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Old 04-15-2018, 07:17 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Default Joseph Hall

Anyone who has had the misfortune to read my work on the met board can see that I'm in an "Epistle" and "Satire" groove. Part of this is a long-time coming, and part of this is because, in studying to take the MTEL (Massachusetts Test for Educator Licensure) Latin exam, I worked my way through a bunch of Horace. Horatian satire--better, I think, satura--peaked my interest, and I'm into Perseus and Juvenal, etc. But then I started looking for an English tradition, knowing only, really, Pope in the history of English verse satire.

The first to write satire in English--at least satire that is in the older tradition with a first person speaker commenting on the world--is Wyatt, but he doesn't really commit to it like Joseph Hall does in his 1597-99 Virgidemiarum. For anyone who enjoys Renaissance verse, or the Classical tradition of satire, they're lots of fun, and clearly an influence on Pope. Some of his lines have inspired my own. Here he is in "Satire III" which is on Drunkenness (modernized by me):
With some pot-fury, ravished from their wit
They sit and muse on some no-vulgar writ:
As frozen dung-hills in a winter's morn,
That void of vapors seemèd all beforn,
Soon as the sun sends out his piercing beams,
Exhale out filthy smoke and stinking steams;
So doth the base, and the fore-barren brain,
Soon as the raging wine begins to reign.
Since we're so used to a standard history of literature that glorifies Shakespeare, it's fun to see something like "Satire V," in which Hall complains of tragic verse:
Too popular is tragic poesy,
Straining his tip-toes for a farthing fee,
And doth besides on rhymeless numbers tread,
Unbid iambics flow from careless head.
Some braver brain in high heroic rimes
Compileth worm-ate stories of old times;
And he, like some imperious Maronist,
Conjures the Muses that they him assist.
And so it goes another 30 lines of misdirected frustration. Anyway, Hall is no genius. He's certainly not a luminary in an age of Shakespeare, Spenser, Sidney, Jonson, Donne, and Marlowe. But I've been thinking our literary histories too frequently focus on lyrics and drama--letting in something like The Faerie Queene only because they must.

Hall is not in their league, but he has wit, his prose influenced Milton (in that they were fodder for Milton's ire), and his satire provoked enough pushback by other poets to create a brief flurry of satire that was then stamped out by Queen Elizabeth because she thought it too dangerous.

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 04-15-2018 at 07:20 PM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 12:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

And thank you for this introduction to Hall. It's interesting that Elizabeth stamped out satire; it returns, I believe, around the time of the Civil War (Hudibras, Absalom and Achitophel) and thrives for a good century and a half thereafter, through Pope and Swift to say Byron's Don Juan, or the Tours of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque. Not really my field, but I think you may find that, what? Augustan tradition rewarding for more than Pope, though he may be hard to rival.

Cheers,
John

Update: I can't think of American contemporaries at present. The C19th I'm sure is different.

Last edited by John Isbell; 04-16-2018 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 05:50 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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John,

Yes, I've very much enjoyed a number of the pieces you've mentioned here--and obviously I shouldn't have neglected Swift, or even Samuel Johnson, with whom I am familiar. We'll see if this vein takes me back to Byron's Don Juan, which I really loved years ago. But I most appreciate about this post William Combe's Tours of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque, a text I had never heard of at all, which is sad since both my undergraduate and graduate work skewed heavily towards British Romanticism. I've downloaded myself a copy, and am looking forward to working through it.

As for Americans, I'm similarly stymied on verse satire. Twain is obviously great and all, but I'm less interested in prose at the moment. With Italians, I've found a translation (but an old one) of Ariosto. I've got some work in translation by Nicolas Boileau (Art of Poetry / Lutrin) in my cart, and I can't really find a translation of Mathurin Régnier's Les Satyres, so I'm wondering if that could be a translation project. Any other important poets in the French tradition? Italian? German? Spanish? The only traditions I have any sense of literary history are Classic Greek, Latin, English, and French...and even the French is mostly Romanticism to today.

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 04-16-2018 at 05:55 AM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 06:35 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

The Combe is great fun and deserves to be better known.
Ariosto's Orlando furioso is an answer to Boiardo's Orlando innamorato. I have an old verse translation by W.S. Rose, not sure if there's a modern one. After him, the next Italian satires I know are Alfieri's in about 1780, though Monti translated Persius at about the same time, and Leopardi wrote, I believe, some satire in prose.
In France, you might start with Agrippa d'Aubigne, Les Tragiques. I feel like there's not a lot of medieval satire in the Horace/Juvenal mould. Villon I guess is a satirist, he's certainly worth reading. Boileau I find dull, but he did write satire. La Fontaine has very definite satirical elements. The C18th produced a lot of verse, not all of it great - you might enjoy a look at Voltaire's La Pucelle, a mock epic on Joan of Arc. From Chenier to Mallarme, I can't really think of any extended satire in the C19th, except maybe Hugo's Les Chatiments, on Napoleon III. Not Laforgue or Musset, though Baudelaire writes rude poems on Belgium. Nor any C20th satire.
In Germany, Goethe's and Schiller's Xenien are satirical epigrams, and you'll find more verse satire in Goethe, for instance Das Tagebuch. Wieland translated Horace's satires. Gottsched had a go at satire as well, but you'll find little in Hoelderlin, Buerger, Klopstock, Brentano, the Romantics. Satire came easily to Heine, but not much in verse. Some critics see Eichendorff's tale, Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts, as a satire, and the case can be made. In the C20th, you might look in Brecht's verse.

Cheers,
John

Oh - I don't really know the Spanish tradition, though Don Quixote is certainly satire. You might look at Lope de Vega and Calderon, who I think wrote more than plays. And did Cervantes also write verse?

Update: there's also this from the French Wars of religion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satire_Ménippée
But I don't know much satire by Du Bellay, Ronsard, or Louise Labe's Lyon circle.
Update II: please though don't go without reading Pushkin's superb Onegin.

Last edited by John Isbell; 04-16-2018 at 06:43 AM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:07 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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John,

Thanks for this,

I've got Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, but apparently he also wrote some more Classical satire as well, and that's what I found a very old translation of. I'm going to look into Alfieri now, as well as Agrippa d'Aubigné.

Yeah, I haven't read any Boileau: I'm interested in him because of his influence on English literary history more than anything else.

I'll check out the rest, as well. My German is okay, but not great. I'm concentrating on making my Latin really firm; from there it isn't hard to get comfort with French/Italian/Spanish. German will have to just run parallel.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I only know Ariosto's Orlando. Alfieri's tragedies are good, and he's a key figure in Italian literary history. People seem to like Agrippa d'Aubigné, of whom I've read nothing but (good) extracts. Boileau is OK, but in an inspired century, he to my mind wasn't. I don't know of any English translations of the German works I mentioned, but there's an Onegin I like a good deal, and it's not Nabokov's: it's Babette Deutsch's, which Dover put out cheaply. One of the pinnacles of European Romanticism, to my mind and that of the entire Russian-speaking world. :-)

Cheers,
John.

Update: Actually, I'm sure there are good translations of the Taugenichts. And you can find Heine in bilingual editions. Two great authors.

Last edited by John Isbell; 04-16-2018 at 07:25 AM.
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Old 04-16-2018, 07:53 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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You know, it's funny. I'm a huge Russian literature fan. Love the prose, in particular: Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Gogol, Pushkin, Bulgakov, etc. I love the work in the first half of the 20th century too (I know Bulgakov fits in that, but bear with me). Yet I've never even attempted Onegin. I guess I should get on that at some point.
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Old 04-16-2018, 08:01 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Yup, there's stuff worth reading in Russian. You might also enjoy Lermontov's novel A Hero for Our Time, another foundational text for Russian Romanticism. Two bittersweet texts.

Cheers,
John
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Old 04-16-2018, 10:22 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Just spoke with a Cervantes scholar who says check out Quevedo.

Cheers,
John
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Old 04-16-2018, 11:47 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Quevedo is fantastic.
By the way, thanks for the Quintus Lutatius Catulus Major (in Cicero) reminder. I smell a mongoose there.
Swift wrote verse satire. Eratosphere grandees, care for some snuff?

'Tis an old maxim in the schools,
That flattery's the food of fools;
Yet now and then your men of wit
Will condescend to take a bit.

Jonathan Swift, Cadenus and Vanessa, line 769 ff.
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