Discussion in this chapter centres on a print that was published in London towards the end of Sir Robert Walpole’s premiership (1722–42). The politically motivated image has been attributed to a Frenchman who draws on Aesop to enhance the satirical characterisation of contemporary political figures. If the Aesopian format allows the satirist to cast local political tensions within an international frame of reference, it also shows how a discursive mode of satirical representation has become a visual one. Visualising rather than textualising a seventeenth-century satirical tradition is indicative in this chapter of the ‘changing’ status of political satire, although if political fables could make sense as political images by c. 1740, this depended on the intermedial referencing that the European print market made possible.
Taking a broad approach to a vast body of underresearched material, this chapter considers a significant gap in scholarship on early modern satire: Latin manuscripts. While the seventeenth century in important respects remained a manuscript culture, scholars have all but ignored the extensive production of Latin satire in verse and in hybrid forms between verse and prose. Certain literary phenomena, the chapter suggests, tend to be rendered invisible if we treat early modern English culture as monolingual. At the same time, it would be mistaken to see the production of Latin and English satire as distinct processes; they intermingle and respond to each other. What is more, ‘Latin’ itself was no monolithic entity in terms of satirical writing. The chapter demonstrates this diversity by treating not only imitation of classical verse satire and epigram, but also, for example, rhyming verse in Latin, which was a strong tradition with roots in the Middle Ages. In other words, the chapter charts two fields of investigation on satire that merit further attention: the changing relationship between Latin and the vernacular; and the lingering significance of manuscript culture in the seventeenth century.
Social satire in Bernini’s caricatures and comedies
Joris van Gastel
This chapter explores elements of satire in the practice of Gian Lorenzo Bernini, focusing on his theatrical work and drawn caricatures. While Bernini is certainly most known today as a sculptor and architect, his playful involvement of his audiences in the theatre recalls the notion of art as a mirror of its audience, a speculum vitae humanae. A similar claim can be made about his caricatures that, according to contemporary accounts, were often executed in front of others. These practices allow Bernini to straddle boundaries between media and genres, but also to deliberately explore roles and masks, as well as create audience expectations and use them to his own advantage. Such metamorphic qualities are crucial to Bernini as a man of the theatre, but they pervade his other work in significant ways. ‘Satire’ therefore becomes less of a genre and more of a cultivated attitude that cleverly plays on the audience’s ideas and preconceptions.
This collection examines the transformations of early modern European satire from the seventeenth through the early nineteenth centuries. Drawing together literary scholars and art historians, the book maps the changes that satire underwent in becoming a less genre-driven and increasingly visual medium. The collection traces the increasing dependence of satire on a proliferation of formats, including visual and textual media and various combinations of them, but also manuscript circulation as well as the use of ‘non-satirical’ forms for satirical purposes. In doing so, while discussing canonical satire in both its textual and visual incarnations, the contributors also move extensively into less charted territory, with material on satire that previous criticism has ignored or relegated to the margins. Satire was a particularly important phenomenon in England in the period and, while acknowledging this, the collection also contains material on France, Italy and Spain. In short, in its wide sweep across time and formats, the book discusses the role satire had as a transgressor of medial and political borders.
Francisco de Goya (1746–1828) created a large body of penetrating satirical imagery from the 1790s onwards, beginning with his volume of prints, the Caprichos, and ending with several powerful drawings. The Caprichos was on the market only briefly, in early 1799, its withdrawal from sale likely the result of an indirect form of censorship, as early-nineteenth-century written commentaries on the prints suggest. In the decades that followed, Goya created groups of drawings, many satirical, that allude to works of literary satire prohibited by the Inquisition, including: Desiderius Erasmus’ influential Praise of Folly; the Spanish Renaissance literary classic La Celestina, attributed to Fernando de Rojas; and the lesser-known mid-eighteenth-century novel by José Francisco de Isla Fray Gerundio. The drawings were made during a tumultuous period in Spain’s history, in which the Inquisition was abolished for brief periods (1808–14 and 1820–3). Within and in response to this atmosphere of instability, Goya produced extraordinary satirical drawings that, like the earlier Caprichos, were searing commentaries on society but also on censorship. Goya’s multilayered approach to satire constituted a synthetic accrual of literary history, political history, censorship history and visual traditions, succinctly embodying satire’s continuities while significantly contributing to its transformations.
Cecilia Rosengren, Per Sivefors, and Rikard Wingård
The introduction outlines the rationale behind the book from basically three contexts. It frames satire in the period from the perspective of changing media; it moves beyond canonical satire and embeds it in a multiplicity of other, less discussed voices and forms; and it discusses the importance of satire not only to England but to a number of other European countries. Two particular focus areas discussed in the introduction and also in various ways in the chapters of the book are 1) how satire was affected by, and affected, the medium of print; and 2) how the emergence of a public sphere in Europe relates to the growth of satire as a political and aesthetic phenomenon.
A common-law wedding custom’s bristling visual satires
The common-law wedding custom of jumping the broom has been illustrated for at least 450 years, sweeping across Europe and the United States. Since the custom was seen to have little religious and legal authority, it became the subject of visual satires by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, William Heath and the Cruikshanks, among others. The custom finds its satirical origins in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but the image tradition leapt to its greatest heights in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, when it was illustrated in satirical prints that responded to the social and political issues of the day. Jumping the broom was initially used in graphic satires as a shorthand for a clandestine or hasty marriage undertaken by royalty, the elite or the lower classes. By the early nineteenth century, graphic satires had developed a sophisticated visual language, where illustrations of jumping the broom could also stand for an unsuitable contract between two countries, or an objectionable ‘leap’ to a new political role. As the production of satirical prints diminished in England, jumping the broom in the United States was exploited for disturbing purposes for enslaved men and women.
Satire ripples across the surface of John Milton’s works but also creates deep undercurrents. Classical and contemporary forms are both important: the formal verse satire of Horace, Persius and Juvenal as well as the insult and mockery exchanged in the pamphlet wars of seventeenth-century Europe. Ranging across Milton’s career, this chapter explores the theory and practice of satire that emerges from Milton’s habits of allusion to the Latins and from his early controversies with one-time satirist Joseph Hall. Defensio Secunda receives special attention as a text that adapts an arsenal of satiric techniques to a campaign of heroic praise and justification. Reading the Defensio as an epic satire in prose offers a foundation for understanding the complex role of satire in Paradise Lost. The breadth and depth of Milton’s evolving engagement with satire shows how formative and significant this mode remained for him across an entire writing life.
Against the backdrop of the War of the Spanish Succession, popular debate in England frequently centred on interrogating the fop officer. A variant on the classical miles gloriosus, this comic antagonist typically prized the physical glamour of his uniform – which he used to bolster a reputation for bravery and honour – but shrank from participating in the danger and discomfort of actual warfare. This paper will focus on the fop-officer onstage during the 1700s, using three popular plays to understand how he helped to define contemporary ideas about ideal and deviant models of military masculinity and respond to contemporary anxieties about the vain young officers who promenaded through London during these decades. It will also examine additional issues, including the financial problems encountered by soldiers, the politics of acquisition, the standing-army debate and the consequences of peace.
In its introductory section, the chapter deals with the early modern definition of Petronius’ Satyricon as ‘Menippean’, suggesting its strict connection with political and social events (namely, the massive production of satirical writings during the French Wars of Religion). The chapter then examines the anti-Jesuit elements of John Barclay’s Euphormionis Satyricon (1605–7) and points out how to Barclay Petronius’ Satyricon offered a model of formal satire to be imitated. A less traditional approach to classics can be found in Kaspar Schoppe’s Satyricon (1602–3), an imposing treatise on youth education. Like Barclay, Schoppe attacked the Company of Jesus inspired by Petronius’ polemics against rhetoric schools; however, his definition of Petronius’ Satyricon and, more broadly, of satire was elaborated not in formal but rather in modal terms. The final section of the chapter presents a surprising schoolbook: the Selectiores dicendi formulae (1666) by Bartolomeo Beverini, a work that at the same time mocks Jesuit didactics and seriously teaches Latin using Petronius as a linguistic model of purity and elegance.