Tuesday, 25 September 2007

hazlitt and swift

Man is a toad-eating animal. The admiration of power in others is as common to man as the love of it in himself: the one makes him a tyrant, the other a slave.
(Toad eaters and Tyrants)

Now Hakim Bey is okay, interesting, funny but really, just the froth on your coffee. for a proper, make your eyes water then riot in the streets rant, you can't really do better than the great william hazlitt. and you'll quickly realise on even a cursory reading and especially with talk of an election that some things just never change

The Tory is one who is governed by sense and habit alone. He considers not what is possible, but what is real; he gives might the preference over right. He cries long life to the conqueror, and is ever strong upon the stronger side – the side of corruption and prerogative.
(from Introduction to Political Essays, 1817)

But even that pales beside swift's magnificent A Modest Proposal which, nearly three hundred years on has lost none of its satirical force or laugh out loud humour. and then of course there's gulliver's travels.

both are read far too little these days, especially hazlitt, and too many people labour under the notion that gulliver is a kids book. don't shout at the tv - read these guys and discover kindred spirits!

1 comment:

Natalie said...

oooooh 18C stuff.

I'm always amazed by Swift's "Tory" misanthropy. When you read GT as an adult book, this really comes out.

It's interesting, too, the way Hazlitt separates the probable from the real, especially when you think about the way conservative writers (such as Jane Austen) seem to conflate the terms. What is realism in the Austen novel is what is socially probable (even in the Humean sense).

18C conservatism = a pet interest.