By Brian Tippett (auth.)
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Extra info for Gulliver’s Travels
Leslie Stephen laid the groundwork for later scholars in his monumental History of English Thought in the Eighteenth Century (1896) where, while acknowledging their differences, he couples Swift and Johnson as the two most vigorous representatives of a world-view which shows little regard for the voluminous theorising of the philosophers and theologians who are Stephen's main subject: Their eyes are fixed upon the world around them, and they regard as foolish and presumptuous anyone who dares to contemplate the great darkness.
The possible applications of this description to Gulliver - at least the Gulliver of the final voyage - will be obvious. And if, indeed, 'the satirist is always an amalgamation of the basic characteristics which develop whenever satire is written', then the objectionable features of Gulliver's vision may be as much a product of the nature and traditions of satire as of the allegedly diseased and misanthropic outlook of Swift himself. What the outraged earlier critics of Swift are therefore objecting to is satire itself.
Crane shows that there is a remarkable correspondence between this three-part structure and the examples used in the formal syllogistic logic which in Swift's day was part of the curriculum at Trinity College, Dublin, and other universities. The logical exercises practised by the undergraduates typically involved the classification of various creatures and things according to their distinguishing characteristics and points of difference (differentia). The commonest of all the several examples taken for illustration and practice is the proposition that man is a rational animal.