessor in so far as he makes explicit the Quixotic connection through his obvious imitation of the Don, is the religious pedant of Samuel Butler’s Hudibras (1663, 1664, 1678). Butler was also the author of two works showing the same satirical approach to learning, The Elephant in the Moon and Satire in Two Parts upon the Imperfections and Abuse of Human Learning (both written c. 1670-71, but published posthumously in the eighteenth century). And he also produced characters and fragments in which he sketches types and situations which bear the imprint of this genre. But type and genre come to their prime in the works produced by the members of the so-called Scriblerus Club (which included Swift, Pope, Gay, Arbuthnot and Parnell).3 Swift had published A Tale of a Tub in 1704, undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of the genre, but it is to the joint authorship of the club that we owe the most representative and significant, if not polished or accomplished in literary terms, exemplar of the genre, the Memoirs of Martinus Scriblerus (published in 1741 but written between 1714 and 1727).

To the feigned authorship of Martinus Scriblerus were ascribed other works actually written by members of the club such as Annus Mirabilis (1722), Peri Bathous: Of the Art of Sinking in Poetry (1728), Virgilius Restauratus (1729), the critical apparatus to Pope’s Dunciad known as the Dunciad Variorum (1729), or The Origin of Sciences (1732), among others. Of course The Dunciad itself (1728, 1729, 1742, 1743) and its most immediate antecedent, Dryden’s MacFlecknoe (1682), exhibit the critique of false or misapplied learning characteristic of the genre, and so do certain chapters of Gulliver’s Travels (1726), especially in the third part, where Gulliver narrates his experience in Laputa and describes © Edicions i Publicacions de la Universitat de Barcelona the Academy of Projectors at Lagado. The work as a whole, according to Kerby-Miller (1988), was conceived by Swift as the travels of Martinus Scriblerus, and Gulliver’s quixotic behaviour at the end of the narrative seems also to corroborate this statement. And we may also add the presence of the type in other literary forms, such as journalism (Tom Folio in the essays of The Tatler) and drama: the protagonist of Thomas Shadwell’s The Virtuoso (1676) is an evident forerunner of the eighteenth-century pedant, who is the protagonist—Dr Fossile—of the collaborative Scriblerian farce (by Pope, Arbuthnot, and mainly by Gay) Three Hours after Marriage (1717). Finally, we must bear in mind that the pedant may have an episodic appearance in works which are not basically satires on learning, for example the two pedantic tutors of the hero in Fielding’s Tom Jones (1749), Thawckum and Square, the pedant Mr Selvin who is ridiculed by the protagonist at a certain point of Charlotte Lennox’s The Female Quixote (1752), or the astronomer encountered by the hero of Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas (1759).

(b) As has been remarked above, satire on learning does not seem to be an exclusive English creation, although it can be argued that the genre produced its best and its most on English soil. Certain French and Spanish works testify to the supranational dimension of satire on learning. The French instances are perhaps less known than the English ones and include the Histoire de Monsieur Ouffle, by the Abbé Laurent Bordelon (1710), featuring one of the earliest Quixotes of learning, Le Chef-d’oeuvre d’un Inconnu (1714), by Thémiseul de Saint-Hyacinthe, or the Mémoires de l’Académie de Troyes (1744), by Pierre-Jean Grosley. In Spain, besides the well known and Shandean protagonist of Father Isla’s novel Fray Gerundio de Campazas (1758 and 1768), one may add works such as Los Eruditos a la violeta (1772), by José Cadalso, or Pedro Centeno’s Don Quijote el Escolástico (1788 and 1789), which was preceded by a periodical entitled El apologista universal (1786-1788), also by the same author and featuring mock or ironic reviews supposedly written by a defender of scholastic and traditional learning. Of course there is no reason why there may not be more satires on learning in other European languages, and, once the basic features of the genre are identified, other examples may be certainly spotted in German, Italian, or Portuguese literature.

Perhaps the most important of these basic features, since it is what most of these works share, is the critical presentation of learning as pedantry. In eighteenth-century English newspapers and dictionaries pedantry was defined as pretence to learning (and this is the sense we may find, for example, in Cadalso’s Los Eruditos a la Violeta), that is to say, the exhibition of false learning as far as this is superficial or even nonexistent, faked, counterfeited. But, in addition to this, there was another sense of pedantry which implied a more subtle and complex critique of learning, and this is the one defined by Swift when he wrote that Pedantry is properly the over-rating any kind of knowledge we pretend to … And if that kind of knowledge be a trifle in itself, the pedantry is the greater.

For which reasons I look upon fiddlers, dancing-masters, heralds, masters of the ceremony, &c. To be greater pedants than Lipsius, or the elder Scaliger.

(in Kerby-Miller 1988, 268) In the first sense, pedantry amounts to lack of real learning; in the second one, to an inappropriate or even disproportionate use of it. This double definition of pedantry was not new, though. We may find a similar conception of pedantry one century earlier in Cervantes’s novella El coloquio de los perros, included in his Novelas Ejemplares (1613).

© Edicions i Publicacions de la Universitat de Barcelona At a certain point in their dialogue, the wise and talkative dogs Cipión and Berganza, the

protagonists of the work, describe abuses of learning in the same twofold fashion:

BERGANZA- … Hay algunos romancistas que en las conversaciones disparan de cuando en cuando con algún latín breve y compendioso, dando a entender a los que no lo entienden que son grandes latinos, y apenas saben declinar un nombre ni conjugar un verbo.

CIPIÓN – Por menos daño tengo ése que el que hacen los que verdaderamente saben latín, de los cuales hay algunos tan imprudentes que hablando con un zapatero o con un sastre arrojan latines como agua.

BERGANZA – De eso podremos inferir que tanto peca el que dice latines delante de quien los ignora como el que los dice ignorándolos.

(1982, vol. III, 267-68; emphasis added) The man who quotes in Latin but in fact lacks a true knowledge of this language (“el que dice latines … ignorándolos”) illustrates pedantry as pretence to learning; the scholar who uses Latin in an inappropriate context or way (“el que dice latines delante de quien los ignora”) points to pedantry as misuse or simply abuse of learning.

It is this second dimension of pedantry which is more distinctively and thoroughly explored by satire on learning, and the lines of this exploration are suggested to a great extent by Swift’s definition of pedantry quoted above. There are two interesting ideas pointed out by Swift, which recur in many of the works mentioned above. Firstly, the overrating of knowledge, which implies an exaggeration in the place and importance allotted to erudition, or, in other words, the centrality of learning. Secondly, knowledge as a trifle, which implies an exaggeration of its specialised or restricted nature, that is, the triviality of learning. Pedantry is thus attacked as excess in learning, as learning becoming too central and too trivial, or, combining both types of abuse, as a disproportion between the excessive value attached to it by the subject and the insignificant nature of the object itself, a disparity between the importance or place attached to it and those inherent in it. Satire results from the comic handling of this disproportion and disparity: erudition is applied to every aspect or area of life, including those clearly hostile to it because of their everyday and ordinary nature (centrality); erudition is made up of obscure, far-fetched, irrelevant knowledge, and is concerned with topics, books, authors, that nobody cares about any more (triviality). The resulting satire is not just a critique of the specific philosophical or scientific system represented by the sources of learning, but of any system which is not adequately understood or properly used, or, in other words, of learning without wisdom, of the misapplication of intelligence; and, furthermore, of an intellectual approach to life, of an attitude that can be summed up as living by the head. Satire on learning is thus able to embrace both the topical and the general.

Pages:   || 2 | 3 |

Similar works:

«BEST COLLEGES 2015 ONLINE LEARNING SURVEY: ONLINE STUDENT NEEDS, PREFERENCES AND EXPECTATIONS EMAIL US: research@bestcolleges.com Online Student Needs, Preferences and Expectations Online learning is still a relatively new phenomenon in higher education, but one with a significant impact on decisions made at colleges and universities around the world. While distance education methods, such as correspondence courses, were developed centuries ago, the first fully online education curriculum was...»

«GOLDSTEIN AWARDS APPLICATION 2008 Summary As a crime prevention practitioner for The University of Texas at Austin Police Department (UTPD), part of my daily responsibilities include reading every police report that comes into the police department. My unit reads each report for a variety of reasons. The primary reason for reading the offense reports is to prepare a daily e-mail called the Campus Watch which is sent to subscribers including, faculty, staff, students, parents and the local...»

«Rational theory choice: Arrow undermined, Kuhn vindicated Seamus Bradley May 12, 2014 In a recent paper, Samir Okasha presented an argument that suggests that there is no rational way to choose among scientific theories. This would seriously undermine the view that science is a rational entreprise. In this paper I show how a suitably nuanced view of what scientific rationality requires allows us to avoid Okasha’s conclusion. I go on to argue that making further assumptions about the space...»

«BRIGADE SPECIAL TROOPS BATTALION INTEGRATION WITHIN THE BRIGADE COMBAT TEAM A thesis presented to the Faculty of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree MASTER OF MILITARY ART AND SCIENCE General Studies by ROBERT MERCERON, MAJ, USA M.B.A, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Daytona Beach, Florida, 1997 M.S.A, Central Michigan University, Mount Pleasant, Michigan, 2005 Fort Leavenworth, Kansas Approved for public release;...»

«Save as Book De Marketing with easy. Then You can Read eBook De Marketing file for free DE MARKETING PDF Enjoy discover de marketing PDF?. So you are person who likes to download de marketing Pdf to any kind of device,whether its your laptop, Kindle or iPhone, there are more options now than ever before. Perhaps because of the growing popularity of Kindle, or competitors like The Nook, or maybe just because people want choices, it is now possible to get de marketing Pdf and any kind of Ebook...»

«OCTOBER 2015 Whyalla Vintage & Classic Car Club Inc. PO BOX 2288, WHYALLA NORRIE, SA, 5608 Email address; whyallavccc@hotmail.com. Website; Whyallavcc.com Singapore Street Cars A couple of the many Lamborghinis' seen on the streets of Singapore. All the wealthy “lads” come out to play particularly during the run up to the Formula 1 held in September. Also “common” are the latest from Bentley, Jaguar, Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Porsche, as well as the top of the line from Audi and...»

«Superior Table Tennis The Science And Art Very, express easy to impress it that you can check they the title college. The expertise kind in we may suffer is contract air. Or when you have as the good mobi you, soon away free causing the monthly experts to wait the privileges and are the wonders that use inviting to ensure your home actively. You will too let the report creditor if not the insurance for a pdf of message. Of meeting a median time annuity aspect they will learn the behaviour with...»

«University of Maryland School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation Fall, 2014 Neighborhood Locations and Amenities Authors: Cole Greene Jacob Johnson Maha Tariq Under the Supervision of: Dr. Chao Liu PALS-Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability A National Center for Smart Growth initiative at the University of Maryland Contents Executive Summary 2 Background 2 Location 3 Research Question: What is a Neighborhood? 3 Objective 4 Data/Approach 4 Results 8 Limitations 10...»

«Fairness Measures for Resource Allocation ∗ † Amit Kumar Jon Kleinberg Abstract In many optimization problems, one seeks to allocate a limited set of resources to a set of individuals with demands. Thus, such allocations can naturally be viewed as vectors, with one coordinate representing each individual. Motivated by work in network routing and bandwidth assignment, we consider the problem of producing solutions that simultaneously approximate all feasible allocations in a coordinate-wise...»

«The role of accessibility in passengers choice of airports Marco Kouwenhoven Significance Koninginnegracht 23 NL-2514 AB Den Haag 1. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Growth of regional airports Until about two decades ago, the choice of airport was relatively easy for travellers. Within acceptable travel distances, usually only one airport provided flights to the preferred destination. However, nowadays people can choose between multiple airports when arranging a trip. Regional airports have grown very fast...»

«Qualitative Sociology, Vol. 28, No. 1, Spring 2005 ( C 2005) DOI: 10.1007/s11133-005-2631-1 Consuming Orientalism: Images of Asian/American Women in Multicultural Advertising Minjeong Kim and Angie Y. Chung Past research has analyzed the gendered constructs of American consumption practices that underlie marketed images in the print media. This article reconsiders the cultural constructs of multicultural advertisement strategies in the new global era. Based on an analysis of three advertisement...»


<<  HOME   |    CONTACTS
2016 www.abstract.xlibx.info - Free e-library - Abstract, dissertation, book

Materials of this site are available for review, all rights belong to their respective owners.
If you do not agree with the fact that your material is placed on this site, please, email us, we will within 1-2 business days delete him.