Jonathan Swift's Polite Conversation


The satirist Jonathan Swift published Polite Conversation in 1738. It consists of three satirical dialogues at breakfast, dinner and tea, presented as a guide to ‘Genteel and Ingenious Conversation, According to the Most Polite Mode and Method Now Used at Court, and in the Best Companies of England’.

The text is full of catch-phrases, colloquialisms, slang, oaths, exclamations, greetings, farewells and all kinds of banality. Several features, such as prefacing a remark with pray, come or faith, capture polite conversation of the period. Swift may be poking fun at phrases that were considered over-polite or archaic even then.

Full title:
A complete collection of genteel and ingenious conversation, according to the most polite mode and method now used at court, and in the Best Companies of England. In three dialogues. By Simon Wagstaff, Esq
1738, London
Jonathan Swift
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library

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