Category: Fiction

(1694) (1960) The Sot-Weed Factor by John Barth
(Modern Novel Set in the Long 18th Century)

This hilariously picaresque and never-ending novel charts the fortunes and adventures of the self-appointed “Poet Laureate” of Maryland as, Tom Jones- or Candide-like, he innocently gets into one scrape after another during the early years of settlement of the first American colonies, his first adventure coming in the year 1694 as he sets sail from England. A convincing parody of writing of the period, the prose should prove not only a diverting interlude from heavier fare but also an intriguing glance at early American postmodernism as it grapples with past forms, modes and attitudes. Rather than write a post on this most entertaining and fiendishly clever of novels, however, I will save both myself and any potential reader much time by referring them t…

(1697-1745) Jonathan Swift Major Works
(Oxford/Reading the Long 18th Century #7)

Note: I actually read the now-defunct Oxford Authors Series version from 1984 (pictured at right), but the texts are identical….

Jonathan Swift lived from 1667-1745 and wrote a heck of a lot of dense, now-obscure work. I’m not going to lie to you and say that this wasn’t the slog that it surely was. Whether it was I who dragged this squat, ugly tome through the past seven months, or it me—is now, finally, moot. Cos it’s over, free at last, free at last!

If you ever took those period-survey English lit courses in uni, did you, too, dread those volumes, published by Norton and Riverside,……