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Scribleriana

From: The Scriblerian and the Kit-Cats
Volume 46, Number 1, Autumn 2013
pp. 81-82 | 10.1353/scb.2013.0055

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Michael Rotenberg-Schwartz is stepping down. An important member of the editorial team, he will be missed for his discriminating judgments. Robert W. Walker (Washington & Jefferson College) will be joining us as a Contributing Editor; Bob reviews for us, and now we will have more of his fine prose. Special thanks go to Shiladitya Sen (Montclair State University) and Jacob Lambert (Auburn University at Montgomery) for their assistance on this issue.

We also want to thank Washington & Jefferson College for becoming a sponsor.

We are saddened by the death of O M Brack (1938–2012), who taught at the University of Iowa (1965–1973) and Arizona State University (1973–2008). An eminent Johnsonian scholar, he published more than thirty essays on Johnson and his colleagues, and edited many texts of the Yale Edition of the Works of Samuel Johnson. Scriblerians will remember him for “A commentary on Mr. Pope’s Principles of Morality,” “Essay on Man,” and “Biographical Writings,” and especially for editing collections on Smollett, and, most importantly, for founding the University of Georgia Works of Tobias Smollett (1988–2013).

Typical of Skip Brack’s sharp insights is this observation, quoted in Scriblerian 29 (Autumn 1996), where he ruefully contended that in editing, “computer representatives have replaced used-car salepersons … as the ultimate symbol for purveyors of false hopes.” As one would expect, the textual work he did for the Georgia Smollett was always praised by our reviewers. This extraordinary scholar will be missed.

Dürrenmatt and Swift

In Suspicion, one of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s “Inspector Barlach Mysteries,” a gigantic figure, a survivor of the concentration camps and now a secretive Nazi-hunter, is named Gulliver. With the help of a dwarf, also a camp survivor, he rescues the inspector from certain death. That a giant and a dwarf would lead the author to Gulliver is obvious, but it is also probable that behind the allusion is an insight into Swift’s writings that governs Dürrenmatt’s canon and perhaps helps to explain his often complex and Kafkaesque simplicities. Thus, the giant’s speech is described in terms that constitute a highly perceptive insight into Swift’s writing—and Dürrenmatt’s: “Then he began to talk again, but … in a strangely singing tone that intensified with inflections of irony or sarcasm, but that also softened at other moments, as if muted. And Barlach understood that everything in this man’s speech, including the wildness and the mockery, was just an expression of an immense sorrow over the incomprehensible fall of a once beautiful world created by God” (trans. Joel Agee, University of Chicago Press, 2006, p. 125).

Pope and Stowe

“The relationship to a Pope satire is very close indeed; the garden is almost a verbal construct. The Temples of Ancient and Modern Virtue summon up verbal equivalents, ‘soundlybuilt’ or ‘permanent’ for the one, ‘ruin’ and ‘shoddy construction’ for the other. The verbalism of ruined virtue and ruined temple, though as old as the emblem books, is also analogous to the Popean zeugma—to the double meaning of ‘stain’ in ‘stained her Honour or her new Brocade’. The Temple of Ancient Virtue itself in this political context recalls the name of its builder, Richard Temple, Lord Cobham. A verbalism hovers over the whole of Stowe Gardens, beginning with one of its earliest structures, the Pebble Alcove, which bears the family crest and motto: ‘Templa Quam Dilecta’—How delightful are thy Temples. Cobham was ‘visually illustrating’ his own family motto, itself a pun, when he filled his garden with temples, and when the nature and condition of the temple become relevant he is merely extending the same reference.

The inscriptions over the British Worthies are virtually small Popean satires. Hampden is an emblem of the ‘Opposition’ which relates his heroic time to the present: ‘Who with great Spirit, and consummate Abilities, begun a noble Opposition to an arbitrary Court, in Defence of the Liberties of his Country. …’ Raleigh and Drake are placed side by side, the one ‘who endeavouring to rouze the Spirit of his [royal] Master for the Honour of his Country, against the Ambition of Spain, fell a Sacrifice to the Influence of that Court...



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