‘The Darling Pleasure of Men of Sense’: Translating Lucianic Satire from Thomas More to John Dryden
In this English Research Seminar, Professor Nicholas McDowell (University of Exeter) considers the translation and imitation of Lucianic satire in the Renaissance and early eighteenth century in the light of what has been called Lucian’s ‘double personality’ in early modern Europe: for some he was an erudite, witty and moral satirist of hypocrisy; for others, a dangerously irreligious scoffer and sceptic who brought Christian morality into doubt.
By the second half of the seventeenth century, he was more usually regarded as both these things — as well as an exemplary prose stylist — and his scepticism was no small part of his appeal as a satirist. However, the rise of Hobbesian philosophy and deism and their association with subversive religious satire encouraged a perception of Lucianic wit as a weapon of the deists, and this association was not merely impressionistic: the first English Works of Lucian, published in 1710 and 1711 but the work of several decades, included among its contributors several prominent deists.
The lecture will be held in the Lawson Lecture Room, Kennedy Hall.