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
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- Satire and humour, Travel, colonialism and slavery, Politics and religion, Rise of the novel
Jonathan Swift initially did his best to conceal the fact that he was the author of Gulliver's Travels. John Mullan explores how Swift constructed the work to operate as an elaborate game, parodying travel literature, pretending to be an autobiography and containing obviously false facts presented by a deeply unreliable narrator.
- Article by:
- Andrew Dickson
- Politeness, sensibility and sentimentalism, Theatre and entertainment, Satire and humour
Andrew Dickson introduces Richard Brinsley Sheridan and his most famous play, The School for Scandal.
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